European and Middle Eastern Languages
The ceiling of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

European and Middle Eastern Languages

The course in European and Middle Eastern Languages (EMEL) enables students to combine papers in one of the languages taught in the Faculty of Modern Languages with papers in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish, thus providing opportunities to take advantage of the cultural linkages which exist between a number of European and Middle Eastern languages. For example, appropriate combinations might well be French and Arabic, German and Turkish, or Hebrew and Russian, but even some of the less obvious pairings would provide similar cultural and historical linkage. Thus Spanish and Turkish would be an interesting combination for the history of Sephardi Judaism, while Persian and Portuguese are important for the study of early imperialism.

 

EMEL at Oxford

Through its long-standing traditions and more recent gifts, Oxford has unique resources for the study of Middle Eastern and modern European languages. The Bodleian Library and Taylor Institution Library (for languages) have a magnificent collection of books and manuscripts. The Taylor Institution Library is one of the biggest research and lending libraries devoted to modern European languages in the world. Associated with the University is the Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, which houses the Leopold Muller Library with more than 35,000 volumes in Hebrew and more than 7,000 volumes in Western languages.

Careers

Oxford graduates in these subjects regularly go into highly competitive areas such as law, finance, commerce, management consultancy, accountancy, the media, advertising, the Foreign Office and the arts. The Languages Work website has further information about careers using languages.

Recent European and Middle Eastern Languages graduates include a foreign office diplomat, a translator at the UN and a journalist at a foreign news channel.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider other language courses or Oriental Studies courses.

Work placements/international opportunities

You will normally spend your second academic year at an approved course of study in the Middle East. You are strongly advised to spend the adjacent summers where the European language of your choice is spoken. There are arrangements in place with partner universities to help you make the most of your time abroad.

A typical weekly timetable

Your work is divided between language classes, lectures and tutorials (one or two a week). In the first year, the emphasis is on intensive learning of a Middle Eastern language. Throughout your course, you will prepare essays for your weekly tutorials and classes.

1st year

Courses

Study both languages
European languages: one language
Middle Eastern language: Intensive language

Assessment

First University examinations:
Three written papers (European language); two papers (Middle Eastern language) plus, in Arabic only, an oral exam
2nd year
Year abroad Qualifying examination at the end of the course
3rd and 4th year

Courses

Four papers in each language
Literature, poetry and prose
Advanced language classes

Assessment

Final University examinations:
Nine written papers are taken including a bridging extended essay;
Oral exam (both languages, but not Hebrew on the Middle Eastern side)

You would usually be expected to have the European language to A-level, or another academic equivalent. We would not normally expect you to have any knowledge of the Middle Eastern language before starting the course.

For the Middle Eastern Language
Candidates are not required to have any experience of studying the Middle Eastern Language (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish) and may study it from scratch.

For Celtic
We generally expect all students applying for Celtic to be beginners, though those with experience are also very welcome to apply.

For French, German, Russian and Spanish
Candidates would usually be expected to have the language or languages to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another academic equivalent.
 
For Czech, Italian, Modern Greek and Portuguese
Please note the different course codes for Czech, Beginners’ Czech, Italian, Beginners’ Italian, Modern Greek, Beginners’ Modern Greek, Portuguese and Beginners’ Portuguese. For courses listed as the language only, candidates would usually be required to have that language to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another academic equivalent.

In Czech, Italian, Modern Greek, and Portuguese, beginners will receive additional language support, but study together with those who already have A-level (or equivalent) and take the same first year exam. 

All candidates must also take the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT) and the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT) as part of their application. Please see how to apply for further details.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in how to apply. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written work

For the European language, candidates must submit the same written work as for Modern Languages by 10 November 2014.  Please see the Modern Languages pages for further details. No written work is required for the Middle Eastern language.

Written test

All candidates must take the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT) and the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT), normally at their own school or college, on 5 November 2014. Separate registration is required for both tests and the deadline for entries is 15 October 2014. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. Further details are available at www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/tests.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors will be looking for a good command of the grammar of any language you have already studied at school or college and want to continue studying at Oxford, in addition to an interest in literature and culture.

Selection criteria

Candidates may wish to refer to the selection criteria for Modern Languages and for Oriental Studies.

Suggested reading

Please see the guidance on the FAQs section of the Modern Languages faculty website under the heading 'How best to prepare for the entrance procedure'. This advice can be applied to both the European and the Middle Eastern elements of the course.

Shaahin

'One day you might be studying literature, the next day you might be studying philosophy. You can also look at history - languages are a vehicle for the exploration of many different fields.'

Courses with Arabic
UCAS codes
Czech and ArabicRT7Q
French and ArabicRT16
German and ArabicRT26
Italian and ArabicRT36
Modern Greek and ArabicQT76
Portuguese and ArabicRT56
Russian and ArabicRT76
Spanish and ArabicRT46
Courses with HebrewUCAS codes
Czech and HebrewRQ7K
French and HebrewRQ14
German and HebrewRQ24
Italian and HebrewRQ34
Modern Greek and HebrewQQ74
Portuguese and HebrewRQ54
Russian and HebrewRQ74
Spanish and HebrewRQK4
Courses with Persian
UCAS codes
Czech and PersianRTT6
French and PersianRTC6
German and PersianRT2P
Italian and PersianRTH6
Modern Greek and PersianQT7P
Portuguese and PersianRTM6
Russian and PersianRT7P
Spanish and PersianRT4P
Courses with Turkish
UCAS codes
Czech and TurkishRTRP
French and TurkishRT1P
German and TurkishRT2Q
Italian and TurkishRT3P
Modern Greek and TurkishQT7Q
Portuguese and TurkishRT5P
Russian and TurkishRTR6
Spanish and TurkishRTK6

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college