The Asian language and culture major UBC offers courses in language that introduce students to literary, philosophical, and historical works in their original Asian language.

The program is designed to provide the essential training for those who wish to pursue further scholarly studies at the Graduate level. Currently, we offer courses in nine languages including: Cantonese, Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Sanskrit and Tibetan. A solid foundation in language studies is a prerequisite for admission to graduate studies.

Program Outcomes

Students interested in a major in Asian language and culture will gain the following:

  • Become proficient users in at least one Asian language: understand and translate a wide range of demanding texts and recognize implicit meaning; express ideas fluently and spontaneously; use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes; produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.
  • Master techniques in textual analysis and enhance their first-language communication skills

  • Understand the origins and developments of major political, cultural, literary and/or religious movements in one or more Asian regions and communities
  • Develop and reflect on the relevance of Asia in your future career through academic and creative projects.
  • Recognize the historical, social and cultural dimensions of Canada’s relationship with Asia and the place of Asian communities in North America and other regions in the world
  • Internalize linguistic and socio-cultural competencies that foster one’s own cross-cultural understanding
  • Gain exposure to research on relevant discourses about Asia such as: orientalism, imperialism, trans/nationalism, modernization/globalization, racism, religious conflict, gender/class prejudice

  • Understand that cultural context shapes and limits one’s knowledge when expressing thoughts and ideas
  • Learn the significance of perspective and context in the presentation of knowledge
  • Identify and question assumptions and logic that inform one’s positions
  • Present conclusions on primary, scholarly and popular sources to develop evidence-based evaluations on related subject matter
  • Develop and express original arguments through written and oral competencies
  • Understand and articulate positions on nation-centred, orientalist and/or racist narratives of Asian culture and civilization


The major in Asian language and culture requires 48 total credits of prescribed coursework focused on a specific area of Asian language/culture.

There are five areas of focus available: China, Chinese Literature, Japan, Korea, and South Asia (focusing on one of Hindi-Urdu, Persian, Punjabi, Sanskrit).

Placement Test

Students interested in an Asian language course may need to take a placement test and/or interview in order to be enrolled at the appropriate level.

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