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

MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies

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


Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

Start of programme: September intake only

The MA in Near and Middles Eastern Studies provides exceptional opportunities for studying this diverse and fascinating area at the postgraduate level through a variety of disciplinary approaches. The main emphasis of the programme is on the modern period through the courses in history, geography, politics, economics and anthropology. Some exposure is provided, however, to the pre-modern culture and society of the area through courses in religious studies, Islamic art and archaeology, and history. Courses based on Arabic are offered for those with an adequate knowledge of the language, while courses in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish are available for those who wish to acquire or develop skills in these languages.


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.

Students take three taught courses, one of which is considered a major, and complete a 10,000 word dissertation related to the major. As the emphasis in the Regional Studies programmes is on interdisciplinary study, students are required to select their three courses from more than one discipline.

The two minor courses can be taken from the same discipline (but different to that of the major) or two different ones.

Some disciplines such as politics, economics or social anthropology require an appropriate qualification (such as all or part of a first degree) if any of their courses are to be taken as the major subject.

Students who intend to register for the MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies program, but choose 3 options also available in the MA Israeli Studies program will be required to apply for MA Israeli Studies.

Anthropology and Sociology
Available as minors only
Art and Archaeology
Available as majors or minors
Development Studies
Available as a major or minor
Available as a major or minor
Available as a minor only
Available as majors or minors

Please note that the 'Modernity and Transformation' courses can be taken together or individually, ONLY as majors.

Available as majors or minors
Available as majors or minors
Available as minors only
Available as a major or minor
The two half-units below together constitute the major option for Politics of the Middle East
Available as a minor only
Available as majors or minors
Study of Religions
Available as majors or minors
Translation Studies
Available as a minor only


Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Each course has its own series of classes and seminars, and in addition students attend general lectures and seminars organised by the Middle East Centre. In most courses there is one two-hour class each week. This may be an informal lecture followed by a discussion or a student presentation. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

The dissertation is on an approved topic linked to one of the taught courses.

Learning resources

SOAS library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


A postgraduate degree in the Near and Middle Eastern studies from SOAS gives students 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law.   Postgraduate students leave SOAS with the linguistic and cultural expertise needed to continue in the field of research along with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in business, public or charity sectors 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 in MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies have entered various professions after leaving SOAS. Some have been able to pursue careers directly related to their study area while others have made use of the general intellectual training provided by the advanced study of cultures for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems contemporary societies now face. Among a variety of professions, career paths may include academia, charity work, community, government, NGOs, media and publishing and UN agencies.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage
Asfari Foundation
Banque Saudi Fransi
Ministry of Defence
WAND - Women Power and PEace
World Economic Forum
Guardian and New Statesman
CARE International
The Risk Advisory Group
Refugee Legal Aid Program
International Committee of the Red Cross
Al Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation
Amnesty International
Janusian/Risk Advisory Group
European Parliament
The British Institute of Persian Studies
Dubai Women's Establishment

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

Assistant Director of Middle East Studies
Chief Curator of Collections and Exhibitions
Chief Economist
Chief Editor
Civil Servant
Community Manager, Middle East
Director of Public Affairs
Humanitarian Worker
Intelligence Analyst
Legal Counsel
News Presenter
Political Advisor to the Secretary General
Political Risk Consultant
Professor of Islamic Studies
Programme Manager, International Trade
Research & Campaigns Assistant, East Africa Team
Senior Consultant
Vice President for University Advancement
Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

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

A Student's Perspective

SOAS is a remarkable institution and I am happy to have chosen to study here. Students of the Middle East can really excel in their chosen fields and this year I have had the chance to study courses in the Politics and Media Studies Departments.

Mohammad Mirbashiri