What is AMES?
The Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) course ranges from Japan in the East to Morocco in the West, from classical times to the present day. To study one of these cultures through its language enables you not only to develop a set of practical skills and knowledge that can be used later in many different ways, but also to engage with different ways of understanding our shared world.
Many of our students are looking for something different that takes them away from languages and area studies they took at A-Level, most commonly French, Spanish or German. Whilst the language components of the course are the most rigorous sections in the first year, students are also exposed to the history, politics, literature, culture and economics of the region as well. Parts IA and Part IB consist of practical language work, oral practice, and the study of the literature or history of the language. Language exercises continue in Part II, and options expand to include work on the classical versions of target languages and other courses ranging from upper-level history and politics seminars, to a comparative or inter-disciplinary course, including film.
Why study AMES at Corpus?
The responsibility for directing AMES at Corpus is shared between Dr Barak Kushner and Prof Charles Melville. Our Master, Stuart Laing, is also fluent in Arabic, having served in the diplomatic service in the Middle East and is the former British Ambassador to Oman. Although Dr Kushner is a specialist on China and Japan, the College arranges for teaching to take place in all areas of the AMES Tripos. Corpus also offers travel grants for vacation study and some assistance with year-abroad funding.
Dr Kushner recently published a book entitled “Slurp! A Social and Culinary History of Ramen”, which is the noodle soup much loved in Japan. Listen to Dr Kushner talking about his research and book in this podcast.
What do we look for in applicants?
Through interviews and its selection of candidates, the College tries to assess previous linguistic interest, travel and exposure, literary and cultural interests, experience and general motivation. There is no requirement to have studied any of these languages prior to application, but a student with no foreign language experience must be sure of his/her reasons for choosing one area over another.
Corpus usually admits 2-4 students per year to read Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian or Hebrew. These programmes necessitate four years before graduation, including a third required year spent in the target country. Further information about year-abroad arrangements can be found on the departmental website. The Faculty’s Undergraduate Handbook contains information about courses and examinations, staff, dissertations, facilities, and other important details about studying there.
“I am very glad that I chose to study Japanese at Corpus Christi. Corpus is a small college with a really welcoming atmosphere; this is great for anyone who wants to be really involved with their college community, but especially ideal for students who take a year out during their degree. Upon returning to Cambridge in my fourth year, it was easy to fit back into the rhythm of college life and get to know everyone living and working there.”
Jess Peet – Japanese graduate, 2014