The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is a diverse place of study and research. Our mission is to provide a formative academic education to young persons with outstanding academic potential and an excellent work ethic, irrespective of their socio-economic or educational background, religion or belief, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, health, ethnicity, race, nationality and other characteristics.
According to the University’s Annual Admissions Statistics Report 2022, we rank well above the Oxford average in admitting students from BME groups (31.7%) and from a deprived socioeconomic background, as measured by ACORN (with 18.4% of accepted applicants coming from ACORN categories 4 and 5). 51% of our students are from state schools and 58.4% are female.
We celebrate the fact that academic potential and the ability to embark on an inspiring yet arduous academic journey can manifest themselves in very different guises.
What Our Students Say
When I was 17 I decided I wanted to study Chinese at university, and I came to Oxford on the train to attend an Open Day run by what is now called the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The impression I got on the open day, which proved correct, was that curiosity about the subject and a keen mind were more important than any particular qualification. And once on the course, the logic of these (lack of) admissions criteria became clear. We were all learning from scratch. Even those with previous experience had to go back to basics in order to iron out bad habits that they had developed in school, and the one girl whose modern Chinese seemed to me near-fluent still had to learn Classical Chinese from scratch (not to mention studying for the historical and literary components of the course), so any advantage she received was minimal overall. The course had a major levelling effect –– differences of educational opportunity that our still deeply class-riven educational system had created all but disappeared in the classroom. I am now studying for a DPhil in modern and contemporary Chinese visual and literary culture, and when I began I was one of only a few comprehensive school students in my year. This is because not as many state-school students apply, in part, I think, because they don’t know about it. This is a real shame because the course is incredibly enriching. You get the opportunity not only to learn at least one modern and one ancient language, but to study Chinese history, literature, film, art, philosophy, and law. This is a wider range of disciplines than you are likely to encounter in almost any other degree. And you get to spend a year living in an exciting place, with some of the best food you will eat in your life. This should not be an opportunity only for the most privileged, and it doesn’t have to be.
William Beswick (B.A. in Chinese Studies 2013–2017), currently (2022) a DPhil student in Chinese Visual and Literary Culture at the University of Oxford.
Until that point, I had always thought that I would study English at university. That began to change when my school took the gifted and talented students to a huge outreach event run jointly by Oxford and Cambridge. There, we experienced subject-, admissions-, and finance-related talks, and went home with armfuls of free pens, bookmarks, and a prospectus from each university.
It was while skimming through the prospectus for Oxford that I came across Oriental Studies. Oriental Studies covers an extraordinarily wide variety of cultures and languages, with more and more being absorbed into the roster all of the time. When I turned the page, I found Egyptology. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Chloé Agar (B.A. in Egyptology with Coptic 2014-2017), for the full article 'The Life of an Oxford Egyptologist', click here to read in the Oxford Student.
What our students do after their degrees:
Graduates of our courses work in a wide range of areas from think tanks, consultancies, academia, to journalism, translation, art industry, or in public sector positions such as diplomats or policy advisors. And of course they work across the globe owing to their versatile language skills.
We offer twelve B.A. degrees across six Subject Groups at the Faculty. Our Subject Groups are:
- Arabic, Persian and Turkish
- Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (e.g., Egyptian, Akkadian)
- Hebrew, Jewish and Eastern Christian Studies
- Inner and South Asian Studies (e.g., Sanskrit, Tibetan)
- Japanese and Korean Studies
- Chinese Studies
Information about our degree courses and admission can be found at the links below: