Arabic has been the language of thriving literatures and rich and diverse cultures for many centuries. Modern Standard Arabic is arguably the strongest link uniting many diverse countries from 'the Ocean to the Gulf'. It is the official language of the 22 members of the Arab League and one of the 6 official languages of the UN.

Arabic has been taught in various forms at St Andrews for several centuries, and the Department of Arabic and Persian has an excellent record of academic scholarship in Islamic studies, Arabic and wider Middle Eastern history, and medieval and modern Arabic literatures.


Undergraduate - 2020 entry

Arabic at St Andrews is studied as part of a joint interdisciplinary degree, and possible combinations include Comparative Literature, Medieval History, Modern history, International Relations, and Middle East Studies.

Find out more on the Arabic course page.

Postgraduate - 2020 entry


Middle Eastern History MLitt
Modern Languages MLitt

Research degree

The School of Modern Languages offers a Master of Studies by Research (MSt (Res). Find out more about the MSt (Res)


Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD opportunities.

Student life

The Department of Arabic and Persian has approximately 90 to 100 undergraduate students joining each year, with growing postgraduate numbers.

The student-run Middle Eastern Society host regular social events including dinners, themed nights, shisha evenings and film screenings. 

Visit St Andrews


If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day or talk and tour to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 1 April 2020
  • Wednesday 8 April 2020
  • Wednesday 15 April 2020

Visit us


Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 11 March 2020

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Arabic research areas

The Department of Arabic and Persian has well-established links throughout the University as a whole, and especially with the undergraduate Middle East Studies degree programme within the School of History.

The Department also has research collaborations with the School of International Relations in the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence and the Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies.

Research staff:

  • Dr Fabio Caiani: modern Arabic literature.
  • Catherine Cobham: modern and contemporary Arabic fiction; literary criticism; literary translation.
  • Dr Kirill Dmitriev: early and classical Arabic language and literature; Arabic philological tradition; Arabic lexicography.
  • Dr Orhan Elmaz: Arabic linguistics and lexicography; early Arabic and Qur'anic studies; digital humanities.
  • Dr Saeed Talajooy: translation, postcolonial, performance and film theories; comparative studies of Persian literature and world literature in English.

Careers for graduates in Arabic

Graduates in Arabic go on to a wide range of careers, including:

  • academics in international institutions
  • civil servants in government departments (notably the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US State Department)
  • human rights lawyers
  • journalists
  • employees in non-governmental organisations and international companies.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Employable skills

By studying a degree in Arabic, you will gain the following skills:

  • read, write, listen to and speak in the Arabic language
  • effectively use reference materials
  • develop analytical, critical and specialist skills that can be used in other contexts
  • appreciation and openness towards other cultures
  • ICT, note taking and summarising, library research, mediation, analysis and problem solving.

Funding opportunities

The University of St Andrews offers a range of funding opportunities at every level of study.


There are several funding options for undergraduates.

Undergraduate scholarships


Santander Universities scholarships

The School of Modern Languages is offering two £5,000 scholarships, awarded on the basis academic merit and financial need, to those applying for an MLitt programme in Modern Languages.

Forum for Modern Languages Studies Scholarship

The School of Modern Languages is offering four £9,000 scholarships in an open competition to applicants who have been admitted to any one of the MLitt programmes offered by the School.

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students  

Find out more about funding for postgraduate research. 

Funding for PhD students


University league tables

Middle Eastern and African Studies at St Andrews was ranked top in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2020

The School of Modern Languages was ranked second in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2020.

Research Excellence Framework

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the School of Modern Languages was ranked first in Scotland on the quality of publications, with over 70% of research work rated as world-leading and internationally excellent.


Department of Arabic and Persian
University of St Andrews
Buchanan Building
Union Street
St Andrews
KY16 9PH

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3642

Arabic website   Arabic research portal