Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Studying Persian

Study Persian at Edinburgh and open the door to the rich and diverse cultures of Iran, Afghanistan, Persian-speaking Central Asia, and the Persian diaspora.

Women under Islamic arches

Why study Persian?

Persian is one of the major languages of Middle East and Central Asia. It is known as Farsi in Iran, Dari in Afghanistan and Tajik in Tajikistan. It has over 120 million native speakers, ranking it among the world's 20 most widely spoken first languages. Persian is an Indo-European language, related to English, French and German and written in Arabic script.

To study Persian is to enter into a rich and diverse culture that has produced major epic and Sufi poets such as Ferdowsi, Rumi and Hafez, exquisite miniature painting, fine carpets and world-class cinema. It is also a gateway to modern Iran, a dynamic society that is also a major energy-supplying nation at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Since Persian has not changed significantly in over a millennium, the basic grammar for the classical and modern forms of the language is virtually the same and is relatively easy to learn.

Persian at Edinburgh

Persian studies at the University of Edinburgh offers students the opportunity to attain proficiency in the Persian language as well as the study of historical, literary, cultural and political aspects of Iran, Afghanistan, Persian-speaking Central Asia, and the Persian diaspora. Courses offered at the University of Edinburgh allow students to expand their knowledge of both pre-Islamic and modern day Iran.

The city of Edinburgh itself is a vibrant cultural centre that hosts many international festivals, cultural events, conferences and talks on the Middle East in general and Iran in particular. This allows students to broaden and complement their learning experience at the university.

If you are interested in studying Persian language at Edinburgh there are several different options available:

MA Honours in Persian Studies

IMVBox logo


The Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh is pleased to announce as its Education Partner. The purpose of the partnership is to give students of Persian and/or Iranian cinema the opportunity to access Iranian films online. This will be a valuable resource both in widening the cultural understanding of Iran and improving student command of the Persian language alongside the Persian classes and the Honours course on Middle Eastern Cinemas at the University of Edinburgh.

Boasting over 1000 streaming films, is the largest 'online cinematheque' and only legal platform for Iranian content. By showcasing a large selection of award-winning Iranian movies, including features, documentaries, shorts and plays, IMVBox aims to present the diversity, depth and richness of Iranian Cinema. IMVBox's core mission is to “paint a true picture” of the Middle East.