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Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

The Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Tripos covers many of the languages of Asia and the Middle East, an area that represents nearly 60% of the world’s population. Covering a vast area with long histories, cultures and a diversity of languages, students in AMES have unique opportunities to explore and develop expertise that can only be obtained at a handful of institutions in the world. Besides language skills, students will develop competencies in independent research, oral, written and visual communication and engage with scholars who are at the forefront of scholarship. No prior knowledge of the selected language(s) is assumed. Motivation and determination, along with an interest in language learning, are the most important ingredients for success.


How is Asian And Middle Eastern Studies at Trinity different from other Colleges?

Because AMES covers a wide range of languages, one-on-one supervisions are usually shared within the Faculty so that each student gets appropriate advising. Your Trinity Director of Studies and tutor will additionally support your academic as well as personal interests. Besides opportunities to take part in the many events, societies and sports at Trinity, your supervisor will work one-on-one with you to develop your research, analytical and writing skills, all of which are closely intertwined. The College Library holds a full complement of all books required for AMES, in addition to a substantial collection of films, especially in Korean and Japanese.

Former and current students at Trinity have excelled in Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Japanese and Hebrew, and those who have graduated now work in foreign ministries, banks, and other organizations in the UK and across the world. Others have gone on to graduate studies.


A diversity of disciplines

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is by definition multi-disciplinary, and accordingly offers a range of approaches to the study of any particular region. Our faculty members can help you develop skills in such diverse disciplines as Anthropology, History, Politics and International Relations, Literature and the Arts. In addition, AMES is one of the few institutions in the world that offers extensive coverage of both premodern and modern societies, thus enabling students to explore a range of topics and eras in their studies.

Course Details

Course length: 4 Years
Typical offer: A*AA
Preferred A-Level subjects: No
Assessment Format (if you are combining with a European language): Modern Languages assessment (post-A level languages), Discursive response in Foreign Language (40 minutes), Discursive response in English (20 minutes); Modern Languages assessment (languages from scratch (ab initio)), Discursive response in English (40 minutes), Language Aptitude Test (20 minutes)


Student life in AMES

The AMES curriculum consists of three parts spread out over four years. In year 1 and 2 (called Part 1A and 1B), the main focus is on acquiring fluency in your chosen language(s). The first year is especially intense from a language perspective, but students are introduced to the histories and cultures of their regions as well. From year two, the focus remains on obtaining language skills but students also learn about the histories, culture and society of their area.

Year 3 is spent abroad to apply language skills and further development them to a level of high fluency. Some students spend most of their year abroad studying at various universities, but there are also opportunities for internships and other relevant placements. Students are expected to begin research for their dissertation during the year abroad so as to take advantage of sources and expertise available in their region of study.

In the fourth year, students will refine their skills overall, but above all be engaged in the production of new knowledge through their research and dissertation. A range of advanced papers allow students to go more in depth in various disciplines, such as history, politics and international relations, literature, linguistics and anthropology.

Who represents AMES at Trinity?

Trinity Fellow Professor Mikael Adolphson (Japanese History) teaches in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and is the Director of Studies for students in the Faculty. Retired Fellows are Susan Daruvala (20th century Chinese literature and cinema) and Mark Morris (Japanese and Korean cultural history).

AMES admissions to Trinity

Trinity normally admits between 3 and 6 students every year for AMES depending on the strength of the applicants. Offers are made on the basis of a careful interviewing procedure that involves the submission of written work and one interview with the Director of Studies and one more member from AMES.

The typical conditional offer is A*AA; comparable conditions are set for those taking the IB and other school-leaving examinations. We do not prioritise students from any particular background, and the interview process gives us the chance to get to know students individually and make informed decisions on their suitability for the course.

We are especially encouraging applications from students who have a deep interest in learning languages, about cultures with a long and distinct past, and who have a passion for exploring independently in a new environment. In addition, we welcome students who enjoy reading, interpreting, and analysing texts and images as well as living societies. A readiness to change opinion as a result of criticism, a willingness to argue for convictions or preferences, intellectual curiosity, and an interest in something bigger than oneself are also features we look for, and, of course, we appreciate students who are looking forward to contributing to the thriving intellectual environment at Trinity.

ASSESSMENT FORMAT (if you are combining with a European language)

At interview – Modern Languages assessment (post-A level languages):

  • Discursive response in Foreign Language (40 minutes)
  • Discursive response in English (20 minutes)

Modern Languages Admissions Assessment Specification

At interview – Modern Languages assessment (languages from scratch (ab initio)):

  • Discursive response in English (40 minutes)
  • Language aptitude test (20 minutes)

See the sample paper (including guidance on how to prepare) and answer booklet.

You do not need to register or be registered in advance for the written assessment at interview – the College will provide details of arrangements in the emails inviting applicants to interview.

Please note that your performance in the assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

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