Persian MA (joint degree)
2017 entry

Whilst St Andrews does not offer Persian as a single Honours degree, you can take Persian in combination with a wide variety of other subjects as part of a joint Honours degree. Persian is the second language of the Middle East and the Islamic world, and is primarily known in Europe for its unique literary tradition. Therefore, Persian offers a good opportunity for comparative analyses between different languages, literatures, cultures, histories, politics and economics.

At St Andrews, the focus is on Modern Persian, with an emphasis on language, literature, drama, visual culture and cinema, but students are also given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with classical literary and historical texts.

For students taking Persian with another language, you will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year to a country in your other chosen language. Find out about more about integrated year abroad options

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Course type

Master of Arts (joint degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers AAAB
GCE A-Levels AAB
IB points 36

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.

Find out more about international entry requirements.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

You do not need previous knowledge of Persian to apply, and 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.  

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty.

Find out more about Faculty of Arts entry requirements.

Course information

The Persian portion of the four-year joint Honours degree course is run by the Department of Arabic and Persian within the School of Modern Languages. Persian is relatively easy to learn, and students can gain a good command of the language within the first two years and then proceed to engage with the more challenging historical and literary aspects of the Persian-speaking world.

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

If you are taking Persian with another language, you will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year to a country in your other chosen language. Find out about more about integrated year abroad options. 

In your third and fourth year, you will have the opportunity to take more modules which focus on Persian literature, film, culture and society.

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 almost any industry.

Find out more about studying Persian at St Andrews.


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

Typically, you will take one Persian module per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

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

  • Persian for Beginners 1: familiarises students with the spoken and written forms of Persian, and enables them to begin to read basic authentic texts and to express themselves in writing, role-play and basic dialogues.
  • Persian for Beginners 2: continues the lessons from Persian 1 and provides an introduction to elementary translation between Persian and English.

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

  • Intermediate Persian 1: consolidates students’ understanding of Persian grammar and vocabulary, and allows students to read more sophisticated texts in Persian and to translate them to English.
  • Intermediate Persian 2: applies language work across passages from contemporary and modern writing selected for their relevance to the understanding of contemporary issues, language and thought in Iranian culture.

If you take Persian 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 at Honours level include (but are not limited to):

  • Key Texts in Modern Persian Literature
  • Modern Iran through Cinema
  • Modernity and Iranian Drama
  • Introduction to Classical Persian Poetry
  • Female Identity in Contemporary Iran
  • Short dissertation
  • Long dissertation. 

In fourth year, students have the option of undertaking a dissertation of about 10,000 words on an approved topic in Persian 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 modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take 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. A full list of all modules currently available can be found in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

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

Sub-honours Persian modules are delivered through lectures and small-group tutorials (10 to 25 students). At Honours level, lectures are replaced by small classes of 5 to 10 students.


Modules at sub-honours level are assessed by a combination of coursework (40%), oral examinations (20%) and written examinations (40%). At Honours level, all modules include at least 40% assessed coursework.

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

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.


Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £20,570

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

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 in 2017.

Funding and scholarships

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

Faculty of Arts scholarships

The Dr Lawrence M Wodehouse Scholarship provides financial assistance for students studying in the Faculty of Arts who are academically gifted but would otherwise struggle with the cost of studying at St Andrews.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Joint Honours degrees

You can take Persian as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects.

  • Ancient History
  • Arabic
  • Classical Studies
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • International Relations
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Management
  • Mediaeval History
  • Middle East Studies
  • Modern History
  • Philosophy
  • Russian
  • Social Anthropology
  • Spanish

Modern Language degrees

It is possible to combine a degree in Persian with two modern languages. Any combination of Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish is possible.

You can also take Persian as part of a Modern Languages joint Honours degree with two modern languages and one additional subject.

If you are taking:

  • Persian

You can also take one modern language:

  • Arabic
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Spanish

And one other subject:

  • Ancient History
  • Classical Studies
  • English
  • International Relations
  • Latin
  • Management

If you are taking:

  • Persian

You can also take one modern language:

  • Arabic

And one other subject:

  • Middle East Studies

'With' degrees

You can take Persian as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first named subject.

  • Geography with Persian
  • International Relations with Persian
  • Mediaeval History with Persian
  • Modern History with Persian

Your future


Persian-speaking countries are becoming increasingly in demand with the potential rapprochement between Iran and the west. Graduates in Persian go on to pursue a wide range of careers in:

  • government
  • international relations
  • oil industry
  • banking
  • journalism
  • museum curators
  • academia as international culture experts. 

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.

Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Working abroad

Completing a work placement abroad is a good opportunity to gain work experience in another culture or language and to enhance valuable skill sets. As part of specific degree programmes in Modern Languages, you may apply to undertake a work placement abroad for credit.

Student life

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 Persian 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.
  • Iranian Cultural Society hosts regular social events including themed nights 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 Multimedia 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 the campus is located around 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. Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3563

Persian website