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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

BA Arabic and Islamic Studies

Programme Code: QT96 BA/ArlslSt Duration: 4 Years


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2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB
  • A Level language preferred
  • IB: 35 (6/6/5)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: Languages at SOAS are taught ab initio, and no prior knowledge of Arabic is required.

Subjects Preferred: A good pass in a foreign language at A-level, or equivalent, is preferred

Interview Policy: Candidates with "non-standard" qualifications may be invited for interview

This four-year programme is intended to give students a solid grounding in Modern Standard and classical Arabic, familiarity with the core textual tradition of Islam, a broad knowledge of Islamic history and some insight into the methodology of religious studies. The third year is spent at a university in the Middle East.

Course Information

Modern language teaching involves class work, language-laboratory teaching, computer-assisted learning (CALL) and independent study. Introductory and intermediate courses in Arabic language use a wide variety of learning experiences and techniques in large and small groups. Most other units are taught in small classes. Assessment is by a combination of written examination, oral examination (where appropriate) and coursework.


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

In the first year the programme's major component is the intensive study of Modern Standard Arabic; an introductory course in the study of Islam makes up the year.

The second year continues the study of Modern Standard Arabic and at the same time introduces the student to Islamic texts. A third course is taken in Islamic studies and a fourth chosen from the option lists and approved open options.

The third year of the degree is spent at an Arab university in the Middle East, where students study the colloquial language as well as Modern Standard Arabic, and write an extended essay.

In the final year language study is continued at the advanced level. To continue the first-hand experience of the primary sources the choice of one of two units in Islamic text-reading is compulsory. The third and fourth units are selected from the list of options; students who wish to specialize in Islamic studies are able to opt for further text-reading courses in this field. There is also an opportunity to write an extended essay (ISP).

NB: Language units at a more advanced level are available to students with the appropriate background.


Year 1
1. Core Course

Must be passed to proceed to the following year of study

  • Arabic 1 - 155900896 (3 Unit) - Full Year
2. Compulsory Course

Choose one of the following courses:

Year 2
1. Core Course
  • Arabic 2 - 155900897 (1 Unit) - Full Year
2. Compulsory Courses
3. Optional Course

Choose one unit from List A or B, or another approved open option unit.

Year 3

Year abroad in Amman, Alexandria or Nablus. Students will develop their Arabic language skills, learn colloquial language and write an extended essay in Arabic.

Year 4

Students who wish to specialize in Islamic studies are able to opt for further text-reading courses in this field. There is also an opportunity to write an extended essay (ISP).

1. Core Course
  • Arabic 4 - 155900899 (1 Unit) - Full Year
2. Choose one of the following
3. Optional Courses

Choose 2 units from List A or B. Or choose one unit from List A or B and one approved open option unit.

(List A) Arabic-related options
Year 2 Arabic Related Options
Year 4 Arabic Related Options
(List B) Other approved options

Before selecting a course, student's must first check that the course is at the correct level. They must also ensure that they meet any pre-requisites. Permission to take any optional course outside of the NME department is at the discretion of the course convenor.

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

Year 3 in Amman or Damascus.

Pre Entry Reading

  • Lings, Martin: Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. London: Islamic Texts Society, 1983
  • Abdel Haleem, M. A. S.: Understanding the Qur'an: Themes and Style. London: I B Tauris, 1999
  • Waines, David: An Introduction to Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003


As a student specialising in Arabic and Islamic, you will gain competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of the Middle East.

Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in both business and the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.

Students graduating with this degree have opportunities to work in further research in Arabic or Islamic Studies, Education, the Arab and Islamic media, Islamic centres, the BBC, in the Press, the Civil Service and non-governmental organisations.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

Nothing can truly describe your own personal SOAS experience, but one thing I can say is that it will be something you will remember for a lifetime and learn from not only your classes, but through life experience while being here.

Farkhanda Mohiyuddin