Asian Studies Major, B.A.–Arab Cultures Concentration

Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Visit Program Website

New West 113, CB# 3267

(919) 962-4294

Ana Vinea, Arabic Program Advisor

Morgan Pitelka, Chair

Pamela Lothspeich, Associate Chair and Fall 2020 Director of Undergraduate Studies

Robin Visser, Spring 2021 Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ash Barnes, Student Services Specialist

The Department of Asian Studies offers six major concentrations, nine minors, and instruction in Asian and Middle Eastern languages. Students pursuing the B.A. degree in Asian Studies can complete the interdisciplinary major in Asian Studies, or concentrate in Arab Cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Korean Studies, or South Asian Studies.

Department Programs



Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Asian studies program, students should be able to:

  • Identify or analyze significant aspects of the target cultures by interpreting texts and media
  • Demonstrate proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in the target language
  • Demonstrate experience in the use of the target language outside the language classroom


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
ARAB 300Arabic Grammar and Composition3
or ARAB 301 Introduction to Qur'anic Arabic
Two additional Arabic language courses beyond ARAB 204 16
One of the following introductory-level classes: 23
First-Year Seminar: Popular Culture in the Arab World 3
Introduction to Arab Cultures
Arabic Literature through the Ages
Four Arabic literature and culture courses (list below)12
Additional Requirements
Arabic through level 4 44
Total Hours28

Arabic Literature and Culture Courses

At least three must be chosen from:
Medicine and Modernity in the Arab World
Introduction to the Languages of Morocco
Contemporary Moroccan Literature
Borders and Walls in the Arab World
Women and Leadership in the Arab World
Science and Society in the Middle East
Readings in Arabic I (taught in Arabic)
Readings in Arabic II (taught in Arabic)
Modern Arabic Literature in Translation
Film, Nation, and Identity in the Arab World
Senior Honors Thesis II
Literary Diasporas of the Middle East
Postcolonial Literature of the Middle East
The Arab-Jews: Culture, Community, and Coexistence
Beyond Hostilities: Israeli-Palestinian Exchanges and Partnerships in Film, Literature, and Music
Middle East Women Writers
Gender and Sexuality in Middle Eastern Literature
At most one course may be chosen from:
Readings in Islamicate Literatures
Gender, Space, and Place in the Middle East
History of Muslim Societies to 1500
HIstory of Muslim Societies since 1500
The Modern Middle East
The Conflict over Israel/Palestine
Revolution in the Modern Middle East
Women in the Middle East
The Middle East and the West
The Cinemas of the Middle East and North Africa
Introduction to Islamic Civilization
Modern Muslim Societies
Islam and Islamic Art in South Asia
The Qur'an as Literature
Framing Identities: Franco-Arab Transvisual Transcultural Contexts
First-Year Seminar: Space, Identity, and Power in the Middle East 1
Transnational Geographies of Muslim Societies
Women/Gender/Islam H
Modern Muslim Literatures
First-Year Seminar: Sociology of the Islamic World 1
Sociology of the Islamic World
or approved courses taken in UNC–Chapel Hill-sponsored study abroad programs

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Students majoring in Arab cultures are strongly encouraged to take additional Arabic literature or culture courses as electives or to fulfill General Education requirements.

Note that ARAB 308 does not count toward this major.

Placement credit (PL) may not be used to meet core requirements for the concentration.

With the approval of the associate chair of Asian studies, a student may count a course in directed readings (ASIA 496 or ARAB 496) in the concentration in Arab cultures. To register for ASIA 496 or ARAB 496, a student must obtain the approval of the associate chair and the faculty member who will supervise the project.

Of the eight courses in the concentration in Arab cultures, at least six must be passed with a grade of C (not C-) or better.

Special Opportunities in Asian Studies

Honors in Asian Studies

A candidate for honors in Asian studies will write a substantial paper under the guidance of a faculty member. While researching and writing the honors paper, the student will enroll in ASIA 691H and ASIA 692H. ASIA 692H may count as one of the interdisciplinary courses for the major; ASIA 691H will count for elective credit only. In the case of the concentrations in Arab cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Korean studies, and South Asian studies, ASIA 692H may count toward the major in the concentration.

A committee composed of at least two faculty members will examine the candidate. To be accepted as an honors candidate, a student must meet the University’s requirement of a minimum overall grade point average of 3.3, secure the consent of a faculty member in the Asian studies field to act as advisor for the project, and submit a proposal to the associate chair of Asian studies for approval.

Departmental Involvement

The department sponsors a variety of cultural events — lectures, film series, performances, and more — as well as social and informational events where students can get to know each other and faculty members in an informal setting. Faculty members in the department serve as advisors to some of the many Asia-related student organizations on campus, such as the Japan Club, Chinese Conversation Club, Hebrew Table, and more.

Languages across the Curriculum

The department participates in the Languages across the Curriculum (LAC) program, offering a one-credit-hour discussion section that is conducted in Arabic or Chinese but associated with a variety of courses offered in English, both in Asian studies and in such other departments as history or religious studies. This LAC recitation section offers students the opportunity to use their Arabic or Chinese language skills in a broader intellectual context.


The University has rich collections of books and periodicals on Asia in the relevant Asian languages, as well as in English and other Western languages. Experts in the collection development department for Davis Library are available to help students locate the materials they need. The University also has an outstanding collection of Asian films and other audiovisual materials, housed in the Media Resource Center at House Library.

Speaker Series

The department sponsors an annual speaker series. These events include lectures by prominent artists, scholars, and writers and are often cosponsored by other units on campus.

Study Abroad

UNC–Chapel Hill sponsors several study programs (summer, semester, and yearlong) in China, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. Asian studies majors are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to live and study in an Asian setting; UNC-approved study abroad programs also satisfy the experiential education requirement. For further information on these programs and other study abroad opportunities in Asia, contact the UNC Study Abroad Office.

Undergraduate Research

The department actively encourages undergraduate student research. Through classes, advising, and office hours, faculty members guide students toward defining areas of interest, conceptualizing research questions, identifying sources, and writing academic papers. Students may pursue research through independent studies, the senior honors thesis, and study abroad research opportunities such as the Burch Fellowship. Asian studies students have received a variety of competitive research support and travel awards, won regional contests for undergraduate papers, published papers in academic journals, and presented their work at such events as the Senior Colloquium in Asian Studies and the campuswide Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research in the spring.