The beginnings of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies ("Vostochny" Faculty), Saint-Petersburg State University, can be traced back to March 1818 when Persian and Arabic started to be taught in the city. The Imperial edict to establish the Faculty of Oriental Languages was issued by Nicholas I on October 22, 1854, and the Faculty was inaugurated оn August 27, 1855. The teaching of Oriental languages was instituted in accordance with the first Statutes for All Russian Universities adopted on November 5, 1804. Among the first professors of the Faculty were many outstanding scholars who laid the foundations of Oriental Studies in Russia — O. Senkovsky, A. Kazem-Bek, K. Patkanov, V. Zhukovsky, V. Rosen to name a few.
During the period from 1919 to 1944 the Faculty ceased to exist as a separate department of the University. However, the tradition of Oriental Studies was maintained within some other Faculties often headed by prominent orientalists, such as N. Marr, A. Riftin, and others. The FAAS was reestablished in 1944.
The Faculty offers 4-year undergraduate programmes resulting in the BA degree and 2-year graduate programmes resulting in the MA degree. Those who want to continue their studies can enroll in the postgraduate research programmes to earn the Ph.D. degree and the Doctor of Philology or Doctor of History degree. Also, for holders of degrees in other subject areas the FAAS offers some additional educational programmes, such as Oriental Languages and Area Studies programmes and part-time courses leading to either a degree or certificate in oriental studies. The Faculty is well equipped; its facilities include computerized classrooms, an audiotheque, and the Faculty library. Graduates of the Faculty are recognized as being highly qualified experts, possessing fundamental knowledge and are engaged in various spheres of cultural, social and political life in Russia and abroad.
The following degrees can be earned at the FAAS:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Master of Arts (MA)
- Doctor of Philology/History (higher level – doctor nauk)
- The FAAS trains highly qualified specialists in the fields of languages, literature, history, politics, economics, cultures and religions of modern and ancient countries and regions of Asia and Africa.