2024 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Arabic and Social Anthropology

UCAS code: LT66

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Arabic and Social Anthropology

Arabic is the main language of more than 350 million people inhabiting a huge swathe of land extending from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. It is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Combining Arabic with Social Anthropology enables you to learn the Arabic language while engaging in the comparative study of human behaviour and ideas in a range of contexts:

  • social
  • cultural
  • religious
  • political

Arabic

Our programme is designed to give you a thorough grounding in both classical and modern Arabic. It enables you to access a wide range of original material, from pre-Islamic poetry and Islamic religious texts to contemporary sources, Arabic novels, newspapers, and television.

You do not currently need to know any Arabic, as Year 1 courses are suitable for beginners. By Year 3, you will have the skills to spend the year studying in a country in which Arabic is spoken.

You will learn to:

  • read, write and translate Arabic
  • listen to and speak the language

Our courses open the door to a fascinating and varied region, shining a light on its history, societies and cultures. You will study aspects of the Arabic-speaking world, past and present.

Social Anthropology

At the heart of Social Anthropology is the common humanity that underlies the world's many different societies.

The discipline overlaps with sociology, human geography, and development studies, and is also closely linked to history and philosophy.

On our courses, you will learn what anthropology contributes to some of the most important issues facing us today.

You will also build up the theoretical tools and practical techniques to engage in your own original anthropological research.

Why Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is recognised in the UK and internationally as a leading institution for the research-led study of Arabic, together with Persian, Islam, and the Middle East.

Our programme is flexible. In Year 2, for example, in addition to your core subjects, you will choose an option course from a wide range of disciplines. You will specialise as you progress through the programme and spend a year studying abroad.

You will have the opportunity to learn from researchers who are international leaders in their field. You will also engage in original anthropological research, which may be library-based or involve fieldwork.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of intercultural competence and specialist knowledge valued by employers worldwide.

Year 1

Arabic

You will study elementary Arabic to learn basic grammar and develop your vocabulary.

You will also take courses in Islamic history and Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures.

Social Anthropology

You will receive a broad introduction to social anthropology by studying:

  • Social Anthropology 1A, which looks at the life course
  • Social Anthropology 1B, which explores contemporary debates and global issues

Year 2

Arabic

You will continue with your language study and take courses in the religion of Islam or modern Middle Eastern history.

Social Anthropology

You will also study Social Anthropology 2 and Ethnography.

You will learn what concepts have shaped the development of social anthropology, and be introduced to the theory and practice of ethnographic fieldwork.

Option courses

You will choose from a wide range of option courses offered by the University of Edinburgh.

Options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • linguistics and language sciences
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in an Arabic-speaking country. This will allow you to improve your language and independent study skills.

Depending on availability, you may also be able to take social anthropology courses at an approved institution in the Middle East.

You will start preparing for your Social Anthropology dissertation and will have the opportunity to conduct your own research in the summer break between Years 3 and 4. Your dissertation supervisor will help you to plan and develop your research project which can take place in the UK or overseas.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered alternative ways of engaging with your subjects. This will allow you to meet your learning outcomes and prepare for your final year.

Year 4

You will continue to develop your language and translation skills in Arabic.

You will also choose from a range of specialist, honours-level option courses dealing with different aspects of Islam and the Middle East and social anthropology.

You will write your honours dissertation in social anthropology. You will write your honours dissertation in social anthropology.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. It has extensive holdings for the study of Social Anthropology, and over 23,000 resources in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES). Of these, around 9,000 printed books and 12,500 e-books are in Arabic, and more than 100 films are in either Arabic or Persian.

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

Highlights include:

  • The Serjeant and Watt Collections of some 6,400 titles, including works on the history of the Arab world and Arabic literature
  • some of the world’s most precious Islamic manuscripts, such as Rashid al-Din’s History of the World and al-Biruni’s Chronology of Ancient Nations
  • an extensive collection of the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram al-yawmi 1876-1930

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

IMES also has its own library in 19 George Square, with views across a beautiful garden to the Main University Library, LLC and the School of Social and Political Science.

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

We have great links with the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World which promotes a better understanding of Islam and Muslim culture locally, nationally and internationally.

Events and activities

From making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

A number of our students have volunteered for a tutoring and educational programme for teenage Syrian refugees in Edinburgh. This programme has won an Outstanding Global Citizenship Impact Award and a Sir William Darling Memorial Prize.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. A cultural powerhouse, it is also a political city - seat of the Scottish Parliament, and home to a range of embassies and consulates.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages, and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the National Library, Galleries and Museum of Scotland.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) in a country where Arabic is spoken.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Arabic language and culture. It will allow you to develop broader life experience and skills that you can use after university.

In addition to your Arabic language courses, you may also be able to take social anthropology courses at an accredited institution in the Middle East, depending on availability.

How will I learn?

University is a place to formulate your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

In addition to these classes, and to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Support

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 (IAD).

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation.

Skills and experience

Combining a language with social anthropology demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the Arabic language skills you will develop on this joint honours programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • business, finance 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
  • translating and interpreting

Home and away

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates both at home and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in another major world language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that more than 350 million people are native speakers of Arabic, the sixth most widely spoken language in the world.

It is the common language of the 22 countries in the Arab League, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. There are also sizeable communities of speakers in Western Europe and Latin America.

Further study

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, we offer a one-year Masters by Research degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. This programme is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

We usually also offer taught MSc programmes in:

  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Social Anthropology
  • The Globalised Muslim World
  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

As part of the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), we have a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

The School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

  • Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB by end of S5 or AAAA by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 36 points with 665 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: a language other than English at A and English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: a language other than English at A or 7 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: a language other than English at 6 and English at 5.

Additional requirements

Native speakers

Please note that the Arabic degrees involve beginners language study and are not suitable for native or near-native speakers.

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Arabic and Social Anthropology

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, Year 3 will involve study abroad in the Middle East. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding