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

MA ... and Intensive Language (Arabic)

Duration: Full time: 2 years. Part time: 4 years.


Minimum Entry Requirements: SOAS has general minimum entrance requirements for registration for a postgraduate taught degree and these can be viewed at http://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/pg/howtoapply/ Students wishing to take certain options as their Major will normally be expected to have their 1st degree in that discipline. This applies to those wishing to have their Major in Social Anthropology, Economics, Politics (of the Middle East), and Law.

Who is this programme for?:

The two-year language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with the Arab Middle East in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language course would enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

In the two-year pathway, students can take intensive Arabic language with either MA Islamic Societies and Cultures, MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies, or MA Palestine Studies, therefore making these programmes unique in Europe. The student will be provided with a near proficient ability in the Arabic language.


May be combined with

Once you have checked the structure for this programme via the structure tab, please click into the above discipline that you would like to study. You will then see the full list of optional courses available to you.


In the two-year language pathway, students take two units of Arabic and one discipline unit in their first year. During the summer, they will participate in a summer school in Jordan. Upon their return, they will take one unit of Arabic in their second year and two discipline units. They would also be expected to choose a Major in which to write the dissertation.  In the intensive-language pathway, the same rules apply as for the usual MA. 

For the part-time four year pathway, please refer to the programme specification (attached below) of your preferred discipline. 

The intensive language courses will be assessed by a combination of exams and continuous assessment, involving in-class tests. The assessment in the summer school is handed over to the partner university but will be counted as one unit.


Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Learning outcomes will vary depending on the combination of courses chosen by individual students. Learning outcomes for each course can be found under the information provided on the relevant list of postgraduate courses on the departmental page of the SOAS website.  In general, by the end of the course students will have learnt the following:


  • How to assess data and evidence critically from manuscripts and digital sources, solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations, locate materials, use research-sources (particularly research-library catalogues) and other relevant traditional sources.
  • Subject-specific skills are an amalgam of the skills described for each of the three options chosen by candidates from the cross-department/faculty choices available in the relevant course-descriptors.

Intellectual (thinking) skills:

  • Students will learn to become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence and should also come to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
  • Students will learn to question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.
  • Communicate effectively in writing subject-based practical skills.
  • Language-students will learn the chosen language at the appropriate level.
  • Present seminar-papers.
  • Listen and discuss ideas introduced during seminars.
  • Practise research-techniques in a variety of specialised research-libraries and institutes.

Transferable skills:

  • Writing good essays and dissertations.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively, both orally and in writing.
  • Study a variety of written and digital materials in libraries and research-institutes of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates.
  • Present (non-assessed) material orally.
  • To acquire/develop skills in Arabic language to Effective Operational Proficiency level.
  • To demonstrate awareness of the conceptual and communicative underpinnings of Arabic and through this interlinguistic and intercultural understanding.
  • Communicate in written and spoken medium in contemporary Arabic.
  • Engage with people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, understand the role of different frames of reference.

A Student's Perspective

My training as a specialist in the Middle East and Subcontinent would be rather incomplete without these languages or a stay at SOAS!

Padraig Belton