SOAS University of London

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

BA Hebrew and Israeli Studies (2018 entry)

Please note this programme is not accepting applications for 2019/20

  • Q&A
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


The degree is intended to give students a solid grounding in Israeli Hebrew, familiarity with the major types of Modern Hebrew literature and a broad knowledge of the historical, political, religious and cultural background. Intensive study of Modern Hebrew language and literature is a compulsory feature of the degree.

The syllabus can be tailored to individual needs by selecting options from the wide range of Hebrew and Hebrew-related modules taught in the NME Department and elsewhere in the School. In addition up to two open option units in other subjects may be selected from other module units taught in the School.

Please note this programme is not accepting applications for 2019/20

Prospective students may be interested in the BA Hebrew and... combined degree programmes.

Programme Code: QTY6 BA/HElsrSt

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • Languages at SOAS are taught ab initio, and no prior knowledge of Modern Hebrew is required
  • Subjects Preferred: A good pass in a foreign language at A-level, or equivalent, is preferred
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with 'non-standard' qualifications may be invited for interview
A Levels:
A Level language preferred
35 (6/6/5)

View alternative entry requirements


Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction

Scottish Highers: AAABB

Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB

Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above

Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0

Euro Bacc: 80%

French Bacc: 14/20

German Abitur: 2.0

Italy DES: 80/100

Austria Mat: 2.0

Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Featured events

4 years



Introducing BA Hebrew and Israeil Studies
Tamar Drukker

Dr Tamar Drukker, Senior Lector in Hebrew at SOAS, explains how the BA Hebrew and Israeli Studies at SOAS is tailored to students looking to gain a solid grounding in the history, politics, religion, culture and language of Israel.

What does the course involve? 

The course offers a window into contemporary Israel, though focus on language, culture, history and literature. Students gain a broad understanding of the history, culture, peoples and art of the modern State of Israel. Language classes are taught solely in Hebrew, from the very beginning, allowing a complete immersion in the language and its contemporary usage. The study of Hebrew is complemented with courses on Israeli society and culture, a course devoted to Jerusalem, the city, a symbol and a reality, and Hebrew literature as part of a richer literary corpus from the Near and Middle East. 

Students spend the third year studying intensive Hebrew language at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, alongside a wide variety of courses taught in English on archaeology, politics, society or linguistics from which the students can choose. Living in Jerusalem allows students the opportunity to improve on their proficiency in Hebrew and get to experience life in Israel.

In their final year, students continue to improve on their Hebrew, reading non-edited Hebrew texts, and undertake research for an Independent Study Project on any aspect of Israeli studies. 

What kind of students will the course appeal to?

The focus on contemporary Hebrew and on modern Israel attracts students who are interested in the region, in politics, conflict resolution, migration studies, and the Middle East in general. The course allows students to understand the region and the main issues surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, in a more nuanced and informed way than is often presented in the media. 

What facilities are available?

Our courses are taught in small group classes, which is especially significant in language courses. SOAS Library has a rich and wide-reaching selection of Hebrew books and studies in English on Israel and the region, as well as a selection of films, newspapers, music and more. 

The Centre for Jewish Studies offers occasional lectures and events with invited guests, offering a rich look at Israel and Jewish diasporas. SOAS is also home to the London Middle East Institute and the Jewish Music Institute, and our students can partake in open events organised by these centres.  

What is special about the programme at SOAS?

SOAS is unique in offering a degree in Hebrew that focuses solely on Modern Hebrew, and its links to modern Israel and the contemporary Middle East. Our students specialise in Hebrew, but also learn literature originally written in other languages from the region, Turkish, Persian and Arabic. Students can also choose to take another language course or modules from across the School. 

Can you recommend a good book to read on Hebrew?

For a concise overview of the complex and intriguing history of Hebrew language, look at Lewis Glinert's The Story of Hebrew (2017).

For a contemporary literary voice from Israel, read the Booker International Prize Winner (2017), David Grossman, A Horse Walks into a Bar, translated by Jessica Cohen, or short stories by Etgar Keret. 

What do students do after graduating?

Some SOAS graduates continue to study Israeli Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, War Studies, Conflict Studies or other similar disciplines. Their proficiency in Hebrew gives them an advantage in being able to conduct postgraduate research in the region using primary sources in Hebrew. 

Other students turn to the civil service and work in various departments, usually with a focus on the Middle East and/or Israel. We have students who move on to journalism or find work with NGOs or think-tanks. 

Students sometimes turn to translation studies or move to employment in formal and informal education. 

Often our students return to Israel and/or the Middle East, looking to find work and further studies in the region. 


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.

The single-subject degree is a four-year programme in which students take sixteen modules. 

In the first year students normally begin the study of Modern Hebrew language and take introductory modules in literature, culture and religion. 

In the second year students continue with one course of Hebrew language, a course on the Israel-Palestine conflict and Nation and Nationalism in Middle Eastern fiction. Students have an open option for their fourth unit.

Students are required to spend the third year at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they continue the study of language and a range of Hebrew-related subjects. In the event of interruption of the year-abroad programme a similar programme of study is arranged in London. 

In the fourth year students write an extended essay, and take an advanced Hebrew language course, and a module on Hebrew Literature. Their fourth module they can choose from a selection of Hebrew-related modules or from courses on offer across the school.

Students who already have prior knowledge of Modern Hebrew are tested on registration and may be permitted to begin language study at an appropriate higher level.

Year 1
Core Module
Compulsory Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Literatures of the Islamic Near and Middle East 155900991 15 Term 2
Introduction To Israeli Culture 155900947- 15
Open Option

Choose related Language or Non-Language open option modules to the value of 30 credits

  • Language Open Option Modules
  • Non-Language Open Option Modules
Year 2
Core Module
Compulsory Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Contemporary Middle East Fiction A: Identity and Belonging 155906727 15 Term 1
Open Option

Choose related Language or Non-Language open option modules to the value of 30 credits

  • Language Open Option Modules
  • Non-Language Open Option Modules
Year 3

Students will spend a year abroad at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Year 4
Compulsory Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Hebrew 4 155900714 30 Full Year
Guided Option

Choose a module from the List Below to the value of 30 credits

Open Option

Choose related Language or Non-Language open option modules to the value of 30 credits

  • Language Open Option Modules
  • Non-Language Open Option Modules
List of Modules (subject to availability)
Module Code Credits Term
The Origins of Modern Hebrew Poetry 155901280 15 Term 1
History, politics and culture
Module Code Credits Term
Introduction To Israeli Culture 155900947- 15
Palestine/Israel and the International 153400087 15 Term 2
Jerusalem: City in Conflict (UG) 155905003 15 Term 1

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

Year abroad

Students are required to spend the third year of the programme at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Teaching & Learning

Contact Hours

All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks). The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS). It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others.

In the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, undergraduate modules take various forms. Modules may be taught through 1 or 2 hours of lectures a week, and some may have an additional 1-2 hours of weekly seminars. Languages classes may be 4-5 hours per week in the first and second year, typically less at higher levels.

More information is on the page for each module.


As a student specialising in Hebrew and Israeli, you will gain 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 and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of the Middle East.

Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in both business and the public sector. These include 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.

A number of graduates of this programme have found jobs in Israel. Others have entered the diplomatic service, the media, education, business the city and the tourist industry.

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

A Student's Perspective

What SOAS offers is the lectures with world-class academics, who give you not only a thorough knowledge on the subject, but also stimulate you for individual thinking and make you enjoy the course.

Sergiusz Scheller

Find out more