Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

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

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, as well as the rich intellectual heritage of Islam.

Studying English Literature will further develop your critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills by engaging 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.

Studying this joint honours combination prepares you to contribute to a society in which an understanding of texts of all kinds is crucially important. It shows an openness to ideas and perspectives other than your own, an essential attribute in many careers and a global marketplace.

Why Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

Year 1

Persian

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

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 and 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.

You will also take courses in the religion of Islam and Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures.

English Literature

You will be introduced to the study of English Literature in its cultural and historical contexts, focusing on a selection of major periods.

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

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 you are studying abroad, you will undertake an English Literature long essay.

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, take a further option course in Persian, and will write your honours dissertation.

You will also take specialist, honours-level courses in English Literature, enabling you to explore different periods, topics and approaches according to your area of interest.

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.

Literary treasures include a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays, and the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott.

Modern literature and poetry are particularly well represented in the collections, with the W.H. Auden collection and the libraries of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig.

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 also 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.

Across the University, there are lots 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
  • LitPALS - the Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme for 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.

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

In Year 3, you may have the option to study abroad in a Persian-speaking country or at an approved institution elsewhere.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Experienced lecturers and language instructors will teach a combination of:

  • seminars
  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • language classes

You will be expected to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for classes in English Literature.

How will I be assessed?

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

  • essays
  • presentations
  • close reading exercises
  • oral language exams

You will also complete a dissertation in your final year.

Skills and experience

Combining a language with literature 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 linguistic, literary and critical 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 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.

Graduates who have studied a combination of language and literature can be found in every kind of career, 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 career pathways 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:

  • 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

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

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: 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

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 Persian and English Literature

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