Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

The course

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) includes the major languages and civilisations of Asia, from the Middle East (Arabic, Persian and Hebrew), to the Far East (Japanese and Chinese). Teaching in all these fields is provided by the University at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, through lectures and supervisions arranged for the colleges.

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Pembroke

Pembroke has a long association with AMES, particularly in the field of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. Three of the most distinguished Cambridge Middle Eastern scholars of the twentieth century have been Fellows of Pembroke. The College is anxious to maintain this reputation. In recent years it has had a strong academic record in the Tripos. The Director of Studies is Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History, who is involved in undergraduate teaching in Arabic and Persian. The College aims to take two or three undergraduates a year, or more if the quality of the field allows. Applicants are accepted for Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian. Some of our most talented recent undergraduates have studied Japanese, and the College has good links with Japan, from which several recent AMES students have benefited.

The courses are not just linguistic, but concentrate also on literature, history and cultural life. All of the third year is spent abroad. In some cases, an AME and a Modern Language can be combined at Part I; Arabic and French is a common combination. However, combining Chinese or Japanese with another language is only possible as an option in Part II (third and fourth year). There are a few options to share papers with Divinity (e.g. Islam) or History.

Admissions

We are seeking to admit students from all backgrounds, who have in common an interest in the subject. No prior knowledge of any of the languages offered is assumed (though it helps if applicants have learned the alphabet of the language before coming into residence); knowing too much in advance is sometimes a disadvantage, so check before deciding to spend your summer with your nose in a grammar book! A foreign language at A-level (or equivalent) is particularly desirable, suggesting a proven ability to cope with language work. Other useful A-levels (or equivalent) are History and English, though applicants have been accepted from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. The admissions process consists of a pre-interview written assessment (see University of Cambridge website), followed by two or three interviews at Pembroke. There is often also an extra interview organised by the Faculty, to assist colleges which may subsequently be looking for AMES applicants in the Pool. Interviews consist mainly of general questions and discussion of applicants’ A-level (or equivalent) work.  As part of the admissions process applicants will be asked to submit two essays of their choice written for their A-level (or equivalent) courses.

Some applicants for AMES to Pembroke take a year off after completing school before coming up to university, and the College is happy to consider deferred applications.

See also the Faculty website for more details or the page about AMES on the University website.