Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

Christ's College regularly admits students to study the subjects offered by the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Whether you choose to read Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese or Persian, this course will give you the opportunity to join a small number of people with expertise in languages and societies that are increasingly of global importance. Christ’s welcomes applicants who are committed to the study of the languages and cultures of a vital part of our world outside Europe.

Third Court

Director of Studies: Dr Qian Kan

Length of course: 4 years (including the third year abroad)

Number of students admitted each year: normally 2 - 3.

Welcome! On this page, you will find the following information:

The Asian and Middle Eastern Studies course

The Cambridge course offers an intensive grounding in one or two of the major languages and cultures of East Asia or the Middle East. Subjects offered include Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew (Biblical and Modern) and Persian. No prior knowledge of the language is required or expected, but imagination, perseverance and a sense of adventure will be essential.

You can combine Arabic, Hebrew and Persian with each other, or with a modern European language (if you have an A Level/IB Higher Level or equivalent in the European language) from Year 1; or with Hindi or Sanskrit from Year 2. You can take Arabic or Hebrew on their own, but Persian must be combined with another language (no more than two languages can be studied at one time).

Chinese and Japanese cannot be combined with another language. However, those studying Japanese can take Korean as an option in Year 4.

All the courses in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies are four-year courses including Year Abroad. In addition to language studies, the courses also cover history, literature, religion and a range of other subjects such as politics, economics, sociology, archaeology, or film, depending on the language being studied. The first year generally focuses on language work, with broad introductions to the culture and history of the regions concerned. In the second year there is some choice among a small range of courses, and at Part II more specialisation is possible and a few courses in other faculties may be taken. In four-year courses involving modern languages, the third year is spent abroad in an appropriate country.

Further detailed information on each subject is available on the website of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Please note that students wishing to study Assyriology and Egyptology should apply to study Archaeology.

Studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Christ’s

Christ’s College welcomes applications for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The College provides students with further academic as well as pastoral support; for many students it is also the centre of their social life and leisure time. The College Director of Studies helps and guides students throughout their course. It is the Director of Studies who arranges with the Faculty each student's individual teaching through the supervision system. Christ's Director of Studies in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is Dr Qian Kan. Dr Kan is a linguist and she taught Chinese at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies for 11 years. She is currently senior lecturer and head of Chinese at the Open University.

How to Apply

Details of the application process, including the dates and deadlines, are given on our how to apply page. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, all over the world, and if you will be applying from outside the UK, we recommend that you also read our dedicated international students section.

Applicants make a UCAS application for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. You will then be asked on the SAQ form (or on the COPA form if you are applying from outside the EU) which language or languages you wish to study. NB. If you wish to combine Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with a modern European language, you need to apply for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at UCAS.

Subject requirements

Applicants for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies should be able to demonstrate some formal evidence of an aptitude for language-learning. If you apply for Arabic, Hebrew or Persian with a modern European language, you must study the European language at A-level, IB Higher or equivalent. 

Pre-interview Admissions Assessment

All applicants for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge must sit a pre-interview admissions assessment called the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment (AHAA). This will take place in your school, college or local testing centre on 30 October 2019. The same assessment is used regardless of which College you have applied to. The Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment examines your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential, and forms part of our holistic admissions process: there is no set score that we are looking for. When applying, it is important to be aware of the registration and assessment dates:

  • All Asian and Middle Eastern Studies applicants applying in 2019 must be registered to take the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment by 18:00 UK time on 15 October 2019. See how to be registered.
    Please note that open centres may set an earlier deadline for accepting entries, and it is your responsibility to check if this applies at your centre.
  • All Asian and Middle Eastern Studies applicants applying in 2019 sit the assessment on 30 October 2019.

Information about the assessment including example papers and subject content is available on the University Admissions website from March each year. Note that Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is administered with four other subjects within the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment question booklet. Section 1 will have identical questions. Section 2 will have subject-specific questions. Please ensure you answer the appropriate question or questions for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in Section 2.

Written work

After your application is received, you will be asked to send us two essays that you feel accurately reflect your abilities and interests (we do not make specific stipulations for the content). The essays should be work which has been prepared during the normal course of your studies and has already been marked by a teacher. We ask that one of the essays be produced under timed conditions, and at least one of them must be written in English, and we recommend that you keep copies for your own reference as the essays may be discussed at interview. Full written work guidelines will be provided as part of the current applicants section on this website (published by 20 September each year).


If you are invited for interview in Cambridge, this will take place in very late November or early December. Each AMES candidate normally has two interviews.  If you wish to combine Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with a modern European language, you will have an interview for your European language as well (for details see the information on studying Modern Languages at Christ’s).  Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section.

We also hold interviews in a number of locations overseas. If this may be relevant for you, please see the international students section.

Admissions Assessment

Applicants for AMES who wish to combine an Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with a modern European language (from the MML course) also take a written Admissions Assessment, normally on the same day as their interviews. This is in addition to the pre-interview assessment for AMES. We organise the MML Admissions Assessment for you automatically if you are invited for interview - there is nothing that you need to do to register. 

The MML Admissions Assessment lasts one hour.  Information about the assessment including example questions and subject content is available on the University website from March each year. Applicants who are not planning to study a modern European language do not have an assessment at interview. 


Our typical conditional offer for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is A*AA at A-level, 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects, or the equivalent in other qualifications. If you are an international applicant taking another qualification, do look at the international students section for further information. If you will have already finished school when you apply, please see the page for post-qualification applications

Although it is an area with increasing interest, in University terms, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is a relatively small department, with an average annual intake of fifty to sixty students. Christ's does not have fixed subject quotas for admission in any subject but a typical first-year entry for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is between two and three.

Reading Lists

Click on the name of the department for a list of recommended books:

Further information

If you are able to come to a College Open Day, we will be glad to tell you more about Christ's and studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies here in person. If you are not able to come, please feel free to email any queries you have to the Christ's admissions team:

Undergraduate Admissions main page / Back to the subject list / How to apply / Why choose Christ's?