European and Middle Eastern Languages

European and Middle Eastern Languages go well together. The most common pairing is French and Arabic, but all combinations are possible, including most obviously German with Hebrew or Turkish, Spanish with Hebrew or Arabic, Russian with Arabic or Persian…

There have been fruitful if sometimes adversarial contacts between the cultures of Europe and the Middle East throughout history, and a proper appreciation of these is increasingly relevant in today’s world.

The degree combines one modern language with one Middle Eastern language. You do not need any prior knowledge of the latter to apply, but you will normally be taking A level or equivalent in your chosen modern language. Tuition for the Middle Eastern side of the course takes place at the Oriental Institute. You will spend the second year of your degree course in an appropriate Middle Eastern country (unlike other Modern Linguists, who spend their third year abroad). While in Oxford, your time will be split more or less equally between the European and the Middle Eastern side of the degree, although the language learning burden on the Middle Eastern side is particularly heavy in the first year. Later on you will choose a topic for a Bridge Essay which spans both sides of the course. The focus throughout is on literature and language, but there is also the option to study linguistics, film, and other cultural topics (some of which may be compulsory, e.g. Islamic religion for Arabic, Political and cultural texts for Turkish).

In most years, Magdalen admits one candidate for European and Middle Eastern Languages, but we are flexible.

You will find further relevant information on the Oriental Studies and the Modern Languages pages.

Entry requirements


All candidates must take the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) and the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT).

Written work

One essay written in the European language and one essay written in English.

Specific subjects

Depending on course choice, the European language may be required.

Deferred entry

Applications for deferred entry may be considered.

Teaching staff