Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

Are you interested in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian or Hebrew Studies? You don't need any prior knowledge of these languages to study them at Cambridge but you do need imagination, perseverance and a sense of adventure.

The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge is divided into two departments - the Department of East Asian Studies (DEAS) and the Department of Middle Eastern Studies (DMES). We cover major cultures of the world and both classical and modern versions of the languages are taught. All the courses have strong emphasis placed on achieving a high level of competence in, and knowledge of, the language(s) but increasing attention is paid to historical, social, and literary aspects of the various cultures.

In the DEAS, students choose either Chinese or Japanese as a whole subject.

In the DMES, Arabic, Persian, or Hebrew may be taken as either whole or half subjects. In the case of the latter, two half subjects within the department such as Arabic and Persian, or Arabic and Hebrew can be combined. It is also possible to combine subjects with a language from the Modern and Medieval Languages. Combinations such as Arabic and French or Spanish are quite common and warmly welcomed.

There are also a series of videos and taster lectures; available at

AMES at Caius

Caius normally admits around two students a year in AMES, with no preference as to which branch of the course they intend to follow. The Caius AMES community is a small but friendly one, and students get to know each other and their lecturers well. They receive a great deal of individual attention. The Director of Studies is Prof. Roel Sterckx, a specialist in Chinese civilisation.

Teaching Fellows


All languages are taught from scratch in our Faculty, which means that we do not assume any specific prior language knowledge. It is extremely important, however, to have a clear understanding of grammar and the recognition of patterns. Applicants wishing to study a European language must therefore have studied this language at A Level (or equivalent). GCSE or A-level Chinese/Japanese does not necessarily give you any particular advantage. Success in A-level subjects such as History, Classics or Mathematics can also be helpful. Enthusiasm is essential, combined with an intellectually-focused interest in your chosen study area. Recommended books for exploratory reading in each of our subject groups (Arabic & Persian Studies, Hebrew & Aramaic Studies, Chinese Studies and Japanese Studies), together with more information about the course, are available on the faculty website.

Candidates will be asked to send in two school essays before the interviews. These essays may be related to the proposed course of study, but since applicants come from a wide variety of subject backgrounds, we do not make specific stipulations.

There will ordinarily be two interviews for entry into AMES. One interview will be with Prof. Sterckx, normally joined by a specialist in the candidate's chosen subject. It lasts about half an hour and candidates may be asked to read an article (in English) shortly before and its content may be discussed during the interview. A short language learning aptitude test may be given during the interview. The second interview may be a more general academic interview, or will relate to the candidate's other language (if combining with an MML language).

Prospective candidates are welcome to visit on Faculty and College Open Days, which are regularly arranged. The Director of Studies is happy to answer any questions from potential candidates. Please contact the Caius Admissions Office.