Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Undergraduate study | Persian

Learn the Persian language and uncover the rich and diverse cultures of Iran, Afghanistan, Persian-speaking Central Asia, and the Persian diaspora.

Why study Persian in Edinburgh?

Women under Islamic arches

Known as Farsi in Iran, Dari in Afghanistan and Tajik in Tajikistan, Persian is one of the major languages of Middle East and Central Asia. It has over 120 million native speakers, ranking it among the world's 20 most widely spoken first languages.

To study Persian is to enter into a rich and diverse culture that has produced major epic and Sufi poets, exquisite miniature painting, fine textiles and world-class cinema. It is also a gateway to modern Iran, a dynamic society at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Persian is an Indo-European language, related to English, French and German and written in Arabic script. Unchanged significantly in over a millennium, the basic grammar for its classical and modern forms is virtually the same and relatively easy to learn, enabling you to access a wide range of original material and develop insights into Iran’s historical, literary, cultural and political life, as well as the rich intellectual heritage of Islam.

Study with us and you’ll be part of a friendly community of staff and students, with great links to the Alwaleed Centre and Edinburgh Iranian Festival, fantastic resources (including our own library), 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. 

In language tutorials, the groups are small and you get lots of personal attention. I appreciate the very high teaching standards offered and the enthusiasm and welcoming attitude of the staff. Lectures and tutorials are interesting, informative and fun.

Archie VickersArabic & Persian, MA (Hons) student

Your learning at a glance

  • You can take Persian Studies as a single honours subject, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects, including Middle Eastern Studies. It doesn’t matter if you're a complete beginner.
  • Alongside the written and spoken language, you'll acquire a good knowledge of the Persian-speaking world, past and present, including its literature, culture, history, religion and politics.
  • You’ll engage with a broad range of subjects in your first two years, and specialise thereafter, developing your expertise in the periods and disciplines that interest you most. At all levels, we have an extensive range of courses to choose from.
  • You’ll complete a four-year MA degree, with your third year potentially spent in full, or in part, in a country where Persian is spoken, depending on travel advice.
  • You’ll be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, in the city’s historic centre, close to the Main University Library and National Library of Scotland.

Degree combinations

Our single and joint honours programmes all take four years to complete, even if you spend a year studying abroad.

You can currently study Persian in any of the following combinations...

Persian Studies - single honours Arabic and Persian Persian and Middle Eastern Studies
Persian and Social Anthropology Persian and English Literature  


Where might Persian take you?

Find out more and apply

There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Persian and Arabic programmes on the University of Edinburgh website. For example, you can find out about entrance requirements, English language requirements, fees, and funding opportunities. You can also see a breakdown of study year-by-year, and find out how you'll be taught and assessed.

Take me to the University of Edinburgh web page on undergraduate programmes in Persian and Arabic

If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Take me to the University of Edinburgh web page on making a UCAS application

Visit us

Our undergraduate Open Days are a great chance to find out about student life in Edinburgh from the people who know it best: our students and staff. Our next Open Days will be for students wishing to start their undergraduate degree in 2021. The Open Days scheduled for 26th September and 10th October 2020 are currently still planned to go ahead. The University is also working to develop an online alternative for prospective students thinking about starting university in 2021.

Keep up to date with Open Day information on the University of Edinburgh website 

This information was last updated in March 2020 for prospective students wishing to start studying with us in September 2021.