Arabic MA (joint degree) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

Whilst St Andrews does not offer Arabic as a single Honours degree, you can take Arabic in combination with a wide variety of other subjects as part of a joint Honours degree. It is useful to study Arabic, by far the most commonly used language of the Middle East, alongside almost any subject as it offers the opportunity for comparative analyses between different languages, literatures, cultures, histories, politics and economics.

By choosing to study Arabic, you will learn the language of the Arabic media as well as classical and modern Arabic languages and literature. All Arabic modules prioritise building a high level of competence in language skills, and after completing the first two years of your course, you will be able to read, write and converse in basic Modern Standard Arabic.

You will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year in a country where Arabic is spoken. 

Start date
September 2024
End date
30 June 2028
Four years full time
Department of Arabic and Persian
“I not only enjoy learning the grammar and the technical aspects of language, but also the culture of the countries where the languages are spoken. The teaching is incredible – my tutors have been amazing and I have felt very supported during my studies. ”
Girl with dark hair wearing glasses and smiling
- Cambridgeshire, England

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
  • Standard entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,6,5)
    Minimum entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,5,5)

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Alternative study options

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:

Integrated year abroad

Students may choose to spend an additional year working or studying in a Arab-speaking country. Find out more about the integrated year abroad for this course.

Study abroad

You can apply to study for a semester in an Arab country. Students of Arabic can also apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

You do not need previous knowledge of Arabic to apply. Modules are not designed for native speakers.

Course details

The Arabic element of the four-year joint Honours degree course is run by the Department of Arabic and Persian within the School of Modern Languages. The degree syllabus includes a wide spectrum of subjects from Islamic history to media Arabic, from medieval and classical literature to modern and contemporary literature.

Your first two years focus on enabling you to read, write and converse in simple Modern Standard Arabic. You will cover the Arabic alphabet and writing system and begin the study of Arabic grammar. You will also be introduced to contemporary issues and key themes in Arabic culture.

Alongside Arabic, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

You will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year in a country where Arabic is spoken. You will also have the opportunity to study Arabic abroad in your third year by taking advantage of one of the numerous Arabic study abroad programmes.

In your third and fourth years, you will have the opportunity to take modules which focus on topics ranging from the language of the Arabic media to classical and modern Arabic language and literature.

Graduates in modern languages from St Andrews can expect to have not only a high level of competency in language skills, but a highly developed appreciation for other cultures and peoples. Other transferable skills, including analysis, synthesis and communication skills will prepare you for a career in many fields, including government, law, journalism, NGOs and international companies.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in Arabic along with modules from your chosen joint subject.

Typically, you will take one Arabic module per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth years (known as Honours).

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their first year:

  • Arabic for Beginners 1: enables students to read, write and converse in simple Modern Standard Arabic. It will cover the Arabic alphabet and writing system, and begin the study of Arabic grammar.
  • Arabic for Beginners 2: covers the remaining points of Arabic grammar from Arabic 1 using a selection of representative non-literary texts.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year:  

  • Intermediate Arabic 1: enables students to read and write Modern Standard Arabic to intermediate level with the aid of a dictionary, and to speak in standard Arabic on appropriate topics with a limited vocabulary.
  • Intermediate Arabic 2: prepares students for Honours modules in Arabic by applying language work to simplified classical works, as well as contemporary and modern writings.

If you take Arabic in your third and fourth years, you will choose from a variety of advanced options which incorporate literary, historical and cultural studies into language learning.

Modules in previous years at Honours level have included (but are not limited to):

  • Arabic Short Stories (1 and 2)
  • Classical Arabic Poetry
  • Exile and Identity
  • Fannanat: Arab Women's Creativity in Modern Arab Culture
  • Key Texts in Classical Arabic Literature and Culture
  • Media Arabic (1 and 2)
  • Modern Arab Culture and Society
  • Palestinian Fiction.

In fourth year, students have the option of undertaking a dissertation of about 10,000 words on an approved topic in Arabic and Middle East Studies. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


All modern language modules involve a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical language classes. Lectures provide information, stimulate thought, and suggest directions for further reading and personal study. Small language tutorials allow you to work actively together with your tutors to practice language skills, present papers, and discuss texts and issues relevant to the course.

Sub-honours Arabic modules are delivered through lectures and small-group tutorials. At Honours level, lectures are replaced by small classes alongside tutorials. Typical class sizes for Arabic:

  • first year: lectures 40 to 80 students, tutorials 10 to 15 students
  • second year: lectures 20 to 40 students, tutorials 10 to 15 students
  • Honours: classes 5 to 20 students, tutorials 5 to 15 students.

When not attending lectures, tutorials and practical language classes, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library and online
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

Modules in Arabic are assessed by a combination of coursework and end-of-semester examinations.

Coursework includes advanced language exercises, discursive essays in English, and oral presentations in Arabic.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand. Examinations are either entirely in written format or comprise both written and oral components.

Tutors advise you closely on the preparation of written work and give individual assessments of your performance. 

The Department aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements.

To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

You can find contact information for all staff in the Department of Arabic and Persian on the School of Modern Languages website.

In addition to your studies in the Department of Arabic and Persian, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.



England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands, Isle of Man

EU and overseas

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take Arabic MA (joint degree) as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

  • Art History
  • Biblical Studies
  • Chinese Studies
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  • English
  • Film Studies
  • French
  • Geography
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • International Relations
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Medieval History
  • Middle East Studies
  • Modern History
  • Persian
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Russian
  • Social Anthropology
  • Spanish
  • Sustainable Development

Triple subject degree options

It is also possible to take Arabic as part of a Modern Languages Honours degree including either three modern languages or two modern languages and one additional subject. Find out more about the triple subject combinations available.

"With" degrees

You can take Arabic as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first-named subject. In taking a "with" degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects.

Biology with Arabic


Graduates in Arabic go on to a wide range of careers for which an Arts degree is a recognised qualification. 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)
  • employees in non-governmental organisations and international companies
  • human rights lawyers
  • journalists.

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

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Undergraduate visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 3673
Department of Arabic and Persian

School of Modern Languages
University of St Andrews
Buchanan Building
Union Street
St Andrews
KY16 9PH

Department of Arabic and Persian website