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South Asia Department

Urdu Literacy

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Full Year


Completion of a first-year Hindi course or spoken competence/advanced competence in Urdu or a structurally-cognate South Asian language (ie, Punjabi, Gujarati).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of this course, students should have obtained intermediate reading ability and low intermediate writing ability in Urdu.  Students should be able to read a variety of texts in different genres of Urdu prose with the aid of a dictionary and to compose sentences on a wide variety of topics.


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

This course will introduce students to the Urdu writing system and to the rules of word-formation and lexical borrowing in Urdu. Students will be introduced to Urdu prose writing in a variety of styles.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (75%); continuous assessment based on in class tests, homework and classroom participation. (10%; 10%; 5%).

Suggested reading

  • Richard Delacy. Teach yourself beginners’ Urdu script (London: Teach Yourself, 2003). 
  • Gopi Chand Narang. Let’s learn Urdu: beginner’s manual for Urdu script (New Delhi: National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, 2002). 
  • Ruth Laila Schmidt. Urdu: an essential grammar (London: Routledge, 1999).
  • Gopi Chand Narang. Urdu: readings in Urdu literary prose (New Delhi: National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, 2001). 
  • Internally-produced course pack containing readings for students.