Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

BA Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (and joint schools)

Image of painting of Qi Jiguang by Thomas Chen via Wikimedia Commons

Average intake at Wadham: 9

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is unique in its sole focus on introducing students to civilisations that are different from the Western ones upon which the curriculum in most British schools and colleges is based. The courses present both the major traditions and cultural trends of the regions studied and, in most cases, their modern developments. All courses include a combination of linguistic, literary, historic and cultural studies and there is a wide range of options in fields such as art and archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion and modern social studies.

Within the course our main emphasis is on Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Persian, but we welcome candidates in other subjects within Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as in Classics with Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and European and Middle Eastern Languages.

The Courses

BA (Hons) Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

BA (Hons) Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

BA (Hons) European and Middle Eastern Languages

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Wadham

The tutors here at Wadham will oversee your work and help you with organising your schedule, and you will also be taught by them depending on the subject you are studying. Your other teachers will be University Lecturers who are also Fellows at other colleges and Language instructors.

The number of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies students in the University as a whole is small, compared with Modern European Languages, but Wadham was one of the first colleges to take such students and it has built up a strong tradition with a large contingent of students, especially in Chinese.

The courses are organised centrally from the Asian and Middle Eastern Institute or Institute for Chinese Studies (about ten minutes’ walk from Wadham) where classes and tutorials shared with undergraduates from other colleges are usually held.

The College Library provides subjects such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Persian with specialist books. The Chinese section, having been built up over many years, caters especially well for undergraduates, offering a valuable alternative to the Faculty Library in the Institute for Chinese Studies. The College Persian Library, which is of national importance, would be of interest to graduates researching in this field, as well as to undergraduates reading Arabic, Persian, Islamic History, and Persian Literature and Art in particular.

The College offers a wide range of financial support for its undergraduates, including funds which can assist with additional costs related to the year abroad, for those students undertaking one.

A Student's Perspective

Kate, 1st Year Arabic

I’ve always had a strong interest in the Middle East and I loved languages at school so studying Arabic and Islamic Studies was the right fit for me. With this course, there is also an option to take up a second language from scratch in the third year, something which definitely attracted me to studying at Oxford. With a dad in the forces, I have always loved travelling so I am also looking forward to spending my second year studying in Amman, Jordan. The course is fast paced and the standard of teaching is high so we cover a lot but we also progress a lot too. The history side is very broad and we study everything from the birth of Islam to the Arab Spring which means the lectures and tutorials are always varied.

Wadham is well known for its inclusive, liberal ethos and its active Students Union. We don’t have gowned formals, our student access programme is among the biggest of the colleges and the student body is really dynamic. Choosing a college is really important in terms of the atmosphere that you want to live in and I can definitely recommend Wadham’s! 

Laure, 3rd Year Chinese

I have been studying Chinese for three years at Wadham. I started doing Chinese in high school but a lot of students taking this course are beginners. The fast pace of studies allowed most of them to improve and catch up in just a few months, and we all consolidated our language abilities during the year abroad in Beijing. The course requires you to study three core subjects in first year: modern Chinese, classical Chinese, and history. In third year you can choose to take up another language or you can focus more closely on Literature, History or Classical texts with tutors specialized in each of these topics.

Due to the small number of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies students across the university, all of our classes and tutorials are held with students from other colleges at the Asian and Middle Eastern Institute or the China Centre. Such small classes bring about a very friendly studying atmosphere and give you the opportunity to get involved in things happening in other colleges as well as Wadham's colourful college life. At the same time, Wadham keeps track of our academic progress through a couple of meetings a term with a Wadham tutor. I have always found these meetings very useful as they have allowed me to evaluate my own work over the term, both strengths and weaknesses, and then work accordingly.

Overall, my experience of reading Chinese at Wadham has been very enjoyable. Wadham's atmosphere is the best in Oxford, combining an eventful and dynamic college life with a studious spirit.