Studying Turkish at Oxford

Twilight at Aya Sofya

Twilight at Aya Sofya

At Oxford Turkish may be studied either for a degree in Oriental Studies or for a degree in European and Middle Eastern Languages, in which case it is combined with one of a wide range of European languages. Both of these are four-year degree courses. Within Oriental Studies Turkish may be studied either as the sole subject, or with a subsidiary language (Arabic, Persian or Armenian), or with Islamic Art and Archaeology.

Students who take Turkish either as their main subject for Oriental Studies or as the Middle Eastern component of a degree in European and Middle Eastern Languages follow an intensive elementary course in their first two terms, at the end of which they have to pass a Preliminary Examination. (For Oriental Studies candidates this examination includes also a paper on Islamic history and culture.) Those who are taking Turkish as an Oriental Studies main subject spend the whole of their second year in Turkey, while those taking Turkish with a European language usually divide this year between Turkey and the country of their European language. The first few months of the year abroad are usually spent at an intensive language school in Istanbul or Ankara, acquiring fluency. The second semester (February-June) is preferably spent at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, under special arrangements agreed between the two universities. This year abroad is eligible for LEA grant support on the same basis as the years of study in Oxford. Accommodation with Turkish families can usually be arranged for those students who wish it. For more information on the Year Abroad, please refer to this webpage.

In the third and fourth years all students, whichever degree course they are following, receive the same amount and range of language teaching, and study the same core selection of modern prescribed texts (literary and political/cultural), dating from the late nineteenth century to the present, Some of the pre-1929 texts are studied in the original Arabic script. Students taking Turkish within Oriental Studies read some older historical texts as well. Beyond these core requirements students taking Turkish as their sole subject have a considerable choice of options, including Ottoman and modern Turkish history, traditional Ottoman literature and Turkish language reform. Students who are taking a subsidiary language or Islamic Art and Archaeology will devote between one-third and one half of their time in these last two years to that part of their course. Except for those taking a subsidiary language, each student also chooses a special subject to pursue in greater depth, in some cases by writing a dissertation.

Turkey is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It is an emerging country, with a complex imperial past, that is playing an increasingly prominent role both in its region and in the world more generally. It is a member of the G-20, the OECD, the OSCE, NATO, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and is a candidate for full membership of the EU.  Knowledge of Turkey and Turkish will become increasingly important in the years ahead, and there is a great shortage of British graduates with this expertise. A number of British government departments regularly recruit linguists qualified in Turkish. There are also plenty of career opportunities for UK graduates in Turkey itself, and those who have a good knowledge of Turkish language and culture are particularly welcome in the public relations, media and education fields.

For further information please see the Course Handbook, available here as a downloadable pdf. The Course Handbook is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of the study of Islamic subjects at undergraduate level: