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Arab World Studies PhD

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Programme description

Middle Eastern Studies at Manchester offers exceptionally wide-ranging opportunities for research and advanced training in the history, politics, literatures, religious traditions and cultures of the Middle East. Training and research supervision in all major cultures (except Turkey) and periods of the region are delivered by experts whose publications contribute to their subject on an international level. The Department was awarded the role of hosting (together with Edinburgh and Durham) the national Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World ( CASAW) in 2006. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise a total of 60% of its research was deemed to be in the two top quality categories of 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent).

CASAW regularly organises seminars, workshops and conferences, and offers some specialist training opportunities. Another major research centre, the Centre for Jewish Studies ( CJS), brings together a wide range of specialists from across the University, and a large and active body of graduate students working on various aspects of Jewish culture and history, including modern Israeli society. The Manchester Iranian History Academic Network ( MIHAN) organises seminars, workshops, and international conferences providing an intellectual and organisational framework for a sizeable and active group of graduate students working on Iranian history.

Research specialisms in Middle Eastern Studies and related subject areas include literature, gender, culture and history of the Arab countries (Salhi, Mostafa, Buckley), Islamic societies and practices, including Shiism (Buckley, Aishima), the modern and contemporary history of Iran, with a special focus on its politics and relations to other parts of the Middle East, to Europe, and to the US (Bast, Randjbar-Daemi), modern Israel and Palestine, and the emergence of Middle Eastern nationalisms (Behar), and Jewish literature, culture and thought from antiquity to modernity (Samely, Smithuis, Langton). Research profiles of the staff here mentioned will be found at: . Other areas of doctoral supervision can be offered or are available through inter-disciplinary collaboration. Manchester's experts in Middle Eastern Studies contribute to the public debate on contemporary cultural-religious issues in the UK, the analysis and contextualization of current affairs in the Middle East, and the understanding of gender roles and the relations between 'East' and 'West'. Manchester is the editorial home of the Journal of Semitic Studies ( JSS), an internationally renowned academic journal which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.

Teaching and learning

The PhD is the major postgraduate research degree. It involves three years of full-time study and the preparation of a thesis of not more than 80,000 words that makes a significant contribution to knowledge. A satisfactory PhD topic is one that a suitably qualified and properly supervised student can bring to completion within the permitted timeframe. Please note, all PhD students are required to undertake Research Training as part of their PhD programme.

Coursework and assessment

Your research will normally be supervised by two members of staff at the University. Your supervisors will most likely be members of the School, but if your research requires it, the School or Subject area may arrange for supervision by someone outside the School. Supervisory arrangements at Manchester are governed by a Code of Practice which is available on the University's website. Regular meetings will be held with the supervisors, and details of each of the meetings will be recorded. Research Panels (consisting of at least three academic staff, including the supervisors) are held once per semester to monitor progress.

Please note, the first year of the full-time programme and the first two years of the part-time programme are probationary; this means you will be required to show evidence of satisfactory progress in order to proceed with the programme.


For more information on the facilities available within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, please visit

In addition, the University has five major computer clusters, together with many smaller clusters. In total there are more than 10,000 PCs and workstations across the campus. All provide access to standard office software as well as specialist programs, and all are connected to the campus network and internet. Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division Manchester Computing can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

The  University of Manchester Library is one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK and is widely recognised as one of the world's greatest research libraries. We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe - supporting world-class teaching and research.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: