The Near and Middle East Department provides expertise in a region which stretches from North Africa to the borders of China and has produced some the world’s greatest civilisations.

We were the first UK department to offer both MA Palestine Studies and MA Israeli Studies concurrently.

Our Arabic programmes are second to none, and we offer a comprehensive study of modern and classical Persian and Turkish. We host the Centre for Islamic Studies which organises conferences, publications and runs an international journal.

Meet the academics

Facts and figures

6th in UK

Complete University Guide 2021 (Middle Eastern and African Studies)

Why choose SOAS for the Near and Middle East?

The Middle East has been of vital geostrategic importance throughout its history and never more so than at the present time. Its location at the juncture of Africa, Asia and Europe has made it into a singularly rich meeting point of cultures, languages and religions but also into a theatre of conflicts.

There is no better way to get to know this complex and pivotal part of the world than by studying its languages. They are the key to communicate with its people, to unlock its culture and history and to engage with it for the purpose of a career. SOAS degrees offer an unrivalled opportunity to do just this.

The combination of high level language instruction, training in a range of disciplines and first hand experience of the region provides graduates excellent qualifications for any of the increasing number of jobs in which Middle Eastern expertise is of relevance.

Our research

A unique concentration of world-class teaching and research on 5,000 years of culture, from cuneiform and ziggurats to Arabic and Islamic revolution.

The wide range of subjects studied within the Department of Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East reflects not only the present economic and political importance of the region, but also the diversity and historical depth of culture within an area that stretches from North Africa to the borders of China and includes some of the most ancient cradles of civilisation and the birth-places of several of the world’s great religions.

The Department has received excellent ratings for both teaching and research, and many members of staff have been awarded major grants by funding bodies such as the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust.

MA degrees and research supervision are offered in an impressively broad range of fields, spanning the languages and cultures of the Ancient Near East, medieval and modern Iran, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Jewish tradition, and the Islamic world.

Although linguistic and literary studies form the core of the department’s work, some of its staff also specialise in the study of religions, and others have particular interests in such fields as cinema and music.

Their expertise is complemented by that of Middle Eastern specialists in other SOAS departments, such as Art and Archaeology, History and Political Studies, the whole adding up to a unique concentration of world-class teaching and research.