Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Middle Eastern Studies

UCAS code: T600

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Middle Eastern Studies

Located at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, the Middle East has played a pivotal role on the world stage from ancient times.

The University of Edinburgh is recognised in the UK and internationally as a leading institution for the study of the Middle East, Middle Eastern languages and the Islamic world.

Taking an Area Studies approach to the region, our highly flexible, four-year Master of Arts (MA) programme is designed to develop your knowledge and understanding of Middle Eastern:

  • history
  • literatures
  • cultures
  • politics

You will develop the skills to analyse, critique and compare key issues and concepts, both in group discussion and in written work.

To help you access and interpret source material, you will take Year 1 classes in at least one of the three main languages of the Middle East:

  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Turkish

You can continue to take your language(s) into Year 2, or opt to take courses from other areas.

As you progress through the programme, you will develop your research skills to the level of completing a dissertation in your final year.

You will graduate with a combination of specialist knowledge and the Intercultural Competence valued by employers around the globe.

Year 1

You will take classes in at least one Middle Eastern language, choosing from:

  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Turkish

You will also choose courses in:

  • Islamic history
  • the religion of Islam
  • Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, opt to learn more than one Middle Eastern language. Our courses in Arabic, Persian and Turkish are suitable for complete beginners.

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • European languages and cultures
  • Asian studies
  • 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 2

You will take Modern Middle Eastern History and option courses of your choice.

It is not compulsory to study a Middle Eastern language this year, but you can opt to continue with your language studies, or to take up another language, if you wish. This could be a Middle Eastern language (Arabic, Persian or Turkish) or another world language.

Year 3

You will choose specialist honours-level option courses from a wide selection of subject areas relating to Middle Eastern Studies. These include:

  • history
  • politics
  • religion
  • arts
  • cultural studies

If international travel restrictions allow, you may have the option to study abroad.

Year 4

You will continue with your honours-level studies, choosing further specialist option courses from a wide selection of subject areas relating to Middle Eastern Studies.

You will also complete a dissertation on a subject of your choice and under the supervision of an academic adviser.

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 spaces.

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

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

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.

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.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the Islamic Society, and promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to engage with other cultures.

A number of our Arabic-speaking 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, including the National Library, Museum, and Galleries of Scotland.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you may have the option to study abroad. Regardless of location, you will study a range of courses on subjects relating to Islam or the Middle East.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

Throughout, you are encouraged to:

  • undertake independent reading to supplement and consolidate what is being taught formally
  • broaden your individual knowledge and understanding of the subject

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of exams and coursework, including:

  • essays
  • exercises
  • presentations

You will also complete a dissertation in your final year.

Skills and experience

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility, including the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.

Additionally, this programme will give you a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies, and how they shape our world, giving you the Intercultural Competence valued by employers around the globe. Learning either Arabic, Persian or Turkish in your first year (with the option to continue into Year 2) will also sharpen your written and oral communications skills.

Opportunities at home and away

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for graduates with a knowledge of the Middle East both at home and abroad.

Your degree in Middle Eastern Studies, which includes some language learning, is an excellent primer for a range of careers. 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

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, for example, we typically offer both taught and research-led Masters programmes in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. You can also typically choose from MScs in The Globalised Muslim World, International Relations of the Middle East, and more.

Careers advice

We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives such as Life After LLC (Literatures, Languages and Cultures) where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAA-AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB - 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: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

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

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

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
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • 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.

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

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

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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 Middle Eastern Studies

Additional costs

If you study abroad, there will be additional costs. For example, you will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Grants may be available for participating students to help with the extra costs of studying and living abroad.

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