BA Ancient Near Eastern Studies


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time
NB: This degree enrols new students only in odd years, i.e. 2017, 2019, 2021, etc.

Once studied for the light it could shed on the world of the Old Testament, the ancient Near East has now emerged from the sidelines as the fountainhead of modern civilisation. It was in the ancient Near East more than 5000 years ago that people first learned to live in cities, invented writing and developed the first high civilisations.

Though the origins of humanity's spiritual and intellectual adventure were once sought in the Bible and in Greece, the fascinating discoveries of Near Eastern archaeologists over the last 150 years have revealed the crucial roles played in forming our common heritage by the peoples of the Ancient Near East, especially the Sumerians, the Babylonians and the Hittites.

The three-year degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies has been formulated to take advantage of the unique opportunities offered by London, the home of the largest group of specialists in the various branches of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Europe. Not only do many different academic departments of the University of London employ teachers in these fields, but Bloomsbury also houses the British Museum, with its collections of Near Eastern antiquities unrivalled in the world.

The Ancient Near Eastern Studies degree is taught jointly with University College London (UCL). It provides a multi-disciplinary introduction to the ancient Near East, its languages, history, cultures and archaeology, while also offering final-year students the opportunity of specializing in their field of interest.


As a student specialising in the Ancient Near Eastern, you will gain competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of the Middle East.

Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in both business and the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.


At SOAS in the first year, the student begins the study of the major language of the ancient Near East, Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) in the cuneiform script, and takes a module in the literature of the Near East. Meanwhile, at UCL the student commences the study of the history of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt (History Department) and takes an introductory module in Near Eastern archaeology (Institute of Archaeology).

In the second year, further Akkadian is taken at SOAS, and it is possible at this stage to begin a second language (normally Hittite), as well. At UCL the student continues the history of the ancient Near East and studies the archaeology of the Near East in the historical periods.

During the third year, follow-up modules in Akkadian and archaeology or history are taken and a study project written on an ancient Near Eastern subject. To complete the final year a wide range of options will normally be available to permit specialisation in either language or history or archaeology or a combination of two of these. The student whose primary interest is in language may study Sumerian, Hieroglyphic Egyptian, biblical Hebrew, North-West Semitic epigraphy, Aramaic or Ugaritic, subject to availability. Non-language options include further modules in ancient history, Egyptology and the archaeology of the ancient Near East.

Single Honours

Year 1

Core Module

Must be passed to proceed to the following year:

  • Akkadian: The Language of Gilgamesh

Compulsory Module

  • Literatures of the Near and Middle East


UCL Compulsory Module

  • Bronze Age States in the Ancient Middle East
  • Texts in Archaeology
  • Introduction to Egyptian and Near Eastern Archaeology (UCL)

Year 2

It is possible to begin a second language at this stage(usually Sumerian or Hittite)

Core Module

  • Akkadian Texts 1


UCL Compulsory Module

  • Babylon from Hammurapi to Alexander (UCL)
  • UCL archaeology module


Guided Option

  • Choose from the List of Modules to the value of 30 credits.

Year 3

Compulsory Module

  • Independent Study Project in Ancient Near Eastern Studies



  • Choose an Akkadian Module from the List of Language and Literature to the value of 30 credits.


UCL Archaeology or History Module

  • Choose one Archaeology or History module from the list of options.


Guided Option

  • Choose from the List of Modules to the value of 30 credits.

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

To apply for an undergraduate degree at SOAS (including students wishing to transfer from another university) you must apply through the UK's central universities application organization, UCAS. An application form and details of courses can be found on their website. UCAS charges an applicant's fee for handling the application.

You can apply to up to five choices of higher education institutions or course on the UCAS form. How you utilise the choice is up to you. In other words, you could apply to do the same subject, for example, economics, at five different universities, or five different courses at the same university, or any combination of subject and institution. Nor do you have to use up all five choices. Whatever you choose you should list your choices in the order they appear in the UCAS handbook.

Entry Requirements

  • Subjects Preferred: A good pass in a foreign language at A-level, or equivalent, is preferred.
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with 'non-standard' qualifications may be invited for an interview.
  • A-Levels: AAB - ABB
    A-Level language preferred
  • IB: 35 (6/6/5)

Alternative entry requirements

  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Sep 2019

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
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