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Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


Number of students per year: 1 - 3

Typical offer: A*AA at A-level or 7 7 6 (42+ overall) in the IB. For other qualifications, please click here.

Essential subjects: None. There is no requirement to have previously studied any Asian or Middle Eastern languages. If you wish to combine with a European language such as French or German, you will need an A-level or equivalent in the European language.

Useful subjects: The department suggests that languages and essay-based subjects can provide good preparation for the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Tripos.



Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Clare

Clare has a strong commitment to the study of Asian and Middle Eastern languages. Even though all teaching is arranged centrally by the Faculty, Clare is fortunate in that both the Senior Language Teaching Officer in Arabic and the Professor of Chinese are Fellows of Clare College. This means that students receive guidance and support throughout their degree from Directors of Studies who thoroughly understand the course and its demands.


Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is a relatively small subject, with an intake of about 50 to 60 students per year, but Clare does not have a limit on how many AMES students it takes. Typically we have two to three students a year, a small but very friendly and lively group. We welcome applicants from all nationalities and educational backgrounds.

Key People

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Dr Rachael Harris

Director of Studies & Senior Language Teaching Officer in Arabic

Dr Harris did a BA in Arabic and Linguistics at Cambridge University. Her PhD, also at Cambridge was on truth-telling in Arabic conversation, based on fieldwork in an Egyptian village.


She returned to teach Arabic in the Faculty in 1986 and has been teaching here ever since. Dr Harris is co-author of Breakthrough Arabic (also entitled Just Listen ’n’ Learn Arabic) with Nadira Auty and Clive Holes.

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Professor Roel Sterckx

Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilization

My work is inspired to some degree by questions raised in the history of science and anthropology. I have an ongoing interest in forms of knowledge about the natural world in pre-modern China (cultural ecology, agricultural thought, natural history) and am currently working on a book provisionally entitled Thinking through Agriculture in Early China. 


I have also worked on food and dietary culture in Chinese philosophy and religion. Another area of interest is the interplay between moral and material values in Chinese thought.