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Department of Arabic and Persian

Arabic at St Andrews

The Arab world is currently going through a period of radical changes, which will continue to have widespread repercussions for decades to come. The region includes many different countries extending ‘from the Ocean to the Gulf’, as Arabs traditionally refer to it. Modern Standard Arabic is arguably the strongest link uniting countries as diverse as Iraq and Morocco. It is the official language of the twenty-two members of the Arab League and one of the six official languages of the UN. Perhaps more important than all this is the fact that Arabic has been for many centuries the language of thriving literatures (from pre-Islamic poetry to the contemporary novel) and rich and diverse cultures. The importance of Arabic is enhanced by the fact that this is the language of Islam and millions of Muslims around the world believe the holy Qur’an was revealed in Arabic to humankind in the person of the prophet Muhammad.

Arabic has been taught in various forms at St Andrews for several centuries and the Department has an excellent record of academic scholarship in Islamic studies, Arab and wider Middle Eastern history and mediaeval and modern Arabic literatures. Testifying to the quality of teaching, graduates of the Department have become academics in international institutions, civil servants in government departments (notably the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US State Department), human rights lawyers and employees in non-governmental organisations and international companies.

With approximately 80 first year students choosing to study Arabic at St Andrews, and five members of staff, the degree syllabus includes a wide spectrum of subjects from Islamic history to media Arabic, from mediaeval and classical literature to modern and contemporary literature. The Department has well-established links throughout the University as a whole and especially with the degree programme of Middle East Studies within the School of History, and the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence and the Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies, both within the School of International Relations.

The Department of Arabic and Persian came 1st in the UK in the 2016 Complete University Guide. Our School of Modern Languages has been ranked 2nd in The Guardian University Guide 2018.

Introductory subject talk: Arabic

Place El-Hedine Mosaique 

Contact details

Ms Catherine Cobham
University of St Andrews
St Andrews KY16 9PH
Scotland, UK

Telephone: +44 (0)1334 463642

See also