Lots more information can be found at their website http://www.iu.edu.sa/, although the English site is still heavily under construction. I’m now working with the university to develop their English site, and we’re hoping for the new website to be launched soon, in shaa Allah.

Assuming that you know a little bit about the university, I’ll restrict this page to the aspects of study that most people ask about.

For non-Arabic speakers, there is a mandatory 2 year Arabic course. The course has the same conditions as entrance to the university, and guarantees acceptance on the degree course, providing that the student passes the exams with a reasonable grade. Even if you decide not to apply, following the course material privately is well worth considering, even if it means that you do it in your own country with a teacher. The course is also available for people who work in Madinah, as an evening course, subject to getting permission from their employer.  When done with a proper teacher, and in a good environment, the course can have you on your way to fluency in just two years full time study. The entire syllabus is available here, as well as on the university website (to some extent).

The 2 year Arabic course is split into four terms, with each term representing one level of Arabic. Within each level there are several subjects, all of them are taught with the intention of developing the necessary Arabic skills to be able to study with the Arab students on the degree course.

The entire teaching and administration in the University is done in Arabic from the first day you arrive (including the exams!). This immersion in the language allows you to learn a lot quicker…there’s nothing like going hungry for a day or two to teach you how to ask for food :-)

Allowances are made in the first two years, and you will find yourself in an environment where most of the students are only learning Arabic. However, once the two year programme is completed, you will be expected to speak, write, and understand Arabic proficiently, and few allowances will be made if you don’t.

It is always a good idea to learn a few lessons from the Arabic course before you apply, and even more so if you get accepted. This eases the transition into a foreign environment.

Upon graduating from the Arabic language course, you will receive a diploma in the Arabic language. In your final term, you will be asked about your choice of degree, and given a short interview to decide which faculty you are going to study in.

There are five faculties in the university. All of the five share common subjects, but there are extra lessons a week in your specialist subject area.

  1. The Faculty of Hadith – specialises the study of hadith & related sciences (such as narrators etc)
  2. The Faculty of Shari’ah (Islamic Law) – specialises in fiqh & related sciences (such as judging etc)
  3. The Faculty of Da’wah & Fundamentals of the Religion – specialises in aqeedah (belief/creed)
  4. The Faculty of Qur’aan – specialises in the sciences of reading the Qur’aan & tafseer
  5. The Faculty of Arabic Language – specialises in the Arabic language (such as poetry, grammar etc)

Notes on the faculties:

  • To enter the faculty of Qur’aan you must have memorised the entire Qur’aan (or most of it).
  • The first two faculties are widely accepted to be the most difficult in terms of work load and memorisation.
  • The faculty of Shari’ah is the largest faculty and probably the most competitive in terms of places.

The degree course is a BA, to be completed in four years. The university has now changed to a modular system, so there are eight terms which contain various modules of different weights, which are then calculated to produce an overall grade. This is similar to the system used in most western universities.

The general week is no more than 25 hours, 5 hours Saturday-Wednesday from 7.30am-12.30am, although afternoon classes until 2pm, and evening classes have also been introduced (however, they are the exception rather than the rule). Thursday & Friday is the weekend in Saudi. At degree level, there are a limited amount of free periods, with most terms being around 22 hours per week.

The term times vary. At the moment, the term starts 10 days after the end of Ramadhaan, and breaks up for Hajj, with first term exams falling a few weeks after Hajj. The exams are followed by a couple of weeks break, and then the new term begins. There is a short break in the middle of the term. The second term exams are held at the beginning of June.

The university provides every student with a free ticket to their home country once a year (normally used in the summer). The student can apply to travel at their own expense in most of the term breaks (eg. Hajj time). However, this is subject to acceptance by a university committee, and may be refused.

The university also provides accommodation for single students (inshaa Allah some photos will be posted here soon), and a monthly stipend of 840 riyals (approx £150, $225), paid throughout the year (even during holidays). This is just about enough for a single student. More information can be found here.

Officially there isn’t a facility for married students in Madinah, although such a facility does exist in other Saudi universities, such as Umm-ul-Quraa in Makkah. Madinah University have been given permission to open a women’s department, which will probably mean the start of official facilities for married students. More about applying and living as a married student in Madinah can be found here.

Now see Before you apply