Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Arabic and Spanish

UCAS code: TR64

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Arabic and Spanish

Two of the world's most widely spoken languages, Arabic and Spanish make an excellent joint honours programme. Interaction between the two languages and cultures has taken place over many centuries, most obviously in Islamic Spain between 711 and 1492, and continues to the present day.

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.

Apart from opening the door to a fascinating and varied region, knowledge of Arabic provides access to the rich intellectual heritage of Islam, and to the history, societies, cultures and politics of the Middle East. No prior knowledge of Arabic is required to take this programme.

Studying Spanish at the University of Edinburgh, you will be immersed in an extraordinary range of literature, film, poetry and theatre from around the world, explored in historical context. You will learn how to discern different varieties and registers of Spanish, and gain crucial intercultural competencies.

Spanish at Edinburgh celebrated its centenary in 2019, and our wide-ranging courses are taught by leading experts in their field, inviting you to explore the diverse and rich cultures of Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Why Edinburgh?

On our joint honours programme in Arabic and Spanish, you will gain written and spoken skills in both languages and explore their impact on world cultures.

Over the course of your time with us, you will benefit from our resources and our excellent record in teaching and research.

We have built a full academic year abroad into our four-year programme, providing complete immersion in both languages in Year 3.

Studying over four years also enables you to choose courses that match your own interests, expertise and employability needs. It gives you the blend of specialist skills and Intercultural Competence valued in a range of careers around the globe.

Year 1

Arabic

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

You do not currently need to know any Arabic, as Year 1 courses are designed for beginners.

Over the course of the year, you will learn to read and write using Arabic script, and speak confidently in Arabic about a range of topics.

You will also take courses in:

  • Islamic history - a survey of the formation of the Islamic world, from its pre-Islamic origins to the foundation of the first Muslim world empire

  • modern Middle Eastern history - an introduction to the Middle East's political, economic, social and cultural history from 1950 until the present day

Spanish

You will study either Spanish 1A or 1B, depending on your language skills. Typically, students on Spanish 1B come to University with substantially more experience of studying Spanish than students on Spanish 1A.

As well as developing your language skills, both the 1A and 1B courses will introduce you to a diverse selection of cultural texts and films from across the Spanish-speaking world.

Year 2

Arabic

You will continue with your Arabic language study, developing the grammar and vocabulary to communicate effectively.

Our Year 2 course focuses on the main linguistic skills:

  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening

You will also choose between courses in:

  • the religion of Islam - an exploration of the religion's branches, key texts, central beliefs and rituals

  • Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures - an introduction to the literary, aesthetic and intellectual culture of the Middle East, from the eve of Islam to the modern period

Spanish

Students of 1A and 1B will come together in our Spanish Language 2 course. This course will help you communicate your ideas in Spanish using more nuanced grammatical structures, vocabulary and syntax. In both your spoken and written work, you will gain confidence in expressing yourself in Spanish ready to study or work abroad in Year 3.

You will also take a further course on the literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. You'll be introduced to different genres and artistic currents which demonstrate how culture has reflected, shaped and contested reality from the sixteenth century to the present day.

Option course

You will complete your Year 2 studies with an option course.

You can choose from a great selection of options in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical option courses include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

Alternatively, you can opt to study Catalan or Basque, expanding your knowledge of Iberian languages and cultures.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between two countries. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of Arabic and Spanish by speaking them daily and immersing yourself in local cultures.

Living abroad will also give you the wider perspective, experience and skills to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life after university.

30 weeks to live your languages

You will spend a total of 30 weeks abroad. You will divide your time between a country in which Arabic is spoken and one in which Spanish is spoken.

To give you a balanced experience, you will spend at least eight weeks in each of your two destinations. How you further divide your 30 weeks is normally based on whether you study in both countries, or combine study for Arabic with work for Spanish.

Where can I go?

Transforming classroom learning into a lived experience, you will study or work in countries where either Arabic or Spanish is spoken.

For Arabic, we currently offer four destinations in the Arabic-speaking world in which to study at an approved institution.

For Spanish, the University has exchange places in a wide variety of universities in Spain and Latin America (Argentina, Chile and Mexico).

A work placement for Spanish is another great way to gain an international perspective, build professional networks and prepare you for your career after university. For example, you might find an internship or traineeship, arrange work with a private company or charity, volunteer, or gain experience as a teaching or language assistant through an organisation such as the British Council.

If you are considering working abroad for Spanish, it is possible to do so in one of several countries in which the language is spoken. The first step is to start thinking about where you would like to go. Visa requirements and application processes vary between countries, so it is a good idea to find out what documentation you will need and whether you are eligible to get it.

Coursework while abroad

We will aim to ensure your experience abroad is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning and cultural awareness.

Regardless of whether you study or work abroad for Spanish, you will take an e-learning course to prepare you for your Year 4 language courses.

You will also begin preparing for your dissertation while abroad.

Keeping in touch

While you are studying or working abroad for credit, you are still a student at the University of Edinburgh.

The Year Abroad Office and your Student Adviser, both based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), will check in with you at key points during your Year Abroad. Additionally, each language has a dedicated Year Abroad Coordinator for any academic queries, ensuring you are all set and ready for your final year in Edinburgh.

Just like any other time during your studies, you have access to all University services while you are abroad. These include our:

  • Student Wellbeing Service
  • Student Counselling
  • Student Disability and Learning Support
  • University emergency helpline (available 24 hours a day)

Wellbeing and safety

Your wellbeing and safety abroad is our first priority. If international travel is not possible or placements are disrupted, for example following travel advice from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we will offer you alternative ways to engage with your subjects. We will support you to meet your learning outcomes for Arabic and Spanish and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

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

In addition to these core courses, you will also choose from a wide range of specialist, honours-level courses dealing with different aspects of Islam and the Middle East, and of Spanish and Latin American:

  • film
  • literature
  • history
  • politics
  • language
  • linguistics
  • media and cultural production

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete an 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 (2024/25)

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 and support spaces.

A number of our Spanish courses have developed online resources to complement the core materials. These resources are designed to be accessible from home, or from the campus' excellent computing facilities.

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 and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. It has over 23,000 resources in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), of which around 9,000 printed books and 12,500 e-books are in Arabic, and more than 100 films are in either Arabic or Persian. It has around 27,000 books and 5,000 journals in Spanish.

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

Highlights include:

  • The Serjeant and Watt Collections of some 6,400 titles, including works on the history of the Arab world and Arabic literature
  • 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
  • an extensive collection of the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram al-yawmi 1876-1930
  • a 1629 edition of Cervantes
  • paintings by Murillo and Picasso
  • the renowned musicologist Jan Fairley’s rich collection of Latin American music recordings and interviews

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

IMES also has its own library in 19 George Square, with views across a central garden to both the Main University Library and LLC.

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

We have great links with the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World which promotes a better understanding of Islam and Muslim culture locally, nationally and internationally.

We also play a key role in the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies at the University. This Centre brings together staff and students from a number of different subject areas at Edinburgh, including:

  • film, media and art
  • geography
  • politics
  • history
  • social anthropology
  • linguistics

Since 2023, we have hosted the first extension of the Cervantes Institute in Scotland. Established in 1991, the Cervantes Institute is a non-profit organisation that promotes, supports, and celebrates Spanish-language literature, film, art, and cultures through a range of events and activities for students and the public.

Events and activities

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

The Spanish Society, for example, is one of around 300 societies and clubs supported by Edinburgh University Students' Association. The Association also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

A number of our Arabic-speaking 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.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in Spanish and eight other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional. Many of them are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes.

Highlights include the National Library of Scotland, which has an outstanding collection of early modern Spanish material, and the National Museum and Galleries of Scotland.

Edinburgh’s world cinema scene is particularly strong. We are proud to contribute to its success through collaborations with IberoDocs and with the annual Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival. Started and developed by our very own colleagues, this festival celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2023.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), studying or working in countries where either Arabic or Spanish is spoken. You will spend at least eight weeks in each destination.

Whether studying or working, this is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

We know that you are likely to have lots of questions about your Year Abroad. We’ve gone into lots of detail about where you can go and what you can do under ‘What you will study / Year 3’ above. You can also find out more through the University's Study and Work Away Service.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

In addition to these classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in Year 4.

Support

As well as the teaching staff and other staff members you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for Spanish, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation.

Skills and experience

Studying languages to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop on this joint honours programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of diverse cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of projects
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, 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 work 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

Local and global opportunities

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates in Scotland, the UK and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in these two global languages, and to understand the cultures to which they open doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that both Arabic and Spanish are in the world's ten most widely-spoken languages and the six official languages of the United Nations.

This programme is your gateway to a great many countries, cultures and career opportunities in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East.

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, we typically offer one-year Masters by Research degrees in Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies and in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.

Taught masters (MSc) programmes generally comprise a combination of core and optional courses taught by specialists in the field, training in research methods, and an independent dissertation or piece of creative work.

Our portfolio of interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • Comparative Literature
  • The Globalised Muslim World
  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Each of these programmes is a good foundation for a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: 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: Spanish at B. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Spanish or Arabic at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Spanish or Arabic at 5. SL: 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.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

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
  • 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.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

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 Spanish

Additional costs

As long as international travel is possible, Year 3 will involve time abroad, both in the Middle East and in a country where Spanish is spoken. The costs you have to pay 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 refund 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