Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Everything you are about to read has been written by current and recently graduated students at the University of Cambridge, to give you honest information about what it’s like to be a student at Cambridge.

Studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) is essentially studying one or more languages of the Middle or Far East. As you progress through the years, you also learn about aspects of the culture and history of your chosen region, and in third year go on a year abroad. Some people think you have to have studied the language, but actually every AMES course is taught starting from the most basic level ­ I couldn’t even count to 10 in Chinese when I got here! AMES is taught at the Sidgwick Site, and classes are quite small, usually around 10­20 people.

#college image#Credit: Cambridge University

What about the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies course at Cambridge appealed to you?

Sinead - Ames - Chinese, Queens College, 2nd Year
Sinead
AMES - Chinese, Queens College

I really like the options to study not only China, but also the rest of East Asia; in first year we took a module on an overview of Chinese, Japanese and Korean history, and in second year have the option to take an East Asian cinema paper. This means that along with gaining a deep knowledge of China, I can also learn about it in the context of its standing in East Asia and the rest of the world.

How have you found the structure of the course?

Sinead - Ames - Chinese, Queens College, 2nd Year
Sinead
AMES - Chinese, Queens College

The course is quite broad; although in first year there is no choice of paper due to the focus on learning the language, this year I am taking modules in Modern and Classical Chinese as well as history and a borrowed paper from linguistics. Personally I have really enjoyed the fact that through a language course I can still study other humanities subjects such as these.

What is your faculty/department like?

Sinead - Ames - Chinese, Queens College, 2nd Year
Sinead
AMES - Chinese, Queens College

Our faculty is at the entrance to the Sidgwick Site (=2 mins more lie­in). It is quite small, but means that everything is contained in the one building ­ aural classrooms, lecture rooms and our pride and joy: the Common Room ­ complete with kitchen.

What types of work do you have to do?

Sinead - Ames - Chinese, Queens College, 2nd Year
Sinead
AMES - Chinese, Queens College

Language work takes up a large part of my time for obvious reasons. This is a mixture of (depending on which year you are in) translation, writing essays, preparing for speaking classes or translating classical Chinese texts. Apart from that this year I am researching and writing a mini­dissertation on ‘China and globalisation’ as well as completing supervision assignments ­ a mixture of essays and answering questions ­ for linguistics.

Do you have career plans?

Sinead - Ames - Chinese, Queens College, 2nd Year
Sinead
AMES - Chinese, Queens College

At the moment I have no idea what I want to do! I know I definitely want to do a job that lets me use/learn languages, so maybe diplomatic service, teaching, charity work? (Vague) career plans of other people on my course include setting up a business in China, working in banking or marketing or getting a job in international relations.

Typical timetable of a 1st year AMES student

Sinead - Ames - Chinese, Queens College, 2nd Year
Sinead
AMES - Chinese, Queens College

This is the current(ish) first year timetable. Normally most classes are focussed in the morning, and then supervisions in the early afternoon. There is preparatory work for language classes (including new characters to learn most days) and then work to do for supervisions. Around every 3 weeks there is an essay to do on a topic covered in the history lecture and then a supervision to go over it. It is a lot of contact hours for an Arts subject, but this means your language level increases exponentially over first year. The contact time decreases over the four years, meaning you have a lot of freedom to plan your time which makes balancing social plans and extra­curricular activities quite easy.

- Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9am - Aural Chinese - Modern Chinese Modern Chinese
10am Oral Chinese Modern Chinese Modern Chinese Aural Chinese Modern Chinese
11am - Literary Chinese Chinese texts Literary Chinese Oral Chinese
12pm Chinese texts East Asian History Chinese texts East Asian History -
1pm - - East Asian History - -
2pm Classical Chinese supervision - - - Modern Chinese supervision
3pm - - - - -
4pm - - - - -

What has been going on at Asian and Middle Eastern Studies?

- Recent Events -

Japan Exhibition

There was a 'sights and sounds of Japan' interactive exhibition

South Korea Talk

Students were able to attend a talk given by a New York based filmmaker about the kidnapping of 2 South Korean film directors.

Chinese Game Workshop

Had a workshop on how to play 'go' (really famous chinese game)

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