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Course content

The SOAS MA in Ancient Near Eastern Languages offers an intensive programme of text-reading and language-learning for those who already have a good knowledge of the Akkadian language - usually at least two years' experience - as well as those who are starting the language for the first time. The degree is intended to widen the student's experience in the vast legacy of written documentation in Akkadian and other languages from ancient Mesopotamia and Anatolia, or to provide an intensive introduction to these. The programme is tailor-made to serve as an intermediate level between SOAS's three-year BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (or an equivalent qualification) and postgraduate Assyriological research at the level of MPhil and PhD. It can, of course, be taken for its own sake.

Teaching & Learning


  • How to assess data and evidence critically from manuscripts and digital sources, solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations, locate materials, use research sources (particularly research library catalogues) and other relevant traditional sources.
  • Subject specific skills (language): deeper understanding and wider experience of Akkadian language and other languages already acquired, as appropriate (e.g. Sumerian, Hittite); sound basic knowledge of languages studied for the first time, as appropriate (e.g. Sumerian, Hittite).
  • Subject specific skills (other): ability to utilize written documentation to reconstruct cultural background, e.g. interpreting literature as a product of its civilization, understanding monumental inscriptions as royal artefacts and analysing documentary texts as witnesses of social and economic history.

Intellectual (thinking) skills

  • Students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
  • Students should question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.

Subject-based practical skills

  • Communicating effectively in writing.
  • Retrieving, sifting and selecting information from a variety of sources.
  • Listening and discussing ideas introduced during classes and seminars.
  • Ability to plan and execute set tasks efficiently.
  • Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research libraries and institute.

Transferrable skills

  • Writing good essays and dissertations.
  • Structuring and communicating ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Understanding unconventional ideas.
  • Studying a variety of written and digital materials, in libraries and research institutes, of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates.
  • Presenting (non–assessed) material orally.

Visit the Ancient Near Eastern Languages - MA page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!




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