Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

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 250 million people inhabiting a huge swathe of land extending from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. It is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Apart from opening the door to a fascinating and varied region, knowledge of Arabic provides access to the rich intellectual heritage of Islam.

The discipline of history involves study of the human past, adopting a critical approach to evidence relevant to that enquiry. Work in history takes the form of interaction with the evidence in primary form and sceptical reading of a wide body of historical writing.

Arabic and history make an excellent combination, allowing you to situate your understanding of the Arabic language, the Middle East and the Islamic world in the wider context of human history.

Our Arabic and history programme is designed to give you a thorough grounding in both classical and modern Arabic and a good knowledge of the Arabic-speaking world, past and present, alongside a thorough understanding of the problems of historical interpretation as applied to a wide range of periods and geographical areas, including the Middle East.

A year spent studying Arabic abroad provides complete immersion in Arabic language and culture.

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, with the School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures, and of history, with the School of History, Classics & Archaeology.

Year 1

You will study elementary Arabic to learn basic grammar and develop your vocabulary, in addition to courses in Islamic history and Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures. You will also study two broad survey courses in history that will emphasise processes and patterns within broad chronological and geographical frameworks.

Year 2

You will continue with your language study and take courses in modern Middle Eastern history and the religion of Islam. You will also continue to study a range of histories, deepening your knowledge of particular geographical regions, chronological periods, and themes.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 in an Arabic-speaking country, improving your language skills and undertaking independent study. You will also do year abroad work in history.

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 and you will take specialist courses in history.

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 (2017/18)

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

In Year 3 you can choose between at least two different countries in the Arabic-speaking world for your study abroad, where you will spend a minimum of 22 weeks.

Guaranteed study abroad funding for students required to complete a year abroad

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.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from 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 details (2018/19)

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.

Typical offer range

The typical offer is likely to be:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - ABBB.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 40 points (grades 766 at HL) - 34 points (grades 655 at HL).

Access threshold

The access threshold for a contextual offer is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points (grades 655 at HL).

Find out more about access thresholds and contextual offers

Detailed requirements for all applicants

To be considered for an offer of a place all applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or ABBBB/AABB from S4-S6, with a minimum of BBB achieved in one year of S4-S6. National 5: A language other than English at Grade A, English at Grade C and Mathematics or an approved science at Grade C.
  • A Levels: ABB. GCSEs: A language other than English at Grade A or 7, English at Grade C or 4 and Mathematics or an approved science at Grade C or 4.
  • IB: Award of Diploma with 34 points overall and grades 655 in HL subjects. SL: A language other than English at 6, English at 5 and Mathematics or an approved science at 4.

Additional requirements

Language Requirement

Please note that for degrees that have a subject requirement for 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 provide evidence that your written and spoken English is at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT 92 or above with 20 in each section
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): Total 61 with at least 51 in each "Communicative Skills" section
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

About English language requirements


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 Grade C
  • SQA Standard Grade 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 Grade A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 Grade C
  • GCSE Grade C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level Grade 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

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 Unistats data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Arabic and History

Additional costs

Year 3 includes study abroad in the Middle East. You will incur associated travel costs.


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