Modern Middle Eastern Studies MPhil

Interior of a shopping center in Doha, Qatar. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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, 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 (Michaelmas) 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 (Hilary) 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.

You will sit the Qualifying Exam 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 (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.

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 refer to the Course Handbook.

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