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?

Photo of Nacim Pak Shiraz with a film poster
Professor Nacim Pak Shiraz talking about Iranian film posters at the Edinburgh Iranian Festival Film Season

Persian is one of the major languages of Middle East and Central Asia. Its local variants are Dari (Afghanistan) and Tajik (Tajikistan). Collectively, these are the first language of over 120 million people. This ranks Persian among the world's 20 most widely spoken native 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. This enables you to access a wide range of original material and to 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. 


Studying Arabic and Persian has not only given me the chance to learn two beautiful languages but also enter the rich and diverse cultures of the Middle East. I have enjoyed learning both languages while simultaneously exploring literature, history, religion and politics. The departments are passionate and supportive and constantly work to provide a fulfilling experience.

Lajeen, Arabic and Persian MA (Hons)

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