Persian, the second language of the Middle East, is primarily known in Europe for its unique literary tradition and for being the lingua franca of the Indian sub-continent in the pre-modern era. Persian is also an important modern language. It is the national language of such geopolitically important countries as Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan and is spoken in several neighbouring countries and in migrant communities in North America and Europe.
At St Andrews the focus is Modern Persian language, literature, drama, song, visual culture and cinema, but students are also introduced to classical literary texts.
Students gain a good level of linguistic proficiency within the first two years and then engage with historical and literary texts. Persian can be studied as part of a joint or triple honours degree with many other subjects in about 120 combinations. The University's Middle East related programmes (including Persian) have been ranked 1st in The Complete University Guide 2019-2020.
St Andrews has several study abroad programmes for Persian in North America. As from 2020, it will also have a programme in Tajikistan where students can learn the language among native speakers. For updates on these programmes, see the study abroad web pages.
Why study Persian?
Though written in Arabic script, Persian is an Indo-European language, and thus relatively easy for speakers of European languages to learn.
People who learn Modern Persian can read texts written in the ninth century. The unique literary tradition of the language has been sustained and developed in various genres, including cinema and theatre.
Many students begin with a general political interest in Persian but end up falling in love with the culture.
Graduates may pursue careers in:
- civil service
- international relations
- oil industry
- multinational companies
Or they may become:
- museum curators
- international cultural experts.