SOAS University of London

SOAS Language Centre

Diploma & Certificate in Communicative Arabic, Part-time

A SOAS-accredited course

Mode of Attendance: Part-time


The Diploma in Communicative Arabic programme is designed to prepare students with no previous knowledge of Arabic to live and work in any Arabic-speaking environment. In addition to learning Modern Standard Arabic, both written and spoken, students will be introduced to Arabic dialects. The Diploma is a SOAS accredited course.

The Part-Time Certificate and Diploma programme is designed to suit professionals who wish to obtain a high level of proficiency in Arabic and a recognised qualification while they are working.

By the end of the course, students will be able to communicate effectively in Arabic in a wide range of situations and be able to read and write Arabic with ease. They should obtain a good command of the language used in everyday and survival situations, social conversations, current affairs and job related contexts.

Adopting the communicative approach to teaching Arabic, the course will help you to develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in a balanced and integrated way. The course has a flexible entry structure so students with prior knowledge of and skills in the language can also join the course at different stages based on an assessment of their levels.So if you are not a complete beginner, you will need to contact SOAS Language Centre for an assessment before your application can be processed further.

How long are the terms?

The Part-time Diploma course lasts 3 years in total and consists of two stages. Stage one is the Certificate and stage two is the Diploma. Each year of the course runs for three terms from January to December. The whole course runs for 9 terms over three years with a total of 510 hours of instruction. Students are expected to spend at least 5 hours on self-study a week and regularly use our virtual learning environment (VLE) support system.

The Certificate stage of the course comprises a total of 320 hours of instruction. It runs over two years; for each year it will run for 10 weeks for the first two terms and 12 weeks for the third term. Students who successfully complete the Certificate course will be awarded The Certificate in Communicative Arabic. Those with the Certificate are qualified to join the Diploma level, which runs for 12 weeks for the first two terms and 14 weeks for the final term. Students who successfully complete the course (a total of 190 hours of instruction) will be awarded the Diploma in Communicative Arabic.

Can I take just one year without registering for the Certificate/Diploma?

Yes, Some students take the course for individual terms without formally registering to take the Certificate/Diploma. However, since accreditation for prior study can often be given, all students are encouraged to register for either the Certificate or the Diploma.

How are the classes structured?

Classes run for 5 hours a week on a part-time basis. In addition to the classroom contact hours, some individual sessions will be available by appointment with designated teachers and additional materials will be provided through our virtual learning environment (VLE) support system.

Classes are held twice a week:

From 6.30pm till 8.30pm on one evening (to be announced) per week, plus 10am till 1pm on Saturdays.

The course is continually under review so the exact structure can vary from session to session.

What will I be able to do by the end of the Certificate course (Years I & II)?

By the end of the Certificate course students will be able to:

  1. Write Arabic Naskh script with good accuracy.
  2. Write notes, short messages and compositions on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.
  3. Write personal letters describing experiences and impressions.
  1. Communicate adequately within a range of social situations using the appropriate register.
  2. Enter conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events).
  3. Express opinions on a range of topics and deal with some non-routine activities.
  1. Understand the main points of clear standard speech in everyday situations in both standard and colloquial forms. 
  2. Obtain information and extract details on a range of familiar topics.
  1. Read Arabic Naskh script with accuracy. 
  2. Understand texts on everyday or job related topics.
  3. Understand the description of events, feelings and wishes.

What will I be able to do by the Diploma course (year III)?

By the end of the Diploma course students will be able to:

  1. Write the Arabic script with accuracy, both Naskh and Riq’a.
  2. Write straightforward connected texts on a variety of subjects related to their fields of interest.
  3. Write short, simple essays on topics of interest. Be able to summarise, report and give opinions based on accumulated factual information on routine and non-routine matters within their field with some confidence.
  4. Write clear, detailed descriptions on a variety of subjects related to their field of interest. Write a review of a film, book or play.
  1. Communicate effectively within a wide variety of situations. Seek, convey and respond to information, ideas and opinions on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current affairs).
  2. Give a prepared straightforward presentation on a familiar topic within their field which is clear enough to be followed without difficulty most of the time, and in which the main points are explained with reasonable precision. Be able to take follow up questions, but perhaps have to ask for repetition if the speech was rapid.
  3. Be able to describe and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
  1. Understand clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  2. Understand the main points of many radio or TV programmes on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest.
  1. Understand texts that consist of everyday or job related language.
  2. Understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.
  3. Understand the main points of newspaper articles.

How does this course compare with other recognised standards?

Approximate equivalents with other recognised standards are given below for reference only:

Common European Framework:
  • End of Stage 1 (Certificate) is the equivalent of level B1
  • End of Stage 2 (Diploma) is the equivalent of level B2

Who teaches the classes?

SOAS Language Centre has a staff of over twenty trained and experienced teachers of Arabic. The course is run under the academic supervision of the Department of the Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East. The course is usually taught by a team of four teachers. The end of term examinations are supervised and approved by the Academic Director at SOAS and an External Examiner.

Course assessment

Students are assessed through a combination of termly written and oral examinations and continuous assessment. Students have to achieve 40% to pass the end of year exam. This grade consists of Continuous Assessment (30%) and end-of-Year examination (70%).

Continuous assessment will be based on marked homework and tests, both written and oral. The end-of-term and the end-of-course exams will comprise oral, listening and written parts.


Certificate and Diploma

Part time per year fee: 

  • Year 1 - £3450
  • Year 2 - £3450
  • Year 3 - £4095


In addition to multimedia materials and a variety of authentic materials supplied by the teachers, and made available on our VLE, the course is based on a number of textbooks such as:

  • Al-Kitaab fii Ta'allum al-'Arabiyya: A Textbook for Arabic. Brustad, K. et al., Georgetown University Press, 2004
  • Al-Kitaab Al-Asaasi. Badawi, A.M. et al, Tunisia, 1992
  • Egyptian Colloquial, SOAS Language Centre, 2007.
  • A selection of materials from: Media Arabic, Part I. Tunsi, Abbas & Warraqui, Nariman, 1989, American University in Cairo.

Recommended reference materials:

  • Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary
  • Writing Arabic; T. F. Mitchell
  • Media Arabic; Julia Ashtiany
  • Modern Literary Arabic; Cowan


Dates for the 2015 - 2016 session:
  • Autumn term: Monday 14 September 2015 to Friday 18 December 2015
  • Winter term: Monday 4 January 2016 to Friday 24 March 2016
  • Spring term: Monday 11 April 2016 to Friday 15 July 2016

* There are two Bank Holiday's in the Spring Term on May 2nd and May 30th.

Applying for the course

To apply for a Language Centre Certificate/Diploma course you can download our application and payment forms, above right. Or contact us for the forms. Read the terms and conditions. Completed application forms, accompanied by the course fee, made payable to SOAS, should be returned to SOAS Language Centre.

The closing date for applications: TBA

We suggest you read the course description above and our terms and conditions before filling in the form. Admittance to the course is subject to interview, which includes an assessment of language level in the case of non-beginners.
The Language Centre contact for this course is Ms Ilham Salimane
Tel: 020 7898 4870