Modern Middle Eastern Studies MSc

View of Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar from above, taken by Elisabetta Pietrostefani

The MSc in Modern Modern Middle Eastern Studies is a new 12-month, taught master's course, offered by the Faculty of Oriental Studies and the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA), which offers research training for students already familiar with the Middle East region and its languages. The course provides a common foundation in the methods and disciplines relevant to the study of the Middle East. It provides intensive training in several fields of knowledge based on a combination of lectures, tutorials and essay writing allowing students to develop research and writing skills with training in appropriate theoretical and methodological approaches, through supervision of a dissertation on a subject of the student’s choice. The MSc teaches both qualitative and quantitative methodologies through assessed work.

The course offers two tracks: a language and a non-language one. The language track is designed for students who already have intermediate to advanced -level ability in either Arabic or Hebrew and who wish to further develop these skills through intensive classes. The non-language track is designed for students who already have full research fluency in at least one of the languages of the region through being either a literate native speaker, or possessing a degree in the language (a course specifically focusing on language and acquisition of the capacity to read untranslated texts in a Middle-Eastern language, not a disciplinary or area studies degree in which the applicant has taken language classes). Non-native speaker applicants who think they might qualify for the non-language track who do not have such a degree should explain specifically why they think they qualify, e.g. through extensive formal study and experience in the region outside the scope of a degree program.

Students on the language track take language classes plus two optional papers. Students on the non-language track take three optional papers. Students in both tracks take assessed qualitative and quantitative research methodology modules, and both tracks write a 12,000 word dissertation. Optional papers are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, and non-assessed essays and will be examined through 5,000 word take-home essays at the end of each term. Candidates will choose from a list of Options published annually. The language paper for the language track will be examined by an examination at the end of Trinity Term. The dissertation will be undertaken independently under the supervision of a tutor with relevant expertise.  Preparation for the dissertation will take place through the Research Methods course and relevant Options and submitted by the beginning of September.  Fieldwork for the dissertation is not required but is not discouraged for those students able to carry it out.

Supervision

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. A supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Oriental Studies.

Entry Requirements

Degree-level qualifications

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 3.7 out of 4.0.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Applicants must have the following level of proficiency in a Middle Eastern Language:

Mode A (Language Track)

Intermediate or advanced level proficiency in Hebrew or Arabic. For guidelines on assessing language proficiency applicants are encouraged to consult the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines in Reading and Writing. Proficiency in speaking and listening is desirable, but for purposes of assessing applications we are specifically concerned with reading and writing proficiency

Mode B (Non-language track)

Full research fluency in at least one of the languages of the region through being either a literate native speaker, or possessing a degree in the language (a course specifically focusing on language and acquisition of the capacity to read untranslated texts in a Middle-Eastern language, not a disciplinary or area studies degree in which the applicant has taken language classes). Non-native speaker applicants who think they might qualify for the non-language track who do not have such a degree should explain specifically why they think they qualify, eg through extensive formal study and experience in the region outside the scope of a degree program.

Graduate Destinations

Graduates from the MSc Modern Middle Eastern Studies typically pursue careers in academia, government, business, the NGO sector, and journalism. The degree is particularly useful in preparing students wishing to continue study at the doctoral level through its provison of both qualitative and quantitative research training. 

Oriental studies graduates have found employment in many 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.

Further Information

For further information please see the Graduate Course Handbook.

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