Turkish is the official language of the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus. It is a recognised minority language in a variety of European countries, including Croatia, Bosnia, Greece, North Macedonia and Romania.

Modern Standard Turkish forms part of the Oghuz (or south-western) branch of the Turkic family of languages. It is closely related to languages such as Azerbaijani and Gagauz, the latter being mostly spoken in southern Moldova and southwestern Ukraine.

Turkish is also related, but more distantly, to languages such as Kazakh, Kirghiz, Uyghur and Uzbek. Until 1928 Turkish was written in the Ottoman alphabet, a variant of the Perso-Arabic alphabet.

Ottoman Turkish incorporated vocabulary from Persian and Arabic, including grammatical and syntactic structures. In 1928 the Turkish writing system underwent a radical change whereby the Ottoman alphabet was replaced by the Latin alphabet.

Before the reform, Turkish was also commonly written with the Armenian, the Greek and more rarely with the Hebrew and Syriac scripts.

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

Studying Turkish at Oxford

The BA Turkish is a four-year degree. In the first year students focus on Turkish language and Islamic history and culture. The second year of the course is spent on an approved course of study in the Middle East. You may choose to focus entirely on Turkish, or you may combine Turkish with a subsidiary language.

Turkish may also be studied as a subsidiary language as part of other degrees within the faculty and wider University.

Turkish on its own

Students wishing to focus on the study of Turkish will study Turkish language and Islamic history and culture in their first year and spend their second year on an approved course of study in Turkey.

In the third and fourth year students can choose to focus only on further Turkish language and literature studies, or may also choose options relating to Turkish/Ottoman history.

Turkish with a subsidiary language

Students wishing to combine their study of Turkish with another language may choose from:

  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Avestan (Old Iranian)
  • Classics (Latin and/or Ancient Greek)
  • Hindi/Urdu
  • Persian.

BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages - Turkish with an additional European language

European and Middle Eastern Languages is a four-year joint degree combining Turkish 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 Turkish 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

Turkish 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.

Turkish as a subsidiary language

Turkish may also be studied as a subsidiary language (ie as a second subject) alongside Arabic or Persian, leading to a BA Arabic or a BA Persian.