The MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies is a two-year course intended for students from all social science and humanities backgrounds. The course provides intensive training in a Middle Eastern language, training in research methods and topics relevant to the study of the Middle East.
The MPhil Modern Middle Eastern Studies accepts students who are complete beginners in a Middle Eastern language (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish). The course also accommodates students in any of these languages at an advanced level. If you already have research-level proficiency in one of these languages you will be required to take a different language.
You are evaluated in five areas: a language examination, three written examinations on course options taught through tutorials and lectures, and a 30,000-word thesis.
In the first two terms, you will receive intensive language training to cover the fundamentals of grammar in your chosen Middle Eastern language. This training takes place in classes or language laboratories. You are expected to attend the weekly MPhil seminar, The Modern Middle East, held in the first term. The seminar is an interactive forum in which you are asked to present arguments and to respond to each other’s work. In addition to this seminar, you will be encouraged to attend lectures and seminars offered by the teaching staff during the first term.
In the second term, in consultation with your supervisor, you will arrange a series of tutorials for one of three options to be offered for the final examination. Tutorials typically involve eight weekly meetings and between four and six essays, arranged between you and your tutor. Most options have an associated lecture series which you are expected to attend.
Tutorial options offered on a regular basis include the following:
- History of the Middle East, 1860-1970
- Politics of the Middle East
- Social Anthropology of the Middle East
- International Relations of the Middle East
- Iranian History from the Constitutional to the Islamic Revolution, 1905-1979
- History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Politics of the Maghreb
- The Maghreb since 1830
- Main Themes in Israeli Politics and Society
- The Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa
- Political Islam, Islamism, and Modern Islamic Movements
- Modern Turkish Literature: Texts and Contexts
- The Arab-Israeli Conflict
- History from below in the Middle East and North Africa
- Space and Gender in Middle Eastern Literatures: The Harem and the Body
- History and Politics of the Gulf
- History of Qajar Iran
- Hebrew Literature
You will sit the qualifying examination at the end of the second term. Language training continues in the third term, and you will have tutorials for the second of your three options. You will at this stage begin your thesis preparations, meeting with staff members to identify a thesis supervisor.
During the long vacation from the end of June to early October you are urged to pursue intensive language training in an appropriate course in the region, political circumstances permitting. Information on the different courses can be obtained from the relevant language instructors, in consultation with supervisors. You are encouraged to take the opportunity provided by study abroad to conduct research for your thesis in the region.
In the first term of the second year, you will continue language training, and have tutorials for your third option. Over the Christmas vacation research and writing of the thesis should continue. In the second term, you will have further language training and attend an MPhil research seminar where you will present your research findings to your peers and faculty. A complete draft of your thesis should be ready for the supervisor to assess by the end of the second term. By the second week of the final term, you will be ready to submit your thesis. The final examination is held at the end of the final term.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Oriental Studies.
As a minimum, applicants should normally hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any social science or humanities subject.
If your degree is not from the UK, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
Oriental Studies graduates have found employment in many and diverse fields including business, finance, law, civil service, journalism, government and industry.
Many graduates have also undertaken further research into subjects linked with Oriental studies and have pursued successful careers in the academic world, education and in museums.
For further information please see the Postgraduate Taught Courses Handbook.
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