Arabic is the principal language of Islamic civilization and the key to understanding the modern Middle East.

Various forms are spoken from North Africa to the borders of Iran, and as a literary language it is used throughout and far beyond this area.

Owing to its sacred status it has exerted immense influence throughout the Islamic world. Arabic has a vast 'classical' and a varied and vital modern literature.

Visit the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies course page for more information.

BA Arabic

The BA Arabic is a four-year course focusing on the study of Arabic language and literature, in combination with either a subsidiary Middle Eastern language or with Islamic Studies.

The second year of the course is spent on an approved course of study in the Middle East.

The objectives of the BA Honours course in Arabic are to give students a thorough grounding in written and spoken Modern Standard Arabic, and to equip them with a knowledge of the history and culture of Arabs and Islam. The course addresses this history and culture through critical engagement with secondary literature and by reading original writings dating from pre-Islamic times to the present century.

There are core courses in literature, history and religion, and options which give the opportunity to specialise further in these subjects as well as in Islamic art and archaeology and medieval or modern thought. Students also write a dissertation on a topic of their choice.

Arabic with a subsidiary language

Students may combine Arabic with one of the following additional Middle Eastern language options:

  • Akkadian
  • Aramaic and Syriac
  • Armenian
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi/Urdu
  • Persian
  • Turkish.

Arabic with Islamic Studies

Students who combine Arabic with Islamic Studies will choose two options from a range of topics such as:

  • Quranic commentary
  • Islamic law
  • Sufism
  • or Islamic art and architecture

This is instead of taking three papers in a subsidiary language. They also write a dissertation on a topic of their choice.

BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages - Arabic with a European language

European and Middle Eastern Languages is a four-year joint degree combining Arabic with one of the following European languages:

  • French
  • German
  • Modern Greek
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Czech (with Slovak).

You will spend around half your time studying Arabic language and literature, and around half studying the other language and related literature.

In the first year, there is less literature in the European language to allow for intensive focus on the Middle Eastern language. 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.

BA in Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Arabic can also be studied as a main or second subject in the joint degree of Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. This course allows you to combine the study of a Middle Eastern language and culture with Latin and/or Greek and the study of the ancient world.

Arabic as a subsidiary language

Arabic may also be studied as a subsidiary language (ie as a second subject) alongside one of the following main subjects:

  • Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
  • Hebrew
  • Persian
  • Turkish.

When taken as a subsidiary language option, students will study Arabic prose composition and unprepared translation, selected classical and modern Arabic prose texts, and selected Arabic religious texts. This will lead to a BA in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in the main subject area, eg BA Persian.