The Arabic Language Program at the University of Virginia was established in the mid 1970s; it ranks one of the highest in student numbers among foreign languages at the University. Sixteen courses are offered each semester with enrollment of about 250 students. At present, there are six full time faculty members whose offerings cover various aspects of language, literature, and culture.

Currently, the program offers four years of Modern Standard Arabic, fusha, in addition to courses in dialectal Arabic. Such offerings enable undergraduate and graduate students to matriculate in required language courses required by various University departments such as Religious Studies, Politics, and History, among others. The program's Arabic courses cover classical Arabic, Arabic grammar and modern literature and culture, in addition to courses taught in English that deal with Arabic literature and culture.

Students enjoy the opportunity of studying Arabic in various Arab countries, especially in Morocco, through a U.Va. sponsored program: The UVA in Morroco program.


Q: I am a complete beginner. I cannot read the Arabic Alphabet and I do not have any knowledge of vocabulary. Is there a class in your program for a student like me?

A: Of course! ARAB 1010 is intended for beginners. Please note that this course is offered only in the Fall semester. If you do not take the first semester in the fall, you will have to wait until next fall.

Q: I learned Arabic many years ago. I forgot most of my Arabic. Which class should I take?

A: You have the option of enrolling in ARAB 1010, or taking a placement test. Check with the Arabic Language Program Coordinator to arrange for this test.

Q: I am a transfer student. At my previous college, I took Arabic courses. Am I exempt from U.Va.'s Language Requirement in Arabic?

A: The University of Virginia requires you to complete four semesters of Arabic (total of sixteen credits), in which classes meet five hours a week. If you took the same number of hours in your previous college with the same materials covered, you may be exempt. Please present your transcript from your previous college to the Arabic Language Program Coordinator.

Q: I was born outside the Arab World, but my family speaks Arabic at home. I speak Arabic also, but I do not read or write Arabic well. For which class should I register?

A: You are strongly advised to enroll in ARAB 1010. Please speak to the Arabic Language Program Coordinator.

Q: I am a graduate student and passed the first three years of Arabic. Does this count for credit?

A: Completing the first three years of Arabic is a requirement for the Master's students of Middle Eastern Studies and these classes do not count for credit.

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Arabic Faculty

Associate Professor

Director of Undergraduate Programs


Language Program Coordinator

Assistant Professor, General Faculty
John L. Nau Professor of History and Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures

Course Descriptions

ARAB 1010/1020 - Elementary Arabic

Introduction to the sound and writing systems of Arabic, including basic sentence structure and morphological patterns. A combination of the direct, audio-lingual, proficiency-based, and translation methods is used. The format consists of classroom discussions of a certain grammatical point followed by intensive practice.

Credits: 4

ARAB 2010/2020 - Intermediate Arabic

Prerequisites (for 2010): ARAB 1020 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

Prerequisites (for 2020): ARAB 2010 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

Continues training in modern standard Arabic, with emphasis on speaking, comprehension, writing, and reading. The method of teaching primarily follows the proficiency-based approach to language learning.

Credits: 4

ARAB 2250/2260 - Conversational Arabic

Introduces students to spoken Arabic, with oral production highly emphasized. Conversation based on everyday situations. enables communication with native speakers.

Credits: 3

ARAB 3010/3020 and ARAB 5010/5020 - Advanced Arabic I & II

Prerequisites: ARAB 2020 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

The goal of this course is to increase the student's knowledge of the Arabic language and culture via a communicative-based approach, meaning that though the students will be expected to learn grammatical structures. Emphasis will be placed on the functional usage of the language and on communication in context.

Credits: 3

ARAB 3230/5230 - Arabic Conversation and Composition

Using a communicatively oriented, proficiency-based approach the course will focus on the communicative prodution skills (speaking and writing) in the language through a combination of interactive classroom activities, take-home assignments and group work. Emphasis will be on the development of these two skills. Students will also be introduced to aspects of the Arab culture to build cultural awareness and communicative competence.

Credits: 3

ARAB 3240/5240 - Advanced Arabic Conversation and Composition

Prerequisites: ARAB 3230 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

Develops oral and written proficiency to an advanced level of fluency, with emphasis on speaking and writing.

Credits: 3

ARAB 3672/6672 - Advanced Arabic Grammar

Prerequisites: ARAB 2020 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

In this course students will develop a mastery of core items relevant to Modern Standard Arabic grammar, a mastery which will enable them to produce discreet, sophisticated sentences, as well as to compose paragraphs and essays, all while utilizing the grammar points covered in this class.

Credits: 3

ARAB 3810/5810 - Modern Arabic Fiction

Prerequisites: ARAB 3020 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

Students are introduced to twentieth-century Arabic fiction, and to the varied genres of prose including letters, memoirs, short stories, travelogues, and novels. Topics include autobiography, war and nation construction, fantasy, and political and sexual identity crises. Students become acquainted with different schools of modern Arabic literary criticism, and learn to analyze texts using critical analysis and specific theoretical terminology.

Credits: 3

ARAB 3559/5559 - New Course in Arabic

New Course in Arabic.

Credits: 3

ARAB 4010/4020 and ARAB 5410/5420 - Advanced Arabic III & IV

Prerequisites: ARAB 3020 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

The main goal at this stage is to reach a superior level of Modern Standard Arabic with due attention paid to all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing in addition to culture. Acquisition of more advanced grammatical structures will take place primarily through directed in-class drilling, coupled with an emphasis on the functional use of language through communication in context.

Credits: 3

ARAB 4120/7120 - Introduction to Arabic Drama

Prerequisites: ARAB 5830 or ARAB 5840, or instructor permission.

This course introduces students to modern Arabic drama from the early pioneers' period in the 20th century to the contemporary era. We will study different forms of this genre including: musicals, traditional, experimental, feminist, and social drama. Further, students become acquainted with different schools of modern Arabic literary criticism and learn to analyze dramatic texts using critical analysis and specific theoretical terminology.

Credits: 3

ARAB 4230/5230 - Love, War, and Diaspora in Hoda Barakat's Writings

In this course, we will examine the themes of love, war, and diaspora in the literature of the Lebanese writer, Hoda Barakat. Some of the topics that will interest us are: the role of the author as a witness to the Lebanese civil war, the challenges of rewriting history, recreating the homeland's image in diasporic locales, collective and individual memories and its role in trauma recall and testimony.

Credits: 3

ARAB 4245/5245 - Readings in Classical Arabic Prose

Students will gain insight and learn to appreciate some of the most influential "Arab" literary figures and some of the most celebrated classical Arabic prose masterpieces. Students will also broaden their critical and comparative perspectives with regard to some of the most important literary and cultural issues related to the overall poetics and politics of the Arabic-Islamic heritage.

Credits: 3

ARAB 4450 - The Other in Premodern Arabic Sources

Prerequisites: ARAB 3020 or instructor permission.

This course explores the unduly studied corpus of Arabic writings that describes the encounters with and perception of the Other. Much effort will be devoted to investigate medieval and early modern Arab-Muslim views of the Other in a cross-generic selection of non-religious Arabic prose such as travelogues, diplomatic memoirs, captivity reports, marvels, folktales, literary debates/boasting, and poetry.

Credits: 3

ARAB 4993/8993 - Independent Study in Arabic

Prerequisites: Instructor permission.

Independent study in Arabic.

Credits: 1-3

ARAB 5830 - Topics in Arabic Prose

Prerequisites: ARAB 3020/5020 or equivalent, or instructor permission.

Emphasis on reading modern Arabic prose, and writing descriptive and narrative short essays.

Credits: 3

ARAB 5840 - Topics in Arabic Prose

Prerequisites: ARAB 5830 or instructor permission.

Exposure to selected reading material in modern Arabic prose, and writing of short essays, summaries, and descriptive pieces in Arabic.

Credits: 3

ARAB 5850 - Media Arabic

Prerequisites: ARAB 5530 and 5540, or ARAB 3010/5010 and 3020/5020, or instructor permission.

Examination of electronic (television and radio) and print (newspapers, magazines, periodic publications) Arabic.

Credits: 3


Course Descriptions

ARTR 3245/5245 - Arabic Literary Delights

In this course, we will venture into the fascinating words and worlds of premodern Arab-Islamic leisure and pleasure. We will focus specifically on the literary representation of and socio-cultural/theosophical debate on humor, pleasantry, wit, frivolity, eating, feasting, banquets crashing, dietetics, erotology, aphrodisiacs, sexual education and hygiene.

Credits: 3

ARTR 3290/5290 - Exile/Return in Arabic Literature

Introduces the development and themes of modern Arabic literature (poetry, short stories, novels and plays). No knowledge of Arabic is required. Taught in English.

Credits: 3

ARTR 3350/5350 - Introduction to Arab Women's Literature

A comprehensive overview of contemporary Arab women's literature, this course examines all Arab women's literary genres starting from personal letters, memoirs, speeches, poetry, fiction, drama, to journalistic articles and interviews. Selected texts cover various geographic locales and theoretical perspectives. Special emphasis will be given to the issues of Arab female authorship, subjectivity theory, and to the question of Arab Feminism.

Credits: 3

ARTR 3490/5490 - Arab Cinemas

The course will concentrate on cinemas of Egypt, the Maghrib (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) as well as Syrian and Palestinian films. It will examine major moments in the history of these cinemas and the political developments that have inevitably had a major influence on filmmaking in the region.

Credits: 3

ARTR 3559/5559 - New Course in Arabic in Translation

This course is meant to work with students on major works of Arabic literature in English translation.

Credits: 3