Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

Best universities for Middle Eastern Studies? Watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I'm planning on applying for a master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. I am currently trying to figure out where I should apply to, with Oxford being the obvious first choice and SOAS as back-up. There are quite some differences between these two programmes, as well as generally between programmes, namely:

    Duration: I'd greatly prefer a 2 year course over a 1 year one.

    Language part: Some aim to give students fluency after 2 years (Ox), whilst some barely have a language aspect (SOAS). I'm not too sure about which type I prefer, although I'm leaning towards one with a language element incorporated.

    Location: I haven't looked at the USA at all, or anywhere else outside the UK for that matter. I could imagine it would make sense to apply to universities located in the Middle East, but since I don't plan on living there it seems much preferable to have the name recognition factor for European employers.

    Any suggestions as to where I should consider applying? I would prefer staying in Europe, but I'm open to anything really.

    Lastly, how does admissions selectivity compare between, say, Oxford and Harvard for this particular discipline?

    Money is not a decisive issue since my government is generous. However, I would more or less need a Fulbright scholarship to be able to afford a US degree.

    I have a background in Government/Political Science, if that matters.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    What do you want to go into after graduating? WIll 'employer recognition' really be that important?
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CalumAH)
    What do you want to go into after graduating? WIll 'employer recognition' really be that important?
    Unfortunately, I think so, yes. I'm from continental Europe, and having studied at a well-known university is an extreme benefit, because only few people go abroad in the first place. If it's at a university no employer has heard of, it's better to have studied at home and gone on exchange or interned abroad. That's what I've been told second-hand from employers, at least... Also, I'm doing well in my undergraduate degree at LSE, so I was hoping I would stand a chance at some of the best universities.

    I want to go into civil service, intelligence, politics or media. I have no plans about pursuing a doctorate.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Anyone?
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by RamlakU)
    Unfortunately, I think so, yes. I'm from continental Europe, and having studied at a well-known university is an extreme benefit, because only few people go abroad in the first place. If it's at a university no employer has heard of, it's better to have studied at home and gone on exchange or interned abroad. That's what I've been told second-hand from employers, at least... Also, I'm doing well in my undergraduate degree at LSE, so I was hoping I would stand a chance at some of the best universities.

    I want to go into civil service, intelligence, politics or media. I have no plans about pursuing a doctorate.
    Have you looked at the courses offered by St. Andrews in Scotland? They do Middle Eastern studies and is a very well respected University I know if you want to study it as undergrad. you have the language aspect and you get a year abroad in Syria (I think it's Syria) I don't know about what they do for the Masters but it would be well worth a look as for American Universities the likelihood is they're going to be very expensive but they're well worth the money (so I'm told) but I'd look into scholarships e.t.c. if you're wanting to study over there oh and make sure you're degree that you're studying now is on the list of accepted qualifications as I have been told they don't recognise A-levels if you're wanting to study as a Undergraduate and make you sit some sort of exam to prove you're smart enough to get in. Hope this helps
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    SOAS, Oxford
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by RamlakU)
    Any suggestions as to where I should consider applying? I would prefer staying in Europe, but I'm open to anything really.

    Lastly, how does admissions selectivity compare between, say, Oxford and Harvard for this particular discipline?
    Georgetown SFS is top-notch and will undoubtedly have something in Middle East studies. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the program is more competitive than those at Oxford or Harvard. Worth having a look at least...

    I also know there’s a huge department called MESAAS at Columbia with a free standing MA. The political orientation there is more or less exactly the same as SOAS though, with everything rooted in post-colonialism and critical theory, so some find this a bit annoying, others love it. If you study in Middle Eastern universities (bar Israel) then it's exactly the same.

    In France there is INALCO which is quite good, kind of the French equivalent of SOAS, but not sure if they do anything in English.

    But yeah in the UK, I'd say you have two good choices.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by drive like june)
    Georgetown SFS is top-notch and will undoubtedly have something in Middle East studies. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the program is more competitive than those at Oxford or Harvard. Worth having a look at least...

    I also know there’s a huge department called MESAAS at Columbia with a free standing MA. The political orientation there is more or less exactly the same as SOAS though, with everything rooted in post-colonialism and critical theory, so some find this a bit annoying, others love it. If you study in Middle Eastern universities (bar Israel) then it's exactly the same.

    In France there is INALCO which is quite good, kind of the French equivalent of SOAS, but not sure if they do anything in English.

    But yeah in the UK, I'd say you have two good choices.
    Thanks! MESAAS seems to be more arts-oriented, i.e. fewer classes on politics and history, more on literature and culture. I'd prefer it to be the other way around.

    The SOAS-degree is only one year. I have to do two years of MA (home country requirement), so I really don't know what I would do after that - seems a bit strange to do two master's degrees, no?
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Lund University have a good Middle Eastern Studies MA, it is over two years, and best thing is that it is free for EU residents.

    Regarding gaining fluency in a Middle Eastern language though Oxford's programme. This is not the case. I have completed, and gone further, than the material they use throughout the two years. I am no where near 'fluent' in Modern Standard Arabic.

    I personally would not take the language component as a deciding factor and do the language studies abroad.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by RamlakU)
    Thanks! MESAAS seems to be more arts-oriented, i.e. fewer classes on politics and history, more on literature and culture. I'd prefer it to be the other way around.

    The SOAS-degree is only one year. I have to do two years of MA (home country requirement), so I really don't know what I would do after that - seems a bit strange to do two master's degrees, no?
    Really? Did you look under 'courses' or 'list of classes' for the actual MA? They tend to make it confusing. You can usually cross-register at other graduate schools anyway. As for SOAS, there's an MPhil option, but not sure if you're eligible for this straight out of undergrad...? Agreed with above about the fluency, but you probably know this already.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Given that most courses usually provide the opportunity to focus exclusively on a particular region (in this case the ME), what are the benefits of studying for a straight MA in ME as opposed to going for perhaps an MA in History or even ME politics.

    I am trying to choose a Masters, and am having trouble deciding what option to go for. My only worry is, and I have no evidence for this at all, whether a straight ME masters would be to watered down or at least perceived to be so as opposed to arugably a less soft option involving politics/history etc.

    Is there any case for this or am I missing the goalposts here?
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ukclean)
    Given that most courses usually provide the opportunity to focus exclusively on a particular region (in this case the ME), what are the benefits of studying for a straight MA in ME as opposed to going for perhaps an MA in History or even ME politics.

    I am trying to choose a Masters, and am having trouble deciding what option to go for. My only worry is, and I have no evidence for this at all, whether a straight ME masters would be to watered down or at least perceived to be so as opposed to arugably a less soft option involving politics/history etc.

    Is there any case for this or am I missing the goalposts here?

    It's my feeling (and what people in civil service etc. have told me) that it's crucial to have specialist knowledge of something... A language or an area. I think an ME degree would be very useful in this regard.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    So, if I understand correctly, a more specialist MA, although not as competitive to get accepted onto, would be more beneficial and open up more avenues?

    So, an MA in MES offers more potential than an MA in history/IR etc...?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Top choices in the UK: Oxford, Cambridge (speaking of name recognition)
    Also good: SOAS, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Manchester, Birmingham

    Speaking of Harvard vs. Oxford, good luck getting into Harvard.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    In addition to what you have already looked at, I'd recommend Lund University. Their MA in Middle Eastern Studies is 2 years, which includes 6 months in the Middle East ( either studying at a university or pursuing an internship). Have a look here:

    http://www.cmes.lu.se/archives/academics/ma-program/

    Lund University has a great reputation and they have close links to Yale.


    (Original post by RamlakU)
    I'm planning on applying for a master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. I am currently trying to figure out where I should apply to, with Oxford being the obvious first choice and SOAS as back-up. There are quite some differences between these two programmes, as well as generally between programmes, namely:

    Duration: I'd greatly prefer a 2 year course over a 1 year one.

    Language part: Some aim to give students fluency after 2 years (Ox), whilst some barely have a language aspect (SOAS). I'm not too sure about which type I prefer, although I'm leaning towards one with a language element incorporated.

    Location: I haven't looked at the USA at all, or anywhere else outside the UK for that matter. I could imagine it would make sense to apply to universities located in the Middle East, but since I don't plan on living there it seems much preferable to have the name recognition factor for European employers.

    Any suggestions as to where I should consider applying? I would prefer staying in Europe, but I'm open to anything really.

    Lastly, how does admissions selectivity compare between, say, Oxford and Harvard for this particular discipline?

    Money is not a decisive issue since my government is generous. However, I would more or less need a Fulbright scholarship to be able to afford a US degree.

    I have a background in Government/Political Science, if that matters.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Apollonia)
    In addition to what you have already looked at, I'd recommend Lund University. Their MA in Middle Eastern Studies is 2 years, which includes 6 months in the Middle East ( either studying at a university or pursuing an internship). Have a look here:

    http://www.cmes.lu.se/archives/academics/ma-program/

    Lund University has a great reputation and they have close links to Yale.
    Just digging up this old thread...

    Can you tell me a bit more about the course? I speak near-fluent Swedish and I've looked through the website. But the course is new (2010) so I don't know how well structured it is. Also, Lund has a great reputation in Sweden, but not really abroad. Would I be better off going to SOAS than Lund in that respect?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    You are right that SOAS is a more renowned university abroad, however, Lund is by no means an unknown university worldwide. In academia, Lund is known for its strong research. If your main concern is reputation, then I think you should go for SOAS. If not, then I think you should take time to do a proper comparision and ask yourself what your goal is.

    I personally managed to narrow down my choice to SOAS or Lund, but then it got really difficult. Are you applying next year?
    Let me ask you this. Why do you want to go to SOAS? Is it the reputation? The course structure? The academics? What do you want to do when you finish?

    From what I have gathered (being in touch with students and the people in charge) the MA in Middle Eastern Studies is very well-organised. The lecturers and co-ordinators seem genuinely passionate about both the region and their students. For their internship, students have worked for the Swedish Trade Commission in the Middle East, various research institutes in the ME, AlJazeera, Syria Development Trust etc

    This MA accepts maximum 30 students a year, which I personally find fantastic.
    The degree is taught in English. You get proper training in research skills and you have the option to start learning Arabic from the start.
    Hmm... I am not sure exactly what it is that you want to know about the course. Perhaps it'd be easier if you asked more specific questions...





    (Original post by RamlakU)
    Just digging up this old thread...

    Can you tell me a bit more about the course? I speak near-fluent Swedish and I've looked through the website. But the course is new (2010) so I don't know how well structured it is. Also, Lund has a great reputation in Sweden, but not really abroad. Would I be better off going to SOAS than Lund in that respect?
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Apollonia)
    You are right that SOAS is a more renowned university abroad, however, Lund is by no means an unknown university worldwide. In academia, Lund is known for its strong research. If your main concern is reputation, then I think you should go for SOAS. If not, then I think you should take time to do a proper comparision and ask yourself what your goal is.

    I personally managed to narrow down my choice to SOAS or Lund, but then it got really difficult. Are you applying next year?
    Let me ask you this. Why do you want to go to SOAS? Is it the reputation? The course structure? The academics? What do you want to do when you finish?

    From what I have gathered (being in touch with students and the people in charge) the MA in Middle Eastern Studies is very well-organised. The lecturers and co-ordinators seem genuinely passionate about both the region and their students. For their internship, students have worked for the Swedish Trade Commission in the Middle East, various research institutes in the ME, AlJazeera, Syria Development Trust etc

    This MA accepts maximum 30 students a year, which I personally find fantastic.
    The degree is taught in English. You get proper training in research skills and you have the option to start learning Arabic from the start.
    Hmm... I am not sure exactly what it is that you want to know about the course. Perhaps it'd be easier if you asked more specific questions...
    Sorry, I should have been more specific. I just wanted any overall information about the MA - the website isn't particularly helpful.

    Do you or others (Beefmaster maybe) know whether the American University of Beirut's MA Middle Eastern Studies (with Arabic) is good?

    I'm torn between going to my home country's military academy Arabic program (2 years of high-intensity Arabic and basic ME studies) or do an MA - currently on my mind: Lund, Beirut, Oxford, SOAS, Edinburgh.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by RamlakU)
    Sorry, I should have been more specific. I just wanted any overall information about the MA - the website isn't particularly helpful.

    Do you or others (Beefmaster maybe) know whether the American University of Beirut's MA Middle Eastern Studies (with Arabic) is good?

    I'm torn between going to my home country's military academy Arabic program (2 years of high-intensity Arabic and basic ME studies) or do an MA - currently on my mind: Lund, Beirut, Oxford, SOAS, Edinburgh.

    The AUB is not academically as challenging or in depth as one of the other ones you listed. I have friends who have completed it and they were not impressed, particularly when you look at the price. AUC is probably a little better but then again it is not that good.

    Out of your choices I would pick any of them really. They are all good Middle Eastern Studies courses.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by beefmaster)
    The AUB is not academically as challenging or in depth as one of the other ones you listed. I have friends who have completed it and they were not impressed, particularly when you look at the price. AUC is probably a little better but then again it is not that good.

    Out of your choices I would pick any of them really. They are all good Middle Eastern Studies courses.
    Cool, thanks. The Lund program has exchange links with AUB as far as I know, so I could always do a semester there. Would it be better career-wise to graduate with a European MA rather than an AUB/AUC one? Given that my BSc is already from the UK, I thought maybe some diversity in that respect would be beneficial.

    Also, which one would you consider to be 'the best' (best teaching, most challenging, most respected) of the ones I listed?

    Price isn't really an issue as my govt pays the first ~£5000 of the tuition fees. And AUB appears to be just slightly above that (in fact, all of the universities I listed are around or below £5000).
 
 
 
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Did TEF Bronze Award affect your UCAS choices?
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.