Clare College Cambridge

Studying AMES at Clare


You could learn Chinese, a language spoken by one fifth of the world’s population, study the cultural history and politics of the Middle East, or engage with the intriguing culture of Japan. Studying at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) gives you the opportunity to join a small number of people with expertise in languages and societies that are increasingly of global importance, whether you choose to study Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese or Persian, or a combination, which could include a European language. Clare welcomes applicants committed to the enterprise of getting to know about and understand the languages and cultures of vital areas of our world outside Europe. No prior knowledge of your chosen Asian or Middle Eastern language is required or expected, but imagination, perseverance and a sense of adventure will be essential.

The subjects offered are Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew (Biblical and Modern) and Persian, with the possibility of learning some Korean, Hindi or Sanskrit as well. Arabic, Hebrew and Persian can be combined with another one of these three, or with a modern European language post A-level. Chinese and Japanese can only be studied as single subjects. Apart from these combinations we do not offer joint honours courses (e.g. with History, Law, Economics or
Politics), but you can take some courses in other Faculties as part of an AMES degree, and it is possible to change to a different subject after taking Part IA of the Tripos at the end of the first year or Part IB at the end of the second. Part II takes two years, with the third year spent abroad in Asia or the Middle East, making a four-year course in all.

All the courses centre round gaining a high level of competence in the language(s) concerned. This of course needs a strong commitment and regular attendance from the student. Alongside this there are courses in history, literature, religion and a range of other subjects such as politics, economics, sociology, archaeology, or film, depending on the language being studied.- Some of these are optional, others compulsory. The first year generally focuses on laying the foundations of the language, and gives broad introductions to the culture and history of the regions concerned. There is little choice with these basic building blocks, but the choice increases in the second year, where students can study particular aspects of the region in more depth, and follow some courses in other faculties. This is even more so at Part II, where you can specialize in areas of interest to you and write a dissertation on a subject of your choice. During the year abroad students in Chinese and Japanese follow courses organized by us, while those in Middle Eastern languages combine language study with work placements and can choose within reasonable limits where to spend the year. -

There is more detailed information on each subject available on the website of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies  (


Reading Lists

Click on the name of the department for a list of recommended books: Arabic & Persian Studies, Hebrew & Aramaic Studies, Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies.