Among subjects in the Humanities, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is unique in introducing students to cultures and civilisations that do not usually form part of the mainstream curriculum in British schools. The courses present both the major traditions of the regions studied and, in most cases, their modern developments. All courses include language, literature, history and culture, and there is a wide range of options in such fields as art and archaeology, religion, and modern social studies. The following are the principal areas of study: the Islamic World, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Eastern Christianity, Egyptology and Ancient Near East, South and Inner Asia, and East Asian Studies.
The subject area has a long history in Oxford, and a broad range of non-European languages and literatures were taught in Oxford by individual professors and tutors as early as the 16th century. The Faculty has continued to grow and develop, not only in its areas of specialisation, but also in its rejection of colonial and Euro-centric ideologies. We consider it essential to understand the cultures we study from within, by treating them as independent agents and understanding what they have to say about themselves, as documented in their own oral and written literatures and material cultures.
Most courses offer the opportunity to spend time in the region being studied. The Arabic course includes a year in the Middle East, the Persian and Turkish course s a year in Iran or Turkey respectively, the Hebrew course an optional year in Israel, and students of Chinese and Japanese spend their year abroad in China and Japan, where they attend a course at a university which has been especially designed for Oxford’s undergraduates.
Oxford’s resources in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies are outstanding: The Bodleian and other libraries have acquired magnificent collections of manuscripts, secondary literature, and electronic resources, and adjacent to the Oriental Institute is the Ashmolean Museum, which houses superb collections of Asian and Middle Eastern art. The Faculty welcomes visiting scholars and visiting research students who wish to make use of these resources during a stay in Oxford. For further information or to contact us, you can visit our website: https://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/