Arabic, Islamic, Middle Eastern and North African Studies BA

Year of entry

2025 course information

Open Days 2024

Register your interest for our October Open Days. Register here

UCAS code
T601
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
Duration
4 years full time
Study abroad
Mandatory
Typical A-level offer
ABB
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Students working in Language Zone

On this course, you’ll learn Arabic, one of the world’s major languages, while also building your understanding of the cultural, historical, political and religious contexts that have shaped the Middle East, North Africa and the wider Muslim world. You’ll gain a firm grounding in spoken and written Arabic which is then strengthened further by spending a year in an Arabic-speaking country, where you will develop your skills in colloquial Arabic. During your year abroad, you’ll study a tailor-made curriculum designed exclusively for our students. In addition to Arabic, you’ll also have the option to expand your wider language skills by learning Persian.

Studying Arabic, Islamic, Middle Eastern and North African Studies gives you a deep and wide-ranging understanding of the cultures, history, politics and societies of these regions. You’ll develop your study of Islam, one of the most influential and widely practised religions in the world, and a subject of strategic importance both in the global context and in modern Britain. You’ll also learn about contemporary relevant issues of the Middle East and North Africa, and explore themes such as cultural identity, sexuality, gender and race. In addition to compulsory modules on key issues and themes, you’ll also choose from a range of optional modules such as Arab culture, politics, performance, Qur’anic Studies and Islamic law.

Alongside gaining linguistic, cultural and historical knowledge, you’ll also develop transferable skills to become a resilient and adaptable graduate. You'll enhance your ability to be self-reflective and critical, and to become a considered, informed thinker.

Additional highlights

You’ll learn from tutors who are recognised nationally and internationally as leaders in Arabic language studies. AIMES (Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies) at Leeds is also renowned for leading the design and development of Arabic language textbooks.

Learn from leading experts in critical areas such as Islamic history, international relations, Islamic law and legal theory, Muslim reformist thought, Islamophobia, Muslim intellectual history, women’s contributions to Islamic history, sectarian difference, historical topics including the Crusades, Islam in China, Cultural anthropology and Arab and Muslim Cinema. From the early history of the Arabs, North Africans and Islam to the complex international relations of today, you’ll build your knowledge through pioneering approaches such as Islamic history and religion through the female lens, postcolonialism, decoloniality and Critical Muslim Studies, which has been pioneered at the University of Leeds.

You’ll have access to a wide range of co-curricular activities, that will broaden and deepen your knowledge beyond the course’s teachings, such as Qur’anic Arabic and the ‘Amimiyyah seminars (readings of classical Islamic madrasah texts), offered by the School's Iqbal Centre for Critical Muslim Studies.

Specialist facilities

The School archive holds Arabic manuscripts and as many as 10,000 archaeological artefacts ranging from Pharaonic to early Palestinian eras. It’s a fantastic research resource – as is the University Library, which has extensive collections relating to Middle Eastern, North African and Islamic studies, along with free classes and workshops to learn how to use them.

With a variety of specialist facilities and four libraries on campus, you’ll find plenty of space for study, group work and research.

The Brotherton Library is home to a wide variety of manuscripts, archive and early printed material in its Special Collections – valuable assets for your independent research.

The Language Centre includes digital language labs, audio/video practice booths and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The Language Zone offers excellent learning material in more than 50 languages, including online resources and advice. The Language Exchange and the Language Groups programme provide opportunities to practise with other learners and native speakers; you can also volunteer to help other learners and enhance your CV at the same time.

Our Martin Thomas Translation Labs feature state-of-the-art computing facilities for translation studies as well as Interpreter Training Suites – ideal if you are considering a career in interpreting.

Brotherton Library Reading Room

Take a look around our libraries:

Course details

Year 1

Your first year will introduce you to Arabic language, the history, politics, cultures and religions of the Middle East and North Africa, while we support you through language classes to develop your Arabic skills.

Year 2

You’ll broaden your understanding and develop your language skills further by combining Arabic lessons with opportunities to explore the fascinating culture. You'll study in Morocco or Jordan (subject to availability of places in both countries) at an institution that has been selected for its high-quality methods of teaching and success in running TAFL (Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language) courses. The curriculum you’ll study during your year abroad is exclusively for our students.

Year 3

You’ll return to Leeds to further refine your Arabic skills. You’ll also choose from a variety of optional modules so you can build a degree that suits you, whether you’re interested in Arab media, leadership in Iran, the relationships between Muslim countries or the role that Islam plays in contemporary society.

Year 4

You'll continue to refine your Arabic skills and use the research skills you have developed to complete your final year project - an independent piece of research on a topic of your own choosing which can be in the form of a dissertation, digital documentary or submitted as a podcast. You’ll also have the option to develop your Arabic skills further by choosing a final year translation project, where you can explore issues in translation studies in relation to an extended translation on a topic of your own choosing.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

Beginning Arabic 1 (20 credits) - This module offers you an opportunity to progress from the level of a total beginner to A1 (according to the CEFR scale or half a GCSE) in the four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) in modern standard Arabic. On completion, you’ll be able to understand simple instructions, respond appropriately in everyday situations, express yourself using limited vocabulary and formulaic expressions and use the target language in a limited number of contexts so that it can be understood by a sympathetic native speaker. You’ll also develop an understanding of the structure of the language and the culture of the countries where the target language is spoken.

Beginning Arabic 2 (20 credits) - This module is a continuation of ARAB 1001. It will help you to progress from A1 to A2 according to the CEFR scale (GCSE) in the four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) in modern standard Arabic. On completion, you’ll be able to understand simple instructions in Arabic, respond appropriately in everyday situations, collect information from short texts in the target language, and express yourself in limited vocabulary. You’ll also develop awareness on the Arabic culture and the Arab world. It will also enable you to compare the Arabic structure and grammatical elements to other languages.

Studying the Middle East: Culture, History, Politics and Religion (20 credits) - The Middle East as an area of interest is the focus of much media attention. This module surveys and attempts to study the Middle East not only as a geopolitical entity, but also as a multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-linguistic and multi-ethnic region.

Muslim Beliefs: From Theology to Sunni-Shi’a Sectarianism (20 credits) - This module provides an understanding of the historical and theological developments that underpin Muslims beliefs in the modern age. With close reference to the Qur'an, the Prophetic Tradition (Sunna) and the most important definitions of Muslim creed. The module covers the thought of, and major studies on, theologians, philosophers and mystics who have shaped theological discourse and how these debates inform modern sectarian tendencies, especially the Sunni-Shi'a, Ash'ari-Hanbali and Sufi-Salafi divides.

Year 1 option modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Persian for Beginners (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Arab and Islamic Civilisation (20 credits)
  • Early and Medieval Islamic History (20 credits)
  • Politics, Culture and Society (20 credits)

Year 2 compulsory modules

Year Abroad (120 credits)

Year 3 compulsory modules

Advanced Arabic Grammar and Translation (20 credits) - This module will train you in how to translate contemporary texts from and into Arabic. It will also acquaint you with the grammatical skills that will enable you to write in a fluent and effective style, and to comprehend Arabic texts. On completion, you’ll be familiar with the grammar rules as well as the function of Arabic grammar in texts. You’ll also acquire the skills to translate different genres of texts from and into Arabic.

The Shari'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations (20 credits) - This module will introduce you to the idea of Shari’a as fundamentally a religious legal discourse, focusing on origins, historical development and permutations across differing socio-political and geographical contexts. An exploration of the relationship between the Shari’a as discourse and praxis and political power is an important aspect of this module, where you'll learn about the power relations which have historically fashioned, co-opted and/or curtailed the development of the Shari’a. Several case studies, including criminal law, commercial law, alcohol and sexuality, serve as pedagogical tools to elucidate the processes underpinning Shari’a formation. Finally, the contemporary dislocation of the Shari’a and the revivalist/reformist attempts at reinstitutionalisation are examined.

Essential Skills in Practical Arabic (20 credits) - This module will equip you with the skills to comprehend and analyse texts critically. It will also help you sharpen your writing skills through weekly writing practice. You’ll also have an opportunity to strengthen your oral and aural skills. By the end of this module your four language skills will have improved immensely.

Cultures of the Arab Middle East and North Africa (20 credits) - This module provides you with in-depth knowledge necessary for the understanding of the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa; an introduction to critical approaches to countering fixed ideas that this region is merely a place of antagonisms.

Year 3 option modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (20 credits)
  • Arab Media, Politics and Society (20 credits)
  • Global Jihad: From the Taliban to ISIS (20 credits)
  • Modern Middle Eastern History (20 credits)
  • The Qur'an: History, Text and Intepretation (20 credits)
  • The Politics of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle East (20 credits)

Year 4 compulsory modules

Advanced Skills in Arabic Language (20 credits) - This module will introduce you to different genres of advanced Arabic texts. Also, it will help you to enhance your oral and aural skills. It will train you in how to interpret and analyse critically different genre of Arabic texts. The focus is mainly on the function of language in texts.

Islam and Modernity (20 credits) - This module will introduce you to different genres of advanced Arabic texts and help you to enhance your oral and aural skills. It will train you in how to interpret and analyse critically different genre of Arabic texts with the focus mainly on the function of language in texts.

Middle Eastern Politics: Regimes, Societies and Conflict (20 credits) - This module seeks to equip you with the ability to critically explore, discuss and write on issues in Middle East politics at domestic, regional and international level.

Year 4 option modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Arabic Stylistics (20 credits)
  • The Hadith: History, Criticism and Canonisation (20 credits)
  • Performing Islam: Piety and Environment in Dialogue (20 credits)
  • Advanced Media Arabic: Translation Skills in Text Typology (20 credits)
  • Final Year Project: Dissertation (40 credits)
  • Final Year Project: Digital Documentary (Podcast) (40 credits)

Learning and teaching

We use a range of inclusive teaching methods to meet the needs of students with different learning styles. Your lecturers are all experts in their fields, so you’ll be able to benefit from their knowledge in lectures, workshops, small-group seminars and tutorials. You’ll build your language skills in practical and highly interactive classes, and as you progress, some modules may be taught in your target languages.

Independent learning is an important element of your studies, allowing you to build your research skills and think critically about the range of different sources you can access. We offer support on everything from choosing your modules to making the most of our excellent library resources. You’ll have regular opportunities to provide feedback on teaching, course content and what is working well and what can be improved. You’ll be introduced to a range of texts and participate in inclusive safe spaces for critically engaged discussions on sensitive topics (such as gender, race, sexuality, religion, and politics).

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.

Assessment

We ensure inclusive assessment by making sure you are assessed in a range of ways. We test listening, speaking, writing and reading through essays, exams, literature reviews, presentations, podcasts and translation projects. You’ll regularly receive detailed feedback on your coursework, helping you to keep track of your progress.

You’ll also be given opportunities to demonstrate what you’ve learned and communicate reasoned and well-supported arguments. It’s important to note that we work hard to ensure textbooks are inclusive, that reading lists are diverse and that the teaching of both Islamic, Middle Eastern and North African Studies is done in a culturally sensitive way that moves beyond lazy stereotypes and essentialisms. Crucial to our approach is the inclusion of texts by female authors and authors of colour.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB

Other course specific tests:

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ in a relevant subject this might be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A Levels, this would be BBB at A Level and grade A in the EPQ.

We welcome applications from mature students with Access qualifications, and from students with a wide range of qualifications.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may also be required.

BTEC

DDM

Cambridge Pre-U

M1, M1, M2

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall including 16 at Higher Level.

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers, or B in Advanced Highers and AAABB in Highers, or AABBBB in Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course. If you choose to undertake the Welsh Baccalaureate we would strongly encourage you to draw upon these experiences within your personal statement, as your qualification will then be taken into account both when your application is initially considered by the selection panel and again when reviewed by the admissions tutor at the time your A-level results are passed to us.

Other Qualifications

European Baccalaureate: 75%

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds offer: BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.

Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year

This course is designed for students whose backgrounds mean they are less likely to attend university (also known as widening participation backgrounds) and who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry to a degree.

The course will give you the opportunity to be taught by academic staff and provides intensive support to enable your development of academic skills and knowledge. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will progress to your chosen degree course. Find out more about the Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year.

International

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.


Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

Fees

UK: £9,250 (per year)

International: £24,500 (per year)

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Part-time fees
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Applying

Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

Read our guidance about applying.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Contact us

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Undergraduate Admissions

Email: artsadmissions@leeds.ac.uk
Telephone:

Career opportunities

Your study of languages and cultures is valuable preparation for employment in a multicultural, multinational environment. Leeds is the 5th most targeted university in the UK by graduate recruiters (The Graduate Market in 2022) and our graduates have pursued careers across the globe and in a variety of sectors including:

  • media

  • translation and interpreting

  • business and finance

  • law

  • Islamic banking and finance

  • government departments and the Civil Service

  • not-for-profit organisations

  • education

  • consultancy

Increasingly, graduates with specialist knowledge of the Middle East and North Africa, Islam, Muslim communities, Islamic law, theology and contemporary trends in Islamic thought are being sought by policy institutes and think-tanks, international development organisations and the Ministry of Defence.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers. Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of university by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty also offer help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Careers support

The School of Languages, Cultures and Societies regularly hosts employability events where you can listen to Leeds alumni talking about their careers and ask them for advice.

You’ll be guided in your career choices and prepared for life after your degree in a variety of ways. Workshops and events are organised for you by the School throughout the year and focus on networking, understanding the value of your language skills, hearing from alumni about their career experiences and hosting graduate recruiters who want to hire you.

We’ll also keep you informed of other part-time and volunteering opportunities that you can fit around your studies.

This course specific high-level knowledge provides access to many careers, but you’ll also acquire a range of transferable skills that are highly desirable to employers. You’ll be a clear communicator with strong presentation skills, as well as being a critical thinker who draws your own conclusions from the information available to you.

Study abroad and work placements

You’ll spend your second year in an Arabic-speaking country where you’ll be introduced to Arabic and Islamic culture while strengthening your language skills — both in terms of greater literacy and in the formal and colloquial Arabic. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and, when you’re not in your intensive language classes, there will be plenty of time to travel and explore. For many of our students, it’s the highlight of their course.

You'll study in Morocco or Jordan (subject to availability of places in both countries) at an institution that has been selected for its high-quality methods of teaching and success in running TAFL (Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language) courses. The curriculum you’ll study during your year abroad is exclusively for our students.

You'll have access to support and advice before, during and after your study abroad year, and you’ll be able to network with returning students for first-hand advice about living overseas. You'll also have meetings with the residence abroad tutor and access to online information before you relocate.

We’ll be in touch with you during your year abroad and you’ll have support at your host institution too. On your return, we’ll ask you to share your experiences and help you to make the most of your new and improved skills and experience.