Asian Studies Major, B.A.–South Asian Studies Concentration

Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

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New West 113, CB# 3267

(919) 962-4294

Pamela Lothspeich, South Asia 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, seven 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
Two Hindi-Urdu courses beyond HNUR 204. 16
One of the following introductory courses: 23
First-Year Seminar: Media Masala: Popular Music, TV, and the Internet in Modern India and Pakistan
First-Year Seminar: India through the Lens of Master Filmmakers
Survey of South Asian Cultural History
South Asia
History of the Indian Subcontinent to 1750
History of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh: South Asia since 1750
First-Year Seminar: Emperors, Courts, and Consumption: The Mughals of India
Five courses, including at least three numbered 200 or above, from either the list of introductory courses above or the course list below15
Additional Requirements
HNUR through level 4 34
HNUR 220Introduction to the Hindi Script (Devanagari) (not required if the student has taken HNUR 101)1
HNUR 221Introduction to the Urdu Script (Nastaliq)1
Total Hours30


ANTH 361Community in India and South Asia3
ARTH 153Introduction to South Asian Art3
ASIA 124Iranian Post-1979 Cinema3
ASIA 126Introduction to Persian Literature3
ASIA 163Hindi-Urdu Poetry in Performance3
ASIA 228Contested Souls: Literature, the Arts, and Religious Identity in Modern India3
ASIA 231Bollywood Cinema3
ASIA 262Nation, Film, and Novel in Modern India3
ASIA 332The Story of Rama in India3
ASIA 333The Mahabharata: Remembered and Reimagined3
ASIA 431Persian Sufi Literature3
ASIA 453Global Shangri-La: Tibet in the Modern World3
ASIA 522The Beauty and the Power of the Classical Indian World3
ASIA 692HSenior Honors Thesis II3
ASIA/CMPL 256Love in Classical Persian Poetry3
ASIA/CMPL 258Iranian Prison Literature3
ASIA/CMPL 261India through Western Eyes3
ASIA/COMM/RELI 386Dance and Embodied Knowledge in the Indian Context3
ASIA/HIST 272Contemporary India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh3
ASIA/HIST 440Gender in Indian History3
ASIA 441/HIST 442Religion, Co-existence, and Conflict in Pre-Colonial India3
ASIA/HIST 557Bandits, Rebels and Storytellers: Fiction and History in India3
ASIA 304/HIST 331Sex, Religion, and Violence: Revolutionary Thought in Modern South Asia3
ASIA 331/HIST 335/PWAD 331Cracking India: Partition and Its Legacy in South Asia3
ASIA/MUSC 164Music of South Asia3
ASIA/PWAD 69First-Year Seminar: Wars and Veterans: Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan3
ASIA/RELI 280Hindu Gods and Goddesses H3
ASIA/RELI 285The Buddhist Tradition: Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka3
ASIA/RELI 382The Story of Rama in Indian Culture–Experiential3
ASIA/RELI 383The Mahabharata: Remembered and Reimagined--Experiential3
ASIA/RELI 581Sufism3
ASIA/RELI 582Islam and Islamic Art in South Asia3
ASIA/RELI 583Religion and Culture in Iran, 1500-Present3
ASIA 300/RELI 283The Buddhist Tradition: India, Nepal, and Tibet3
ASIA/RELI/WGST 482Sex, Gender, and Religion in South Asia3
ASIA/WGST 127Iranian Women Writers3
HNUR 407South Asian Society and Culture3
HNUR 408South Asian Media and Film3
HNUR 409Sex and Social Justice in South Asia3
HNUR 410Seminar on the Urdu-Hindi Ghazal3
HNUR 411Health and Medicine in South Asia3
HNUR 490Topics in Hindi-Urdu Literature and Language3
HNUR/RELI 592Religious Conflict and Literature in India3
RELI 381Religions of South Asia3
RELI 481Religion, Fundamentalism, and Nationalism3

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

Placement credit (PL) may not be used to meet core requirements for the concentration. However, the additional requirements may be met by placement.

Approved courses taken in UNC–Chapel Hill-sponsored study abroad programs may count in the concentration. No more than one first-year seminar may be counted among the eight major courses.

With the approval of the associate chair of Asian studies, a student may count a course in directed readings (ASIA 496 or HNUR 496) in the concentration in South Asian studies. To register for ASIA 496 or HNUR 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 South Asian studies, 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.