Undergraduate applicants - 2024 Entry

Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Edinburgh

Find out what you'll study and where, and explore opportunities to get involved in campus life and make friends.

What you will study 

We offer multiple degrees programmes in Arabic and Persian.

We also offer two further programmes: one in Islamic Studies; one in Middle Eastern Studies.

All our programmes include an element of language learning (some more than others), within the context of the rich and diverse cultures of the Middle East and the Islamic world.

Regardless of the focus on your degree, you’ll also develop the critical, analytical and comparative skills to interpret and discuss key issues and concepts.

Degree Finder gives you a year-by-year overview of what you will study on each of our programmes.

Browse our Arabic and Persian programmes on Degree Finder

Browse our Islamic Studies and Middle Eastern Studies programmes on Degree Finder

Degree structure

You’ll complete a four-year Master of Arts (MA) honours degree.

Each year, you will study courses that give you a total of 120 credits.

Your first two years will be your pre-honours years. They will give you a good grounding in your subject(s).

On most programmes, you will build up your pre-honours credits by taking a mix of compulsory and optional courses. This may involve choosing courses from other subject areas. Typically, single honours students choose more optional courses than joint honours students.

Your final two years will be your honours years. This is when you will specialise in the aspects of your subject(s) that interest you most.

Love languages?

Graphic saying discover a world of languages. Employers love to see languages on a C V

One of the benefits of taking a four-year degree is the chance to study different subjects in your first two years. Most of our degree programmes have this flexibility.

If you love languages, and Arabic or Persian is the only one you are studying with us, why not pick up another language while you’re here?

We have a very wide range of languages to choose from, either as:

  • part of your programme
  • a short evening course with the Centre for Open Learning
  • part of a social, student-led activity

The majority are suitable for complete beginners - no previous experience required!

Discover a world of languages on our dedicated website

Degree Programme Tables

The detailed content of degree programmes for students starting in September 2024 is now available in our Degree Programme Tables (DPTs).

The Degree Programme Table will give you a more in-depth insight into the compulsory courses and optional courses on your degree programme. Find out about a particular course, including:

  • the syllabus
  • methods of assessment
  • modes of feedback
  • learning outcomes

To get started with a DPT, choose your programme from the alphabetical list of undergraduate programmes in literatures, languages and cultures.

Find DPTs for the 2024/25 academic year

Where you will study

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.

As well as looking across a beautiful garden to the Main University Library, IMES has its own library in 19 George Square. This building also neighbours the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World.

The University holds over 23,000 resources in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES). These include the Serjeant & Watt Collections and 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.

Explore with a Virtual Visit

Take a look around our School, and the wider University, with our Virtual Visit.

Look inside 19 George Square (where IMES is based), check out the campus libraries and points of interest, and get a feel for what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.

Virtual Visit - Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections, including the National Library, Museum, and Galleries of Scotland.

Applied for a joint honours degree?

Don’t forget to look at the information for each of your subjects. Navigate to the information for all subject areas at the link below. Choose the School your subject belongs to and explore your other subject.  Not sure which School your other subject belongs to? There is also a handy list of which School owns which subject below.

Explore your subjects

Go Abroad

Does my programme include study abroad?

All our Arabic programmes include time abroad studying in an Arabic-speaking country.

If you’re taking Arabic and another language, you’ll likely spend time in two countries to practise both languages.

Students of Persian may also have study abroad options.

For students of Islamic Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, going abroad is entirely optional.

When do I go abroad?

The Year Abroad will be the 2026 to 2027 academic year, your third year as an Edinburgh student. It will be your chance to turn classroom learning into living engagement with other cultures, developing lots of skills that you will use after university and that employers love to see.

If international travel restrictions mean that you cannot go abroad, don’t worry. You will be offered alternative ways of engaging with your subject(s), allowing you to meet your learning outcomes and prepare for your final year.

What if I don’t?

If your programme doesn’t include study abroad, and you choose not to take an optional Go Abroad experience, you will spend all four years studying in Edinburgh.

Find out more about Go Abroad opportunities at the University of Edinburgh and hear from our Study and Work Away Team

Get involved

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 socially.

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

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

The Tandem Language ​​​​​​Exchange helps members find language exchange partners in lots of languages. The group hosts weekly language cafes, monthly speed linguas, and other language-themed events.

Follow Tandem on Instagram