International Programmes 2023/2024

Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East (ISME) Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East (ISME)

Freie Universität Berlin • Berlin

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East
Teaching language
  • English

Courses are taught entirely in English.

The Master's thesis will be written in English.

Some courses on offer may be held in one of the programme-related languages, for example, in Arabic or Hebrew.

The department offers courses related to ISME that are taught in German and can be integrated into your course schedule.

Programme duration
4 semesters
Winter semester
Additional information on beginning, duration and mode of study

Studying online: To accommodate international students starting their studies, parts of the ISME-specific modules of the first semester may be offered in a hybrid setting. However, ISME is not a dedicated online programme. 

Studying part-time: Even though ISME is designed to be studied full-time, students may apply to be enrolled as part-time students according to their individual study plans.  

Beginning: The programme only starts in the winter semester; courses in the winter semester usually start in mid-October.

Application deadline

Admission deadlines are published on the central programme website of the Student Services Center as well as on the website of the programme:

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East (ISME) is a two-year, tuition-free, full-time Master’s programme taught in English on campus in Berlin.

Freie Universität's expertise in cultural studies of the Middle East – represented by Arabic Studies, Iranian Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Kurdish Studies, Ottoman Studies, Semitic Studies, and Turcology – comes together for this Master's programme to offer students the possibility to approach this fascinating and complex region from multi-faceted and interregional perspectives, taking into account the diversity of languages, literatures, societies, religions, and cultures of this region.

As a consecutive programme, it builds on knowledge about the Middle East and skills from the fields of humanities, cultural studies, and philologies that have been acquired in the course of a Bachelor's programme or through professional qualification.

Are you curious about cultures of the Middle East?

Are you eager to explore new areas of interest and to study independently?

Can you prove excellent English language skills (level C1 CEFR or equivalent)?

Do you hold a Bachelor's degree with at least 60 ECTS in ISME-related courses?

Are you proficient in at least one of the following programme-related languages: Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Kurdish, Ottoman, Persian, Syriac-Aramaic, or Turkish (level B1 CEFR or equivalent)?

Then our Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East Master's programme may be of interest to you.

Course organisation

The Master's programme is divided into three areas, each composed of several modules which, in turn, comprise two courses – a fourth area being reserved for your Master’s thesis. See this table.

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A Diploma supplement will be issued
International elements
  • International guest lecturers
  • Specialist literature in other languages
  • Language training provided
  • International comparisons and thematic reference to the international context
  • Content-related regional focus
  • Courses are led with foreign partners
  • Projects with partners in Germany and abroad
Integrated internships

In the complementary area of studies, the programme allows you to learn about and participate in ongoing research on the Middle East or to gain professional experience through an internship either in Berlin or abroad. This is your opportunity to expand your skills in a wide field of activities ranging from cultural institutions to publishing houses and NGOs.

Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution

In total, the semester contribution amounts to 312.89 EUR. It includes a fee of 198.80 EUR for the transportation ticket contribution. This allows you to use public transportation in Berlin for free. Other costs covered by the semester contribution include a 50 EUR enrolment fee, a 54.09 EUR semester contribution to the student support service ("studierendenWERK Berlin"), and a 10 EUR contribution to the student union.

Costs of living

Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. However, the cost of living has also risen somewhat in Germany in recent years. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, cultural events, etc. are slightly above the EU average. You will need around 950 to 1,200 EUR each month to cover your living expenses. The biggest expense is monthly rent, which is between 400 and 700 EUR in Berlin.

Funding opportunities within the university
Academic admission requirements

To be eligible for admission to the Master’s programme, you need to fulfil the following requirements:

1. You must hold a first university degree (e.g. a Bachelor’s degree) comprising at least 180 credit points (ECTS) and you must have

  • EITHER earned 60 ECTS or more of this first degree in courses that are relevant to interdisciplinary studies of the Middle East in fields such as Arabic Studies, Iranian Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Semitic Studies, or Turkish and Ottoman Studies
  • OR acquired equivalent qualifications in addition to the first university degree (e.g. education other than a university programme, professional experience, knowledge of relevant languages).

2. You must provide proof of proficiency in one of the following languages: Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Kurdish, Ottoman, Persian, Syrian-Aramaic, or Turkish. See details below.

3. You must provide proof of excellent English language skills. See details below.

For an explanation of the admission process, please visit the programme website or refer to the detailed admission regulations in English and in German (the latter is the legally binding version).

Language requirements

You must provide proof of proficiency (at least level B1 CEFR or equivalent) in one of the following languages: Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Kurdish, Ottoman, Persian, Syrian-Aramaic, or Turkish.

You must provide proof of excellent English language skills (at least level C1 CEFR) if you have not obtained your first university degree in a programme where English is the language of instruction.

Application deadline

Admission deadlines are published on the central programme website of the Student Services Center as well as on the website of the programme:

Submit application to

If you are applying with a first university degree obtained in Germany, apply here: application portal of the Freie Universität Berlin


if you are applying with a first university degree obtained in a country other than Germany, apply here:

Possibility of finding part-time employment

There are many ways of earning money while you study, for example as waiting staff, academic assistants, or private tutors. Knowledge of German will improve your chances of finding a part-time job, but it isn’t necessarily required. However, it is important to be aware of the legal regulations.

The student support service at the university, called studierendenWERK Berlin, and the local representative of the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency) can provide information about jobs for students. When searching for a job, look at online job boards, ads in local newspapers, and notice boards on campus.


You have the option to stay in a public/private student dormitory or in a private (shared) apartment. Student dormitories are not administrated by the university itself, so Freie Universität Berlin does not have any on-campus housing. However, it works together with "studierendenWERK Berlin" regarding student accommodation.

If you do not wish to stay in a student dormitory, you can try to find a room or an apartment on the private housing market. Many students in Berlin live in shared apartments ("WGs"). You can find these offers online (e.g. WG-gesucht or Craigslist) or on notice boards on campus.

Available rooms/apartments near the university are rare. Therefore, students mostly commute from other parts of the city. The commute via public transportation usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour, which is considered a normal travel time in Berlin due to the city's size.

Career advisory service

Career Service of Freie Universität Berlin:

General services and support for international students and doctoral candidates

The programme expects students take responsibility for organising their studies and independently use the support structures of Freie Universität.

Freie Universität Berlin

Content Bild
"Holzlaube" of Freie Universität Berlin in autumn 2020 © Victoria Mummelthei

Freie Universität Berlin is a leading research institution. It is one of the 13 German universities being funded through the German government’s Excellence Strategy and is part of the only University Consortium of Excellence, the Berlin University Alliance, which consists of four partners in Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

You can choose from more than 180 subject areas. No matter which area you are interested in, be it archaeology, physics, Jewish studies, law, or psychology, you will find your subject at Freie Universität Berlin.

As an international university, Freie Universität Berlin has partnerships with numerous universities across the world and maintains offices in Beijing, Cairo, Eastern Europe (Tbilisi, Georgia), New Delhi, Moscow, and São Paulo. About 17 percent of the students come from abroad, as do 38 percent of the doctoral students. At Freie Universität Berlin, you will meet people from all over the world.

Various support services are available for students. In particular, students who are new to a German university and to Berlin will profit from these services, for example, the introduction week, the mentorship programme, or the Student Services Centre. UniSport offers programmes ranging from Aikido to Zumba, which are very popular among students. The many cafeterias and canteens on campus offer food and drinks; this also usually includes fair trade, organic, vegetarian, and vegan options. Environmental protection and sustainability are generally important topics at Freie Universität Berlin, and there are many opportunities to get involved in related activities offered by students and the university.

University location

Freie Universität Berlin is one of the major universities in the capital of Germany. It is located in the green district of Dahlem, in the south-western part of the city. There is no other campus in Berlin that is as green as the campus of Freie Universität Berlin. You can simply step out of the university buildings to enjoy outdoor activities: lunch on one of the many terraces and rooftops, swimming in the nearby lakes, or reading between cherry and apple trees. Dahlem is also home to one of the biggest botanical gardens in Europe. By using public transport, you can easily access the heart of Berlin and enjoy its cultural life and diversity. The U3 subway line connects Dahlem with the popular and central districts of Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain; however, all of the other districts can also be easily reached.

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