Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Arabic and History

UCAS code: TV61

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Arabic and History

Arabic is the main language of more than 350 million people inhabiting a huge swathe of land extending from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. It is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Arabic and History make an excellent combination. Our joint honours programme allows you to situate your understanding of the Arabic language, the Middle East and the Islamic world in the wider context of human history. You will spend a year of the programme studying and using your Arabic abroad.

You will learn both classical and modern Arabic and explore the Arabic-speaking world, past and present. Apart from opening the door to a fascinating and varied region, knowledge of Arabic provides access to the rich intellectual heritage of Islam.

Beyond the Middle East, you will develop a thorough understanding of the problems of historical interpretation as applied to a wide range of periods and geographical areas. We offer an exceptional range of history courses, covering:

  • the early Middle Ages to the most recent past
  • Britain and Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas

Further, our courses offer a rich variety of approaches to the past, including:

  • political history
  • cultural history
  • social history
  • economic history
  • intellectual history
  • gender history
  • global and transnational history

The University of Edinburgh is recognised, both in the UK and internationally, as a leading institution for the study of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and of History.

Combining a language with history 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. This openness to perspectives other than your own is an essential attribute in many careers and a global marketplace.

Year 1

Arabic

You will study elementary Arabic to learn basic grammar and develop your vocabulary.

In addition to at least one course in Islamic history, you will also have the option to take a course in Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures.

History

History courses in Year 1 are broad survey courses that are designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4.

Current courses range from the Middle Ages to the present day. You will take one of these courses and also a compulsory course on the methods and skills required for historical research.

Year 2

Arabic

You will continue with your language study.

In addition to at least one course in modern Middle Eastern history, you will also have the option to take a course in the religion of Islam.

History

Year 2 History courses extend your range geographically and chronologically. As in Year 1, they offer broad surveys designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4.

Current options are drawn from various periods and themes in American, European, British, Scottish and global history. You will choose one of these courses, and also take a compulsory course on historiography.

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in an Arabic-speaking country, improving your language skills and undertaking independent study.

Our graduates have told us how much the year abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of Arabic-language culture.

You will also undertake year abroad work for History, or take history courses at an accredited institution in the Middle East, depending on availability.

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 for your final year.

Year 4

You will continue to develop your language and translation skills in Arabic.

You will also choose from a range of specialist, honours-level option courses dealing with different aspects of Islam and the Middle East, and take specialist courses in History.

You will write your 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 (2022/23)

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.

Based in the Main University Library, the Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK. The centre brings together a collection of more than 400,000 rare books and six kilometres of archives and manuscripts. It also houses the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects.

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 History 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 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 of Scotland and National Museum of Scotland.

From the winding streets of the medieval Old Town to the Georgian squares and terraces of the New Town, it is also a history lover's paradise.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), choosing between at least two different countries in the Arabic-speaking world.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Arabic-language culture. It will allow you to develop broader life experience and skills that you can use after university.

Depending on availability, in addition to your Arabic language courses, you may also be able to take history courses at an accredited institution in the Middle East.

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 examinations

You will also complete a dissertation in your final year.

Skills and experience

Combining a language with history 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.

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility. Beyond the language, research and analytical skills you will develop on this joint honours programme, you will gain nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies throughout history.

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

More than 350 million people are native speakers of Arabic, the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. It is the lingua franca of the 22 countries in the Arab League, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is high demand for Arabic-speaking graduates both at home and abroad. Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in this global language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

Graduates who have studied a combination of language and history 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 MSc programmes in:

  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • The Globalised Muslim World
  • Comparative Literature
  • Translation Studies
  • Contemporary History
  • Medieval History

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 Arabic 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 Arabic and History

Additional costs

As long as international travel restrictions allow, Year 3 will involve study abroad in the Middle East. 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