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Regular version of the site

What Do Future Professionals in Asian and African Studies Do?

Milana Iliushina, the programme's Academic Supervisor, answers main questions about studying and tells what study track one should choose.

What Do Future Professionals in Asian and African Studies Do?

© iStock


To find out more about the number of places and entrance exams, please, visit the programme's page. Information about admissions can be found in the section for undergraduate applicants.

  • How long does the programme last?
  • In contrast to programmes from other universities in Russia, our programme lasts 5 years. Evgeny Zelenev, the Head of the Department of Asian and African Studies, highlighted the advantages of this innovation.

Along with intensive language training, students obtain profound knowledge in linguistics, history, culture studies, religious studies, anthropology, as well as in social, economic, and political development of countries, regions, and the peoples of the world.

  • What languages will students learn during the programme? 
  • Three tracks are available for students this year: Arabian, Chinese, and Japanese. They are named according to the first Asian language which students will learn for five years. Given that students complete the programme successfully, they will master these languages at a professional level sufficient for both translation work and doing research. 

A five-year bachelor's programme allows covering the various domains of use of language. They range from ancient classical texts to modern mass media and specific vocabulary which is used for commercial negotiations and drafting of documents. 

There are up to 10 students in a language class. Two or three lecturers teach along with native speakers. Students explore different aspects of regional languages via a personalized curriculum, which involves a methodology acknowledged by international experts. 

PhD holders and professors teach regional languages of Asia for senior-course students. Their classes had a format of linguistic and regional studies colloquiums, which provide as good knowledge and skills as regular lectures and seminars do. 

The languages of instruction are English and Russian. Some classes are taught in English, so students can also choose this language for writing their research papers. 

  • Can the programme students learn two regional languages? 
  • Our students begin to learn the second regional language in the second year. This is a core course which lasts 2 years. Students choose among Arabian, Hebrew, Persian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese languages in the first year. They will be able to speak this language at least at the basic level sufficient for oral and written communication with native speakers, translation of texts of various purposes and styles. Experience has shown that some students achieve proficiency in the second regional language and continue to improve at senior courses and through international internships. 

Intensive learning of two languages of Asia requires dedication and commitment, but it generously rewards hard-working students with a high ability to compete. 

  • Do students have an opportunity to design their curriculum? 
  • Besides the second language courses, students choose minor courses, which help them obtain additional knowledge and skills from another field, such as political science, data science, philosophy, management, etc. Students devote one day a week to these classes in the second and third year. Successful completion of the minor course will allow programme students to continue their education path at the master's level in a related area. 

Relevant master's programmes worldwide will welcome those who decide to devote their life to Asian and African studies. Master's degree provides a wide range of opportunities to be employed abroad. 

There are more components which form a tailor-made curriculum of the 'Asian and African Studies' students. In the third year, they must select one of two tracks: the 'Society and Culture of East Countries' or the 'Political and Economic Development of East Countries'. This choice will largely determine the professional prospects of students. Concerning the chosen track, students will get acquainted with various domains of humanities of their interest. 

In the third year, students can also attend year-lasting optional courses on the German or French language. 

  • What educational track should a student choose? 
  • There is traditionally high sustainable interest to China and Japan, but the number of applicants who seek an in-depth study of the Middle East has been growing in recent years. Students who choose Arabian as the first regional language will study the region comprising 22 Arabian countries ranging from exotic and full of beautiful mysteries Marocco to highly technological Katar, Kuwait, the UAE, as well as Iran, Turkey, Israel. 

News reports and academic literature often mentions these countries. Scholars, politicians, economists, and researchers in Asian studies are vividly discussing new prospects for the development of the Middle East and North Africa as well as expanding opportunities of collaboration with the states of these regions. 

An interest to the Middle East has grown substantially. Analytical centres are being created, enormous resources are being allocated in the research of Islam and its interconnection with other confessions, especially with Christianity. For the global world, the Middle East remains a region of ancient cultures and civilizations and a place where interstate interests clash. We can call this region a global natural laboratory where seemingly incompatible things coexist. There we can find the world's highest standard of living that borders with the global poverty pole, strict state regulations existing side by side with the complete collapse of the state, the highest level of education neighbouring to illiteracy. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation needs qualified specialists majoring in the Middle East to work for more than forty embassies and consulates general. Many countries of the region, especially oil-producing ones, show impressive economic growth rates even during the global economic crisis, which makes them attractive to international investments and different business projects launch of which would benefit from the involvement of specialists in Asian Studies. 

PhD holders, professors and native speakers from Arab states teach future Arabists in the programme. 

  • What would you like to say to the programme's prospective students? 
  • Whatever major in Asian Studies you choose, remember, that you are entering a new world where you will meet more rather surprising, unexpected, and complicated things. A scholar in Asian Studies must be diligent and patient since learning regional languages of Asia requires work daily. It is essential to attend lectures and seminars regularly. 

Five years of intensive yet interesting work are waiting for you, and the faculty will help you with this. The programme staff will be happy to show you the world of modern Asian and African studies.

We are looking forward to seeing our future students at Saint Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies, which is in the very city centre in a lovely building on Griboedova Canal embankment, one of the most picturesque places in Saint Petersburg.