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Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies

About us

The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) is a leading centre for teaching and research in the UK and internationally. We now represent the largest concentration of Middle East Studies scholars at a British university and offer the broadest range of UG and PGT programmes in the UK in Arabic and Middle East Studies. We performed exceptionally well in the most recent Research Excellence Framework of 2021 (ranked 1st in Middle East Studies, and 2nd in Area Studies) and we scored the highest in our sector in the Russell Group and UK in the last National Student Satisfaction Survey (NSS 2023).

IAIS has staff body of 33 academics, 6 language teachers and 4 professional services employees. Our student body is made up of 20+ undergraduate (per year group) and 30 masters’ students studying Arabic and Middle East Studies, in addition to 100 PhD students pursuing individual research topics under expert supervision.


IAIS offers undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in Arabic, Middle East and Islamic Studies. Our breadth of specialist modules enables students to study Islamic archaeology and Qur’anic Arabic next to modern Middle East politics, culture, religion, literature, art and gender studies, while our language specialists offer elementary, intermediate and advanced courses in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Kurdish.

IAIS undergraduate students spend extended periods in Jordan and Tunisia studying at Arabic language institutes, and all IAIS students have the opportunity to travel to Arabic-speaking countries for language study and fieldwork thanks to the Alwaleed fund. IAIS students also benefit from a range of co-curricular activities, such as our visiting speaker series, Arabic film nights and Arabic music events.

Our cosmopolitan atmosphere contributes to a lively, friendly community.


IAIS is dedicated to producing world-class cutting-edge research and many of our academics are internationally-renowned, disseminating their work in internationally renowned journals and publications and at high profile events. We host a number of research centres which run events throughout the year and bring guests in from across the world.

Archives and exhibitions

The IAIS building was founded in 2002 and has a distinctive design evocative of architecture in the region we study. Besides lecture, seminar rooms, offices and a state-of-the-art language lab, the IAIS building houses a large gallery space, known as ‘The Street’, which puts on exhibitions relating to Arab history and culture.

The IAIS building also hosts the hugely important “Arab World Documentation Unit” (AWDU), which is a specialist Middle East collection comprised of vast documentary reference material from the Arab Gulf States alongside private archives and historic photographic materials. Work to digitize AWDU and, in so doing, significantly increase accessibility, is currently underway under the Digital Archive of the Middle East Project (DAME) in partnership with Tsinghua University.