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South Asia Department

Languages of South Asia at SOAS: Urdu

Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and one of the official languages of India. It is one of the most widely-spoken languages of South Asia, and has acquired a wider distribution in other parts of the world, notably the UK, where it is regarded as their major cultural language by most Muslims from Pakistan and northern India.

In its everyday spoken form it is fundamentally similar to Hindi, though distinguished from it in script and in higher vocabulary.

Besides its important role as the chief vehicle of Islam in South Asia, Urdu has a rich secular literature, whose poetry is closely based on Persian models.

We offer courses in Urdu language and literature at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, both as part of degree programmes within the Department, and as minor or open options on a wide variety of SOAS degrees.  A selection of those programmes, as well as a list of Urdu courses, are listed below.

Contacts: 

Dr Amina Yaqin (ay@soas.ac.uk); Mr Naresh Sharma (ns19@soas.ac.uk); or the Language Centre (languages@soas.ac.uk).

  • M.A.R. Barker, Spoken Urdu (3 vols), Ithaca NY 1975.
  • D. Matthews, Teach yourself Urdu, London 1999.
  • C.Shackle and R.Snell, Hindi and Urdu since 1800, London 1990.
  • D.J.Matthews, C.Shackle and S.Husain, Urdu literature, London 1985.
  • Pritchett, Frances W., Nets of awareness: Urdu poetry and its critics, Berkeley 1994.

Please Note: Not all courses and programmes are available every year