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 Near Eastern Studies



(College of Letters and Science)

Department Office: 250 Barrows Hall, (510) 642-3757
Chair: Carol Redmount, Ph.D.

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Near Eastern Studies faculty

Near Eastern Studies web site

Related Course Descriptions

Near Eastern Studies courses
Arabic courses
Cuneiform courses
Egyptian courses
Hebrew courses
Persian courses
Iranian courses
Semitics courses
Turkish courses
Full course listing

Department Overview

Instruction in the Department of Near Eastern Studies is concerned with the languages, literatures, and civilizations of the ancient, medieval, and modern Near East. The department offers specialized training in archaeology, art history, Assyriology, Egyptology, Iranian studies, Judaic and Islamic studies, comparative Semitics, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian. For students in other disciplines, the department provides a wide variety of courses to supplement such related fields as anthropology, linguistics, art history, history, political science, comparative literature, and folklore. Lecture courses offered by the department present a comprehensive body of information on past and present Near Eastern civilizations. Many of the courses taught in the department are restricted to a small number of students and thus afford an opportunity for close interaction with the instructing staff.

For a description of interdisciplinary graduate programs in which the department participates, please see the Graduate Education section of this catalog.

Cooperative arrangements between the University and the nearby Graduate Theological Union enable students in the department to use the extensive library holdings of the Union and supplement their programs with selected courses in Palestinian archaeology, Biblical studies, and Semitic epigraphy and philology.

The Majors

Note: NES 10 is required for all majors in the department. All courses used to meet upper division major requirements must be at least 3 units and taken for a letter grade.

The Major in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures

Major guidelines for each discipline are available in the departmental office. With the consent of the department, portions of the requirements may be fulfilled by related courses in other departments.

Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian. Required: the elementary courses in the language, or their equivalents. It is recommended that these be taken beginning in the freshman year.

The major requires NES 10 and 24-28 units in upper division language and literature courses (taught in the language) and upper division NES courses (taught in English).

Egyptology. The major requires NES 10 and 30 units in upper division language and lecture courses.

The Major in Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology

Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology. NES 10 and 15 are required. NES 18, 25 and Anthropology 2 are recommended. Students must complete eight upper division courses from a list of courses in the department office. If, and only if, the courses listed are not available during the students' junior and senior years, the students may select any language or lecture course in the field of ancient Near Eastern Studies with the approval of the undergraduate adviser.

Egyptian Art and Archaeology. This emphasis requires that students take NES 10, 18, 102A-102B, and Egyptian 100A-100B, 101A-101B. NES 15 and Anthropology 2 are highly recommended. In addition, students must take two upper division courses from a list available in the department office. Some background in French, German, and/or Arabic is recommended.

The Major in Near Eastern Civilizations

Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations. This emphasis requires NES 10; one course from NES 15, 18, 25, or 34; and eight upper division courses from a list available in the department office. Up to two courses on the list for Islamic Civilizations may be substituted with the approval of the NES department undergraduate adviser.

Islamic Civilizations. NES 10 is required. NES C26 and C92 are recommended. Students must complete nine upper division courses in the areas of Religion, History and Culture, Arts and Literature, and Near Eastern languages, from a list available in the department office. Up to two courses on the list for Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations may be substituted with the approval of the NES department undergraduate adviser.

Honors Program

With the consent of the undergraduate adviser, a student with an overall GPA of 3.3 or higher and a GPA of 3.51 or higher in courses completed in the major may apply for admission to the honors program. The requirements of this program include the completion of the honors thesis during the student's senior year. For a complete description of the program, please inquire at the department office.

The Minors

In each of the language minor programs, Option A is open to students with little or no background in the language. Option B is for students who have completed the equivalent of two years of university-level coursework in the language. Students may pursue the major in Ancient Near Eastern archaeology and art history and a minor in one of the department's language programs, even though both are administered by the Department of Near Eastern Studies; students may not pursue a major in one of the Near Eastern Studies languages and a minor in another. Students may pursue the major in Near Eastern languages and literatures and a minor in Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern civilizations. For lists of courses which may be taken to fulfill the minor course requirements, please inquire at the department office.

The Minor in Arabic, Option A. Required courses: Arabic 20A-20B (in addition to Arabic 1A-1B). Five upper division courses: Arabic 100A; two one-semester literature courses (in Arabic); two one-semester courses in Arabic culture/history.

The Minor in Arabic, Option B. Required courses: Seven upper division courses: five one-semester courses in Arabic language or literature (in Arabic); two one-semester courses in Arabic culture/history.

The Minor in Hebrew, Option A. Required courses: Hebrew 20A-20B (in addition to Hebrew 1A-1B). Five upper division courses: Hebrew 100A-100B, Hebrew 104A-104B; a one-semester course in Hebrew culture/history.

The Minor in Hebrew, Option B. Required courses: Seven upper division courses: five one-semester courses in Hebrew language or literature (in Hebrew); two one-semester courses in Hebrew culture/history.

The Minor in Persian, Option A. Required courses: Persian 1A-1B. Five upper division courses: Persian 100A-100B; Persian 101A-101B; a one-semester course in Persian culture/history.

The Minor in Persian, Option B. Required courses: Seven upper division courses: five one-semester courses in Persian literature (in Persian); two one-semester courses in Persian culture/history.

The Minor in Turkish, Option A. Required courses: Turkish 1A-1B. Five upper division courses: Turkish 100A-100B; Turkish 101A-101B or Turkish 102A-102B; a one-semester course in Turkish culture/history.

The Minor in Turkish, Option B. Required courses: Seven upper division courses: five one-semester courses in Turkish literature (in Turkish); two one-semester courses in Turkish culture/history.

The Minor in Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Civilizations. Required courses: NES 15 or 18, and five semesters of upper division courses chosen from a list available at the department office. NES 25 and 34 are recommended.

Graduate Programs

Graduate programs leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are offered in the following languages and literatures: Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian. The same degrees are also offered in the following fields of Near Eastern Studies: archaeology, art history, cuneiform, Biblical and Judaic studies, Old Iranian studies, comparative Semitics, Egyptology, and Islamic studies.

Graduate Degrees

Applicants for graduate study should have fulfilled the equivalent of the departmental requirements for the A.B. in their proposed area of study. The department encourages its own graduate students to take advantage of courses in other departments which are relevant to their disciplines and fields of study. Upon approval by the graduate adviser, such courses may be recognized as fulfilling portions of the departmental coursework requirements for graduate degrees.

The M.A. Degree. The M.A. is obtained according to the Graduate Division's Plan II. A complete description of Graduate Division requirements for this degree is found in the Graduate Education section of this catalog. In addition to the requirements outlined for Plan II, students must pass a reading examination in either French or German (another language may be substituted on approval of the major adviser).

Plan II requires at least 24 units of coursework. For students in the language programs, at least 12 of their 24 units must be in 200-series courses in the major and three semesters of work in a Near Eastern language other than the student's major language. For students in archaeology and art history programs with a Near Eastern emphasis, at least 12 of the 24 units must be in 200-series courses and three semesters must be drawn from NES 220A-220B and 223A-223B. For students in archaeology and art history programs with an Egyptian emphasis, at least 12 of the 24 units must be in 200-series courses, and the required 24 units must include two semesters of work in the ancient Egyptian language beyond the second-year level. The 12 200-series units must be from seminar courses (one 200-level Egyptian language course may count toward the seminar requirement). Two scholarly papers written independently or in connection with coursework will also be required. Written comprehensive examinations are required of all students to test (a) working knowledge of pertinent languages; (b) general knowledge of the history and civilization of area of emphasis; (c) knowledge of other subjects suggested by the student's degree committee.

The Ph.D. Degree. Students must have completed an appropriate M.A. program to be eligible for the Ph.D. program. Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree depends on successful completion of the following requirements:

(1) Ph.D. coursework;

(2) reading examinations in French and German (proficiency in a European or other modern language germane to the student's field of emphasis may be substituted on approval of the graduate adviser and the student's advisory committee);

(3) proficiency in one or two Near Eastern languages, as required for the student's field of study. (For language majors, proficiency will be tested through the written preliminary examinations, which will cover at least two Near Eastern languages. For Egyptian archaeology and art history majors, proficiency will be tested through a written examination in Egyptian and/or Coptic which must be completed and passed no later than the semester before the student's qualifying examination. Archaeology and art history student's (except those in Egyptian archaeology) who have not completed a minimum of two years of coursework in an ancient or modern Near Eastern language must pass a proficiency examination in an ancient or modern Near Eastern language before taking the preliminary examinations.);

(4) fieldwork (for art history and archaeology majors);

(5) written preliminary examination and the oral qualifying examination;

(6) a prospectus of the dissertation approved by the student's proposed Ph.D. dissertation committee.

After admission to candidacy, the student is to fulfill the requirements for the dissertation as outlined in the Graduate Education section of this catalog.

For further information on these graduate programs, contact the graduate assistant in 250 Barrows Hall.

Special Programs

The Joint Doctoral Program in Near Eastern Religions. This program, which combines the faculty and library resources of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Graduate Theological Union, is a flexible course of study, probing in depth the archaeology, history, languages, literature, and thought patterns of the ancient Near East and Egypt, with emphasis on the various forms of religious expression indigenous to their cultures. Applicants must have the Ph.D. degree as their goal. They should possess an M.A. or the equivalent in Near Eastern Studies or a related field and should have proficiency in two appropriate ancient languages equivalent to that obtainable through an undergraduate degree in those languages. Applicants must be admitted into both the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, Berkeley; the degree is conferred jointly by both institutions.

Joint Doctoral Program in Jewish Studies. This program is open only to students who intend to work toward the Ph.D. degree. Students must acquire professional competence in a historical period and a disciplinary focus, and interdisciplinary approaches will be strongly encouraged. Applicants will be admitted into both the Center for Jewish Studies of the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California. The degree is conferred jointly by the two institutions.

The Graduate Program in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology. This program is available to students with backgrounds in ancient history and archaeology. The ancient studies faculty of the Department of Near Eastern Studies are faculty for this program. See the AHMA section in this catalog for a full description of this program.

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