The programme aims to develop student interest in, and knowledge and understanding of, the literature, culture and history of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Given the shared history and culture of this region, a critical understanding of both its ‘Classical’ and ‘Middle Eastern’ dimensions is highly desirable, but is rarely achieved in undergraduate education. Indeed, the problem of the cultural and political meaning of the heritage of the ‘Classical’ and ‘Oriental’ worlds remains a highly controversial question of pressing social and political importance. This is reflected in academic scholarship, in works such as Edward Said’s Orientalism, Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, and Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.
The study of the Classical and Middle Eastern worlds, in a multi-disciplinary manner, thereby affords the opportunity for the student to acquire a rounded view of East-West civilisations through the combination of philological, historical, art-historical, and cultural inquiry.
Such a programme is unique in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh’s strengths in both Classics and Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, together with significant expertise in relevant subjects elsewhere in the College of Humanities and Social Science make it particularly well placed to sustain a programme of such chronological depth and geographic and theoretical breadth. Graduates will be very well placed to pursue important postgraduate research. They will also bring important critical analytical skills and cultural and theoretical understanding into the wider marketplace, in the non-governmental sector, the Civil Service, industry, commerce, heritage industries and education.