Taught course

Arab World Studies

Durham University · Department of Politics

Entry requirements

  • UK 2.1 Bachelor degree, or equivalent.
  • Two satisfactory academic references. In cases of applicants who have significant relevant experience, one work-related reference and one academic reference would be considered appropriate.
  • No prior substantive research training and few or no Arabic language skills.

Months of entry


Course content

The MSc equips you with the knowledge and skills to carry out research related to the Arab world. From history and culture to politics and language, this course has been designed to provide rigorous, research-driven, interdisciplinary education and training in a broad range of social science research methods, as well as building the transferable skills you will need for Economic and Social Research Council recognition.

Studied over two years full-time, it is an ideal choice for high-calibre students who have not previously completed any substantive research training and who have few or no Arabic language skills. The course includes a period of language study on a placement in a Middle Eastern country, designed to develop your language skills to a level that enables you to effectively communicate in a research or employment context in the Arabic-speaking world.

As a student on this research-informed course, you will have access to the wealth of ongoing research being carried out in the School. Our researchers work at the cutting edge of their field, with areas of expertise including political philosophy and the history of political thought, comparative political science, international relations and the wider discipline of international studies, political economy and international political economy, and area studies.

We pride ourselves on turning students into independent researchers who take responsibility for their own learning. The knowledge, skills, and understanding developed on the course will prepare you to undertake research for a doctoral degree in Politics, International Relations, or International Studies, and provide a background that will help you take your first steps into professional research.

Course structure

Core modules:

Arabic Language 1 provides an introduction to the grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). It is designed for those with little or no prior knowledge and provides you with the language skills necessary for the further study of Arabic, in particular the study of Arabic texts in the original language.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices across Social Science Research introduces contemporary social scientific research from an interdisciplinary and mixed-methods perspective. Examining quantitative, qualitative, computational, historical statistical and mixed methods of research you will learn how and why the different methods are used within and outside of academia, including areas such as public policy and the public and private spheres.

International Politics of the Middle East will familiarise you with key concepts and theories in the study of politics and international relations of the Middle East. You will directly address the complex nature of the politics and international relations of this region in areas including security, economic, identity and political dynamics.

Empirical Research in Politics, International Relations and Security provides an overview of the types of research designs most frequently used in empirical research in politics, international relations and security. It aims to bring together theoretical and conceptual insights with the generic research skills modules, focusing explicitly on how to effectively combine theory and evidence-based research.

Quantitative Methods and Analysis is designed to assimilate and develop your knowledge, critical understanding and skills in quantitative data analysis. You will develop the skills to use statistical techniques for exploration and description of data sets and make appropriate statistical inferences about associations between social phenomena.

Qualitative Methods and Analysis contributes towards your preparation for carrying out qualitative research projects. You will build the advanced knowledge and skills needed to understand, conceptualise and critically appraise qualitative social sciences research, including different approaches to research and design and analysis of qualitative data.

Year Two

Arabic Language 2 consolidates your understanding of the grammar and syntax of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) acquired in Arabic 1. It develops additional fluency in the reading of extended texts in MSA, consolidates translation skills both into and out of Arabic, and prepares you for living abroad.

The Dissertation provides an opportunity to engage in a substantial piece of independent work in a related area of your choice. The 12,000-word dissertation is the culmination of the MSc programme, bringing together elements of learning from across the course.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Advanced Ethnographic Research
  • Multilevel Modelling
  • Simulating Data in R
  • Systematic Review
  • Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences
  • Computational Social Science
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Core Concepts
  • The Politics of Global Europe
  • Designing Political Inquiry
  • Global Governance
  • Global Political Theory
  • International Organisations
  • Ideologies and Political Thought
  • International Relations Theory

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions