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

South Asia refers to a geographic region comprising the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka. With strong cultural ties to the region, Iran, Myanmar, and Tibet are also sometimes considered part of South Asia. Some 5,000 years ago, the highly developed Indus Valley Civilization developed along the Indus River system in present-day Pakistan and northwest India. Over the course of its history, South Asia has been divided into various polities, but in the premodern period experienced significant political consolidation under the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, and the Marathas.

Across South Asia there is vast cultural diversity, with its many regional languages and scripts, distinctive and beautiful styles of vernacular literature/poetry, arts, architecture, performance/theatre, music, and dance. South Asia is the birthplace of several world religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Islam is another world religion found in South Asia, and Sufism, in particular, has flourished there. Pakistan, Indian, and Bangladesh together are home to about 30 percent of the world’s Muslim population.

Courses in this concentration span various time periods and cultural forms, although many are situated in the modern period and emphasize literature, film, and/or performance. A degree in Asian Studies with a South Asian Studies concentration will provide students with cultural and language competencies that will serve them well in a globalizing world. Many students usefully combine the degree with another major and/or minor, making them more attractive on the job market, and positioning them well for further study in professional or graduate school.

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

Requirements

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

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
IDEAs in Action General Education logo First-Year Seminar: Media Masala: Popular Music, TV, and the Internet in Modern India and Pakistan
IDEAs in Action General Education logo First-Year Seminar: India through the Lens of Master Filmmakers
IDEAs in Action General Education logo First-Year Seminar: Emperors, Courts, and Consumption: The Mughals of India
IDEAs in Action General Education logo History of the Indian Subcontinent to 1750
History of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh: South Asia since 1750
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Survey of South Asian Cultural History
IDEAs in Action General Education logo South Asia
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
1

Students whose initial language placement is above HNUR 305 should consult the department.

2

It is recommended that students take this course either prior to or concurrent with upper-level South Asian literature and culture classes.

3

 The first three levels of Hindi-Urdu (HNUR) can count toward the General Education Foundations requirement and have not been included as additional hours for the major.

Courses

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

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

Note that HNUR 308 does not count toward this major. 

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 and Middle Eastern 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.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

The Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies requires that all students with prior knowledge of Hindi-Urdu take a placement test. Their beginning language course at UNC is decided by the placement result (not by test credit or transfer credit).

A student’s initial placement is the most important determinant of how long it will take to complete the major. It’s also important to be aware that almost all Hindi-Urdu language courses are only offered in fall or spring, but not both.

HNUR 220 (Hindi) and HNUR 221 (Urdu) are one-credit courses that just teach the respective writing systems; a student with knowledge of spoken Hindi-Urdu only may be advised to take one of the script courses first and then be able to join the main language sequence at a level appropriate to their speaking proficiency.

Sample Plan One

This plan is for a student who either is a beginner in Hindi-Urdu, or has some background but has placed into HNUR 101

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
HNUR 101 Elementary Hindi-Urdu I (fall only) 4
HNUR 102 Elementary Hindi-Urdu II (spring only) 4
Major culture course, from the introductory courses list 3
Hours 22
Sophomore Year
HNUR 203 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Intermediate Hindi-Urdu I (fall only) 4
HNUR 221 Introduction to the Urdu Script (Nastaliq) (fall only; could also be taken any subsequent fall) 1
HNUR 204 Intermediate Hindi-Urdu II (spring only) 4
Major culture course 3
Hours 12
Junior Year
HNUR 305 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Hindi-Urdu I (fall only, but 305 and 306 can be taken in either order) 3
HNUR 306 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Hindi-Urdu II (spring only) 3
Major culture course 3
Major culture course numbered 200 or above 3
Hours 12
Senior Year
Major culture course numbered 200 or above 3
Either of: 3
HNUR 4XX
(4th year language class, if available)
Major culture course numbered 200 or above
Hours 6
Total Hours 52

Sample Plan Two

This plan is for a student who has placed into HNUR 203 (and placed out of HNUR 220 because they know the Hindi script already).

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
HNUR 203 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Intermediate Hindi-Urdu I (fall only) 4
HNUR 204 Intermediate Hindi-Urdu II (spring only) 4
Major culture course, from the introductory courses list 3
Hours 22
Sophomore Year
HNUR 305 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Hindi-Urdu I (fall only, but 305 and 306 can be taken in either order) 3
HNUR 221 Introduction to the Urdu Script (Nastaliq) (fall only; could also be taken any subsequent fall) 1
HNUR 306 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Hindi-Urdu II (spring only) 3
Major culture course 3
Hours 10
Junior Year
Major culture course 3
Either of: 3
HNUR 4XX
(4th year language class, if available)
Major culture course numbered 200 or above
Hours 6
Senior Year
Major culture course numbered 200 or above 3
Either of: 3
HNUR 4XX
(4th year language class, if available)
Major culture course numbered 200 or above
Hours 6
Total Hours 44

Sample Plan Three

This plan is for a student who has placed into a script course (HNUR 220 or HNUR 221) followed by third-year Hindi-Urdu.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
Either of the script courses (both fall only): 1
Introduction to the Hindi Script (Devanagari)
Introduction to the Urdu Script (Nastaliq)
HNUR 306 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Hindi-Urdu II (spring only; HNUR 305 and 306 can be taken in either order) 3
Major culture course, from the introductory courses list 3
Hours 18
Sophomore Year
HNUR 305 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Hindi-Urdu I 3
Whichever script course was not taken previously; could also be taken any subsequent fall 1
Introduction to the Hindi Script (Devanagari)
Introduction to the Urdu Script (Nastaliq)
Major culture course 3
Hours 7
Junior Year
Major culture course 3
Either of: 3
HNUR 4XX
(4th year language class, if available)
Major culture course numbered 200 or above
Hours 6
Senior Year
Major culture course numbered 200 or above 3
Either of: 3
HNUR 4XX
(4th year language class, if available)
Major culture course numbered 200 or above
Hours 6
Total Hours 37

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, Chinese, or Hindi-Urdu 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, Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, or Korean language skills in a broader intellectual context.

Libraries

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.

Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Visit Program Website

New West 113, CB# 3267

(919) 962-4294

South Asia Program Advisor

Pamela Lothspeich

ploth@email.unc.edu

Chair

Morgan Pitelka

mpitelka@unc.edu

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Robin Visser

rvisser@email.unc.edu

Student Services Specialist

Ash Barnes

wow@unc.edu