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Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

When they consider what subject to take up at university only a few students will think immediately of Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew or Arabic Studies. Yet, there are many good reasons to do so. The languages themselves may be a little difficult, but they are fascinating, as are the histories, literatures, politics, and cultures of the areas that produced them. In addition, studying any of these subjects gives access to exciting careers opportunities in the media, the foreign office, the legal profession, and of course business and finance. At the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, you can study languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Herbrew, and Arabic. Besides learning the language, you will also be introduced to the cultures, societies, literatures, and histories of the areas that produced them. Chinese and Japanese Studies are studied by themselves, although during the third and fourth year of study they can be combined. Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew can be combined from the beginning with each other and also with a modern European language. If you would like to find out more about any of them, please consult the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies website (www.ames. or write to the Undergraduate Programmes Administrator at Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA. Please also check the website for the Faculty’s Open Days.

Oriental Studies is what is called a "small numbers subject". Fortunately, St Catharine's has normally a substantial group of FAMES students. You will have colleagues to talk to! You will find that the College as a whole is supportive of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. You will discover as well that a number of fellows who have nothing to do officially with Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in fact are actively researching aspects of Asian and the Middle East. They include Chris Bayly, Professor of Indian History, Katharine Dell, Lecturer in the Divinity Faculty in Old Testament, and Robert Wardy, Lecturer in Classics. You will of course be able to seek their guidance as well.

St Catharine's welcomes applicants with all manner of academic backgrounds. Students with A-levels in the sciences, or any other subject, usually do just as well as those who have concentrated on learning languages. What we look for is energy and commitment. Important is not just linguistic skill, but also an ability to write Cambridge-style essays. Candidates will usually be interviewed by a second college, where possible on the same day as the St Catharine's interviews

Students spend the third year of their course abroad, an experience which most enjoy tremendously and often leads to long-time friendships. During the fourth year, most students write a dissertation using primary sources in the language they have mastered. That too most find a uniquely valuable experience, as many dissertations explore topics that have not been studied before.

Professor Hans van de Ven is the College's Director of Studies in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.. He is an expert on the history of nineteenth and twentieth century China. You will see him regularly in the Faculty building, where your classes and supervisions will take place. He will also discuss the progress of your work with you on a regular basis, and help you plan your academic career. St Catharine's aims to remain a centre of excellence in the various branches of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and welcomes applicants who would like to help us fulfil that aim.

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Last modified 16th December 2010