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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. 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. 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.

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The degree comprises three taught courses chosen from the MA list and a dissertation on an agreed subject. The courses that are avaliable at SOAS in Akkadian, Sumerian and Hittite are in the list below.

Instead of one of these SOAS courses candidates may, if qualified, take one of the following topics from MA programmes run by University College London:

- Hebrew and other North-West Semitic languages (MA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies)
- Ancient history, currently Change and Continuity in the Ancient Near East (MA in Ancient History, 91AHG003)
- Archaeology (MA in Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East)

Not all the courses listed are available every year. Entry to courses run by University College is subject to the approval of the academic department in question (the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, the Department of History, and the Institute of Archaeology).

Courses avaliable at SOAS
- Mesopotamian Languages and Literature A: the third millennium - 15PNMC021 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
- Mesopotamian Languages and Literature B: the second millenium BC - 15PNMC022 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
- Mesopotamian Languages and Literature C: the first millenium bc - 15PNMC023 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sumerian Language - 15PNMC024 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
- Christians and Muslims in Syriac Texts - 15PSRC175 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hittite Language - 15PNMC025 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017

MA Ancient Near Eastern Languages- Programme Specifications 2012/13 (pdf; 24kb) -

Teaching & Learning

- Course Information
Courses are listed under the menu item Programme Structure on the left-hand side of this page. Each course is taught two or three hours weekly in small classes of usually one to five students. Courses in language and literature comprise the reading, translation and discussion of set texts. Thorough preparation is essential.

- Dissertation
The dissertation will be on a topic agreed with the student's teachers and will extend to about 10,000 words. It may take the form of an extended essay on an approved topic or an edition with introduction and commentary of a previously unedited text or group of texts. The deadline for submission is 15 September in the year of examination.

Faculty of Languages and Cultures

Six of the academic departments are devoted to teaching and research in the languages, literatures and cultures of Africa, China and Inner Asia, Japan and Korea, the Near and Middle East, South Asia, and South East Asia, with the seventh teaching and conducting research in Linguistics. The Language Centre caters to the needs of non-degree students and governmental and non-governmental organisations. It maintains a huge portfolio of courses, including year-long diploma programmes, weekly evening classes in about 40 different African and Asian languages, and tailored intensive one-to-one courses. The Language Centre also offers courses in French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Their teaching is in three main areas:
- language competence acquisition;
- textual and cultural studies - both comparative and language-specific, and covering not only 'literature' in a strict sense but also visual media, performance, folklore, translation etc.;
- language studies with linguistics at its core - including the prestigious Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project.

The Faculty is also home to the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS) (

While SOAS as a whole represents the most substantial concentration in the Western world of expertise dedicated to African, Middle Eastern and Asian studies, the Faculty of Languages and Cultures is heavily committed to teaching and research grounded in a knowledge of the principal languages and cultures of two thirds of humankind.

Find out how to apply here -

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





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