The Year Abroad is perhaps the most rewarding part of the degree course, where students have a chance to explore for themselves and in their own way the language, society and culture of the Middle East. To encourage this exploration students choose for themselves how and where to spend their Year Abroad, within limits set out below.
Students going on to do Part II in Arabic and/or Persian must spend at least eight months in a country relevant to their studies between the end of their second year and the beginning of their fourth. They must spend the full eight months in the Middle East, even if they are studying a modern European language as well. If they are studying both Persian and Arabic they must divide their time between Arabic and Persian-speaking countries.
Students may choose which country to spend their time in and whether to study, work, or do voluntary work, or some combination of these. The majority of our students spend the year in Syria or Egypt, but some go elsewhere in the Arab world. Most do language courses, but increasing numbers do voluntary work during the year. Another option is to do a year on a course for Arab students at an ordinary Arab university.
There are three main conditions:
Students make their own arrangements, with support and information from the Year Abroad Coordinator. This includes detailed feedback from previous students. Much more detailed indormation is available in the Arabic & Persian Studies Year Abroad Handbook (a PDF document).
Beyond their structured study or work, students will need to do some work for their Cambridge course while abroad. They will need to write two reports, each including a summary in Arabic/Persian of a book read in that language, begin research for their fourth year dissertation, and prepare some topics for discussion in the oral exam at the beginning of the fourth year.
At present students on the Year Abroad pay half the usual University fee and no College Fee, but the fee element of their student loan is correspondingly reduced. If they are eligible for a student loan, and spend a third of the year or more studying, they get a slightly larger loan than usual, and depending on circumstances may get some financial help with airfares and medical insurance. If they spend less than a third of the year studying, they get a somewhat reduced loan and are not eligible for maintenance grants. At the moment the University reimburses students on the Year Abroad the cost of fees and fares up to £1000, but this is under review, and any amount which may be available will be notified to students before they go abroad.
The costs of the year are unpredictable. The cost of tuition varies enormously but starts at about £1500 for the year. Living costs, depending on the country and the strength or weakness of the pound, are usually cheaper than in Britain. For example in Cairo relatively expensive accommodation might cost about £250 a month, but other expenses, including food, might come to about £150 a month. In Damascus, you might pay about £180 a month for accommodation and £225 a month for other living expenses.
While abroad, students can often earn something by teaching English, formally or informally.
The Study Abroad Co-ordinator for Arabic and Persian Studies is Dr Rachael Harris.