Language Requirements

Students are required to demonstrate competence in certain Islamic languages as well as in one or more non-Islamic (usually European) languages.

PhD students must have completed all language requirements before they are allowed to sit for the Comprehensive Examinations.

1.      Islamic Languages

                  i.            PhD students are required to have completed 3 years of Arabic or Persian language study at the IIS or demonstrate their competence by taking a proficiency examination set by the academic staff of the IIS. Note that either ISLA 521 or ISLA 541 does not count for credit.

                  ii.           In addition to Arabic, all PhD students are required to have completed the equivalent of two years of language study at the IIS of another Islamic language or demonstrate competence in this language by taking a proficiency examination set by the academic staff of the IIS. Students are, of course, responsible for whatever higher levels are required for their research. 

2.      Non-Islamic Research Languages

                 i.            In addition to English, reading knowledge of one non-Islamic research language (usually European) at a level of scholarly competence will be required for the PhD.

                ii.            Students must demonstrate their competence in the non-Islamic (usually European) language by passing the Language Proficiency Examination administered by the Institute. The student may use a dictionary (French-English, German-English, etc.) during this examination. 

Students are encouraged to begin their non-Islamic language study as early as possible.

Once you fulfill a language requirement, a form will be filled out for Enrolment Services (ES) indicating this, and a note will be put on your transcript by ES.

Exemptions

If you are a native speaker of any of the required languages for the PhD, you must advise the Student Affairs Coordinator that you would like to use that language as an exemption to part of your program requirements. You may be required to have an oral interview and possibly a written examination with one of the Faculty members at the Institute who will confirm your status as a native speaker to the Student Affairs Coordinator.

Arabic/Persian

If you already have previous knowledge of Arabic or Persian you may write the Institute’s test to prove that your Arabic/Persian is at the third-year level. 

Second Islamic Language

If you already have previous knowledge of a second Islamic Language, you may write the Institute’s Language Examination or pass an interview to prove that your knowledge is at the second year level. Depending upon the language, one of the Institute’s Faculty members will evaluate your level and indicate it to the Student Affairs Coordinator. 

Non-Islamic Research Language

If you already have previous knowledge of a non-Islamic (usually European) language, you may write the Institute’s Language Proficiency Examination to prove that your reading knowledge is at a scholarly level.

The non-Islamic language examination is a translation exam that consists of translating two passages of scholarly work in the student's general field into English. The student is presented with three passages of approximately 30 lines each and must choose two of these passages to translate. S/he may use a dictionary. The student is allowed three hours to finish the exam.

The exam is set and marked by an ad-hoc committee made up of IIS staff whenever possible (and drawing on non-IIS staff when we do not have the linguistic expertise in question). The exam will be set and marked by two different faculty members, neither of whom can be the supervisor. The student should alert the Student Affairs Coordinator  when s/he is ready for the exam and in consultation with the supervisor submit a general description of her/his field of study (i.e. Islamic Law, Arabic literature, Ottoman History etc.) and which language the student needs the exam set in.

~~Once you fulfill a language requirement, a form will be filled out for Enrolment Services (ES) indicating this, and a note will be put on your transcript by ES.

 

Back to top