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.
Years 1 & 2
- 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.
- Our programmes are very flexible. In your first two years, alongside language learning, you'll study a range of courses giving you a broad knowledge base and transferable skills. 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.
Years 3 & 4
- You may have the option to study abroad for a full year or half a year during Year 3. Regardless of location, you will study a range of courses on subjects relating to Islam or the Middle East.
- You will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. Our size and scale means that we have an extensive range of honours courses for you to choose from.
- You’ll 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 Islamic manuscripts
Teaching and learning
- Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven to help you gain skills for life after university.
- Across your courses, you’ll typically be taught in a combination of lectures, tutorials (including language classes) and seminars. On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years.
- You will also be expected to study independently and in small groups, and to read widely.
Assessment and support
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.
- Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills.
- Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.
- If you go abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.
- As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development and Edinburgh University Students' Association.
In the 2024 to 2025 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.
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Middle Eastern Studies programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder.
For example, you can find out about:
- the courses you will take each year
- 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 entry in September 2024 are now open.
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
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