BA Russian and Arabic

UCAS codeRT76
Duration4 Years
Typical offerAAB-ABB; IB: 34-32
  • Modern Languages
  • Arab and Islamic Studies
LocationTaught in Exeter Streatham (Exeter)


Studying at the Institute

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This Combined Honours programme allows you to combine the study of the language, history and culture of the Arabic world with Russian.

Russia was one of the most significant cultural and political forces of the twentieth century, not to mention earlier times, and will undoubtedly continue to play a major role in twenty-first century culture, history and politics.

Studying Russian at Exeter gives you a fascinating opportunity to learn about a centuries-old culture which has had an enormous influence on our own view of the world, as well as the culture of present-day Russia under Medvedev and Putin. You’ll be able to experience some of the great works of literature and art such as Crime and Punishment, and Eugene Onegin, and some of the lesser-known exciting novels, pictures and poems that make up so much of Russian cultural life. You’ll also learn a language spoken by over 288 million people as their first language alone: Russian currently ranks fifth in the number of speakers worldwide and is one of the six official languages of the UN.

The Arabic component is language-based and will provide you with a thorough understanding of the culture and literature of the Arab peoples. Compulsory language modules are followed over the three years of the degree, and there are also compulsory modules on Arab literature and on Islam and Arab history. You can expect to achieve high standards of competency in all aspects of the Arabic language (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

The 4-year programme is studied in four stages, one for each year of study; the second year is spent in an Arabic speaking country. Each stage comprises 120 credits. 60 credits are taken in Russian and 60 credits in Arabic at each of stages 1, 3 and 4. At stage 2 (the year abroad) all 120 credits are taken in Arabic.

With the exception of the year abroad, modules have a credit rating of either 15 or 30 credits.

On the year abroad all students are required to take a core module which tests language acquisition, intercultural competence and develops employability skills and environmental awareness.

Credits from Year 1 must be successfully completed in order to proceed to Year 2, but marks gained at this stage play no further part in the final assessment. Final assessment is based on marks gained in Years 2, 3 and 4. In Modern Languages, double weighting is given to Year 4 (i.e. Year 2 credits are weighted at 50% of their value, Year 4 at 100%). In order to correct the imbalance in credits between the two Colleges arising from the year abroad, each College calculates its weighted average and percentage distribution of credits, and classification is based on the average of the two averages and the aggregate of the credit percentages.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Choose either MLR1001 or MLR1030
MLR1001Contemporary Russian, Written and Oral30
MLR1030Russian Language for Beginners30
ARA1033Elementary Arabic Language (Arabic)60

Optional modules

Select 30 credits of Russian Level 1 optional modules.

MLR1005Chekhov's Major Plays15
MLR1023Russia: Empire and Identity15
MLR1024Russian Heroes and Heroines15

Year 2

Students will spend the second year of their studies in an Arabic-speaking country.

Compulsory modules

ARA2000Year Abroad 120

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Students who took MLR1030 Russian Language for Beginners in their first year are advised to take MLR2030.

Choose either MLR2001 or MLR2030
MLR2001Contemporary Russian, Written and Oral I30
MLR2030Intermediate Russian30
ARA2139Intermediate Arabic Language II (Arabic)30

Optional modules

Select two 15-credit Russian and Modern Languages Level 2 optional modules.

Select two 15-credit Arab and Islamic Studies Level 2 optional modules.

MLR2017Monsters, Ghosts and Vampires in Russian Literature15
MLR2018Revolutionary Theatre: 1917-193215
MLR2054Soviet History 1917-199130
Modern Languages
SML2209Music in Medieval Europe15
SML2244Multilingualism in Society15
Arab and Islamic Studies
ARA2118Gender-Identity and Modernity in the Middle East15
ARA2121Themes in the Arabic Short Story15
ARA2131M.E.20C Colonialism Revolution and Beyond15
ARA2132Islamic Law and Society15
ARA2135Conflict and Peace making Palestine/Israel15
ARA2139Intermediate Arabic Language II 30
ARA2141Intermediate Persian15
ARA2144Reading Qur'anic Arabic 15
ARA2146Islamic Theological Traditions15
ARA2148Arabic for Beginners II 30
ARA2150Muslims in Britain15
ARA2151Intermediate Persian II15
ARA2152Persian Literature 15
ARA2160Islamic Movements: From the Muslim Brothers to Al-Qa'ida15
ARA2161The Historiography of the Arab-Israeli Conflict15
ARA2162Political Economy of Development in the Middle East15
ARA2164Intermediate Turkish I15
ARA2165Intermediate Turkish II 15
ARA2166Revolution, Reform or Status Quo15
ARA2222Career Planning Workshops (Level 2)0

Year 4

Compulsory modules

Students must take either ARA3106 Dissertation or two 15-credit modules chosen from Arab and Islamic Studies Level 3 optional modules.

MLR3111Advanced Russian Language Skills30
ARA3103Advanced Arabic Language 30
Choose either ARA3106 Dissertation or two 15-credit optional modules

Optional modules

Select 30 credits of Russian and Modern Languages Level 3 optional modules.

Select two 15-credit Arab and Islamic Studies Level 3 optional modules (if you are NOT taking ARA3106).

MLR3017St Petersburg30
MLR3025Apocalypse/Utopia: The Russian Roots of Revolution15
Modern Languages
SML3012Law in Fiction15
SML3017Language Contact15
SML3030Extended Dissertation30
SML3031Advanced Translation Skills15
SML3035The Fantastic in 19th and 20th Century Literature15
SML3036Beyond Sex and the City: Becoming a Woman in Contemporary Western Cinema15
SML3037Longing for an Audience: Medieval Troubadour Lyric15
Arab and Islamic Studies
ARA3103Advanced Arabic Language 30
ARA3107Politics of Semi-democratic and Authoritarian Countries30
ARA3129Nationalisms in the Middle East15
ARA3136The History and Political Development of Iraq15
ARA3138Foundational Islamic Texts: Qur'an and Hadith15
ARA3144Advanced Persian Language I15
ARA3145Advanced Persian Language II15
ARA3146Iranian History, 1500 - the Present15
ARA3149Ethno-Politics: Theoretical Considerations and Case Studies15
ARA3152Folklore and Identity in the Middle East15
ARA3158Armed Islamist Movements: Jihadism and Beyond15
ARA3159The Orientalist Debate15
ARA3160Intermediate Arabic Language I30
ARA3161Islamic Art and Architecture15
ARA3162Britain in the Middle East, 1798-197715
ARA3163Politics and Reform in the Gulf15
ARA3185EU and US Democracy Promotion in the Middle East and North Africa30
ARA3186The History and Political Development of Iraq30

Entry requirements 2017

Typical offer

AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32

Required subjects

GCE AL in Russian or Arabic grade B; IB Russian or Arabic HL5.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

Our teaching methods make full use of seminars, study groups and web-based learning. Language modules take place in small interactive classes of about 15-20 students, using the language laboratory, satellite TV, the internet and computer-assisted language learning. Non-language modules are delivered through small group lectures, seminars and textual study, tutorials and discussion. 

You'll get on average ten contact hours per week with tutors (teaching time) in language-based programmes. You are also expected to invest a lot of time in independent study outside of these contact hours; this involves individual study, contact with your study-group (for example, in preparation for seminars), and contact with your personal tutor. The exact amount of time spent working independently varies from module to module, but you should expect your total workload to average 40 hours per week during term time. 

A flexible system of module choice allows you to tailor your programme to your particular interests as you progress. We'll teach you to work independently, to research, analyse and synthesise new and unfamiliar material and to communicate clearly using both the written and spoken word. In seminar presentations you'll acquire the skill of confidently delivering coherent and precise arguments to an audience, as well as learning how to receive comments and criticism and develop the ability to lead in a team/group situation. 

We're actively engaged in introducing new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches to learning through our virtual learning environment, where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. You can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes and interact through activities such as the discussion forums.

Research-inspired teaching

Research-inspired teaching ensures lectures are up-to-date and relevant so that you will benefit from access to the latest thinking, equipment and resources. All staff teach third year options which are linked to their own interests, which include the study of history and social sciences in the Middle East and Muslim world, Islamic studies, and language and literature including studies in Persian.


You will be assessed by exam and coursework, including essay writing and a dissertation (in the last year of study). An informal element of continuous assessment is also in place so you can gain on-going feedback on your progress. You must pass your first year assessment in order to progress to the second year, but the results do not count towards your degree classification. For three-year programmes, the assessments in the second and third years contribute to your final degree classification. For four-year programmes the assessments in the second, third and fourth years all contribute to your final degree classification.

Full details of the assessment criteria for each module can be found on our module pages.

Study abroad

All undergraduate Arabic language students on a four-year programme spend their second year at one of our accredited Arabic language study centres.

The year abroad is an integral part of the study of Arabic, advancing your knowledge of grammar and syntax as well as reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. It provides an excellent opportunity for students of Arabic to become immersed in Arabic society and culture, and to gain fluency in a spoken dialect of the Arabic Language.

Year abroad destinations can obviously vary from year to year dependent on current events in the Middle East and North Africa. Previous destinations have included:

  • Arabic Language Centre, University of Damascus, Syria
  • Language Centre, University of Jordan
  • International Language Institute (ILI), Cairo, Egypt
  • Institut Francais Du Proche-Orient, Damas, Syria
  • The Arabic Language Institute in Fez, Morocco

During your year abroad you will follow a course of study at your host institution, focusing on Standard Arabic, Media Arabic and the Colloquial Arabic of the place you choose to study in. Typically there is a great deal of opportunity for travel and many institutions organise study trips for you; for example the ILI in Cairo organises trips to the Oases and to the Red Sea.

Many students take the opportunity to travel further within the region, often visiting Lebanon and Turkey, and some are reluctant to come back to Exeter when the year is over! On returning, you’ll be encouraged to enter any photographs you’ve taken during time away in the Year Abroad Photography Competition, the winner of which receives a cash prize.

Further information can be found on our  Study Abroad pages.


A degree in Arabic and Russian gives you an appreciation and understanding of the culture, history and language of the Middle East and Russian-speaking countries. You will develop analytical and research skills as well as an awareness of different interpretations of issues and events, develop opinions and use effective communication skills to put forward your ideas and conclusions. You will also develop your time-management skills.

All these skills are valued by employers from many different fields and can open up career paths in a wide variety of areas from academic research and government work to more commercially-based careers in law and business.

Many students take part in the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award . These schemes encourage you to participate in employability related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market.

Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. Many employers target the University when recruiting new graduates.

Find out more about the destinations of Arab and Islamic Studies graduates on our Employability site.

Contact us


For general Modern Languages enquiries:

Programme information
Phone: +44 (0)1392 724202
Visit the Department of Modern Languages website

Contacts for each individual language are provided with the details for each programme.