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 the building of 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.
If you take Arabic with another language, you will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year in a country where your other chosen language is spoken.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Arabic MA page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. 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.
Standard entry grades: AAAB
Minimum entry grades: AABB
Gateway entry grades: BBBB
Standard entry grades: AAB
Minimum entry grades: ABB
Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5)
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
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 entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.
You do not need previous knowledge of Arabic to apply. Modules are not designed for native speakers.
Faculty entry requirements
You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.
SQA National 5 (B) or equivalent in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
GCSE (B or 5) in English, English Language or English Literature, and one GCSE (B or 5) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty. 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.
The University publishes its expected timetables before the advising process, and aims to provide each student with a personalised timetable once module choices have been made and confirmed during matriculation.
The School of Modern Languages has a long-standing reputation for innovative research in an exceptionally broad variety of interests including world literature, linguistics, cinema, history, gender and identity studies.
In the 2014 REF, the School was ranked first in Scotland on the quality of publications, with over 70% of research work rated as world-leading and internationally excellent.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
The Arabic portion 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.
If you are taking Arabic with another language, you will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year in a country where your other chosen language is spoken.
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.
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 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
Classical Arabic Poetry
Exile and Identity
Key Texts in Classical Arabic Literature and Culture
Modern Arab Culture and Society
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 available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.
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
preparing coursework assignments and presentations
preparing for examinations.
You will be taught by a research-led teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Arabic. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader.
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.
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. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale web page.
Visit St Andrews
If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.
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
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.
You can choose to study for a semester in an Arab country. Arabic students also participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of Arabic may be interested in joining the following student societies:
Middle East Society hosts regular social events including dinners, themed nights, shisha evenings and film screenings.
At Home and Abroad Society (AHAsoc) promotes study and work abroad programmes along with all forms of international cultural exchange.
The School of Modern Languages is situated at the very centre of St Andrews in the Buchanan Building on Union Street. Within the Buchanan Building is the Multi-media Centre, a digital language lab which students will use as both a component of their module classwork and as part of individual study.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).