Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

  • UCAS Code: TT46 BA/AMES
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Places per year: 2-4

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) at Cambridge comprises a range of stimulating courses focused specifically on areas of the world that are not usually studied in depth before coming to university. Students of AMES acquire advanced linguistic skills and refine their sense of culture, knowledge and society.

Through dedicated language study in all years, undergraduates enjoy direct access to materials of historical and cultural significance in one or more original languages of East Asia or the Middle East. The integral third year abroad plays a crucial formative role in nurturing students’ linguistic skills, helping to promote facility and fluency in ways that make the subjects of study in the fourth and final year particularly rewarding.

Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

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Course Overview

Students for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies follow one of three pathways for the four years of the degree:

East Asian Studies: Students choose either Chinese or Japanese language.

Middle Eastern Studies: Arabic, Hebrew and Persian can be combined with each other or with a modern European Language (see below). Arabic and Hebrew can also be taken as single subjects.

Middle Eastern Studies with a modern language: Students choose either Arabic, Hebrew or Persian in combination with one language offered by the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics (MMLL).

The choices available through the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies mean that courses of study are very individual. All students undertake thorough language training, which, in combination with papers in historical and cultural subjects progressively offering greater specialisation, ensure that the degree is personally satisfying as well as intellectually rigorous.

How You Learn

Teaching is by classes, lectures and supervisions.

Classes allow for plenty of interaction between teaching officers and fellow students and are the typical method for language instruction. Homework is regularly set in order to prepare for classes and to consolidate learning.

Lectures usually last for two hours each (actually two consecutive slots of 50 minutes’ duration each); they are an opportunity for the close, focused consideration of a particular theme or topic within a subject area using primary and secondary materials. While under the general leadership of the lecturer, they can be flexible in format and may take the form of seminar-style learning. There are specified readings to prepare for lectures and to extend learning.

Supervisions build very specifically upon the ideas you meet in classes, lectures and through your private study, as well as serving to develop your powers of analysis, and written and spoken argumentation. They last for 60 minutes and are conducted between a supervisor – a subject specialist – and two or more undergraduates, usually based around an exercise or source to be prepared beforehand. The type of preparatory work set for supervisions will depend on the type of supervision: for language supervisions, it could be a specified reading in the language or a practice exercise; for content paper supervisions, it could be an essay or some other exercise (e.g. for literary papers a translation exercise may be set).

The amount of contact time depends on the language(s) studied and the content papers chosen. Students should expect per content paper one two-hour lecture per week plus one to two supervisions per term.

If you choose to combine an AMES language with a modern European language, then you will also have a Director of Studies for the modern European language element of your course.

Entry Requirements

Minimum Offer Level

A-Level: A*AA

IB Diploma: 41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Other: See the University’s Entry Requirements page

Subject Requirements

If you are combining with a modern European language, you must have an A Level or equivalent in the European language.

We’d also recommend certain subjects for a strong application:

  • English (language or literature)
  • History
  • Languages (ancient or modern)

Admissions Process

Written Work

None, unless you are combining with a European language, in which case please refer to the advice given under Modern & Medieval Languages.

Admissions Assessment

Information to follow.


Two interviews, usually around 25 minutes each.

Suggested Resources

Going beyond what you learn at school and engaging with super-curricular resources is a great way to develop your knowledge of your subject and demonstrate your passion at interview.

Watch this video of Dr Vicky Young discussing Japanese translations to learn more about Asian & Middle Eastern Studies.

If you would like to explore more, have a look at these suggested reading lists:

Last updated: April 2024 for 2025 entry