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MA Arabic Literature

Course Description

This new taught-Masters degree offers a deep insight into the Arab world through its literatures. It is an advanced programme designed for students with a good first degree in Arabic or with a good university degree who also know Arabic. The fundamental objective is to make Arabic culture and literature accessible to a wider body of postgraduate students and to provide them with training in the study of literature. Students develop an advanced understanding of Arabic literature and gain detailed knowledge of its past and present. The syllabus combines the literary approaches of comparative literature with in-depth study of Arabic literature. Students have the opportunity to become familiar with, among other things, literary theory, translation techniques, the sociology of literature, the social and political dimensions of modern Arabic literature, and different genres and themes of classical, medieval and modern Arabic literature.

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


Students take modules to the value of three units from the lists of options below, and write a 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic.

Options List:
Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature - 15PCSC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Social and Political Dimensions of Modern Arabic Literature - 15PNMC347 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
Arabic Women's Writing: Theories and Practices - 15PNMC411 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Early and Medieval Arabic Linguistic Thought: Scholarship and Literature - 15PNMC410 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
A Modern Arabic Literary Genre: Themes and Techniques - 15PNMC046 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
Arabic Poetry and Criticism - 15PNMC048 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
Arabic Popular Literature: Themes, Genres & Theory - 15PNMC045 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Modern Palestinian Literature (PG) - 15PNMC379 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Classical Arabic Prose Literature and Adab - 15PNMC047 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography - 15PNMC378 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Arabic Critical Theory and Thought - 15PNMC403 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Culture, Society and Politics in Classical Arabic Literature - 15PNMC426 (1 Unit) - Full Year

MA Arabic Literature- Programme Specifications 2012/13 (pdf; 34kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/nme/programmes/maarablit/file80795.pdf

Teaching & Learning

All courses are taught in English, and essays and presentations are also done in English. All courses apart from "Theories and Techniques of Comparative Literature" involve reading some original Arabic texts.

Most courses are taught in seminar groups. These demand active participation by students, e.g. by giving presentations and by discussion with other students in the class, in order to develop research potential, original thinking and, by the tutor's direction, structured knowledge of the topic.

Classes are one two-hour session each week; in some cases an additional tutorial hour is added. In addition students are encouraged to attend lectures and seminars organised by the AHRB Centre for Asian and African Literature and the London Middle East Institute.


A postgraduate degree in MA Arabic Literature from SOAS provides students with 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. Graduates of this programme will develop their ability to engage with and explore relationships between indigenous aesthetics of the region and contemporary literary theories. Some graduates leave SOAS to pursue careers directly related to their study area, while others have made use of the intellectual training for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems that contemporary societies now face.

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in the business, public and charity sectors. They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, 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 can use their skills in Arabic and literary study in a variety of occupations, particularly those in which deep knowledge of Arabic intellectual culture and a trained mind are an advantage.

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 Arabic Literature page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

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

First or upper second-class honours degree or overseas equivalent in Arabic or another relevant subject with good knowledge of ArabicInterview Policy: Interviews by arrangement

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Recipient: SOAS University of London
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