Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Arabic and French

UCAS code: TR61

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Arabic and French

Two of the world's most widely spoken languages, Arabic and French make an excellent joint honours programme. Interaction between the two languages and cultures has taken place over many centuries, from the Chansons de Gestes of medieval times to the present. For example, you will see it reflected in the cinema and music of contemporary Europe and North Africa.

Arabic is the main language of more than 350 million people inhabiting a huge swathe of land extending from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. It is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Apart from opening the door to a fascinating and varied region, knowledge of Arabic provides access to the rich intellectual heritage of Islam, and to the history, societies, cultures and politics of the Middle East. No prior knowledge of Arabic is required to take this programme.

French is a major world language, spoken in many parts of Europe, Africa and the Americas. French-speaking (francophone) art and thought have played a central part in creating our modern civilisation.

Alongside intensive study of the French language on this programme, you will explore francophone literature and cinema, political history and philosophical ideas. Our courses cover material from the Middle Ages to the 21st century and include specialist options taught by leading experts in key disciplines, including post-colonial studies and gender studies.

Why Edinburgh?

The School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures at the University of Edinburgh is recognised in the UK and internationally as a leading institution for the study of languages in their societal context.

On our joint honours programme in Arabic and French, you will gain written and spoken skills in both languages and explore their impact on world cultures.

We have built a full academic year abroad into our four-year programme, providing complete immersion in both languages in Year 3.

Studying over four years also enables you to choose courses that match your interests, expertise and employability needs. It gives you the blend of specialist skills and Intercultural Competence valued in a range of careers around the globe.

What our graduates say

“Studying Arabic and French was not just about learning a language, although that was a big part of it. My studies undoubtedly shaped my worldview [and] gave me a wide range of skills that I believe have enabled me to stand out in an ecosystem where humanities students are underrepresented.”

  • Zara, Arabic and French MA (Hons), 2021. Zara is Co-founder and Director of Edventure, a venture builder and accelerator working with companies and universities across Europe to translate research and ideas into real-world start-ups.

Year 1

Arabic

You will study elementary Arabic to learn basic grammar and develop your vocabulary.

You do not currently need to know any Arabic, as Year 1 courses are designed for beginners.

Over the course of the year, you will learn to read and write using Arabic script, and speak confidently in Arabic about a range of topics.

You will also take courses in:

  • Islamic history - a survey of the formation of the Islamic world, from its pre-islamic origins to the foundation of the first Muslim world empire
  • modern Middle Eastern history - an introduction to the Middle East's political, economic, social and cultural history from 1950 until the present day

French

If you have a limited knowledge of French, you will take French 1A, an intensive language course that also introduces you to French culture.

If you have studied French beyond National 5 (SQA) or GCSE level, you will typically take French 1B. As well as developing your written and spoken language skills, this course focuses on modern French literature, culture and civilisation.

We will introduce you to the extraordinary richness and variety of one of the world's great civilisations by focusing on social and political events from the Second World War to the 21st century.

Topics covered include:

  • resistance and collaboration
  • the Fifth Republic
  • May 1968
  • feminism
  • colonisation and decolonisation

Year 2

Arabic

You will continue with your Arabic language study, developing the grammar and vocabulary to communicate effectively.

Our course focuses on the main linguistic skills:

  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening

You will also choose between courses in:

  • the religion of Islam - an exploration of the religion's branches, key texts, central beliefs and rituals
  • Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures - an introduction to the literary, aesthetic and intellectual culture of the Middle East, from the eve of Islam to the modern period

French

You will further develop your language skills in French, including in writing, translation and grammar. You'll gain confidence speaking in French on a variety of topics relating to contemporary France and the francophone world.

You will take a course in French and francophone literature and culture. This course will introduce you to the most important authors at key points in French literary and cultural history, from the 12th to the 21st century.

You will study work by writers such as Montaigne, Racine, Molière and Baudelaire alongside texts that have been considered marginal to French culture for reasons of gender or colonial politics.

Option course

You will complete your Year 2 studies with an option course.

You can choose from a great selection of options in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical option courses include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

Alternatively, you can opt to take a course in the Politics and Institutions of Contemporary France or to learn the fundamentals of the Basque language.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between two countries. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of Arabic and French by speaking them daily and immersing yourself in local cultures.

Living abroad will also give you the wider perspective, experience and skills to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life after university.

30 weeks to live your languages

You will spend a total of 30 weeks abroad. You will divide your time between a country in which Arabic is spoken and one in which French is spoken.

To give you a balanced experience, you will spend at least eight weeks in each of your two destinations. How you further divide your 30 weeks is normally based on whether you study in both countries, or work (for French).

Where can I go?

Transforming classroom learning into a lived experience, you will study or work in countries where either Arabic or French is spoken.

For Arabic, we currently offer four destinations in the Arabic-speaking world in which to study at an approved institution.

For French, we currently have exchange places in universities in France, Belgium and Switzerland. It is also possible to work in a wider range of countries in which French is spoken.

If you are considering working abroad for French, the first step is to start thinking about where you would like to go. Visa requirements and application processes vary between countries, so it is a good idea to find out what documentation you will need and whether you are eligible to get it.

Study or work?

When you are abroad, you will study for the Arabic side of your programme, but may have the opportunity to work while gaining credits for French.

If you choose to study for both sides of the programme, you will take classes at institutions where we have available exchange opportunities.

A work placement abroad is another great way to gain an international perspective, build professional networks and prepare for your career after university. Once you have checked if you are eligible to work abroad, and have talked through your plans with us, you might choose to do one or more placements in French.

For example, you might find an internship or traineeship, arrange work with a private company or charity, volunteer, or gain experience as a teaching or language assistant through an organisation such as the British Council.

Whatever you decide to do, your time abroad is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. It adds an international dimension to your studies, showing future employers that you are open to new ideas and experiences.

Coursework while abroad

We will aim to ensure your experience abroad is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning and cultural awareness.

Regardless of whether you study or work abroad for French, you will take an e-learning course to prepare you for your Year 4 language courses. This course will count as part of your Year 3 marks, alongside any coursework arranged by your host university (if studying abroad).

You will also begin preparing for your dissertation while abroad.

Keeping in touch

While you are studying or working abroad for credit, you are still a student at the University of Edinburgh.

The Year Abroad Office and your Student Adviser, both based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), will check in with you at key points during your Year Abroad. Additionally, each language has a dedicated Year Abroad Coordinator for any academic queries, ensuring you are all set and ready for your final year in Edinburgh.

Just like any other time during your studies, you have access to all University services while you are abroad. These include our:

  • Student Wellbeing Service
  • Student Counselling
  • Student Disability and Learning Support
  • University emergency helpline (available 24 hours a day)

Wellbeing and safety 

Your wellbeing and safety abroad is our first priority. If international travel is not possible or placements are disrupted, for example following travel advice from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we will offer you alternative ways to engage with your subjects. We will support you to meet your learning outcomes for Arabic and French and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

You will continue to develop your language and translation skills in Arabic and French.

In addition to these core courses, you will also choose from a wide range of specialist, honours-level courses dealing with different aspects of Islam and the Middle East and francophone literature and culture.

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete an honours dissertation.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. It has over 23,000 resources in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), of which around 9,000 printed books and 12,500 e-books are in Arabic, and more than 100 films are in either Arabic or Persian. Its holdings include over 118,500 books and 25,500 journals in French, and a particularly rich collection of French Language papers donated by eminent scholars.

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

Highlights include:

  • The Serjeant and Watt Collections of some 6,400 titles, including works on the history of the Arab world and Arabic literature
  • some of the world’s most precious Islamic manuscripts, such as Rashid al-Din’s History of the World and al-Biruni’s Chronology of Ancient Nations
  • an extensive collection of the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram al-yawmi 1876-1930

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

IMES also has its own library in 19 George Square, with views across a central garden to both the Main University Library and LLC.

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

We have great links with the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World which promotes a better understanding of Islam and Muslim culture locally, nationally and internationally.

Established in 1995, our Centre de recherches francophones belges promotes the teaching of francophone Belgian literature, and hosts a range of activities for students and the public. Since 2018, the Centre has been partnering with Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI) to bring francophone Belgian culture to the Edinburgh summer festivals.

We also play a key role in the Diaspolinks network, with brings together researchers with a shared interest in the growing field of Diaspora Studies, especially anglophone and francophone diasporas. The international network is unique in comparing the various diasporic communities’ responses to issues of identity, belonging and relocation in the context of British, French and Canadian immigration policies.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs. It also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

From making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

A number of our students have volunteered for a tutoring and educational programme for teenage Syrian refugees in Edinburgh. This programme has won an Outstanding Global Citizenship Impact Award and a Sir William Darling Memorial Prize.

We publish creative writing in nine European languages – including French – in our online magazine, Babble. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

The French theatre society - Les Escogriffes - typically stages a play in French each year, with opportunities to direct, act, produce and promote.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the National Library of Scotland, which has one of the best French collections in the UK.

There is plenty to see and do throughout the year, including a rich programme of cultural events at the nearby Institut français d'Ecosse.

As well as the city's main summer festivals, the Edinburgh French Film Festival and Africa in Motion bring the latest and best francophone and Arabic-language cinema to Edinburgh each winter. There are also various food festivals.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), studying or working in countries where either Arabic or French is spoken. You will spend at least eight weeks in each destination.

This is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

We know that you are likely to have lots of questions about your Year Abroad. We’ve gone into lots of detail about where you can go and what you can do in the ‘What you will study / Year 3’ section above. You can also find out more through the University's Study and Work Away Service.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

In addition to these classes, and to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in Year 4.

Support

As well as the teaching staff and other staff members you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for French, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university or accredited institution.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation.

Skills and experience

Studying languages to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop, you will also gain a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies.

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of projects
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • research, development and venture acceleration
  • translating and interpreting

Local and global opportunities

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates in Scotland, the UK and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in these two global languages, and to understand the cultures to which they open doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that, between them, Arabic and French are the common language of over 50 countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

They are both among the ten most widely spoken languages in the world and the six official languages of the United Nations.

Further study

The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level.

At the University, we typically offer Masters by Research degrees in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and in French.

Taught masters (MSc) programmes generally include a combination of core and optional courses taught by specialists in the field, training in research methods, and an independent dissertation or piece of creative work. Our portfolio of interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • The Globalised Muslim World
  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Each of these programmes is a good foundation for a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 36 points with 665 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: French at B. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: French or Arabic at B. GCSEs: French at B or 6 (if not at A Level) and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: French or Arabic at 5. SL: French at 5 (if not at HL) and English at 5.

Additional requirements

Native speakers

Please note that the Arabic degrees involve beginners language study and are not suitable for native or near-native speakers.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Arabic and French

Additional costs

As long as international travel is possible, Year 3 will involve time abroad, both in the Middle East and in a country where French is spoken. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding