Arabic Language and Cultures

The Department of Arabic Language and Cultures is part of the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC). The information below is for students who commenced Arabic (ARBC) and Arabic and Islamic Studies (ARIS) majors prior to 2015.

About the major

Understanding the Arab world is today of vital importance. Arabic is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. It is one of the official languages of the United Nations and the religious language of a billion and a half Muslims, as well as millions of Christians and Jews. Political and economic developments in the Arab world and parts of the Middle East, such as the internationalisation of businesses and professions around the world, have made knowledge of Arabic an increasingly valuable skill. Arabic is also a language with a rich literary and cultural heritage that deserves to be studied in its own right.

The major in Arabic Language and Cultures equips you to understand the political, social, and cultural importance of the Arab world and its complex regional significance on the global stage. The major focuses on the acquisition of both language skills and of cultural competency. You can major in Arabic with or without prior knowledge of the language.

To complement your language study (taught in Arabic), you will have, each semester, a wide range of Arabic literature, culture, art, and film classes (taught in English) to choose from. Not all culture courses are offered every semester, so please consult the departmental website and the University timetable to find out which units are offered in any given semester.

Our teaching is strongly student-centred, with a primary focus on student participation, in-class communication in the language, and cultural immersion. This means that a major in Arabic Language and Cultures will help you develop both communicative Arabic ability and cultural competency. You will gain the background knowledge necessary to understand the diversity of Arab societies today and over time, and the tools to conduct cross-regional projects and to interrogate geo-cultural boundaries.

I started my degree in 2015

Beginning in Semester One, 2015, a major in Arabic Language and Cultures requires at least 36 senior credit points, including at least 18 from culture units of study (taught in English) and 18 from language units of study (taught in Arabic). At least six credit points of Arabic language units must be taken at the 3000 level. Students are also strongly encouraged to take the first year cultural units ARBC1651 Introduction to Arab Cultures and ARBC1652 Visions of Contemporary Arab Cultures.

Pathways through the major

Depending on your Arabic language background, you can enrol in our introductory, intermediate, or advanced Arabic language classes. Anyone with an existing competency in Arabic must take a placement test to determine the level at which to begin.

Pathway 1: Beginners stream
Absolute beginners commence with ARBC 1611 (1A). Beginners with some exposure to ARBC must take a placement test and may be allowed to commence in Semester 2 with ARBC 1612 (1B).

Sample Pathway - beginners stream
First Year S1 ARBC1611 Introductory Arabic 1A
S2 ARBC1612 Introductory Arabic 1B
Second Year S1 ARBC2613 Intermediate Arabic 2A and Senior ARBC  Culture unit
S2 ARBC2614 Intermediate Arabic 2B and Senior ARBC Culture unit
Third Year S1 ARBC3615 Advanced Arabic 3A and Senior ARBC Culture unit
S2 Senior unit

Pathway 2: Intermediate stream learners with sufficient background knowledge of Arabic may commence with ARBC 2A or 2B, depending on their performance on the placement test.

Sample Pathway - intermediate stream
First Year S1 ARBC2613 Intermediate Arabic 2A
S2 ARBC2614 Intermediate Arabic 2B
Second Year S1 ARBC3615 Advanced Arabic 3A and Senior ARBC Culture unit
S2 Senior ARBC Culture unit
Third Year S1 Senior ARBC Culture unit
S2 Senior unit

Pathway 3: Advanced stream learners with advanced knowledge of Arabic or native speakers may major in Arabic through the advanced stream. They must however take the departmental placement test to qualify.

Sample Pathway - advanced stream
First Year S1 Junior unit
S2 Junior unit
Second Year S1 ARBC3636 Advanced Media Arabic 1 and Senior ARBC Culture unit
S2 ARBC3638 Advanced Media Arabic 2 and Senior ARBC Culture unit
Third Year S1 ARBC3639 Readings Arabic Literature and Cultures and Senior ARBC Culture unit
S2 Senior unit
Information for students who commenced Arabic (ARBC) and Arabic and Islamic Studies (ARIS) majors prior to 2015

If you had started your major as an ARBC or ARIS major before 2015, you will be able to complete your major under the requirements that were in place when you began. Please read the instructions below, and contact the department for additional information or advice.

If you started your degree before 2014, you had a choice of two different majors: an Arabic language major (ARBC) and an Arab World, Islam, and the Middle East major (ARIS). Each of these majors required a minimum of 36 credit points at senior level, a combination of ARBC and ARIS units that allows a greater focus on one of the two areas of studies.

For the ARBC major: 24 credit points of senior ARBC language units, plus 12 senior units of ARIS.

For the senior ARBC language units, and depending on your language background and proficiency, you can choose from ARBC2613, ARBC2614, ARBC3200, ARBC3616, ARBC3636, ARBC3638, and ARBC3639.

For the senior ARIS units, you will need to choose from the list of ARBC culture units taught in English in the Department (all ARIS classes are discontinued as of Semester One, 2015). You can select from the following list:
ARBC2210; ARBC2211; ARBC2672; ARBC2671; ARBC2680; ARBC2681; ARBC2691; ARBC3200

Check with the department which one of these is on offer each semester.


For the ARIS major: 24 credit points of senior ARIS units, plus 12 credit points of senior language units.

For the senior ARIS units, you will choose from the list of ARBC culture units taught in English in the Department (all ARIS classes are discontinued as of Semester One, 2015). You can select from the following list:

ARBC2210; ARBC2211; ARBC2672; ARBC2671; ARBC2680; ARBC2681; ARBC2691; ARBC3200

Check with the department which one of these is on offer each semester.

For the senior ARBC language units, and depending on your language background and proficiency, you can choose from ARBC2613, ARBC2614, ARBC3200, ARBC3616, ARBC3636, ARBC3638, and ARBC3639.

Honours

Students who do well in their undergraduate degree often choose to take an additional Honours year. The minimum requirement for entry into Honours is an average of 70 percent or above across in the major.

The Honours program consists of two seminars (one each semester) and an 18,000-20,000 word thesis on a topic in students’ area of interest. The seminars will be taught in English but will also provide students with individualised advanced language training. The Honours thesis is written in English, but some of the primary sources used must be in Arabic. An Honours project may involve a fieldwork component, which greatly enhances the Honours experience.

Upon graduating, students find employment in Australia, in the Arab world, or across the Middle East in a wide range of fields. At the higher degree level, the department has a vibrant research training program, with candidates undertaking postgraduate research degrees at the master's and PhD levels on topics related to Arabic language and literatures, Arab mass and popular cultures, film and media studies, gender and sexuality studies, feminism, cross-cultural relations, history, politics, and social movements.

Contact/further information

Department website: sydney.edu.au/arts/arabic

Chair of Department and Undergraduate Coordinator: Professor Sahar Amer
Email:
Phone: +61 2 9036 7011
Alternatively, contact the SLC office at