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MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies

Course Description

The MA in Near and Middles Eastern Studies provides exceptional opportunities for studying this diverse and fascinating area at the postgraduate level through a variety of disciplinary approaches. The main emphasis of the programme is on the modern period through the courses in history, geography, politics, economics and anthropology. Some exposure is provided, however, to the pre-modern culture and society of the area through courses in religious studies, Islamic art and archaeology, and history. Courses based on Arabic are offered for those with an adequate knowledge of the language, while courses in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish are available for those who wish to acquire or develop skills in these languages.

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/nme/programmes/manmestud/


Students take three taught courses, one of which is considered a major, and complete a 10,000 word dissertation related to the major. As the emphasis in the Regional Studies programmes is on interdisciplinary study, students are required to select their three courses from more than one discipline.

The two minor courses can be taken from the same discipline (but different to that of the major) or two different ones.

Some disciplines such as politics, economics or social anthropology require an appropriate qualification (such as all or part of a first degree) if any of their courses are to be taken as the major subject.

Students who intend to register for the MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies program, but choose 3 options also available in the MA Israeli Studies program will be required to apply for MA Israeli Studies.

Teaching & Learning

Each course has its own series of classes and seminars, and in addition students attend general lectures and seminars organised by the Middle East Centre. In most courses there is one two-hour class each week. This may be an informal lecture followed by a discussion or a student presentation. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

The dissertation is on an approved topic linked to one of the taught courses.

Learning resources

SOAS library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


A postgraduate degree in the Near and Middle Eastern studies from SOAS gives students competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. Postgraduate students leave SOAS with the linguistic and cultural expertise needed to continue in the field of research along with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in business, public or charity sectors including written and oral communication skills; attention to detail; analytical and problem solving skills; and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.

Graduates in MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies have entered various professions after leaving SOAS. Some have been able to pursue careers directly related to their study area while others have made use of the general intellectual training provided by the advanced study of cultures for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems contemporary societies now face. Among a variety of professions, career paths may include academia, charity work, community, government, NGOs, media and publishing and UN agencies.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website (http://www.soas.ac.uk/careers/graduate-destinations/).

Find out how to apply here - http://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/pg/howtoapply/

Visit the MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Padraig Belton

My training as a specialist in the Middle East and Subcontinent would be rather incomplete without these languages or a stay at SOAS!

I have been doing a Certificate in Arabic together with an MA in Middle Eastern Studies, which gives me an opportunity to study Arabic, Urdu and Persian, three languages I was initially exposed to as a foreign correspondent. I decided to take on these three several years into my doctorate in politics at Oxford, feeling my training as a specialist in the Middle East and Subcontinent would be rather incomplete without these languages or a stay at SOAS!

In this time I have found my lecturers all expert in their !field. Through SOAS’s doors drip a continued dribbling of speakers and conferences off the stream of those, knowledgeable in the School’s regions of specialism, who pass through London in the midst of their work. Having undergone parental bereavement in the course of my studies at SOAS, I also had occasion to find the administration supportive and flexible. One unexpected result of my time at SOAS is that a book proposal has grown from out of my class essays, thesis, and prior experience as a journalist, on the relationship between colonialism and the rise of the Arab press.

I happily give to SOAS, my two courses and my lecturers my warmest recommendation.

(Student Profile)

Mohammad Mirbashiri

As-Salaamu Alaikum,

SOAS is a truly great institution that provides a stimulating learning environment with extensive resources and outstanding teaching staff. My course is structured in a way that has given me the opportunity to study course units exploring the history; politics and cultures of the Middle East region, drawing upon the expertise of renowned academics from different disciplines.

The wide choice of course units on offer at the Near and Middle Eastern Studies program and its flexible nature have meant that I can study part time and work, as well as tailor my degree to best suit my academic interests. SOAS is a remarkable institution and I am happy to have chosen to study here. Students of the Middle East can really excel in their chosen fields and this year I have had the chance to study courses in the Politics and Media Studies Departments.

My decision to embark on the masters’ program has undoubtedly been a good choice. It has enhanced my understanding of the Middle East in addition to further inspiring my genuine passion and tantalising an unquenchable thirst to learn more about this key region, its languages and its people. Study at SOAS!

Wa alaikum us-Salaam

(Student Profile)

Samuel Southgate

After a few years spent working as a journalist, I was slightly nervous about returning to full-time education to do a Masters in Middle Eastern studies. I made the decision because I wanted to increase my knowledge to enable me to move into work covering this region.

SOAS seemed the natural place to come, not only because of its fantastic location in the heart of London, but also because of its specialist focus and its diverse student body. What I found was an incredibly friendly and welcoming institution with an always exciting array of lectures, concerts and other events throughout the year; the campus has a real buzz about it. More importantly, I found my courses always challenging and intellectually stimulating, the lecturers first-rate and unceasing in their willingness to give their time and assistance, a library with a wonderful collection covering my research area, as well as the half-dozen or so other accessible university libraries in the area.

My skills in Arabic have also increased hugely through taking evening classes at the school’s language centre. Now at the end of my studies at SOAS, I have enjoyed the course so much that I have decided against returning immediately to journalism. Instead I am going to continue my research at PhD level at a university in the US.

(Student Profile)

Samuel Kustaa Lammi

I came to SOAS with high expectations. Having lived in five Asian countries in 22 years, I thought I knew much of the world. The very first day, I realised I was in the right place, at the heart of understanding the countries I had lived in. I had found my tribe; those with backgrounds similar and different to mine and with the endless curiosity to comprehend and connect seemingly disparate worlds. As my year is closing, I realise SOAS has exceeded all my expectations by redefining them. I came thinking I knew much about Asia, and I leave realising how much I can yet learn.

SOAS is truly a microcosm in the heart of London. Students bring their unique backgrounds to the learning environment where they engage contexts and circumstances of their personal experiences. Everyone here is studying about their passion as much as the academics and, alongside their area of study, learn from friends and their interests. Living and breathing SOAS ensures you not only see and understand the complexities of our global world, but that you actually feel it, realising that you and I are inextricably linked in every way. This organic awakening to holistically see infinitely complex global situations is something found nowhere else than SOAS.

The interdisciplinary approach to Middle Eastern Studies has been excellent as it connects my various familiarities and intellect to understand this fascinating part of the world in all its cultural beauty, lively history and present complexity. Sharing of our contact with the region has made the academically abstract come to life through intelligent and informed discussions. Conversing with colleagues studying similar topics in other regions has also served to build a comprehensive understanding of contemporary themes and challenges facing Africa, Asia and the Middle East today.


The Ahmad Mustafa Abu-Hakima Bursary - Single Award

Candidate Criteria:
- Applicants must possess a good honours degree from a UK university or an equivalent institution recognised by SOAS.- In order to be eligible for this scholarship, you must have provided evidence in the statement of your admission application on how your full-time taught Masters programme involves the history of the modern Arab world. Applicants are strongly advised to identify relevant courses offered as majors or minors as part of their programme of choice. Failure to provide such evidence will disqualify the application.- Applicants must have an offer of admission to pursue a full-time masters programme at SOAS by the scholarship application deadline.- Applicants must meet the English language condition of their offer of admission to study at SOAS as soon as possible but no later than 1 June 2016. If your offer is conditional on English, please arrange your English test and ensure you meet the English requirements as soon as possible. - Open to UK/EU and Overseas applicantsCandidate Assessment
- Candidates will be assessed on academic merit by a Selection Panel consisting of three academic members. - The assessment of your application will be based on the information provided in your scholarship application and in your on-line application for admission. Selectors will be looking at the degree results and also at academic references, statement and other relevant information.Scholarship Application Deadline
- Scholarship applications must be received no later than 17:00 (UK local time) on 24 February 2016.- You must submit a complete online application to your programme as soon as possible and then submit an application for the scholarship. Applicants applying for scholarships must also submit an application for admission well in advance. Please note that complete applications for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year. You should be prepared to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods.- Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The bursary is for students undertaking full-time postgraduate degrees involving the study of the modern history of the Arab world.

Application Procedure

You must apply for this scholarship via the on-line scholarship application form.

Further Information



Canon Collins Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

These scholarships are for Masters study in any subject field.
The application process normally opens in December and closes in February, for study commencing in September the following year. Please go to the Canon Collins website and click "Apply for A Scholarship" and then "Canon Collins Scholarship for Masters Study in the UK" for further information on how to apply.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See website


Country/Nationality: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Application Procedure

See the website

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

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