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

MA Arabic Literature

Duration: One calendar year (full-time), or two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Overview

Minimum Entry Requirements: First or upper second-class honours degree or overseas equivalent in Arabic or another relevant subject with good knowledge of Arabic

Interview Policy: Interviews by arrangement

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

This new taught-Masters degree offers a deep insight into the Arab world through its literatures. It is an advanced programme designed for students with a good first degree in Arabic or with a good university degree who also know Arabic. The fundamental objective is to make Arabic culture and literature accessible to a wider body of postgraduate students and to provide them with training in the study of literature. Students develop an advanced understanding of Arabic literature and gain detailed knowledge of its past and present. The syllabus combines the literary approaches of comparative literature with in-depth study of Arabic literature. Students have the opportunity to become familiar with, among other things, literary theory, translation techniques, the sociology of literature, the social and political dimensions of modern Arabic literature, and different genres and themes of classical, medieval and modern Arabic literature.

Structure

Students take three taught courses from the lists of options below, and write a 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic related to the student's major. The major must be an Arabic literature course chosen from either List A or List B below. Of the two other taught courses, one must be chosen from the list that does not include the major. The third can be taken from either list:

List A:
List B:

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

All courses are taught in English, and essays and presentations are also done in English. All courses apart from "Theories and Techniques of Comparative Literature" involve reading some original Arabic texts.

Most courses are taught in seminar groups. These demand active participation by students, e.g. by giving presentations and by discussion with other students in the class, in order to develop research potential, original thinking and, by the tutor's direction, structured knowledge of the topic.

Classes are one two-hour session each week; in some cases an additional tutorial hour is added. In addition students are encouraged to attend lectures and seminars organised by the AHRB Centre for Asian and African Literature and the London Middle East Institute.

Assessment

Most courses are assessed by a combination of these methods:

  1. Two essays of 4000 words each (40% of the total mark)
  2. An essay-type three-hour examination in May-June (60% of the total)

The only exception is Arabic-English-Arabic Translation, which is assessed by two essays of 3000 words each (30%) and an essay-type three-hour examination (70%)

Destinations

A postgraduate degree in MA Arabic Literature from SOAS provides students with 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. Graduates of this programme will develop their ability to engage with and explore relationships between indigenous aesthetics of the region and contemporary literary theories. Some graduates leave SOAS to pursue careers directly related to their study area, while others have made use of the intellectual training for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems that contemporary societies now face.  

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in the business, public and charity sectors. They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including 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. Graduates can use their skills in Arabic and literary study in a variety of occupations, particularly those in which deep knowledge of Arabic intellectual culture and a trained mind are an advantage.

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

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