Education: A-Z of Degrees: Because the Future's Global ; Our Weekly Series Designed to Help You to Pick the Right Course. This Week: Middle Eastern and African Studies
Hodgson, Christine, The Independent (London, England)
What do you come out with? BA, or BSc or LLB if you have specialised in economics or law, too.
Why do it? Would-be students straight from school see it as different or exotic; more seriously, it's an acknowledgement that the future is global rather than national. Second- or third- generation African and Middle Eastern students are keen to explore their ethnic roots - and maybe get a professional qualification in economics or law at the same time.
What's it about? Depends where you go. Birmingham University offers a comprehensive interdisciplinary mix including history, politics, sociology, anthropology, geography and literature (both African and Caribbean); you can also do African studies with a range of other subjects as a joint- honours programme. At the University of Westminster, you'll find languages playing a big part in the programme; at Exeter, you have a choice of six programmes ranging from Islamic studies and Middle Eastern studies with Arabic, to a four-year joint Spanish and Arabic degree. London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) offers anthropology, law and economics programmes, and normally a choice of 30 languages - others can be added if required.
How long is the degree? Three years; four if you take a year out to study in another country where the university has links. Language courses at Manchester, Exeter and Westminster give you a year overseas, or six months in each of two countries if you're doing two languages.
What are the students like? Quite a lot are mature, especially at traditional universities. "The courses tend to appeal to people who want a professional qualification that's a bit different from the mainstream," says Dr David Taylor of SOAS.
How is it packaged? A high proportion of exams - 80 per cent at SOAS - but they're planning to move to more flexible assessment methods. Most places use a mixture of coursework and traditional exams, with assessed work playing an increasing part.
How cool is it? Coolish - but not for everyone. Anthropology is very cool just now, and there are some cool jobs for graduates.
What A-levels do you need? Nothing specific, but language A- levels (not necessarily the one you hope to study) are used as pointers to linguistic ability if you want to major in languages. "We like people with a language background who are prepared to try something different," says Dr Colin Imber, of Manchester University.
What grades? At SOAS, AAB for anthropology, ABB-BBB for other areas except social sciences, which will offer on BBC. Standard offer at Birmingham is BCC. Exeter wants a minimum of CCC, but 22- 24 points for languages. Manchester looks for BBC, Westminster will consider DD. …