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MA Persian and English Literature

UCAS code: T6Q3

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Persian and English Literature

Persian is one of the major languages of the Middle East and Central Asia. Its modern form has three variants which, collectively, are the first language of over 120 million people. It is the national language of Iran, where it is known as Farsi. It is known as Dari in Afghanistan and Tajik in Tajikistan.

To study Persian is to enter a rich and diverse culture that has produced:

  • major epic and Sufi poets
  • exquisite miniature painting and fine textiles
  • world-class cinema

The language is also a gateway to modern Iran, a dynamic society at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Combining language learning with literary training

Our joint honours programme is designed to give you a thorough grounding in both classical and modern Persian, enabling you to access a wide range of original material.

As well as developing your language skills, you will also study Iran's historical, literary, cultural and political life, and the rich intellectual heritage of Islam.

Studying English Literature will further develop your critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills. You will engage with a broad range of texts and a variety of approaches to reading.

You will explore the cultural contexts of writing in English from the late Middle Ages to the present, specialising at honours level in specific topics, periods or genres.

Why Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the first UNESCO World City of Literature, a global literary city which many greats of literature have called home.

From the University's Special Collections to the National Library of Scotland, the city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional.

The University of Edinburgh is recognised in the UK and internationally as a leading institution for teaching and research in Persian, together with Arabic, Islam, and the Middle East. We are also the oldest centre for the study of English Literature in the UK, one of the longest established in the world.

Studying over four years gives you the blend of specialist skills and Intercultural Competence valued by employers around the globe. In particular, this joint honours combination shows an openness to ideas and perspectives other than your own, an essential attribute in many careers.

Year 1

Persian

You will study basic Persian grammar, vocabulary and conversational skills.

Over the year, you will develop the key tools to understand, speak, read and write elementary Persian.

You will also take courses in modern Middle Eastern history.

English Literature

You will take two Literary Studies courses which will introduce you to the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of the core literary genres of:

  • poetry
  • drama
  • prose

You will read works of literature written in English from around the world, and encounter a range of ideas about the nature and purpose of literary study.

Year 2

Persian

You will continue with your Persian language study, developing the grammar and vocabulary to read, write and talk about social and everyday topics.

You will take courses in:

  • the religion of Islam - an exploration of the religion's branches, key texts, central beliefs and rituals

  • Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures - an introduction to the literary, aesthetic and intellectual culture of the Middle East, from the eve of Islam to the modern period

English Literature

You will be introduced to the study of English literature in its cultural and historical contexts via a survey of literature from the late Medieval period to the mid-Twentieth Century.

These courses will explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

Year 3

When study in a Persian-speaking country or at an approved institution elsewhere is permitted, you will spend Year 3 abroad. This will help you to improve your language and independent study skills.

If you are studying abroad, you will write a long essay for English Literature.

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 you for your final year.

Year 4

You will continue to develop your translation and conversational skills in Persian.

In your classes and coursework, you will respond to different materials, including Persian poetry and prose, films, and other media.

In addition to your language study, you will also choose one honours-level option course in Persian literature, and a selection of honours-level courses in English Literature. These courses will enable you to explore different periods, topics and approaches to literary study, according to your area of interest.

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will write an honours dissertation.

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 over 23,000 resources in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), of which around 2,600 printed books are in Persian, and more than 100 films are in either Persian or Arabic.

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 for the study of Persian include:

  • The Serjeant and Watt Collections of some 6,400 titles, including works on Islamic and medieval philosophy, and the relationship between Islam and Christianity
  • 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

Highlights for the study of English literature include:

  • a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays
  • the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott
  • the W.H. Auden collection
  • the libraries of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig

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). The School's partnership with IMVBox.com gives you access to over 1,000 Iranian films.

IMES also has its own library at 19 George Square, with views across a beautiful garden to both the Main University Library and LLC.

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 acting to dancing, 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.

The Persian Society, for example, is one of around 300 societies and clubs supported by Edinburgh University Students' Association. The Association also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

Across the University, there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in:

  • reading and writers' groups
  • poetry slams
  • creative writing and publishing
  • student theatre *guest seminars in both IMES and English Literature

We also have a fantastic Writer-in-Residence who organises talks and workshops by visiting writers and runs our annual writing prizes. Their drop-in sessions give you the chance to:

  • share your work
  • get feedback
  • meet other student writers
  • get inspiration and prompts for new work

In the city

A UNESCO World City of Literature, Edinburgh is a remarkable place to study, write, publish, discuss and perform prose, poetry and drama. Its world cinema scene is also particularly strong.

The city's resources for studying languages and cultures are exceptional. Many of them are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes.

In addition to a fantastic range of publishing houses, bookshops, theatres, and cinemas, you will study near the:

  • National Library of Scotland
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Edinburgh Central Library
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • Writers’ Museum

We have strong links with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which annually welcomes around 1,000 authors to our literary city.

We also have a great relationship with the Edinburgh Iranian Festival, notably its Film strand.

Study abroad

When study in a Persian-speaking country or at an approved institution elsewhere is permitted, you will spend Year 3 abroad.

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan 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, 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).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for English Literature, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

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

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams and assessments 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.

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

Skills and experience

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

Beyond the linguistic, literary and critical skills you will develop on this joint honours programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of diverse 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

Programmes combining language and literature 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 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, collectively, the three variants of modern Persian (Farsi, Dari and Tajik) are the first language of more than 120 million people in the Middle East and Central Asia. There are also significant communities of speakers in Europe (including Turkey), Australia and North America.

Your language learning and cultural awareness will make you ideally placed to work with displaced people from Iran and Afghanistan now living in Europe and other parts of the world, and with international organisations advancing refugee issues, rights and spaces.

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 typically offer:

  • taught and research-led MSc degrees in English Literature and in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • MScs in Playwriting, Creative Writing and The Globalised Muslim World
  • interdisciplinary MSc programmes in Comparative Literature and Intermediality

Each of these programmes is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Beyond literature, cultural study and associated fields, your degree will prepare you for further study in almost any humanities and social science discipline.

Careers advice

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

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

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

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: English at B. National 5s: a language other than English at A.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B. GCSEs: a language other than English at A or 7.
  • IB: HL: English at 5. SL: a language other than English at 6.

Additional requirements

Native speakers

Please note that the Persian 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 Persian and English Literature

Additional costs

Year 3 may involve study abroad in a Persian-speaking country or an approved institution elsewhere. 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