SOAS University of London

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

MA Middle Eastern Studies and Intensive Languages (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

  • Combinations
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment

Overview

Overview and entry requirements

The MA in Middle Eastern Studies provides exceptional opportunities for studying this diverse and fascinating area at the postgraduate level through a variety of disciplinary approaches. The main emphasis of the programme is on the modern period through the modules in history, geography, politics, economics and anthropology. Some exposure is provided, however, to the pre-modern culture and society of the area through modules in religious studies, Islamic art and archaeology, and history.

The MA Middle Eastern Studies with Intensive language programme has many language modules for students to pick and choose from, inlcuding introduction, intermediate, advance Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish. Students will also spend the summer taking an Advanced Study Abroad module, worth 45 credits, while also having a choice of studying two years full-time or four years part-time.

See Near and Middle East Department

Combine Middle Eastern Studies with a language

Languages to choose from: Arabic, Persian, Turkish.

Why study Middle Easterb Studies and Intensive Language at SOAS

  • SOAS is ranked 1st in London in the Complete University Guide 2021 for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and 6th in UK
  • SOAS has an unrivalled reputation as the foremost provider of Asian, African and Middle East studies
  • students have an opportunity to develop a holistic and integrated approach to the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East through their languages and cultures

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.

Featured events

duration:
Two years (full-time), or four years (part-time, daytime only)

Convenors

Combinations

May be combined with:

MA Middle Eastern Studies can be combined with the following Intensive Language pathways:

Structure

Structure

Students must take 315 credits in total, comprised of 255 taught credits (45 of which are taught abroad as part of a Summer School) and a 60-credit dissertation as outlined below.

In their first year, students on the two-year Intensive Language programmes take 60 credits of intensive language instruction and 60 credits in the discipline. During the summer, they participate in a Summer School abroad. In the second year, they take another 30 language credits as well as 60 credits in the discipline; they also complete their dissertation in the discipline. 

On the MA Middle Eastern Studies and Intensive Language:

  • a maximum of 60 credits can be taken in any one subject area
  • a minimum of three subject areas must be covered.

For the purposes of this requirement, modules convened by members of SLCL staff (e.g. Turkey: Continuity and Change) may be classified under different disciplines (either history or politics) as indicated in the List of Guided Options so as to allow students maximum choice.

Please see 'Programme specification' below to download the PDF pathways specifications of the four-year part-time version of the programme.

Programme

Year 1 (two years full time)
Discipline Component

The compulsory modules 'Remapping Area Studies' (15 credits) and 'The Middle East in Ten Issues' (15 credits)

Plus

A minor module(s) from the list below to the value of 30 credits.

Language Component

Students take 60 credits in the selected language.

Summer Abroad

Students participate in a Summer School abroad for the selected language.

Year 2 (two years full time)
Discipline Component

A major module(s) from the list below to the value of 15 or 30 credits.

Plus

A minor module(s) from the list below to the value of 30 or 45 credits.

Or

A module(s) from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 15 or 30 credits

Plus

The dissertation in Near and Middle Eastern Studies (60 credits)

Language Component

Students take 30 credits in the selected language.

Dissertation
Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Near and Middle Eastern Studies 15PNMC996 60 Full Year
Compulsory Modules

Taken in Year 1

Module Code Credits Term
Remapping Area Studies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PNMH053 15 Term 1
The Middle East in Ten Issues 15PNMH054 15 Term 2
Anthropology and Sociology
Available as minors only
Module Code Credits Term
Art and Archaeology
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Arab Painting 15PARH054 15 Term 1
China and the Silk Road: Art and Archaeology 15PARH093 15 Term 1
Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts 15PARH034 15 Term 2
Islamic Art and Architecture of Eastern Mediterranean of the Period of the Crusades (11th-14th centuries) 15PARH080 15 Term 2
Islamic Visual Culture 15PARH065 15 Term 1
Development Studies
Available as a major or minor
Module Code Credits Term
Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa 15PDSH019 15 Term 2
Available as minors only
Module Code Credits Term
Water and Development: Commodification, Ecology and Globalisation (Development Studies) 15PDSH049 15 Term 2
Water Justice: Rights, Access and Movements (Development Studies) 15PDSH041 15 Term 1
Economics
Available as a major or minor
Module Code Credits Term
Political Economy of Development and Change in the Middle East 15PECC028 15 Term 1
Available as a minor only
Module Code Credits Term
Gender
Available as minors only
Module Code Credits Term
Gender in the Middle East 15PGNH001 15 Term 1
Queering Migrations and Diasporas 15PGNH002 15 Term 2
Queer Politics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PGNH007 15 Term 2
History
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Empire and Reform in the Modern Middle East, 1789-1914 15PHIH031 15 Term 1
Empire, Law, and Citizenship in the Middle East and the Balkans 15PHIH049 15 Term 2
Historical Perspectives on Gender in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PHIH029 15 Term 2
Nationalism and Revolution in the Modern Middle East, 1914-1979 15PHIH032 15 Term 2
The Early Development of Islam: Emerging Identities and Contending Views 15PHIH039 15 Term 2
Available as a minor only
Module Code Credits Term
The Afghanistan Wars, 1979 to the Present 15PHIH056 15 Term 1
Language

You may select modules to the value of 60 credits from the languages below.

Module Code Credits Term
Arabic 1 (PG) 15PNMC413 30 Term 1
Arabic 2 (PG) 15PNMC439 30 Term 2
Higher Intermediate Arabic/English/Arabic Translation Project (PG) 15PNMC419 30 Full Year
Intensive Advanced Summer Arabic (PG) 15PNMC416 45 Full Year
Intensive Higher Advanced Summer Arabic (PG) 15PNMC417 45 Full Year
Intensive Intermediate Summer Arabic 15PNMC414 45 Full Year
Students are allowed to take any of the NME language courses offered in any given year
Law
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Human Rights and Islamic Law 15PLAC150 30 Full Year
Law and Society in The Middle East and North Africa 15PLAC130 30 Full Year
Available as minors only
Module Code Credits Term
Islamic Law (MA/LLM) 15PLAC121 30 Full Year
Israel, Palestine, and International Law (15Cr) 15PLAH081 15 Term 2
Media
Available as a major or minor
Module Code Credits Term
Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications 15PMSH003 15 Term 2
Music
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Music in Morocco: Saints, Shrines and Scrolls 15PMUH033 15 Term 1
NME Culture
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Cinemas of of the Middle East and North Africa 1 15PNMH048 15 Term 1
Cinemas of of the Middle East and North Africa 2 15PNMH049 15 Term 2
Iran: History, Culture, Politics 15PNMC405 30 Full Year
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
NME History
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics 15PNMH006 15 Term 1
Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II: Culture and Society 15PNMH007 15 Term 2
From Palestine to Israel: 1900 to 1948 15PNMH021 15 Term 1
Iran: History, Culture, Politics 15PNMC405 30 Full Year
Israel and the Palestinians: from 1948 to Oslo 15PNMH022 15 Term 2
Jerusalem: City in Conflict (PG) 15PNMH008 15 Term 1
Turkey: Continuity and Change 15PNMC377 30 credits
NME Literature
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Classical Persian Poetry: Texts and Traditions (PG) 15PNMC401 15 Full Year
Modern Palestinian Literature (PG) 15PNMC379 15 Term 2
Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography 15PNMH035 15 Term 2
Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography 15PNMH035 15 Term 2
Social and Political Dimensions of Modern Arabic Literature (PG) 15PNMH032 15 Term 1
NME Politics
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics 15PNMH006 15 Term 1
Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II: Culture and Society 15PNMH007 15 Term 2
From Palestine to Israel: 1900 to 1948 15PNMH021 15 Term 1
Iran: History, Culture, Politics 15PNMC405 30 Full Year
Israel and the Palestinians: from 1948 to Oslo 15PNMH022 15 Term 2
Turkey: Continuity and Change 15PNMC377 30 credits
Politics
The two 15 credit modules below together constitute the major option for Politics of the Middle East
Module Code Credits Term
State and transformation in the Middle East 15PPOH011 15 Term 1
Political society in the Middle East 15PPOH008 15 Term 2
Available as minors only
Module Code Credits Term
Geopolitics and Security in Central Asia and the Caucasus 15PPOH023 15 Term 2
International politics of the Middle East 15PPOH047 15 Term 1
Islam and politics 15PPOH006 15 Term 2
Market Politics: Political Economies of a Globalizing Middle East 15PPOH075 15 Term 1
Study of Religions
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Judaism and Gender 15PSRH029 15 Term 2
Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism 15PSRH030 15 Term 2
The Holocaust in Theology, Literature and Art 15PSRH028 15 Term 2
Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives 15PSRC052 30 Full Year

 

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

One-year Masters programmes consist of 180 credits. 120 credits are taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks); the dissertation makes up the remaining 60 units. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

Contact hours

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework and revising for examinations. 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. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary. 

There are ten weeks of teaching and a Reading Week in each of Term 1 and 2, and two weeks of revision teaching in Term 3, the rest of which is dedicated to exams. 15-credit modules are taught over ten weeks in either Term 1 or Term 2.

More information is on the page for each module.

Part-time studies

Part-time students divide their workload of the required modules evenly between the number of years of part-time study, with the dissertation module taken in the last year of study. It is also best practice to take the Major module in the last year of study. However, different arrangements are possible with the approval of the convenor of the Major module.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge
  • 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 are an amalgam of the skills described for each of the three options chosen by candidates from the cross-department/faculty choices available in the relevant course-descriptors.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • Students will learn to become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence and should also come to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
  • Students will learn to question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.
    Communicate effectively in writing.
Subject-based practical skills
  • Language-students will learn the chosen language at the appropriate level.
    Present seminar-papers.
  • Listen and discuss ideas introduced during seminars.
  • Practise research-techniques in a variety of specialised research-libraries and institutes.
Transferrable skills
  • Writing good essays and dissertations.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively, both orally and in writing.
  • Study a variety of written and digital materials in libraries and research-institutes of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates.
  • Present (non-assessed) material orally.
Linguistic skills (two-year Intensive Language pathways)
  • To acquire/develop skills in a language spoken in the Near and Middle East to Effective Operational Proficiency level
  • To demonstrate awareness of the conceptual and communicative underpinnings of that language and through this interlinguistic and intercultural understanding.
  • Communicate in written and spoken medium in a relevant language.
  • Engage with people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, understand the role of different frames of reference.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Employment

Employment

A postgraduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies from SOAS gives students 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law.   

Skills gained

Postgraduate students leave SOAS with the linguistic and cultural expertise needed to continue in the field of research along with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in business, public or charity sectors including:

  • written and oral communication skills
  • attention to detail
  • analytical and problem solving skills
  • ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources. 

Careers

Graduates in MA Middle Eastern Studies have entered various professions after leaving SOAS. Some have been able to pursue careers directly related to their study area while others have made use of the general intellectual training provided by the advanced study of cultures for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems contemporary societies now face. Among a variety of professions, career paths may include academia, charity work, community, government, NGOs, media and publishing and UN agencies.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage
  • Asfari Foundation
  • Banque Saudi Fransi
  • Ministry of Defence
  • WAND - Women Power and PEace
  • World Economic Forum
  • Guardian and New Statesman
  • DFID
  • ICRC
  • CARE International
  • The Risk Advisory Group
  • Refugee Legal Aid Program
  • BBC
    Kwintessential
  • UNESCO
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Al Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation
  • Amnesty International
  • Janusian/Risk Advisory Group
  • European Parliament
  • The British Institute of Persian Studies
  • Dubai Women's Establishment

Roles

The types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

  • Assistant Director of Middle East Studies
  • Chief Curator of Collections and Exhibitions
  • Chief Economist
  • Chief Editor
  • Civil Servant
  • Community Manager, Middle East
  • Director of Public Affairs
  • Humanitarian Worker
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Legal Counsel
  • News Presenter
  • Political Advisor to the Secretary General
  • Political Risk Consultant
  • Professor of Islamic Studies
  • Programme Manager, International Trade
  • Research & Campaigns Assistant, East Africa Team
  • Senior Consultant
  • Strategist
  • Teacher
  • Vice President for University Advancement
  • Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

For more information about Graduate Destinations, visit our 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