SOAS University of London

SOAS Language Centre

Certificate & Diploma in Communicative Arabic

Programme Code: UOFD0001

Start of programme: Term 2 (20-21 cohort): 4th January 2021. Term 1 (21-22 cohort): Sept 2021

The Graduate Diploma in Arabic is a one-year programme with three syllabus units (5 study modules) taught over three terms in one academic year.

Mode of Attendance: Full-time


Updated 13/11/20: We are accepting applicants for Term 2 (Jan 21) entry. Please check the requirements for this within the 'Programme Description' information below.

Covid-19 update:  
We are pleased to announce that SOAS Language Centre Diplomas will be offered fully online from September to December 2020. Term 2, January to March 2021, will also be fully online. From April 2021, depending on Government advice, teaching may combine on campus, online and blended learning. 

SOAS is very well prepared for online teaching with 20 years’ experience of distance learning programmes, and offers platforms that include student/teacher interactions, student/student interactions, lively discussions, and full student support.

Here are some student testimonials from the current cohort who had to move to online learning since the start of the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19

Sophie: "The transition to online learning was surprisingly smooth due in part to the student’s enthusiasm but also to the flexibility and dedication of our teachers and their passion for teaching the Arabic language. Together, we managed to re-create the positive, lively atmosphere that we had in class due to the camaraderie between students and teachers."

Zane: “After returning to the United States once classes were put online at SOAS, it was reassuring that the professors were able to help students adapt not only to online learning, but that they worked with students across various time zones to foster the best possible experience.”

Programme Description

The Diploma in Communicative Arabic programme at SOAS Language Centre in London is designed to prepare students with no previous knowledge of Arabic to live and work in an Arabic-speaking environment.

Students who successfully complete both the Term 2 and Term 3 units of the programme are awarded the Graduate Diploma in Communicative Arabic. 'Successful completion' means that the student has met the attendance requirements for each Unit/Term, submitted satisfactory course work and passed all the end-of-unit/term exams.

A student awarded the Diploma will be able to communicate effectively in Arabic in a wide range of social and professional situations and be able to read and write Arabic of considerable complexity, ranging across a wide variety of topics. S/he will have an assured command of the grammar and vocabulary of the language and be able to participate confidently in conversations that cover more sophisticated topics and/or involve mixed registers.

Any student who has not met all the requirements to be awarded the Diploma or are unable to complete the full academic year of study may be awarded the Certificate of Higher Education as an exit award, if they have completed the first and second terms of study and successfully met all the assessment requirements.

The certificate has two stages, comprising 120 credits:

In term 1, students will study two 30-credit modules one at level 4 and one at level 5.

In term 2, students will study a further two 30-credit modules, one at level 5 and one at level 6.

Modules: You will study all the following Credits
Module 1: Acquiring Skills 30 @ level 4
Module 2: Improving Skills 1 30 @ level 5
Module 3: Improving Skills 2 30 @ level 5
Module 4: Extending Skills 30 @ level 6

The Diploma has one stage, comprising 50 credits:

In term 3, students will study a 50-credit module at level 6.

Modules: You will study all the following Credits
Module 1: Developing Skills 50 @ level 6

Students exit the Diploma with a total of 170 credits.

Entry requirements:

Admittance to the course is subject to interview, which includes an assessment of language level in the case of non-beginner. Provided they pass the entry exam and necessary modules test, students may join at the start of Term 2 to register for Diploma level but cannot join thereafter.

In order to join the course from Term 2, students are required to take an admissions test as part of their application. An admissions test gives students the chance to show their potential to succeed on the course.
Students need to take three tests (listening, speaking and reading test). The cost for this is £120 per student for all three tests. Test dates are usually w/c 14th Dec 2020.

How do these awards compare with other standards?

Approximate equivalents with other recognised standards of language proficiency are given below for general guidance only.

Award Language Level CEFR Category CEFR Band Al-Arabiyya  Test
Certificate Intermediate Threshold B1 Intermediate
Diploma Upper Intermediate Vantage B2 Upper Intermediate

Progression to a SOAS Degree

The SOAS Language Centre Diploma (with a pass at Merit level) is recognised as an acceptable alternative entry qualification for admission to the SOAS BA Arabic degree. Diploma holders who pass with a Merit Grade (minimum 60%) and can demonstrate that they have the required academic standard for degree study may, following SOAS enrolment processes through UCAS and subject to a satisfactory interview with the Arabic Admissions Tutor, be accepted for further degree level study of Arabic.  Applicants interested in this progression option should, in the first instance, before they enrol, seek the advice of the Programme Convenor, Ms Ilham Salimane:



The course is scheduled to run Monday to Friday daytime. In addition to the classroom contact hours and scheduled online sessions, some small group or individual tutorials will be available by appointment. The programme is very demanding and students will be expected to spend at least 20 hours of study outside class every week and make full use of their Self-Study learning time.

The programme is based on the communicative approach to teaching Arabic and develops the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in a balanced way. Students will also learn to activate grammatical patterns and acquire a wide range of vocabulary which they can use to express their meanings accurately and appropriately. The programme is continually adapted to students’ learning needs and so the pattern of learning activities varies from session to session.


In addition to audio-visual materials and a variety of original materials supplied by the teachers, the course is based on a number of core textbooks such as:

  • Brustad, K., Albatal, M. & Al-Tonsi, A. (2010) Alif Baa Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds. 3rd Ed. Washington: Georgetown University Press
  • Brustad, K., Albatal, M. & Al-Tonsi, A. (2004) Al-Kitaab Fii Ta Allum Al- Arabiyya: Pt. 1. 2nd Ed. Washington: Georgetown University Press
  • Brustad, K., Albatal, M. & Al-Tonsi, A. (2005) Al-Kitaab Fii Ta Allum Al- Arabiyya: Pt. 2. 2nd Ed. Washington: Georgetown University Press

On enrolment, you will be advised as to which materials you are required to buy for the programme and these may be obtained from the Language Centre or the SOAS bookshop.

Other Learning Opportunities

Students will have the opportunity to attend relevant seminars and lectures available in the School, such as those organised by the Centre of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Centre of Islamic Studies, Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law and the Arabic Department of the School of Languages and Linguistics.


Students are assessed through a combination of written and oral examinations and coursework. Further details are provided in the Programme Handbook which will be given to enrolled students in the first week.

Student Evaluation

Our students are very positive about the quality of the learning experience at the Language Centre.

This is how Samantha, who completed the programme in 2018-2019, describes her experience:

Sam Newbound

"The Diploma in Communicative Arabic at SOAS is a great choice if you’re looking for an intensive Arabic course. Learning Arabic in a year is no easy task, but this program was an incredibly rewarding experience thanks to the well-structured course, unique communicative focus, a great group of students, and above all, dedicated teachers who challenged and encouraged us throughout the year, but were also understanding and willing to work with us through any challenges. It was amazing to see our progress from starting out just learning the Arabic alphabet to, by the end of the course, giving presentations on important political issues, reading the news in Arabic, and role-playing scenarios in Egyptian colloquial. I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone motivated to learn Arabic and willing to put in the effort for a year!"

Lara also completed the programme in 2018-2019:

Lara Mubaydeen

"Before starting the Diploma course at SOAS, I had several reasons for learning Arabic. I studied Arabic at school for several years so I was able to read and write but my speaking level was that of a beginner. As you can imagine, this was incredibly frustrating not least of all because I’m half Jordanian and have a massive family that I wasn’t able to communicate with in their native language. I’m also interested in working in the film industry, for which I believe being able to speak more than one language is extremely beneficial.

Joining the course turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. The mix of colloquial and formal Arabic was exactly what I was looking for, as I was able to learn how to speak the language as well as appreciate it from a linguistic standpoint. It was of course challenging at times, but Ilham and Amal are both wonderful teachers who were always happy to further explain concepts that I struggled with, and keen to answer any nerdy linguistic questions that I had. Their passion for teaching the Arabic language was always apparent every day we came into class, I don’t believe there are better teachers of the Arabic language in London. Furthermore, the support and pastoral care I received when I was experiencing some personal difficulties was so incredibly kind and beyond what I could have asked for or imagined.

I am absolutely astounded at the progress I’ve made on the Diploma course. And yes, since graduating I’ve been able to successfully chat to my family in Arabic - it’s like I’m meeting them all for the first time!"

This is how Tom, who completed the programme in 2016-2017, describes his experience:

Arabic Diploma Student - Tom

"SOAS's Diploma in Communicative Arabic is the ideal intensive course for anyone who wants to get a proper grounding of the Arabic language. It covers all the key skills and grammar required to live and work in the Middle East. From being able to deliver presentations in Arabic to analysing the latest news on Al-Jazeera, the level of progress students undergo on this course is remarkable. The teaching staff are inspirational, dedicated in encouraging students to feel confident with the Arabic language. The unique communicative emphasis of the course means that students speak in Arabic from the first day. Choose the Arabic Diploma and enjoy one of the most rewarding learning experiences for language students".

This is what Ahmed, a former student, had to say about his language diploma course:

Ahmed Bobat

"Whether it be in learning a language or baking a cake, when looking to create success, one must have a recipe to follow. The Diploma in Communicative Arabic is that recipe. From incredibly motivating and inspiring teachers who go far beyond what can ever be expected of them, to a course curriculum that could not have been better structured - the foundations of excellence are very well laid. And then you add course materials which seem to understand the difficulties of Arabic learners, and last but not least an amazing group of class mates to keep that motivation going. Blend together with a year of solid personal effort and there you have it - success."


Term Dates for Academic Year 2020-21

Term 1: Monday 21st September (Induction week)
Teaching starts 28th September - Friday 18th December 2020

Term 2: Monday 4th January - Friday 26th March 2021

Term 3: Monday 12th April - Friday 25th June 2021

Classes omitted the two May Monday Bank Holidays (3rd May & 31st May) will be replaced in the final week of June, which is an additional week for catch-up and assessment.

Fees for Academic Year 2020-21 (Terms 2 & 3)

EU/Home: £7500

Overseas: £8450

Students who require a study visa must pay the full fees for the whole course at the time of application. Payment must be made in good time to allow for visa processing.

No refunds can be given once the term has started.


Students enrolling on the Graduate Diploma programme are eligible for funding through the UK Student Loan Company providing they meet the requirements set by the SLC. Applicants are asked to read very carefully and understand the guidance for the SLC funding on the SOAS Fees webpage:

and seek advice from the Programme Administrator if they have any questions about their eligibility. Please note that the guidance specifies that if you have a Level 6 qualification, you are not eligible for any SLC funding for any other study. This ruling applies even if you self-fund your Diploma. SLC funding is not currently available to students who wish to take the Certificate (Cert HE) only.

How to Apply

To apply for a Language Centre Certificate/Diploma programme you can download our  SOAS LC Application Form - Communicative Certificate & Diploma (msword; 156kb) or contact us for the forms. Please read the Terms and Conditions before filling in the forms. Completed application forms, accompanied by the course fee, made payable to SOAS, should be returned to SOAS Language Centre.

Application Deadlines

The number of students per class is limited, places fill up very quickly and we cannot guarantee there will still be places available in August.

Although study visa regulations allow for entry to the course up to two weeks after the start date, students should be at SOAS for the first day of the course on Monday 21st September so as not to miss anything.

For further information about applying and enrolling for the programme, please contact the Arabic Language Administrator, Ms Romany Luckock:

Tel: +44(0)20 7898 4595


For further information about the content and structure of the programme, please contact the programme convener, Ms Ilham Salimane, Arabic Language Specialist: