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P.O. Box 59 (Unioninkatu 38B)
00014 University of Helsinki
Finland

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How to study Arabic and Islamic Studies

Only a small number of students are granted the right to major in Arabic and Islamic studies each year, but dozens of students come at the beginning of each academic year either to minor in the subject or to take a specific set of courses. After completing the elementary course in Arabic and basic courses in Islam and Arab history, the students read the Qur'an, ancient poetry and Mediaeval classics, as well as modern literature and newspaper texts, and acquaint themselves with dialectal Arabic. They also study Islam, the history of the Arabs, cultural history and literature, specialising in their favourite field of study.

At present, instruction is given in Classical and Modern Arabic in both written and spoken forms. Basic courses in Islamic studies and Arab history are taught every year, and these are supplemented by special courses in different fields of religion and culture, the subjects varying from year to year. Thus, in recent years, there have been courses on Sufism, Classical Arabic literature, Andalusian culture and Islamic philosophy, to mention but a few. Part-time lecturers add variety to the courses offered.

Independent work is still the primary form of study. Most of the monographs to be read for exams are in English (or Finnish), but especially later in his/her studies, the student should be able to read scholarly literature either in French or in German, preferably in both.