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Arabic Language and Cultures

About the major

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. Understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Arabic is an increasingly valuable skill, which opens the opportunity to access a rich literary and cultural heritage, and to undertake in depth study of the history, society and politics of North Africa, the Middle East, and of Islam.

The major in Arabic language and cultures offers you both language skills and cultural competence and it prepares you to understand the cultural and political significance of the Arab world on the global stage.

You can major in Arabic with or without prior knowledge of the language, because we offer three streams (introductory, intermediate or advanced) depending on your level.

To complement your language study (taught in Arabic), you will have, each semester, a wide range of classes about Arab and Middle East history, politics and cultural productions (literature, cinema and visual arts) to choose from, offered on a rotational basis. Please consult the departmental website and the University timetable to check which units are offered any given semester.

Our teaching is grounded on students' participation, communication pedagogy, and cultural immersion, which are attained through both our classes on campus and our international exchanges with the American University of Beirut and the Sijjal Institute in Amman. 

A major in Arabic language and cultures will help you develop both communicative Arabic language skills and cultural competency. You will gain the background knowledge necessary to understand the diversity of Arab societies today and over time and be ready to develop an international career and/or continue into postgraduate studies.

Requirements for completion

The Arabic language and cultures major and minor are available via the pathways indicated below. 

Students will follow the appropriate pathway specified in the unit of study tables, based on their individual language level*. Students completing any of the pathways below will be awarded a major or minor in Arabic language and cultures.

* Appropriate language units are determined either by language level and grade achieved in Higher School Certificate (as listed in the pathways linked above) or International Baccalaureate, and/or by one-on-one interviews prior to commencement. If you are unsure of your language level or which pathway is appropriate for you, please contact the Department for advice.

Please note: A ‘gap’ year after Year 12 does not normally affect placement.


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 and/or Arabic with a focus on the students’ individual projects. 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.

Honours admission requirements

Admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies or Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and requires the completion of a major in Arabic language and cultures with an average of 70% or above. 

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and, where undertaking the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Arabic Language and Cultures honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

More information and current contact details for academic coordinators can be found at: Department of Arabic Language and Cultures

School website: School of Language and Cultures