An image of a narrow river in Zhouzhuang with buildings on either side, crowded with long, narrow wooden boats. Red lanterns hang from the buildings.


It is obvious that China has become an increasingly important and powerful nation in the world, and in Cambridge, we help you to go beyond the stereotypes and learn more about its complex history, its rich culture, its changing society, as well as its language. Japan has been an economic powerhouse in the world and has been playing an influential role on the global stage. Our programme in Japanese Studies allows you to focus not only on the language but also on Japan’s history, politics, society and its fascinating cultural landscape. If you want to study Arabic, Persian or Hebrew, it is possible to combine two of the languages or combine one of the languages with a modern European language taught in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages. Whether you do a single-language course or combine one language in the Middle Eastern Studies with a European language, you will have opportunities to study not only the language but also the history, culture, religion and politics of the Middle East and the Islamic world.

You don’t need to have prior knowledge of the language before you come to Cambridge as we teach the language from scratch. However, you will have an intensive language training throughout the four years, and by the end of your fourth year, you are expected to be a competent user of the language you have studied. In Cambridge, the first year is often called Part IA, the second year Part IB, and the third and fourth years are called Part II. In Part IA, you will mainly study the language, together with some introductory courses on the history and culture of the region concerned. In Part IB, you will continue your language studies, but at the same time, you are introduced to the history, literature, religion, culture and politics of the chosen area. You will spend your third year in a target-language-speaking county. In the fourth year, you will do advanced language studies and can also choose special courses from a range of options. In addition, you will also write a dissertation using primary sources.

Full details of the University courses in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies are provided on the Department website and summarised in the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

Churchill College has a strong commitment to Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES), and welcomes applicants committed to acquiring and understanding a major language and culture of East Asia or the Middle East. We accept students of Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian and Hebrew Studies.

AMES is a relatively small subject at Cambridge but Churchill College has been able to accept a relatively larger number of AMES students. Churchill College has two Fellows working on Chinese Studies; Dr Boping Yuan is the College’s Director of Studies in AMES and Professor Jianjun Mei is the Director of the Needham Research Institute. Dr Yuan is a University Reader in Chinese Language and Linguistics. As a student at Churchill, you would meet regularly with Dr Yuan for supervisions and to discuss your academic progress. Professor Mei is an expert in Chinese history of sciences and is available to AMES students for help and guidance.

Churchill College’s Archive Centre houses the papers of Sir Winston Churchill, including correspondence between Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek, President of the Republic of China during World War II. It also holds papers concerning the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. These papers are of significant value to people interested in doing research in these areas.


For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.

Admissions Office