SOAS University of London

South Asia Department

Urdu Language 1

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Full Year

This is a basic course for beginners in the written and spoken language; students are not assumed to have any previous knowledge of the language or its script. The course covers all the major tenses and constructions of the language, enabling successful students to acquire basic skills in reading, writing, comprehension and speaking. Literacy in the script is taught early on, and much emphasis is placed on good pronunciation and on the social and linguistic conventions of everyday conversation. 

Classes are highly ‘interactive’, with much participation from students through drilling, question-and-answer exercises, and other such class activities. As in all language courses, full attendance and regular submission of coursework is essential, and the five hours of class time have to be matched with at least as much again in private study.



This course is available to students in any year, but final-year undergraduate students will need the permission of the Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching.

This is a core course for 1st year BA South Asian Studies where Urdu is the language chosen.

Language acquisition courses are only available as minor courses on MA programmes.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate… 

  1. knowledge and understanding of basic Urdu grammar 
  2. knowledge and understanding of essential Urdu vocabulary 
  3. knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of basic Urdu structures and expressions in a given context 
  4. the ability to understand short passages in written Urdu on everyday topics 
  5. the ability to produce short passages in written Urdu on everyday topics 
  6. the ability to understand spoken Urdu and to engage in short spoken discourse on everyday topics


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 5 hours classroom contact per week.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written exam (60%) and an oral examination (20%) taken in May/June. Two one-hour written tests in week 2 of Term 2 and the week after Reading Week in Term 2, counting for 10% each. These tests will be on vocabulary acquisition, comprehension or specific language structures and will be agreed in class beforehand. 20% of total mark (10% each).

Suggested reading

The course will be based on:

Matthews & Dalvi. 2010. Complete Urdu. London, Hodder Education
Delacy, Richard. 2010. Read and Write Urdu Script. London, Hodder Education


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules