SOAS University of London

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

MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies (2020 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


The MA Near and 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. Modules based on Arabic are offered for those with an adequate knowledge of the language, while modules in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish are available for those who wish to acquire or develop skills in these languages.

If you are interested in taking the MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies with an intensive language please visit: 

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

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



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.

Students take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. 

As part of the application process, all students have to select and be admitted into a so-called ‘Major’ module, in relation to which they complete a 10,000-word dissertation. Please note that Major modules will have their own academic pre-requisites and acceptance will require approval. All students accepted into the programme will be asked to indicate their Major preferences from the List of modules available as Majors for the programme in good time so that they can be admitted into a Major before enrolment in September.

Normally, the convenor of the Major module will be the supervisor of the dissertation, unless the department offering the Major module has separate arrangements about the assigning of dissertation supervisors. Please note that most Major modules are 30 credits, but there are some which are 15 credits. Please also note that some modules can only be taken as a major and some, including language modules, only as a minor.

Of the taught modules, besides the Major course into which they have been accepted (30 or 15 credits), students select 60 or 75 credits from the list of minors (including 30 credits of language courses) and the final 30 credits may be chosen either from a)the list of minor modules (including another language module), or b)any approved open options modules available from other departments and schools at SOAS.

As the emphasis in the Regional Studies programmes is on interdisciplinary study, students are required to select their modules from a minimum of three different disciplines, and a maximum of 60 credits may be taken in any one discipline.

Some disciplines such as politics, economics or social anthropology require an appropriate qualification (such as all or part of a first degree) if any of their courses are to be taken as the major subject.

Students who intend to register for the MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies program, but choose 3 options also available in the MA Israeli Studies program will be required to apply for MA Israeli Studies.

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

Students select 30 credits from the lists below as their major/core module. Students then choose 60 credits from any list below as a minor and a further 30 credits also from the list below or from the open options list.


Students select 15 credits from the lists below as their major/core module. Students then choose 75 credits from any list below as a minor and a further 30 credits also from the list below or from the open options list.

Anthropology and Sociology
Available as minors only
Module Code Credits Term
Culture and Society of Near and Middle East 15PANH067 15 Term 1
Art and Archaeology
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Art and Architecture of the Seljuks and Ottomans (12th -15th centuries) 15PARH070 15 Term 1
Arab Painting 15PARH054 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
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 a major or minor
Module Code Credits Term
Political Economy of Development and Change in the Middle East 15PECC028 15 Term 1
Topics in the Political Economy of Contemporary Middle East 15PECC029 15 Term 2
Available as a minor 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
Available as majors or minors

Please note that the 'Modernity and Transformation' courses can be taken together or individually, ONLY as majors.

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
Encountering the Other: The Middle East during the Crusading Period 15PHIH037 15PHIH037 0.5
Zionism: Critical Perspectives (PG) 15PNMH011 15 Term 2
Jerusalem: City in Conflict (PG) 15PNMH008 15 Term 1
Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners 15PHIH006 0.5
Turkey: Continuity and Change 15PNMC377 30 credits
Empire and Reform in the Modern Middle East, 1789-1914 15PHIH031 15 Term 1
Iran: History, Culture, Politics 15PNMC405 30 Full Year
Nationalism and Revolution in the Modern Middle East, 1914-1979 15PHIH032 15 Term 2
The End of Empire in the Middle East and the Balkans I 15PHIH048 0.5
Empire, Law, and Citizenship in the Middle East and the Balkans 15PHIH049 15 Term 2

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

Students are allowed to take any of the NME language courses offered in any given year
Module Code Credits Term
Intermediate Arabic/English Translation Project (PG) 15PNMC418 30 Full Year
Higher Intermediate Arabic/English/Arabic Translation Project (PG) 15PNMC419 30 Full Year
Advanced Arabic/English/Arabic Translation Project (PG) 15PNMC420 30 Full Year
Elementary Hebrew (PG) 15PNMC392 30 Full Year
Hebrew 2 (PG) 15PNMC393 1 unit - 45 cats
Hebrew 4 (PG) 15PNMC394 30 Full Year
Turkish 1 A (PG) 15PNMH014 15 Term 1
Turkish 1B (PG) 15PNMH015 15 Term 2
Ottoman Turkish Language (PG) 15PNMC397 30 Full Year
Advanced Translation (Turkish) 15PNMC044 30 credits
Turkish 3 (PG) 15PNMC427 30 Credits
Persian 1 A (PG) 15PNMH016 15 Term 1
Persian 1 B (PG) 15PNMH017 15 Term 2
Persian 3 (PG) 15PNMC408 30 Full Year
Middle Persian 15PSRC034 30 Full Year
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
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
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Modern Palestinian Literature (PG) 15PNMC379 15 Term 2
Israel and the Palestinians: from 1948 to Oslo 15PNMH022 15 Term 2
Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography 15PNMH035 15 Term 2
Classical Persian Poetry: Texts and Traditions (PG) 15PNMC401 15 Term 1
Available as minors only
Module Code Credits Term
Communication, Culture and Politics in the Middle East: Theoretical and Analytical Approaches 15PMSC005 1.0
Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications 15PMSH003 15 Term 2
The Transnational News Environment: Production, Representation and Use 15PMSH006 0.5
Studies in Global Media and Post-National Communication 15PMSH007 0.5
International Political Communication 15PMSH009 15 Term 2
Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media:Networking, Connectivity, Identity 15PMSH004 15 Term 2
Module Code Credits Term
Ethnicity, Religion and Gender in Middle Eastern Musical cultures 15PMUH024 15 Term 1
Music on the Silk Road: travel and circulation (PG) 15PARH094 15 Term 1
The two 15 credit modules below together constitute the major option for Politics of the Middle East
Module Code Credits Term
Political society in the Middle East 15PPOH008 15 Term 2
State and transformation in the Middle East 15PPOH011 15 Term 1
Available as a minor only
Module Code Credits Term
Comparative politics of the Middle East 15PPOC026 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
Available as a minor only
These modules are capped and may be avilable (as minors) only in exceptional circumstances and to well-qualified students, following prior approval of the module convenor, if places are available.
Module Code Credits Term
Political violence 15PPOH009 15 Term 1
International politics of the Middle East 15PPOH047 15 Term 1
Politics of resistance in the Middle East 15PPOH010 15 Term 2
Islam and political ideologies 15PPOH007 15 Term 2
Violence, justice and the politics of memory 15PPOH019 15 Term 1
Islam and politics 15PPOH006 15 Term 2
State Violence: Theories of the Leviathan and Beyond 15PPOH034 15 Term 2
The Politics of Solidarity in the Middle East 15PPOH044 15 Term 2
Urban Politics in the Middle East 15PPOH042 15 Term 2
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Turkey: Continuity and Change 15PNMC377 30 credits
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
Study of Religions
Available as majors or minors
Module Code Credits Term
Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives 15PSRC052 30 Full Year
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism 15PSRH030 15 Term 2
Translation Studies
Available as a minor only
Module Code Credits Term
Translation Theory 15PLIH047 15 Term 1
Translation Studies and Methodology 15PJKH017 15 Term 2
Translation Technology 15PLIH049 15 Term 1
Translating Cultures 1 15PJKH019 15 Term 2
Translating Cultures 2 15PJKH020 15 Term 2


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

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. 

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 Students

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

  • 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.


A postgraduate degree in the Near and 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.   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; and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources. 

Graduates in MA Near and 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
CARE International
The Risk Advisory Group
Refugee Legal Aid Program
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

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
Vice President for University Advancement
Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

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

A Student's Perspective

The best advice I can give is to just dive into the experience without any hesitation. Going into my study abroad experience, I didn’t expect to travel to Morocco and have the opportunity to see Roman ruins or eat chip butties (chips on a bun with sauce), but I did.

Suzanne Jacobson, Hamilton College

Find out more