Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Persian and Middle Eastern Studies

UCAS code: T63H

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Persian and Middle Eastern Studies

Persian is one of the major languages of the Middle East and Central Asia. Its local variants are Dari (Afghanistan) and Tajik (Tajikistan). Collectively, these are the first language of over 120 million people. This ranks Persian among the world's 20 most widely spoken native languages.

To study Persian is to enter into a rich and diverse culture that has produced major epic and Sufi poets, exquisite miniature painting, fine textiles and world-class cinema. The language is also your gateway to modern Iran, a dynamic society at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Our 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 the historical, literary, cultural and political life of the Middle East, as well as the rich intellectual heritage of Islam.

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 Persian, and to understand Middle Eastern cultures, will make you stand out.

Why Edinburgh

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

Our programme is extremely flexible. In Years 1 and 2 you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines, and specialise as you progress through your honours years.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of broad cultural education and specialist knowledge valued by employers worldwide.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Persian and Middle Eastern Studies.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

Year 1

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

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

You will complete your studies with option courses, either from Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) or from other subject areas.

You could, for example, opt to study an additional Middle Eastern language - Arabic or Turkish. Edinburgh offers one of the widest range of languages of any UK university. The majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

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

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

Year 2

You will continue with your language study and take courses in the religion of Islam, and Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures.

Option courses

You can opt to study, or continue to study, Arabic, Turkish or another language.

As in Year 1, you can also choose from a wide range of discursive courses offered by IMES and by other subjects at the University of Edinburgh.

Year 3

You may have the option of spending Year 3 in a Persian-speaking country or at an approved institution elsewhere, improving your language skills and undertaking independent study.

Options may include a semester on exchange at a Middle Eastern university.

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.

You will also choose from a range of specialist, honours-level option courses dealing with different aspects of Iran (including pre-Islamic Persia), Islam and the Middle East.

You will write your honours dissertation.

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 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.

Our partnership with IMVBox.com gives you access to over 1,000 Iranian films.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the Persian Society. It 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.

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

It may be possible to spend all of Year 3 studying abroad in a Persian-speaking country or at an approved institution elsewhere.

When this is not permitted, there may be a possibility to spend one semester on exchange at a Middle Eastern university.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Experienced lecturers and language instructors will teach a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • language classes

How will I be assessed?

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

  • essays
  • exercises
  • presentations
  • oral language exams

You will also complete a dissertation in your final year.

Skills and experience

Studying a language to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop on this programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of the Middle East, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.

Opportunities at home and away

Collectively, Persian, Dari and Tajik are the first language of more than 120 million people in the Middle East and Central Asia.

This ranks Persian and its variants among the world’s 20 most widely spoken first languages.

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 Persian, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

Our programme 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
  • translating and interpreting

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 a taught MSc and a Masters by Research programme in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.

Our interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically include:

  • The Globalised Muslim World
  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality

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: 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 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

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

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 Middle Eastern Studies

Additional costs

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