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.

At Oxford, you may choose to focus entirely on Turkish for a BA in Turkish, or may study it in combination with a subsidiary language. Turkish may also be studied as an additional language as part of other degrees within the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the wider University.

BA Turkish

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 Turkey. You may choose to focus entirely on Turkish, or you may combine Turkish with a subsidiary language.

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

Turkish on its own

In the third and fourth year, if you wish to focus entirely on Turkish you can pursue further Turkish language and literature studies, or may also choose options relating to Turkish/Ottoman history. 

Turkish with a subsidiary language

If you wish to combine Turkish with another language, you may choose from one of the following subsidiary language options:

  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Early Iranian (including Avestan, Old Persian and / or Middle Persian)
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi/Urdu
  • Persian.

This will lead to a degree combining the two, eg BA Turkish with Arabic.

Turkish as a subsidiary language

Turkish may also be studied as a subsidiary language (ie as a second subject) alongside one the following main subjects within Asian and Middle Eastern Studies:

  • Arabic
  • Hebrew
  • Persian.

This will lead to a degree combining the main subject area with Turkish, eg BA Arabic with Turkish.

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

European and Middle Eastern Languages is a four-year joint degree, through which you can combine 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 Turkey. 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 an Asian or Middle Eastern language and culture with Latin and/or Greek and the study of the ancient world.