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Undergrad International Relations with Arabic in UK

I am interested in studying IR with Arabic at undergrad and potentially postgrad also. Atm I have St Andrews, SOAS, Exeter and a few others. If anyone has done any of these courses at these universities, or know of anymore unis that offer them, lmk as I have questions!
Please don't spam post the same thread across multiple forums - only one thread is needed! The others will now have to be flagged to be closed...

In any case, Oxford and Cambridge are both worth considering for Arabic, and will probably include some aspects of Arabic speaking countries in the modern world. That said you can't explicitly combine the two subjects at either, although an Oriental Studies/AMES degree from either specialising in Arabic would likely be more than sufficient preparation for a masters in IR/politics (especially focusing on Arabic speaking countries). Oxford in particular has a masters in modern Middle-Eastern studies so this is definitely an area of active research/teaching in the department.

In general I'd probably actually suggest looking at doing a degree just in Arabic for undergrad, to ensure you get the highest level of language proficiency possible, and just specialise through your optional modules in IR/politics as desired. Bear in mind a languages degree is not 100% language learning, and you will also spend a fair bit of time studying variously the history, literature, culture, and politics of countries speaking the target language. Especially for Arabic which is quite widespread and has a lot of IR matters to consider both within the Arabic speaking world, and the interactions outside of that sphere!

Particularly for Exeter, it's worth noting as I understand it you can't take the intensive language modules if you're not doing the single honours degree, nor can you do a year abroad at one of their Arabic partner institutions normally? This may have changed recently though. For SOAS I think it's optional whether you do the year abroad or not, although again, you would be taking the non-intensive language route which means you would have a much lower level of proficiency in the language by the end of it.

Remember that you can reasonably study IR at any point, and "converting" via masters is quite common (since most such masters courses will accept any first degree). You are much more limited trying to pick up or extend languages at masters level just because the courses are necessarily much shorter in duration and they just can't fit in all the material needed to get you to a high level!
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by artful_lounger
Please don't spam post the same thread across multiple forums - only one thread is needed! The others will now have to be flagged to be closed...

In any case, Oxford and Cambridge are both worth considering for Arabic, and will probably include some aspects of Arabic speaking countries in the modern world. That said you can't explicitly combine the two subjects at either, although an Oriental Studies/AMES degree from either specialising in Arabic would likely be more than sufficient preparation for a masters in IR/politics (especially focusing on Arabic speaking countries). Oxford in particular has a masters in modern Middle-Eastern studies so this is definitely an area of active research/teaching in the department.

In general I'd probably actually suggest looking at doing a degree just in Arabic for undergrad, to ensure you get the highest level of language proficiency possible, and just specialise through your optional modules in IR/politics as desired. Bear in mind a languages degree is not 100% language learning, and you will also spend a fair bit of time studying variously the history, literature, culture, and politics of countries speaking the target language. Especially for Arabic which is quite widespread and has a lot of IR matters to consider both within the Arabic speaking world, and the interactions outside of that sphere!

Particularly for Exeter, it's worth noting as I understand it you can't take the intensive language modules if you're not doing the single honours degree, nor can you do a year abroad at one of their Arabic partner institutions normally? This may have changed recently though. For SOAS I think it's optional whether you do the year abroad or not, although again, you would be taking the non-intensive language route which means you would have a much lower level of proficiency in the language by the end of it.

Remember that you can reasonably study IR at any point, and "converting" via masters is quite common (since most such masters courses will accept any first degree). You are much more limited trying to pick up or extend languages at masters level just because the courses are necessarily much shorter in duration and they just can't fit in all the material needed to get you to a high level!


Hi Im really sorry. I have no idea how this site works haha. I looked on the UN job page and found some interesting job placements in Geneva/NY ie International Security Coordination Officer etc. They ask for a postgraduate level in an IR or related subject. Most also asked for fluency or proficiency in a UN language, I chose Arabic as the language and that part of the world interests me most and I feel needs most humanitarian support right now. I would be happy to take just Arabic degree but I want to make sure I am eligible for postgrad Ir/global security courses too as well as ensure that I get to a high enough level in Arabic. If you think that a single honour degree Arabic would suffice with additional modules in IR related modules, (I appreciate this is quite a difficult question to answer) do tou feel as if I can achieve my goal regarding qualifying for postgrad, qualifying for internships and qualifying for my dream job. I do a MFL subject at A level with 2 essay subjects so that isn’t an issue, aiming for AAA-AAB right now.
Original post by danielbn.05
Hi Im really sorry. I have no idea how this site works haha. I looked on the UN job page and found some interesting job placements in Geneva/NY ie International Security Coordination Officer etc. They ask for a postgraduate level in an IR or related subject. Most also asked for fluency or proficiency in a UN language, I chose Arabic as the language and that part of the world interests me most and I feel needs most humanitarian support right now. I would be happy to take just Arabic degree but I want to make sure I am eligible for postgrad Ir/global security courses too as well as ensure that I get to a high enough level in Arabic. If you think that a single honour degree Arabic would suffice with additional modules in IR related modules, (I appreciate this is quite a difficult question to answer) do tou feel as if I can achieve my goal regarding qualifying for postgrad, qualifying for internships and qualifying for my dream job. I do a MFL subject at A level with 2 essay subjects so that isn’t an issue, aiming for AAA-AAB right now.


IR masters degrees accept pretty much any first degree student, and a major language like Arabic that is very politically relevant would be perfectly fine. It's most likely you would not be fluent in Arabic by the end of a joint honours degree, and may not have very high proficiency either. I imagine the vast majority of people in that situation probably did just do an undergrad in Arabic or some other relevant language, then a masters in IR or something related. I know at least one person who did a languages degree (Japanese plus some other language work, not sure if he continued the other languages to honours) and then an IR masters so it's absolutely possible!

100% would suggest you focus on single honours Arabic courses and explore your IR interests through that as a result :smile: Oriental Studies at Oxford requires AAA, and Arabic is one of the larger languages on offer there, so definitely worth considering too since as above they do specifically have courses at masters level focusing on the intersection of the text based work in a Middle Eastern language and current affairs.

SOAS is also a good option, and I gather Exeter is pretty good for it too so you have picked a good "core" of courses to apply to I think :smile: Leeds I think has a lot of language offerings and might be worth looking into too.
(edited 1 year ago)

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