University of Cambridge

Undergraduate

Study

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

You don't need any prior knowledge of Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese or Persian to study them here but you do need imagination, perseverance, curiosity and a sense of adventure. You can also combine Arabic, Hebrew or Persian with a modern European language.

UCAS code TT46 BA/AMES

Duration Four years

Colleges Available at all Colleges

2013 entry Applications per place: 3
Number accepted: 40

Open days and events 2014 Department open day - 14 March, booking required, see the Faculty website
College open days (arts)
Cambridge Open Days - 3 July, 4 July 2014

Related courses
Contact details 01223 335105
ug_progadmin@ames.cam.ac.uk
www.ames.cam.ac.uk

Overview

Broaden your horizons

The area we sudy stretches from Japan in the East to Morocco in the West, and from classical times to the present day. To study one of these cultures through its language is not only to develop a set of practical skills and knowledge that can be used later in many different ways, but also to engage with different ways of understanding our shared world.

We don't require you to have studied specific subjects at school; the best preparation is for you to explore for yourself what interests you in the culture you choose to study (see the Faculty website for suggestions).

Flexibility: our range of options

Our course is flexible and numerous options and combinations are available.

  • You can study Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese or Persian.
  • You can combine Arabic, Hebrew and Persian with each other, or with a modern European language (if you have an A Level/IB Higher Level in the European language), or with Egyptology or Assyriology. You can take Arabic or Hebrew on their own, but Persian must be combined with another language.
  • Chinese and Japanese cannot ordinarily be combined, except with each other in Years 3 and 4. Korean can be combined as a minor subject with Japanese in Year 4.

You should indicate which language(s) you’re interested in studying in your Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ). The choice isn’t absolute, and some students change direction before they start or as they progress.

Chinese

Chinese gives you China in its own words. You encounter a sophisticated civilization and the most vibrant economy in the world today. You delve into its 3,500 years of recorded history, poetry and philosophy to understand how they shaped the tumultuous changes of modern times, and to engage with contemporary society.

Japanese

In Japanese you master the spoken and written forms of the modern Japanese language and gain a comprehensive understanding of Japan, its rich and varied culture, its society and its vital role in world affairs.

Arabic and Persian

Arabic and Persian, the languages of the Qur'an and of Islamic mystical poetry, are the keys to a medieval culture which kick-started the European Renaissance. Our course gives you access both to this and to the warm-hearted societies fed by this heritage but wrestling in culture, religion and politics to find their place in the modern world.

Hebrew

Hebrew offers classical (Biblical) and/or modern Hebrew and its literature, and the history and culture of Israel and the modern Middle East. You can also study other languages such as Aramaic.

Our teaching

Good knowledge of the language(s) is central to our course. Part I (Years 1 and 2) gives a strong grounding, and in Part II (Years 3 and 4) you study advanced language so that by the end of it you can speak fluently and read confidently. Alongside the language(s), there's a wide range of topics on offer (depending on language), from which you can choose according to your interests – history, literature, religion, anthropology, politics. linguistics, film.

Living and learning abroad

The third year of the course is spent abroad a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture you're studying and to improve your language skills.

Chinese and Japanese students spend the year studying at a university in the appropriate country. Arabic, Persian and Hebrew students have some choice of which country they go to and, to a certain extent, what they do. In the past, students have followed language courses, studied at a university, taught, or worked for companies or charities.

Changing course

It's possible to change course after Part I. In recent years, undergraduates have successfully changed to modern languages, Law, and Human, Social, and Political Sciences.

Versatility: your choice of careers

The range of career options open to graduates is vast. Besides those who go into research, many graduates use their subject directly in subsequent employment. Examples include the media, business and commerce, tourism, teaching overseas, the Civil Service (especially the Foreign Office), NGOs, or international scientific agencies.

Even if you choose not to stay in a related field, employers are often impressed by your choice to study a difficult language. Our graduates have also gone into banking, marketing and law.

Course outline

Teaching is through lectures, seminars and classes, and supervisions, and you can typically expect 10-12 hours of teaching each week. Assessment includes written and oral examinations, and coursework.

Depending on your language(s), you take four to six papers in Years 1, 2 and 4, and write a dissertation of 12,000 words in your final year. You spend Year 3 abroad. See the website for full course details.

If you combine a European language with a Middle Eastern language, you study both roughly equally in Year 1 but after that can balance them as you wish. If you combine both to Part II, you spend Year 3 in the Middle East.

Chinese

Years 1 and 2 (Part I)

You receive intensive training in spoken and written Mandarin, as well as a grounding in reading literary and classical Chinese, and Chinese and East Asian history from ancient times to the present day.

Year 4 (Part II)

In Year 4, you write a dissertation and choose from specialist papers on topics as varied as religion, state and institutions in dynastic China; Chinese linguistics, contemporary society or literature; and war in the making of modern China.

Japanese

Years 1 and 2 (Part I)

In Year 1, you study East Asian history as well as Japanese. Year 2 focuses more on Japan itself, with topics such as film and politics. Classical Japanese is also available in Year 2, along with options in history, literature, religion, politics and society.

Year 4 (Part II)

Alongside your dissertation in Year 4, you choose from special papers which vary each year. Past topics include Japanese culture, history, and politics and international relations. There's also a Korean language option.

Arabic and Persian

Years 1 and 2 (Part I)

You study written Arabic and one of the spoken dialects, and/or modern Persian, and an introduction to the contemporary Middle East and/or its history. In Year 2, you can study classical and modern literature, history, anthropology, and Islam and/or linguistics.

Year 4 (Part II)

In Year 4, you write a dissertation and the second-year subjects are offered again, but in more depth and specialisation (eg the modern politics of Islam, Islamic Spain, women in the modern novel).

Hebrew

Years 1 and 2 (Part I)

You're introduced to the Hebrew language and its literature, as well as the contemporary culture of Israel and the history and culture of the Middle East. You can also take other subjects such as linguistics, Judaism, Akkadian or Egyptian.

Year 4 (Part II)

In Year 4, in addition to your dissertation, you have a range of options to choose from, such as Hebrew literature, Israeli cultural studies, Israeli cinema, Comparative Semitics, Aramaic, Phoenician, Ugaritic and the pre-modern and the modern Middle East.

Entry requirements

Typical offers require
A Level: A*AA
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.

Course requirements

Essential No specific subjects unless combining with a modern European language, in which case an A Level/IB Higher Level in the European language is required

Highly desirable A modern or ancient language

Useful An A Level/IB Higher Level humanities/social science subject, Mathematics

All Asian and Middle Eastern languages are taught from scratch, so there is no requirement for any previous knowledge of them.

Although a language at A Level/IB Higher Level is not essential (unless combining with a modern European language), we do look for evidence of ability to learn languages in a classroom setting, since this is such a central part of our courses. The courses are, however, about much more than just the languages. We therefore seek a range of skills and aptitudes in addition to language learning. This means that our courses may not be suitable for people who already have a thorough knowledge of the language in both its spoken and written forms. However, this should in no way discourage you from spending some time in the relevant country, and/or learning some of the language, if that is what you are considering.

Christ's and Robinson Colleges prefer at least one essay-based subject.

Check College websites for College-specific requirements. See also Entrance requirements and our Subject Matters leaflet for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.

Admissions tests and written work

The table below sets out the ways in which each College assesses applicants for this subject. For more information about these methods of assessment and why we use them, see the main Admissions tests and written work page.

College Assessment of applicant for this subject
Christ's School/college essays
Churchill School/college essays
Clare School/college essay; Test at interview
Corpus Christi School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
Downing School/college essay
Emmanuel School/college essay
Fitzwilliam School/college essay; Test at interview
Girton School/college essay; Test at interview (depending on subject)
Gonville & Caius School/college essay
Homerton School/college essay
Hughes Hall Test at interview
Jesus School/college essay
King's School/college essays; Test at interview if combining with a modern language
Lucy Cavendish School/college essays; Test at interview
Magdalene School/college essay; Test at interview if combining with a modern language
Murray Edwards School/college essay; Test at interview (depending on subject)
Newnham School/college essays
Pembroke School/college essays
Peterhouse School/college essays
Queens' School/college essay
Robinson School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
St Catharine's School/college essay
St Edmund's Interview only
St John's School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
Selwyn Preparatory study at interview; Test at interview if combining with a modern European language
Sidney Sussex School/college essay; Test at interview if combining with a modern European language
Trinity School/college essay
Trinity Hall School/college essay; Test at interview if combining with a modern language
Wolfson School/college essays; Test at interview (depending on subject)
How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course, please see our Applying section for more details.

You should indicate which language(s) you're interested in studying in your Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ). The choice isn't absolute, and some students change direction before they start or as they progress.

Further Resources

Find out more about Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge

  • Course website - Explore Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in mor detail on the course website.
  • Year abroad - Information about the third year of the AMES course, which is spent overseas.

Tools to help you with your Asian and Middle Eastern Studies application

Check out the specific resources for each of the subjects that make up Asian and Middle Eastern Studies:

Chinese Studies

Chinese Studies

Find out more about Chinese Studies at Cambridge

  • Subject website - Explore Chinese Studies in more detail on the course website.
  • Year abroad - Information about the third year of the AMES course, which is spent overseas.
  • Facilities - Information about the facilities available to Chinese Studies students.

Improve your knowledge of Chinese Studies

  • Preparatory reading - Guidance on preparatory reading for applicants interested in Chinese Studies.

Chinese Studies and your future

  • Career opportunities - Information about the careers opportunities available to you after studying Chinese Studies at Cambridge.

The student experience

  • Student profile - A current student describes her experience of studying Chinese Studies.
Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies

Find out more about Japanese Studies at Cambridge

  • Subject website - Explore Japanese Studies in more detail on the course website.
  • Facilities - Information about the facilities available to Japanese Studies students.
  • Year Abroad - Information about the third year of the AMES course, which is spent overseas.

Improve your knowledge of Japanese Studies

  • Preparatory reading - Guidance on preparatory reading for applicants interested in Japanese Studies.

Japanese Studies and your future

  • Career opportunities - Information about the careers opportunities available to you after studying Japanese Studies at Cambridge.
Arabic Studies and Persian Studies

Arabic Studies and Persian Studies

Find out more about Arabic Studies and Persian Studies at Cambridge

  • Subject website - Explore Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in more detail on the course website.
  • Year abroad - Information about the third year of the AMES course, which is spent overseas.
  • Combining Subjects - Information on how to combine Arabic, Hebrew or Persian with a European language.
  • Combining Subjects - Information on how to combine Arabic, Hebrew or Persian with a European language.

Improve your knowledge of Arabic Studies and Persian Studies

  • Preparatory reading - Guidance on preparatory reading for applicants interested in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

Subject-specific resources for the Arabic Studies and Persian Studies course at Cambridge

  • Arabic - Additional information on the Arabic side of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.
  • Persian - Additional information on the Persian side of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

The student experience

  • Student profiles - Some current students describe their experience of studying Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.
Hebrew Studies

Hebrew Studies

Find out more about Hebrew Studies at Cambridge

  • Subject website - Explore Hebrew and Aramaic Studies in more detail on the course website.
  • Combining subjects - Information on how to combine Hebrew and Aramaic together, or with papers from other courses.
  • Year abroad - Information about the third year of the AMES course, which is spent overseas.

Improve your knowledge of Hebrew Studies

  • Preparatory reading - Guidance on preparatory reading for applicants interested in Hebrew and Aramaic Studies.

Unistats info


Contextual Information

From September 2012, every undergraduate course of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual courses at different higher education institutions.

However, please note that superficially similar courses often have very different structures and objectives, and that the teaching, support and learning environment that best suits you can only be determined by identifying your own interests, needs, expectations and goals, and comparing them with detailed institution- and course-specific information.

We recommend that you look thoroughly at the course and University information contained on these webpages and consider coming to visit us on an Open Day, rather than relying solely on statistical comparison.

You may find the following notes helpful when considering information presented by the KIS.

  1. The KIS relies on superficially similar courses being coded in the same way. Whilst this works on one level, it leads to some anomalies. For example, Music courses and Music Technology courses can have exactly the same code despite being very different programmes with quite distinct educational and career outcomes.

    Any course which combines several disciplines (as many courses at Cambridge do) tends to be compared nationally with courses in just one of those disciplines, and in such cases a KIS comparison may not be an accurate or fair reflection of the reality of either. For example, you may find that when considering a degree which embraces a range of disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry and geology (for instance, Natural Sciences at Cambridge), the comparison provided is with courses at other institutions that primarily focus on just one (or a smaller combination) of those subjects.

  2. Whilst the KIS makes reference to some broad types of financial support offered by institutions, it cannot compare packages offered by different institutions. Different students have different circumstances and requirements, and you should weigh up what matters to you most: level of fee; fee waivers; means-tested support such as bursaries; non-means-tested support such as academic scholarships and study grants; and living costs such as accommodation, travel.

  3. The KIS provides a typical cost of private (ie non-university) accommodation. This is very difficult to estimate as prices and properties vary. University accommodation can be substantially cheaper, and if you are likely to live in College for much or all of the duration of your course (as is the case at Cambridge), then the cost of private accommodation will be of less or no relevance for you. The KIS also provides the typical annual cost of university accommodation and the number of beds available. Note that since most universities offer a range of residential accommodation, you should check with institutions about the likelihood of securing a room at a price that suits your budget. Knowing the number of beds available is not necessarily useful: it may be much more important to find out if all students are guaranteed accommodation.

  4. Time in lectures, seminars and similar can vary enormously by institution depending on the structure of the course, and the quality of such contact time should be the primary consideration.

  5. Whilst starting salaries can be a useful measure, they do not give any sense of career trajectory or take account of the voluntary/low paid work that many graduates undertake initially in order to gain valuable experience necessary/advantageous for later career progression.

The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other important factors that are relevant to the choices that you are making, but we hope that this will be a useful starting point to help you delve deeper than the face value of the KIS data.