Italian Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Italian Studies at Berkeley is an interdisciplinary enterprise. You will find courses in Italian language, literature, history, cultural studies, film, and folklore offered by the department, both in Italian and in English. You will also discover that courses with significant Italian content are often taught in other departments and programs, including history of art, music, comparative literature, film studies, anthropology, political science, history, and Medieval studies which may be applied to major or minor requirements by advance consultation with the undergraduate adviser.

Declaring the Major

Students who are considering a major in Italian Studies should contact the undergraduate student services adviser as early as possible in their academic career in order to plan an individualized course of study. The earliest a student can declare the major is following the completion of one year of elementary Italian or the equivalent.

Once students are ready to declare the major — or if they still have some unsettled issues regarding their academic preparation — they should schedule an appointment with the undergraduate student services adviser for creation of a study list plan to help realize their goals to major, double major, or incorporate courses for major credit from UC study abroad programs in Italy.

Honors Program

To enter the honors program, in addition to having a minimum overall 3.3 grade point average (GPA), majors must have completed at least 20 upper division units in the major with a minimum GPA of 3.5. Candidates must enroll in ITALIAN H195 for one semester in their senior year during which they will carry out research and write an honors thesis under the guidance of a faculty member. Students who meet the GPA requirements must first consult with the undergraduate faculty adviser in order to pursue an honors thesis.

Minor Program

The Department of Italian offers an undergraduate minor in Italian Studies emphasizing Italian language, literature, history, cultural studies, film, and folklore. For information regarding how to declare the minor, please contact the undergraduate student services adviser.

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Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

Students Take Note
New upper division requirements are effective spring 2017: Italian 101, 102, and 105 are now required. These requirements replace former requirements of Italian 101A and 101B plus 103 or 104 for new majors declaring as of spring 2017.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Lower Division Requirements

ITALIAN 1Elementary Italian (or equivalent)5
ITALIAN W1Elementary Italian (Hybrid)5
ITALIAN 1RIntensive Italian for Romance Languages Speakers (Equivalent to Italian 1 and 2 combined)5
ITALIAN 2Elementary Italian (or equivalent)5
ITALIAN W2Elementary Italian (Hybrid)5
ITALIAN 3Intermediate Italian (or equivalent)4
ITALIAN 4Intermediate Italian (or equivalent)4

Upper Division Requirements1

ITALIAN 101Advanced Writing Workshop4
ITALIAN 102Italian through the Arts4
ITALIAN 105History of Italian Culture4
In addition, 20 units/five upper division courses selected from offerings in Italian Studies or interdisciplinary offerings in related departments are required to complete upper division requirements. Up to two courses may be taken in English. 2

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but these are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  3. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)

Italian Studies Minor


Lower Division
ITALIAN 1Elementary Italian (or equivalent)5
ITALIAN 2Elementary Italian (or equivalent)5
ITALIAN 3Intermediate Italian (or equivalent)4
ITALIAN 4Intermediate Italian (or equivalent)4
Upper Division
ITALIAN 101Advanced Writing Workshop4
ITALIAN 105History of Italian Culture4
In addition, 12 units/3 courses in Italian literature, cultural studies, or film are required to complete upper division requirements. 2

Transnational Italian Studies Minor


Lower Division Prerequisites (8-14 Units)
One year of Italian language (5-10 Units):
Elementary Italian
and Elementary Italian
Intensive Italian for Romance Languages Speakers [5]
Dante (in English) [3]
Italian Culture (in English)
Upper Division Requirements (20 Units)
5 upper-division courses in Italian Studies, including those taught by Italian Studies faculty in other departments. Most are repeatable for credit when the topic changes. Up to 2 can be taken outside the Department.
Topics in Italian Studies [4]
Dante's Inferno (in English) [4]
Studies in the History, Society, and Politics of the Italian Peninsula (in Italian) [4]
Studies in the History, Society, and Politics of the Italian Peninsula (in English) [4]
The Italian Cinema: History, Genres, Authors [4]
History of Italian Culture [4] (Taught in Italian)
Courses or seminars taught by Italian Studies faculty in other departments are also acceptable, with the approval of the Undergraduate Faculty Advisor.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Develop proficiency, approximating to that of an educated native speaker, in speaking, reading, writing, and comprehending Italian.
  2. Be broadly familiar with the historical development of Italian culture from the Middle Ages to the present day.
  3. Acquire detailed familiarity, through intensive and focused study, with a chronologically and generically disparate selection of cultural phenomena connected with Italy and the history of their critical and social reception.
  4. Develop advanced skills in the critical analysis of literary texts and other cultural materials (e.g. films, paintings, musical compositions, historical documents, critical theories, social practices).
  5. Have awareness and experience of a variety of approaches to the study of Italian culture, as practiced in both the humanities and the social sciences and of the ways in which these may intersect to generate interdisciplinary study.
  6. Learn to conduct research (i.e., to gather and evaluate evidence relating to a hypothesis and construct an argument using it).
  7. Learn to assess the validity of evidence-based argumentation conducted by others.
  8. Be aware of, and scrupulously practice, ethics-based protocols of citation etc., in academic research and writing.
  9. Write clearly, accurately, and persuasively in both Italian and English.
  10. Where practically possible, encounter contemporary Italian culture directly through study or travel in Italy. In this respect, study abroad might well constitute a capstone experience.
  11. Develop a sense of the study of Italian culture not merely as an end in itself but as an integral part of a potentially unbounded set of processes and relationships through the exploration of which thinking human beings engage with the world they inhabit.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Italian Studies Major Map PDF.


Italian Studies

Faculty and Instructors


Mia Fuller, Associate Professor. Anthropology, Italy, fascism, urban design, architecture, Italian colonialism.
Research Profile

Henrike Lange, Assistant Professor. Medieval art.

Diego Pirillo, Associate Professor. Renaissance Europe, History of Books and Reading, history of political thought, History of Historiography.
Research Profile

Barbara Spackman, Professor. Feminist theory, psychoanalysis, culture, fascism, gender studies, comparative literature, Italian studies, narrative, European decadence, travel writing.
Research Profile

Rhiannon Welch, Associate Professor.


Anna M. Bellezza, Continuing Lecturer.

Giuliana Perco, Continuing Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Albert Russell Ascoli, Professor Emeritus. Italy, national identity, literature and history, Dante, authorship and authority, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Petrarch, Boccaccio, epic and romance, Renaissance, early modern, Middle Ages.
Research Profile

Gavriel Moses, Professor Emeritus. Violence, body, comparative literature, Italian studies, film studies, English literatures, philology, film making, Italian cinema history and genres, auteur effects in Antonioni Kieslowski and Rohmer, cultural objects in cinema, novels on film, love.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Italian Studies

6303 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2979

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Department Chair and Faculty Undergraduate Advisor

Mia Fuller

Undergraduate Student Services Advisor

Amanda Minafo

6303 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4661

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