Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Arabic and Persian

Why choose Arabic and Persian at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We are ranked 6th in the UK for Middle Eastern studies in the Complete University Guide 2018. We are also 14th in the world for arts and humanities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 by Subject.

  • We have a long and well-established reputation for teaching about Islam and the history, culture, languages and literatures of the Middle East. Arabic, for example, has been taught here since the middle of the 18th century.

  • The University offers 16 languages for study at degree level and more than 140 joint language programmes. This creates a diverse and uniquely exciting and stimulating environment for language study.

  • Our teaching staff are also highly active researchers, passing on to you the same passion and world-class expertise that gained excellent results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. Our Arabic and Persian research was part of the Area Studies submission in which 73 per cent of our publications rated either world-leading or internationally excellent on the overall quality profile.

  • We are the only university in Scotland to offer courses in the three main languages of the Muslim world - Arabic, Persian and Turkish. We welcome beginners with no previous knowledge of these languages.

Study abroad

In language tutorials, the groups are small and you get lots of personal attention. I appreciate the very high teaching standards offered and the enthusiasm and welcoming attitude of staff.

Archie Vickers 2nd year MA (Hons) Arabic & Persian
Archie Vickers 2nd year MA (Hons) Arabic & Persian

For several decades the Middle East has been at the forefront of world events.

Our Arabic and Persian programmes provide a unique opportunity to learn the region's languages and to develop a better understanding of the region's politics, culture, religion, history, literature and law.

You will have the opportunity to study a full range of material from pre-Islamic poetry and Islamic philosophy to modern literature and cinema.

Year 1

You will study elementary language, learning basic grammar and developing your vocabulary. You will also take courses in Islamic history, modern Middle Eastern history and courses from other academic areas.

Year 2

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

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 in an Arabic- or Persian-speaking country, improving your language skills and undertaking independent study.

Year 4

You will continue to develop your language and translation skills and will write your honours dissertation. You will also choose from a range of option courses dealing with different aspects of Islam and the Middle East.

Are there additional costs?

You will spend either a semester or a year (depending on your programme) at a university or institute in an Arabic- or Persian-speaking country as part of your programme. Costs vary according to the location.

Our facilities

Classes will take place within the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, located within the University’s Central Area.

You will have full access to the University’s computer facilities and libraries, which contain specialist resources and a collection of Islamic manuscripts.

Study abroad

Arabic students can choose between at least two countries in the Arabic-speaking world for their study abroad. Persian students will usually study abroad in a Persian-speaking country.

How will I learn?

Experienced lecturers and language instructors will teach a combination of lectures, tutorials and language classes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a combination of exams and coursework, including essays, exercises, presentations and oral language examinations. You will also complete a dissertation in your final year.

The Middle East is one of the UK's major trading partners so there is a high demand for graduates who speak Arabic or Persian.

Our programmes will also prepare you for careers in the diplomatic service, elsewhere in the civil service or in non-government organisations.

Graduates also enter teaching or the media or begin postgraduate study.