SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

MA Ancient Near Eastern Languages (2018 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning


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 - as well as those who are starting the language for the first time. 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, or to provide an intensive introduction to these. 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.

Programme Code: Q9S1

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Part-time


Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). 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

Featured events

Two years (part-time only)


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 either take 90 credits in Year 1 and 30 credits in Year 2, or 60 credits in each year. The dissertation must be taken in the second year
Year 1

Choose from the List of Modules below to the value of 90 credits

Year 1 Alternate

Choose from the List of Modules below to the value of 60 credits

Year 2

Choose a module from the List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits


Choose a module(s) from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 30 credits

Year 2 Alternate

Choose a module from the List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits


Choose a module from the List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits


Choose a module(s) from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 30 credits


Students must take the Dissertation

Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Ancient Near Eastern Languages 15PNMC994 60 Full Year
List of Modules (subject to availability)

At SOAS (NB: modules run in alternating years)

Module Code Credits Term
Introductory Sumerian (Masters) 15PNMC429
Introductory Hittite (Masters) 15PNMC428 30 Full Year
Advanced Cuneiform Texts: The Earliest Literature 15PNMC021 30 Full Year
Advanced Cuneiform Texts: The Age of Babylon 15PNMC022 30 Full Year
Advanced Cuneiform Texts: The Age of Empires 15PNMC023 30 Full Year

Students may, if qualified, take 30 credits from the following MA programmes run by UCL:

  • Hebrew and other North-West Semitic languages (from MA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies)
  • Ancient history, currently "Change and Continuity in the Ancient Near East" (from MA in Ancient History)
  • Archaeology (from MA in Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East)


Programme Specification

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

  • 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 (language): deeper understanding and wider experience of Akkadian language and other languages already acquired, as appropriate (e.g. Sumerian, Hittite); sound basic knowledge of languages studied for the first time, as appropriate (e.g. Sumerian, Hittite).
  • Subject specific skills (other): ability to utilize written documentation to reconstruct cultural background, e.g. interpreting literature as a product of its civilization, understanding monumental inscriptions as royal artefacts and analysing documentary texts as witnesses of social and economic history.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • Students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
    Students should question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.
Subject-based practical skills
  • Communicating effectively in writing.
  • Retrieving, sifting and selecting information from a variety of sources.
  • Listening and discussing ideas introduced during classes and seminars.
  • Ability to plan and execute set tasks efficiently.
  • Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research libraries and institute.
Transferrable skills
  • Writing good essays and dissertations.
    Structuring and communicating ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Understanding unconventional ideas.
  • Studying a variety of written and digital materials, in libraries and research institutes, of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates.
  • Presenting (non–assessed) material orally.

Find out more