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 familiarise themselves with classical literary and historical texts.
Students taking Persian with another language 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.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Persian 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 Persian 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 webpage.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
Students studying Persian may 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.
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.
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 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.
“I love foreign languages and the culture of the Middle East. The course is so gratifying once you start being able to write basic sentences. Our class is fairly small and tight-knit so everyone has the chance to participate and practise orally. Whilst learning grammar and vocabulary, we are also taught about the culture of the region, crucial when learning such a different language!”
Emily (Staffordshire, England)
Department of Arabic and Persian School of Modern Languages University of St Andrews Buchanan Building Union Street St Andrews KY16 9PH
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).