Persian MA (joint degree) 2024 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 and the cinematic achievements of the Iranian New Wave. Therefore, Persian offers a good opportunity for comparative analyses between different languages, literatures, cultures, national cinemas, histories, politics and economics.

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

Students taking Persian with another language will have the opportunity to apply 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.

Start date
September 2024
End date
June 2028
Four years full time
Department of Arabic and Persian
“You will have the choice to study what truly interests you (Literature, music, film etc.) within the Persian course. The language skills give you the possibility of understanding a culture and literary style very distinct to any other in the world. I believe that the small class sizes are what has really set the course apart from any other course I have taken. This structure fosters a closer relationship between students and their professors. ”
- Geneva, Switzerland

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.

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 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

Study abroad

Students studying Persian can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange 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 Persian to apply. Modules are not designed for native speakers.

Course details

The Persian element 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, literary and cultural 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 studying Persian grammar and most-used vocabulary. You will also be introduced to contemporary issues and key themes in Persian culture.

Alongside Persian, 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 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 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.

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 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 produce simple sentences to express themselves in written and spoken Persian.
  • Persian for Beginners 2: continues the lessons from Persian 1 and provides an introduction to elementary translation and interpretation 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 have four compulsory modules in the Persian language across two years. In addition to these four compulsory modules, you will choose from a variety of advanced options which incorporate literary, historical and cultural studies into language learning.

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

  • Introduction to Classical Persian Literature
  • Key Texts in Modern Persian Literature
  • Modern Iran through Cinema
  • Modernity and Iranian Drama
  • Songs of Love and Revolution.

In fourth year, students have the option of doing a dissertation module. This can be a short dissertation (5,000 words) or a long dissertation of (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 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 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.

When not attending lectures, tutorials and 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.

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
  • reaction papers and essays in Persian
  • discursive essays in English
  • 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.

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 will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Persian. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials and seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all staff from 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 Persian MA (joint degree) as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

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

Joint degrees taken with Arabic, Chinese Studies, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish are also available 'With Integrated Year Abroad'. 

Triple subject degree options

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

"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. In taking a "with" degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects.

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


Persian-speaking graduates 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:

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

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 3563
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