South Asian Studies

Students who concentrate in South Asian Studies should emphasize one or several aspects of this broad field. They may work primarily in a given chronological period (e.g. ancient, medieval, early modern or contemporary) or in a given geographical area (e.g. Bangladesh, Bengal, Maharashtra, North India, Pakistan, South India, Sri Lanka) or in a given discipline (e.g. anthropology, Hindi/Urdu, history, religion, or Sanskrit) but should also take courses in areas outside their chosen area of emphasis. The aim is to gain facility in using the approaches and methodologies of multiple disciplines for a better and broader understanding of historical and contemporary complexities of South Asian nations and cultures. Courses are available or can be arranged in economics, literature, philosophy, political science, and theatre arts, as well as the core disciplines mentioned above. Each student should work out a coherent course of study in consultation with one or more members of the South Asia faculty listed below. Courses that allow the student to write a major paper on a topic related to South Asia may be included in those needed to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Course Requirements

All South Asian Studies concentrators must take and pass 10 courses as approved by their concentration advisor.

Language Requirements

Proficiency in a South Asian language is required for the concentration (proficiency being determined by their either taking two years of Hindi/Urdu or of Sanskrit or by successfully passing a special examination in either language). Four courses taken to fulfill the language requirement may be counted among the eleven additional courses required.

These should include:

At least one of the following courses in pre-mondern history, philosophy, religious studies and literature:

At least one of these social science courses:

At lease one course in the visual arts, modern liteature, music, cinema, or theatre of South Asia such as:

An Honors Thesis or a Capstone Course taken in an appropriate Departament

Five electives, two of which may be language courses in Hindi/Urdu or Sanskrit taken in conjunction with the language requirement.

If course rotations or the introduction of new courses warrant, substitutions within these categories may be made with approval of the faculty advisor.

Language Requirements

Proficiency in a South Asian language is required for the concentration. Students who are not native speakers of a South Asian language may prove proficiency by taking two years of Hindi/Urdu or Sanskrit at Brown, by successfully passing a course at the intermediate (4th semester) level at Brown or the approved equivalent at another institution, or by successfully passing a special examination administered by an approved faculy member. Two courses taken to fulfill the language requirement may be counted among the elective courses required for concentration.

Study Abroad

All South Asian Studies concentrators are encouraged to take Hindi/Urdu and to participate in Brown in India, a junior-year study abroad program at St. Stephen’s College and Lady Sri Ram College in Delhi.Students can also opt to enroll in any other Brown approved study-abroad program in South Asia.

Capstone Project

All concentrators other than honors concentrators will designate an upper-level course in the area of their primary focus as their capstone course. The student will take this course during the senior year and will produce as part of the written work for the course a substantial paper or annotated translation displaying the unique focus of his or her concentration.


A South Asian Studies Concentration with Honors requires a high B or A average in courses taken for the concentration as well as an honors thesis in the department of the studentís main focus. Candidates for the honors program should apply to the South Asia Faculty Group through their advisor by the middle of their sixth semester.

The following is a list of possible South Asian courses. This list is not exhaustive, as any class which allows the concentrator to complete a substantial final project on South Asia may be counted towards the concentration requirements. Classes marked by an asterisk (*) are either sections of special topics courses still in the course catalogue or are offered irregularly. Check current course listings on Banner for more information.

Page last updated in March, 2011.

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