Middle Eastern Studies and Politics BA

Year of entry

2024 course information

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
3 years full time
Work placement
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBB at A Level and pass Access to Leeds
BBC at A Level, A in a relevant EPQ and pass Access to Leeds
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Students working in Language Zone

In this degree, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of two subject areas: the history, politics, religion and culture of the Middle East, and the study of politics more broadly. This allows you to analyse the complex political circumstances that shape our world today.

You’ll build your knowledge of key themes in Middle Eastern studies, from the early history of the Arabs and Islam to the complex international relations of today. Speaking Arabic isn’t a requirement for this course, but you can choose Arabic language modules to develop those skills throughout your degree.

You’ll also develop your understanding of political theory and systems of government around the world. You’ll study the mechanisms of power and influence of politics in public life, exploring the real politics behind the headlines and constructing practical solutions to political challenges.

With the international outlook and knowledge you develop, you’ll be well prepared for a career in a range of fields. Students on this course can also apply for study abroad or a work placement in their final year.

Specialist facilities

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

The world-class 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. These include rare copies of magazines and unpublished letters, with materials across the range of languages that we teach, from medieval Latin to the Leeds Russian Archive. Our main library resources are also excellent, and the University Library offers a comprehensive training programme to help you make the most of them.

Our departmental archive contains Arabic manuscripts, as well as 10,000 archaeological artefacts that range from the Pharaonic to the early Palestinian eras. It’s a fantastic research resource – as is the University Library, which has extensive collections relating to Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. The University Library runs free classes and workshops so you can learn how to use them.

If you choose to study language modules, our Language Zone gives you access to free learning resources, including space for personal study, language learning software, and video, audio, books and magazines.

Take a look around our libraries:

Brotherton Library
Laidlaw Library
Edward Boyle Library

Course details

A joint honours degree allows you to study the same core topics as students on each single honours course, but take fewer options and discovery modules so you can fit in both subjects. You’ll also undertake a major project in either subject in your final year.

Year 1

In your first year, you’ll gain a foundational understanding of politics and political ideas. You’ll explore the key debates that shape politics at an international level, using theory to understand and analyse political practices in the world today. You’ll compare the nature of politics and processes across different political systems, analysing how and why we make these comparisons.

As well as this you’ll gain an overview of the history of the Arab world, from the rise of Islam in the 6th century to the Ottoman conquest in the 16th. You’ll also study the Middle East in depth to understand the varied history, culture, politics, religions and languages of the region.

Year 2

In your second year, you’ll explore issues relating to modern Arab societies and cultures, such as family life, gender relations, marriage, divorce and the role of religion. You’ll examine the formation of the modern Middle East from empires to nation-states and you’ll have options to learn about the politics of race, gender, and sexuality in the Middle East. You can also learn about the development of Arab media and its role in relation to politics, culture and society.

In addition to this, you’ll critically examine political theories and ideas in the 20th century, or political challenges such as justice, community and conflict. You’ll also study UK or international government and political systems from a choice of optional modules.

Year 3

In your final year, you’ll undertake either a dissertation or create a podcast on a topic of your choice. You’ll choose from optional modules to tailor your learning to your interests and career aspirations. You can critically explore topics such as Islam and modernity, Middle Eastern politics and British foreign policy, among many others.

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.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Middle Eastern Studies and Politics BA in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Early and Medieval Islamic History 20
Studying the Middle East: Culture, History, Politics and Religion 20
Politics, Culture and Society 20
Comparative Politics 20
Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introduction to Political Ideas 20

Year 1 discovery modules

Students also have 20 free credits for Discovery Modules.

Year 2 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Cultures of the Arab Middle East and North Africa 20
Modern Middle Eastern History 20

Year 2 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Arab Media, Politics and Society 20
The Politics of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle East 20
Media and Democracy 20
Politics and Policy in the EU 20
Politics of Contemporary China 20
State and Politics in Africa 20
United States Politics 20
Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th Century 20
Justice, Community and Conflict 20
Approaches to Analysis 20

Year 2 discovery modules

Students have 20 free credits for Discovery Modules. They can also choose to take a further module in Middle Eastern Studies or Politics, or take this module: 

  • Towards the Future: Skills in Context (20 credits)

Year 3 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Final Year Project: either dissertation in Politics, or choice between dissertation and podcast in Middle Eastern Studies 40

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

Module Name Credits
Islam and Modernity 20
Middle Eastern Politics: Regimes, Societies and Conflict 20
Performing Islam: Piety and Environment in Dialogue 20
British Foreign Policy 20
The Politics of national identity in the UK 20
Violence and Reconciliation in Africa 20
Extreme Right Parties 20
Europe in the World 20
Gender and Security in Global Politics 20
Terrorism: Concepts, Debates, Cases 20
Radical Political Ideas: Marx, Nietzsche, Schmitt, Foucault, Kristeva 20
Reimagining Politics: Gender, Race, and Popular Culture 20
Video Games: Politics, Society and Culture 20
Nuclear Weapons and Global Politics 20
Philosophy of Human Rights 20

Year 3 discovery modules

Students have 20 free credits for Discovery Modules. They can also choose to take a further module in Middle Eastern Studies or Politics, or take one of these modules: 

  • Contemporary World Literature (20 credits)
  • Material Cultures and Cultures of Consumption (20 credits)

Learning and teaching

You will learn through a mix of seminars, lectures, workshops, group sessions and one-to-one supervisions, as well as independent learning supported by a rich range of resources. Our tutors are passionate researchers and dedicated teachers who use a range of teaching methods to help you benefit from their expertise, including lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops.

Independent study is also central to this degree, since it allows you to develop your skills in research and analysis. You’ll be able to apply your skills and knowledge in a final year research project on a topic of your own choice.

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.


We are creative in our approach to assessment, and we consistently support your independent learning to ensure assessment is fair and inclusive.

We use a wide range of assessments including essays, exams, presentations, podcasts, literature reviews, reflective logs, and group projects. We offer support in these areas as well. For example, we run extra classes on skills such as public speaking, structuring essays and exam techniques which you can attend throughout your time at Leeds.

Assessments are designed to deliver the transferable skills needed for the world of work; task-based activities are designed to evidence critical thinking, demonstrate initiative, and show knowledge of a range of relevant subjects and sources.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB

Other course specific tests:

If you’re taking the Extended Project Qualification (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’re taking A Levels, this would be ABB at A Level and grade A in the EPQ.

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 be required.


DDM. Other BTEC qualifications are also considered. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

D3, M1, M2

International Baccalaureate

35 points overall including 16 at Higher Level

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H2, H3, H3

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers
A in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers
AAAABB 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: 80%.

Find your country to see equivalent international qualifications.

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:
BBB at A Level and pass Access to Leeds
BBC at A Level, A in a relevant EPQ and pass Access to Leeds.


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 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 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.


UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

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.

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.


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
School of Politics and International Studies

Contact us

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Undergraduate Admissions

Email: artsadmissions@leeds.ac.uk

Career opportunities

You’ll gain the professional skills to prepare you for an international career in a wide range of sectors. By taking this joint honours course, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the Middle East and of fundamental aspects of world politics.

As well as demonstrating that you’re intellectually versatile, this joint honours course will equip you with a wide range of skills across different disciplines which are attractive to employers such as:

  • good research skills and the ability to analyse complex information from multiple sources before drawing your own conclusions
  • communication skills enabling you to defend your views clearly, either verbally or in writing
  • strong organisational skills and the confidence to work independently or in a team
  • a deep understanding of cultural diversity, allowing you to work effectively with people whose backgrounds differ from yours

Leeds graduates have pursued careers across the globe and in a range of sectors including education, the media, law, publishing, the civil service, business and finance and the charity sector. Many others have also pursued postgraduate study, including further training in language-based careers such as translating and interpreting.

Careers support

Leeds is the 5th most targeted university in the UK by graduate recruiters (The Graduate Market in 2022). At Leeds, we are fully committed to developing your employability and career prospects. You’ll have a wealth of opportunities to develop your skills and make the most out of your time at Leeds and during the time you’ll spend abroad.

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.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of 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.

As a student with us, you will 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 skills, hearing from alumni about their career experiences and hosting graduate recruiters who want to hire you.

We’ll also keep you informed of work/voluntary placements for your time abroad and any other part-time and volunteering opportunities that you can fit around your studies.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.