We offer two graduate degrees, a on-year M.Phil and a Ph.D. For both degrees we generally expect applicants to have an upper second or first class BA degree or its equivalent and a sound knowledge of one or more Middle Eastern languages before commencing their course.
Note: Applications to the M.Phil. in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies are now closed for this applications round.
Our M.Phil is a one-year programme which aims to give graduate students an opportunity to develop their analytical, research and writing skills in preparation for further academic research or entry to professions requiring such skills.
At the present time, the majority of students take the M.Phil. by dissertation-only. This entails working closely with one supervisor throughout the year on a 25,000 word dissertation to be submitted in mid-August. The submission date for 2013 is Friday, 16th August (by 12 noon in the Faculty Office).
During the year, M.Phil. students attend various training courses offered by the Department in codicology, text reading, and other skills. They are also encouraged to attend fourth year undergraduate lectures and language courses where relevant. They also attend graduate work-in-progress seminars and have an opportunity to present their own work to their peers for feedback in a supportive environment.
The one-year taught M.Phil. is currently under reconstruction. Applicants interested in applying for a taught programme should consult the Graduate Programmes Administrator directly. It is currently anticipated that the following structure will apply from 2013 onwards:
A course will consist of
(i) three modules each examined by an examination or a 5000 word course exercise
(ii) a 15,000 word dissertation.
It is anticipated that the following courses will be offered starting October 2013. This will be confirmed and further details posted shortly:
Applicants for this course are expected to have a university qualification in either Hebrew or Arabic.
1. Muslim-Jewish Relations, Foundations
This module introduces students to the analytical tools required for studying Muslim-Jewish relations, primary sources in translation and original language, bibliographical method, objectivity in the study of interfaith relations and controversial themes. Themes may include the Jewish languages of the Islamic world, key historical documents in the study of Muslim-Jewish Relations; Jewish and Muslim thought; Law and Society; the Ottoman Empire, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
2. Muslim-Jewish Relations, Special Topics
These topics will generally focus on contemporary issues between Muslims and Jews and why these relations are important to understanding the position of religious minorities, faith identity and politics in the Middle East and North Africa. Comparisons will be made to Europe and the United States in order to understand how trends in the region are related to politics and social change elsewhere. Topics may include: Religious Identity and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa; Globalization, Faith and Identity in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the United States; Comparative Perspectives on Muslim-Jewish Relations in Middle East and North Africa and Europe; the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Arab Spring.
3. Cairo Genizah
In this module students are given an introduction to the Genizah manuscripts and its importance for the study of Muslim-Jewish relations in the Middle Ages. Most of the teaching will be based on a selection of Genizah texts in Hebrew or Judaeo-Arabic. These will be read in edited form and also from the original manuscripts in the Taylor-Schechter Genizah collection in Cambridge (www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/Introduction.html)
Applicants for this course are expected to have a university qualification in Persian.
This course offers readings in Persian cultural history, identifying persisting trends in Persian literature and cultural production from the medieval period down to modern times. These themes revolve around kingship and the image of the ideal prince, theories of justice and good government, and competing sources of secular and religious authority. Similarly, the motif of love, both earthly and divine, is a common thread running through Persian literature and entails also the extensive use of imagery of the natural world. In the modern world, the course examines a number of issues by studying Iranian cinema and focusing on gender, historical adaptation, nation and approaches to narration and resistance to dominant discourses, reflecting also on how the stories and legends of the classical tradition are adapted for contemporary literature and media.
In discussing these topics, attention is paid to their visual as well as written representation.
1. Medieval Persian texts: History and hagiography
This module introduces some key texts of historical and hagiographical literature, exploring their different literary and narrative approaches to addressing essentially the same purpose, namely establishing the legitimacy and idealised image of both the rulers and the saints who form their subject matter. Poetry plays a large part in the delivery and expression of these topics and the module concentrates on readings that explore the relationship between history, sufism and poetry in Persian culture.
2. Shaping the Ruler in Medieval Persian Belles-Lettres
This module focuses on texts written for princes and monarchs, which are meant to shape the knowledge and morality of the people at the top. Texts picturing the pre-Islamic royal history, Mirror for Princes, didactic prose and poetry… all these participate in informing the understanding and political intelligence of young princes. The course also looks at the practical results achieved during the life time of the monarchs: art historical elements of courtly life and historical events are analysed and discussed.
3. Iranian Cinema: Gender, Adaptation, Nation and Narration
The purpose of this module is to introduce the students to different approaches to analyzing cinematic form and studying culture through films. Each session, therefore, includes watching and discussing a film and reading one or two critical texts that examine different aspects of life and film production in Iran. The key cultural concepts are gender relations, resistance against dominant discourses, historical and intercultural adaptation, nation and nationalism, and cinematic narration.
We have researchers working on a wide range of topics relating to Hebrew (and related) Studies. Doctoral students at Cambridge should be in a position to start independent research at once, and are not required to attend lectures or courses, although attendance at specially appropriate lecture courses, as also at seminars is encouraged. If contemplating applying, it is useful to begin by writing to one or other of the teaching staff since this will usually save time in the long run.