Undergraduate Major Program

Paula Varsano, Chair

pvarsano [at] berkeley [dot] edu (Paula Varsano's email)

Alex von Rospatt, Faculty Undergraduate Adviser

(510) 642-1610

rospatt [at] berkeley [dot] edu (Alex von Rospatt's email)

Kristen Brooks - Student Affairs Officer 

(510) 642-4219

kristenbrooks [at] berkeley [dot] edu (Kristen Brooks' email)



The South and Southeast Asian Studies major is a flexible, interdisciplinary program offering opportunities for both wide and comparative study of South and Southeast Asian cultures.  The mission of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies is to enable students to learn about the cultures and civilizations of South and Southeast Asia. Our department teaches the following 13 languages:















All students seeking to declare a major in the department should meet with both our Student Affairs Officer and Undergraduate Faculty Adviser (see contact info above).  In the meeting with our Undergraduate Faculty Adviser, the student will be helped to select a Major Adviser from among the ladder-rank faculty in the Department.  All majors must be assigned such an adviser and should meet with that adviser at least once each semester.



(44 Units Minimum)

• Lower division/gateway courses - Two courses total from: South Asia 1A, South Asia 1B, Southeast Asia 10A or Southeast Asia 10B

•  Upper division:  At least 26 units for a letter grade that include:

            -- Two years (four semesters) of any supported language, or one year of Advanced[1]

-- Additional courses from 110 or above that include:

--At least one course from “Religion & History” (listed below)

--At least one course from “Literature” (listed below)

•  Of these required courses:

            --A maximum of one course may be taken P/NP

(ALL MAJORS, PLEASE NOTE: Due to the disruption in instructional delivery during the Spring 2020 semester, and consistent with the COVID-19-related policy of the University, the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies will temporarily suspend the limit on the number of P/NP courses that may be counted toward the major for courses taken during the Spring 2020 semester)

            --A maximum of two courses from other departments may be counted toward the major (listed below)

Prerequisites to declare the major

• One semester of language work (with a letter grade of B or higher)

• One lower division/gateway course as listed above (with a letter grade of C or higher)

[1] Students with previous language experience will be required to take a placement exam. Students who test into the Advanced level of their chosen language may fulfill the language requirement with only one year (two semesters) of Advanced.  

**Please also note that students may not take language courses at a lower level than they have been assessed at, nor than the level of other courses in the same language that they have successfully completed previously.



Requirements:  One gateway course from South Asia 1A, South Asia 1B, Southeast Asia 10A or Southeast Asia 10B

 AND five additional letter-graded upper-division courses (20 units) with 2.0 Min GPA

--Only one course from outside the department will be accepted

--No more than two upper division language courses 



To be eligible for admission to the honors program, a student must attain a 3.5 grade point average or higher in courses completed in the major, and a 3.3 grade-point average in all courses completed in the University. An honors thesis is required, as is registration in SSEAS H195. Students who wish to participate must choose a thesis topic in consultation with their major adviser and apply for admission to the program through the departmental office no later than the first week of spring semester of their senior year.


A Partial List of Upper Division Courses in Literature[2]

SEASIAN 129 Mainland Southeast Asian Literature

SEASIAN 148 Philippines: History, Literature, Performance

SSEASN 120  Topics (if topic is appropriate to the study of literature)

SASIAN 124  Modern Indian Literature

SEASIAN 128  Introduction to Modern Indonesian and Malaysian Literature in Translation

SEASIAN 130  Articulations of the Female in Indonesia

SEASIAN 138 Southeast Asian Cultures, Texts, and Politics

SASIAN 140 Hindu Mythology

SASIAN 142  India’s Great Epics: The Mahabharata and the Ramayana

SEASIAN C164  The Indonesian Connection: Dutch Literature about the Indies in English Translation


 A Partial List of Upper Division Courses in Religion & History

SEASIAN 148 Philippines: History, Literature, Performance

SEASIAN 160 Philippine Cultural Politics

BUDDSTD C52 / SSEASN 50 Introduction to the Study of Buddhism*

SASIAN C114  Tibetan Buddhism

SSEASN 120  Topics (if topic is appropriate to the study of religion and/or history)

SASIAN 127  Religion in Early India

SSEASN C135  Tantric Traditions of Asia

SASIAN 140  Hindu Mythology

SASIAN 144  Islam in South Asia

SSEASN C128  Buddhism in Contemporary Society

SASIAN 146  Mughal India

SASIAN 147  Pakistan

SASIAN 148  Religious Nationalism in South Asia

SASIAN C154  Death, Dreams, and Visions in Tibetan Buddhism


A Partial List of Approved Courses from Outside Department

GLOBAL 111Q: Conflicts in Regional Perspective Asia

PACS 135: Peace and Security in South Asia

NE STUD 126: Silk Road Art & Archaeology

MUSIC 139: Music in Bali & Java

BUDDSTD C117: Mongolian Buddhism

HISTORY 11: Tantric Yoga, Tandoori Chicken and the Taj Mahal: Introduction to the Civilizations and Cultures of the Indian Subcontinent

GLOBAL STUDIES 121: Globalization in India


*Note: Introduction to Buddhism C52, Religious Studies 90, and any 200-level courses from within the department may be substituted for upper-division courses. Additional courses may be petitioned to the Undergraduate Student Advisor.


Point of clarification: courses from outside the department that are cross-listed in our department do count as inside the department. For outside courses not included in the list above, the relevant syllabus must be submitted to the Student Affairs Officer and Undergraduate Student Advisor for approval.


[2] Please note that these lists may vary each year depending on the addition of new courses or visitors.