SOAS University of London

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

MA Arabic Literature

One calendar year (full-time), or two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Fees 2018/19

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2018/19 entrants. This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page

2018 Entry requirements

  • First or upper second-class honours degree or overseas equivalent in Arabic or another relevant subject with good knowledge of Arabic
  • Interview Policy: Interviews by arrangement

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  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
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Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

This taught-Masters degree offers a deep insight into the Arab world through its literatures. It is an advanced programme designed for students with a good first degree in Arabic or with a good university degree who also know Arabic. The fundamental objective is to make Arabic culture and literature accessible to a wider body of postgraduate students and to provide them with training in the study of literature. Students develop an advanced understanding of Arabic literature and gain detailed knowledge of its past and present. The syllabus combines the literary approaches of comparative literature with in-depth study of Arabic literature. Students have the opportunity to become familiar with, among other things, literary theory, translation techniques, the sociology of literature, the social and political dimensions of modern Arabic literature, and different genres and themes of classical, medieval and modern Arabic literature.



Students take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. Of the taught modules, students must choose at least 60 credits from the list of Arabic Literature modules.  One of these will be considered their major (30 credits).  Students are encouraged to take 90 credits from the Literature options modules and 30 credits from the list of optional modules.  However, students may select 60 credits from the optional modules list.
Compulsory Module

Students must take 60 credits from the list below. You may take more.

Module Code Credits Term Availability
Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature 15PCSC002 30 Full Year
Social and Political Dimensions of Modern Arabic Literature 15PNMC347 30 Full Year
Arabic Women's Writing: Theories and Practices 15PNMC411 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Early and Medieval Arabic Linguistic Thought: Scholarship and Literature 15PNMC410 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
A Modern Arabic Literary Genre: Themes and Techniques 15PNMC046 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Arabic Poetry and Criticism 15PNMC048 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Arabic Popular Literature: Themes, Genres & Theory 15PNMC045 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Modern Palestinian Literature (PG) 15PNMC379 30 Full Year
Classical Arabic Prose Literature and Adab 15PNMC047 30 Full Year
Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography 15PNMC378 30 Full Year
Arabic Critical Theory and Thought 15PNMC403 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Culture, Society and Politics in Classical Arabic Literature 15PNMC426 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Compulsory Module

Students must take the module below.

Module Code Credits Term Availability
Dissertation in the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East 15PNMC999 60 Full Year
Optional Modules

Students take a further 30 to 60 credits from the list of approved optional modules.

Module Code Credits Term Availability
Issues in the Anthropology of Gender 15PANH024 15 Term 2
Culture and Society of Near and Middle East 15PANH067 15 Term 2
Islamic Art & Architecture of Medieval Anatolia and the South Caucasus (11-13th centuries) 15PARH070 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Arab Painting 15PARH054 15 Term 1
Art and Architecture of the Fatimids 15PARH035 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts 15PARH034 15 Term 2
Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa 15PDSH019 15 Term 2
Economic development of the Middle East 15PECC341 30 Full Year
Gender in the Middle East 15PGNH001 15 Term 1
Gendering Migration & Diasporas 15PGNH002 15 Term 2
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
Encountering the Other: the Middle East during the Crusading Period 15PHIH037 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Zionist Ideology 15PNMC035 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Israel and the Palestinians 15PNMC038 30 Full Year
Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners 15PHIH006 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Turkey:Continuity and Change 15PNMC377 30 Full Year
Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East I 15PHIH031 15 Term 1
Iran: History, Culture, Politics 15PNMC405 30 Full Year
Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East II 15PHIH032 15 Term 2
Introduction to Standard Modern Arabic 15PNMC032 30 Full Year
Arabic 300 (Postgraduate) 15PNMC390
Arabic 2 (PG) 15PNMC382 30 Full Year
Arabic 4 (PG) 15PNMC391 30 Full Year
Elementary Hebrew (PG) 15PNMC392 30 Full Year
Intermediate Hebrew (PG) 15PNMC393 30 Full Year
Advanced Hebrew (PG) 15PNMC394 30 Full Year
Elementary Written Turkish 15PNMC386 30 Full Year
Intermediate Modern Turkish Language (PG) 15PNMC383 30 Full Year
Intensive Turkish Language (PG) 15PNMC395 30 Full Year
Advanced Translation (Turkish) 15PNMC044 30 Full Year
Elementary Written Persian 15PNMC387 30 Full Year
Persian for Readers of Arabic Script (PG) 15PNMC422 30 Full Year
Persian Language 2 (PG) 15PNMC033 30 Full Year
Avestan I 15PSRC033 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Islamic Law (MA/LLM) 15PLAC121 30 Full Year
Law and Society in The Middle East and North Africa 15PLAC130 30 Full Year
Human Rights and Islamic Law 15PLAC150 30 Full Year
Communication, Culture and Politics in the Middle East: Theoretical and Analytical Approaches 15PMSC005 30 Full Year
Film and Society in the Middle East 15PNMC230 30 Full Year
Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications 15PMSH003 15 Term 1
The Transnational News Environment: Production, Representation and Use 15PMSH006 15 Term 1
Studies in Global Media and Post-National Communication 15PMSH007 15 Term 1
International Political Communication 15PMSH009 15 Term 2
Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media:Networking, Connectivity, Identity 15PMSH004 15 Term 2
Comparative politics of the Middle East 15PPOC026 30 Full Year
State and transformation in the Middle East 15PPOH011 15 Term 2
Political society in the Middle East 15PPOH008 15 Term 1
The Law & Politics of State Violence: An Interdisciplinary Perspective 15PPOH034 15 Term 2
Israel and the Palestinians 15PNMC038 30 Full Year
Turkey:Continuity and Change 15PNMC377 30 Full Year
State and Society in Central Asia and the Caucasus 15PPOH022 15 Term 1
Geopolitics and Security in Central Asia and the Caucasus 15PPOH023 15 Term 2
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
Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives 15PSRC052 - Not Running 2017/18
Christians and Muslims in Syriac Texts 15PSRC175 30 Full Year
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism 15PSRH030 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018


This is the structure for 2017/18 applicants

If you are a current student you can find structure information on Moodle or through your Faculty.

Programme Specification


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Contact Hours

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.

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. 

More information is on the page for each module.

Learning Outcomes

  • How to assess data and evidence critically from texts, 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.
  • How to obtain solid knowledge of the Arabic literature and literary field and their interaction with and reflection of aspects of social and the political life of the Arab world.
  • How to relate the development of Arabic literature to a wider European and world context.
  • How to deal critically with literary texts and probe their various layers of meanings, relate them to the context and the culture from which they emerged, place them within the development of the genre, movement, trend or school to which they belong.
  • How to read, translate and critically assess Arabic literary texts in the original language and how to conduct a critical appraisal of the text.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • Students become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
  • Students question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.
  • Student  learn  how  to  reason  critically  and  apply  linguistic,  literary  and historical concepts.
  • Students broaden their intellectual perspective on Arabic literature and acquire the ability to read and analyse literary texts critically.
  • Students acquire the ability to conduct their own research, question prevalent ideas and form their critical judgment in a rational, logical and enlightened manner.
Subject-based practical skills

The programme aims to help students with the following practical skills:

  • Communicate effectively in writing
  • Master the Arabic language at its high literary level.
  • Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
  • Plan, undertake and report on a bibliographically-based piece of research.
  • Present seminar papers, and discuss ideas introduced during seminars.
  • Apply key methods and concepts of literary, social, and historical analysis.
  • Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes.
 Transferrable skills

The programme will encourage students to:

  • Write good essays and dissertations.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Understand unconventional ideas, and develop the ability to challenge them if necessary.
  • Participate effectively, constructively and intelligently in groups, and assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others.
  • Manage time and work to deadlines
  • Work independently and form reasoned judgments.
  • Present (non-assessed) material orally.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 1 tuition fee.

Fees for 2018/19 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Full-time Part-time 2 Years Part-time 3 Years
£9,225 £18,980 £4,613 £9,490 £3,075 £6,327
Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2018-01-29 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2018-01-29 00:00

H.E. Dr Issa Ghanim Jassim Al-Kawari Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2018-02-20 17:00

John Loiello AFSOAS FISH Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2018-02-20 17:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2018-06-05 00:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


A postgraduate degree in MA Arabic Literature from SOAS provides students with 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. Graduates of this programme will develop their ability to engage with and explore relationships between indigenous aesthetics of the region and contemporary literary theories. Some graduates leave SOAS to pursue careers directly related to their study area, while others have made use of the intellectual training for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems that contemporary societies now face.  

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in the business, public and charity sectors. They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including 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. Graduates can use their skills in Arabic and literary study in a variety of occupations, particularly those in which deep knowledge of Arabic intellectual culture and a trained mind are an advantage.

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

A Student's Perspective

Here you have the possibility not only to read about other cultures, you can experience them.  Besides that, SOAS offers such a wide choice of exciting courses with interesting teachers, you will find nowhere else in the world and all that in the heart of London.

Sonja Bartsch, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg


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