Cultures of Southern Spain

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  • June 24, 2024 – July 22, 2024

The Cultures of Southern Spain program will take students to southern Spain and northern Morocco for a deep and focused look at how these cultures inform each other. Both countries are home to striking and rich cultures, which are starkly different from each other (linguistically, religiously) and yet share a variety of patterns and forms.

In this 4-week program, we will trace the development of Granada from its first rise to prominence as a Muslim city in the Ṭāʾifa Period (11th century) through its transformation into a Christian city in early modern Spain, to becoming a cosmopolitan university city and major tourist destination it is today. Special emphasis will be placed on its role as a point of contact between Spain and North Africa (or the Latin West and the Muslim Mediterranean more broadly) and the city’s privileged position in the social and literary imaginaries of Muslims, Christians, and Jews, as a place of memory and intercultural contact. We will explore the city as a focal point in the collective memory and its evolving role in the encounter of Christian and Muslim (or European and Maghribi) societies into colonial and postcolonial transformations, as writers, artists, and musicians return to the city as a site of inspiration and investigation into religious and cultural relations, exploring missed opportunities, hidden and alternate pasts, and unacknowledged inheritances.

Through class lessons and cultural excursions and activities, we will explore these rich sites of cultural encounter and the ways the encounter has been imagined and invoked in Spanish, Arabic, and beyond. A series of field trips will trace the history of Muslims and Jews in Spain, from the Andalusī capitals of Cordoba and Seville (sites of some of the most significant monumental Islamic and Mudejar architecture in the Peninsula) through the port city of Malaga, frontier towns such as Alcalá de la Frontera, and finally to a major site of settlement of Andalusī refugees in Morocco: the city of Tetouan (which later became the administrative capital of the Spanish colonial authority). Our physical movement through and across this historic frontier zone will be an integral part of the experience and will vividly illustrate how such zones are constructed, imagined, and negotiated (even today a “flashpoint” in contemporary migratory movements).

Language of Instruction: English 

Course:  Lit 141G: Granada: The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Muslim Frontier: The City in the Mediterranean Imagination (6 units)

Summer Session: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Faculty Leader: Camilo Gomez-Rivas (he/him)


Quick Facts

Locations – Main base: Granada, Spain with a visit to Tetouan, Morocco

Eligibility – Good academic and disciplinary standing, Min Age: 18, 45 units completed at time of departure.

Minimum GPA – 2.3 cumulative GPA or higher at the time of application and every quarter prior to departure

Application Materials 

  • Passport–  A passport valid for at least six months after the program’s end date is required to apply or a receipt indicating that it has been ordered.
  • Financial Agreement – Download, read, and electronically sign the Financial Terms and Conditions document. You will be required to upload it in the application.


  • Immerse yourself in Andalusian culture by living with a local Spanish family
  • Explore the natural beauty of Southern Spain, from the port city of Málaga to the rolling hills of Carmona
  • Enjoy spectacular gastronomic offerings ranging from affordable tapas to savory Arabo-Andalusian cuisine
  • Visit iconic sites including the Alhambra, the Great Mosque of Córdoba, the Giralda, and Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville, some of Andalucia’s most famous attractions 
  • Investigate historical, social, and cultural perspectives on Muslim culture in Spain by engaging faculty and local experts
  • Engage with local communities including homestays in Spain and Morocco and connection activities with local students 
  • Finish the program with a week’s stay in Morocco visiting Tangier, Tetouan, and Chefchaouen 


Application Fee

  • There is a Non-Refundable $200 UCSC Global Learning Application Fee. It is charged to your UCSC account after March 1, 2024.



Granada, Spain: 

Granada is a cultural gem located in southern Spain at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Granada has been home to many different religious and cultural communities throughout its history and was the last stronghold of the Spanish Moors. The legacies of the different communities persist in Granada with neighborhoods and architecture that reflect Granada’s Muslim, Jewish, and Christian roots. Many find that a day in Granada is best spent following whims by meandering around the narrow streets of the picturesque neighborhoods, stopping in cafes, and taking photos of the countless majestic scenes. 

Granada is also largely characterized by two important places – the Alhambra and the University of Granada. The Alhambra is one of the most famous examples of Islamic architecture worldwide. It is an intricate and awe-inspiring palace complex and one of Spain’s most visited attractions. The University of Granada is one of the oldest and largest universities in Spain. The local student population contributes to the bustling and forward-thinking feel of the city.

Tetouan, Morocco: 

Tetouan is a beautiful town on the eastern coast of Morocco’s northern peninsula, next to the Alboran Sea. Historically, it served as the main point of contact between Andalusia and Muslim civilizations and was even the capital of Spanish Morocco. Its well-preserved Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Weather and Climate

Summers in Granada and Tetouan are very hot and dry.  In Fahrenheit, low temperatures can get down to 60 degrees with highs in the 80s and 90s. Learn more about the weather and climate in Granada here. Learn more about the weather and climate in Tetouan here.

Travel Documents Required for US Citizens

Passport required for US citizens. If you are not a US citizen please email to learn about additional travel documents that may be required. 

Country Information Resources

Spain Information Resources

Morocco Information Resources


Spain: Euro

Morocco: Dirham

Official Languages

Spain: Spanish

 Morocco: Arabic


In Granada, you’ll be living at a homestay with an experienced, vetted host family. Occupancy is two to three participants to a home or residence. Families will provide three meals per day, as well as laundry service weekly over the duration of the program. This unique accommodation lets students become immersed in the Spanish language and participate and experience aspects of the Spanish lifestyle that are inaccessible to most visitors. Homes are located throughout the city. 

You will also stay with a homestay when in Tetouan. Breakfast and dinners will be included. On excursions and in other cities in Morocco you will stay in double-occupancy hotel rooms. Please note that elevators, air conditioners, and other modern conveniences may not be available in all locations.


While living with your host family in Spain, they will provide three meals a day, except for the class excursion days and other activities. During your stay in Morocco, most meals will be included. 


While Granda and Tetouan are generally accessible, some locations may present unique challenges regarding mobility. These will be addressed as needed and accommodations can be made. Please email to inquire more about if this program is a good choice for you. 

Students with Disabilities

If you need support services abroad, notify your UCSC Disability Resource Center (DRC) Coordinator.

Identities Abroad and Away

UC Santa Cruz Global Learning is committed to inclusion and equity in our various program options as well as striving to make everyone’s experiences abroad enriching, positive, and safe.

Learn more on our Identities Abroad and Away webpage.


Course Descriptions

Lit 141G: Granada: The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Muslim Frontier: The City in the Mediterranean Imagination (6 units)

This is an upper-division Literature course open to students from all majors. It will focus on the history of Granada and its place in the Mediterranean imagination as a site of contact and negotiation between the Latin West and the Muslim Mediterranean. 

The program is also approved as an upper division History elective. 

Sample Syllabus
Note that this syllabus is a sample from the 2022 offering. The 2024 program syllabus will be shared closer to the program start date. 

Course Credit

Students on UCSC Global Seminars earn regular UC Santa Cruz course credit which may be used to fulfill degree, major, minor, General Education (GE) requirements. UC Santa Cruz students can use UCSC Global Seminar courses to fulfill their academic requirements as listed in the General Catalog. Students from other campuses should consult with the academic advisors from their home campuses to determine whether courses taken on our programs may be used to fulfill their specific academic requirements.

Last modified: Feb 23, 2024