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

MA Ancient Near Eastern Languages

Programme Code: Q9S1 Duration: Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)


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Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) plus knowledge of Akkadian. NB: Due to its part-time nature, this programme is currently not available to students requiring a Tier 4 visa

Interview Policy: Candidates will normally be interviewed

Start of programme: September intake only

The SOAS MA in Ancient Near Eastern Languages offers an intensive programme of text-reading and language-learning for those who already have a good knowledge of the Akkadian language - usually at least two years' experience. The degree is intended to widen the student's experience in the vast legacy of written documentation in Akkadian and other languages from ancient Mesopotamia and Anatolia. The programme is tailor-made to serve as an intermediate level between SOAS's three-year BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (or an equivalent qualification) and postgraduate Assyriological research at the level of MPhil and PhD. It can, of course, be taken for its own sake.

Email: ag5@soas.ac.uk


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.

The degree comprises three taught courses chosen from the MA list and a dissertation on an agreed subject. The courses that are avaliable at SOAS in Akkadian, Sumerian and Hittite are in the list below.

Instead of one of these SOAS courses candidates may, if qualified, take one of the following topics from MA programmes run by University College London: 

Not all the courses listed are available every year. Entry to courses run by University College is subject to the approval of the academic department in question (the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, the Department of History, and the Institute of Archaeology).

Courses avaliable at SOAS

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Course Information

Courses are listed under the menu item Programme Structure on the left-hand side of this page. Each course is taught two or three hours weekly in small classes of usually one to five students. Courses in language and literature comprise the reading, translation and discussion of set texts. Thorough preparation is essential.

Each taught course is examined by means of one three-hour paper in May or June, which counts for seventy per cent of the final marks for the course, and two assessed pieces of course-work of 3500-4500 words submitted on the first day of the second and third terms respectively (together 30 per cent).

Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) is taught by Professor A R George and Dr Daniel Schwemer, Sumerian by Professor George and Professor M J Geller of University College London, and Hittite by Dr Schwemer.


The dissertation will be on a topic agreed with the student's teachers and will extend to about 10,000 words. It may take the form of an extended essay on an approved topic or an edition with introduction and commentary of a previously unedited text or group of texts. The deadline for submission is 15 September in the year of examination.

A Student's Perspective

Academically studying at SOAS has been incredible.  At first I thought that getting to meet the big-name professors from my field would be the most enjoyable part of my experience but now I actually think it has been the other students.

Quinn Connors, Tufts University