Arabic | University of Oxford


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.

BA in Oriental Studies (Arabic)

The BA in Oriental Studies (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 the written and spoken language, and to equip students with a knowledge of the history and culture of Arabs and Islam, partly through secondary literature, but mainly by exposing them to selected original writings, prose and poetry, ranging in date from pre-Islamic times to the present century. Within the course there are opportunities for the specialized study of fields such as history, literature, art and archaeology, medieval Islamic thought, and the Middle East in modern times.

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 or Turkish.

Arabic with Islamic Studies

Students who choose to combine Arabic with Islamic Studies will supplement their language studies with the study of Islamic history and Islamic religion. In addition to the study of Arabic language and literature, further subjects may include Sufism, Egyptian cinema, The Ottoman Empire, Islamic art and architecture, Quranic commentary, and Islamic law.

BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages - Arabic with an additional 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 and 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 Oriental Studies

Arabic can also be studied as a main or second subject in the joint degree of Classics and Oriental Studies. This course allows you to combine the study of an Oriental 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 or 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 Oriental Studies in the main subject area, eg BA in Oriental Studies (Persian).

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