Undergraduate study | Middle Eastern Studies
Explore the Middle East from an interdisciplinary perspective, advancing your critical and analytical skills.
Why take Middle Eastern Studies in Edinburgh?
Located at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, the Middle East is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, among other religions. Since the beginning of civilisation, it has been a region of enormous economic and strategic importance, placing it at the centre of much of world history and culture, as well as modern politics.
Taking an interdisciplinary Area Studies approach to the region, our undergraduate MA Honours programme aims to develop your interest, knowledge and understanding of the Middle East, past and present, including its languages, literatures, cultures, history, and politics.
Edinburgh has a well-established international reputation for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) and is ranked sixth in the UK for Middle Eastern & African Studies in the Complete University Guide 2022.
Study with us and you’ll be part of a friendly community of staff and students, with great links to the Alwaleed Centre, fantastic resources, a thriving student Islamic Society, and a regular programme of workshops, film screenings and guest seminars, all within a School passionate about languages, literatures and cultures from around the globe.
- You’ll complete a four-year MA (Hons) degree, engaging with a broad range of subjects in your first two years, then specialising in the aspects of Middle Eastern Studies that interest you most.
- You'll learn basic Arabic, Turkish or Persian in first year, with the option to take your chosen language on into second year. This opens up a range of original material from our collections.
- You'll study the literatures, cultures, history, and politics of the Middle East from pre-Islamic times (c.550) to the present day, with the option to take courses from related subject areas.
- Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars, and you'll be assessed through a mix of exams and coursework, including essays, exercises and presentations.
- You'll develop the critical, analytical and comparative skills to interpret and discuss key issues and concepts, and learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation in your final year.
- You’ll typically be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, in the city’s historic centre. Our Georgian building has its own library and the Main University Library is just across the square from us, housing over 23,000 IMES resources, including the Serjeant and Watt Collections.
In the 2022 to 2023 academic year, you can take Middle Eastern Studies as a single honours degree, or jointly with Persian.
We also have a single honours degree in Arabic with Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.
Applications for 2022 entry are now closed. If you are holding an offer to start studying with us in September 2022, check out our Offer Holder Hub for Middle Eastern Studies and other degree programmes in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES).
Keen to get a head start for 2023?
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about entrance requirements, English language requirements, fees, and funding opportunities.
If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Applications for 2023 entry open in September 2022.
Skills and experience
Graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility, including the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.
Additionally, this programme will give you a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies, and how they shape our world, giving you the Intercultural Competence valued by employers around the globe. Learning either Arabic, Persian or Turkish in your first year (with the option to continue into Year 2) will also sharpen your written and oral communications skills.
Opportunities at home and away
With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for graduates with a knowledge of the Middle East both at home and abroad.
Your degree in Middle Eastern Studies, which includes some language learning, is an excellent primer for a range of careers. Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:
Business and commerce
Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
Education, outreach, advocacy and training
Journalism, broadcasting and media
Leisure, tourism and travel
Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
Research, development and venture acceleration
The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can take a taught or research-led Masters in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, or choose from MScs in The Globalised Muslim World, International Relations of the Middle East, and more.
Get to know us better
Thinking of joining us this year or next? Explore what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.
- Take a Virtual Visit - Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
- Join us for an Open Day or Online Information Session
Talk to a current student