Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Arabic and Social Anthropology

UCAS code: LT66

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Arabic and Social Anthropology

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.

Given the importance of the Arab world as the immediate neighbour of Europe on the southern and eastern sides of the Mediterranean, Arabic and Social Anthropology make an excellent combination.

Arabic

Our programme is designed to give you a thorough grounding in both classical and modern Arabic. You will develop skills in writing, reading, listening to and speaking the language.

The Arabic language opens the door to a fascinating and varied region, providing access to the history, societies and cultures of the Middle East. You will study aspects of the Arabic-speaking world, past and present.

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

Social Anthropology

Social anthropology is the comparative study of human behaviour and ideas in their social, cultural, religious, and political contexts.

At its heart is the common humanity that underlies the world's many different societies.

There are close links between social anthropology and sociology, human geography, development studies, history, archaeology, and philosophy.

Why Edinburgh

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

Our programme is flexible. In Year 2, for example, you will choose an option course from a wide range of disciplines. You will specialise as you progress through the programme and spend a year studying abroad.

You will have the opportunity to learn from researchers who are international leaders in their field. You will also engage in original anthropological research, which may be library-based or involve fieldwork.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of intercultural competence and specialist knowledge valued by employers worldwide.

Year 1

Arabic

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

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

Social Anthropology

You will receive a broad introduction to social anthropology by studying:

  • Social Anthropology 1A, which looks at the life course
  • Social Anthropology 1B, which explores contemporary debates and global issues

Year 2

Arabic

You will continue with your language study and take courses in the religion of Islam or modern Middle Eastern history.

Social Anthropology

You will also study Social Anthropology 2 and Ethnography.

Option courses

You will choose from a wide range of option courses offered by the University of Edinburgh.

Options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

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

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.

Depending on availability, you may also be able to take social anthropology courses at an approved institution in the Middle East.

You will undertake preparatory work for your Social Anthropology dissertation and have the opportunity to conduct your own research in the summer break between Years 3 and 4.

Your dissertation supervisor will help you to plan and develop your research project which can take place in the UK or overseas.

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 social anthropology.

You will write your honours dissertation in social anthropology.

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.

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.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. These include the National Library, Museum, and Galleries of Scotland.

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 and culture. It will allow you to develop broader life experience and skills that you can use after university.

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

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

Combining a language with social anthropology 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 Arabic language 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

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

Humanities graduates who have studied a language 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
  • Social Anthropology
  • 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 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 Social Anthropology

Additional costs

As long as international 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