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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

BA History of Art and Archaeology

Programme Code: VV43 BA/HArAG Duration: 3 years


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Tania Tribe

Tania Tribe


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: ABB-BBB
  • IB: 33 (555 at HL)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AABBB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: ABB
  • Irish LC: 320 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 4 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: Mature students may be considered on the basis of alternative qualifications and experience.

Subjects Preferred: The department welcomes applications from mature candidates with relevant work experience. No particular background is expected for the programme, although for those wishing to specialize in East Asia, some knowledge of the languages of the region is an advantage.

Interview Policy: Candidates with 'non-standard' qualifications may be invited.

Who is this programme for?: Applicants are not expected to have any prior knowledge of the subject.

This single-subject degree is concerned with the visual arts, architecture and material culture of Asia and Africa. The title ‘art and archaeology’ indicates not a combination of art history with the study of an earlier archaeology; but that a broad range of material artifacts is studied, not restricted to those designated as ‘works of art’. The historical period covered varies with courses, mostly between the later prehistoric periods and the present day: where the emphasis is placed depends considerably on the individual student's choice of courses.


May be combined with
This is the entry for the single-subject degree. See BA History of Art and Archaeology and... for details of what it can be combined with.


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

The structure and contents of courses reflect the importance given to conceptual and methodological clarity, and to the independent interests of students. Particular importance is given to the training of student’s visual memory through the study of visual images.

One purpose of the introductory year is to provide a basis for the student's selection of courses in the second and third years. In the first year, students must take three compulsory first year Art and Archaeology course units, including four half-unit courses introducing the arts of Asia and Africa, and a core course unit introducing theoretical issues about how and why art and archaeology are studied and discussed. In addition, students must take a fourth ‘open option’ course unit in another department.

In the first year, students are normally required to take courses to the value of four course units as follows:

Further details of all courses are set out in the pages that follow.

Students who wish to take the BA History of Art and Archaeology must in their second and third years accumulate at least four units from the courses designated as having
archaeological content (selected from the list of second and year courses listed below). Other courses can be selected from the History of Art programme.

Any student who passes at least four units from the courses designated as having archaeological content will automatically be placed in the History of Art and Archaeology programme, while those who do not will be placed in the History of Art programme.

The selection of units in the third year is normally intended to develop the chosen specialisations of the second year. In addition, all third year students are encouraged to either write a 10,000 word essay (on a subject of their choice) or to take the ‘Selected Sites in Asia and Africa’ unit. Each counts as one unit.

Year 1
Years 2 and 3
Year 3

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning


Students have access to an unrivalled range of art-historical and archaeological resources:

  • SOAS Library
  • The Courtauld Institute
  • The Institute of Archaeology
  • The History of Art Department at University College London
  • The Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art
  • The British Museum

Teaching & Learning

All 1st year course units involve a weekly lecture and tutorial; in the 2nd and 3rd year, where student numbers may be lower, a seminar may replace the lecture.

For most course units, assessment involves course work and an unseen examination.

In the 1st year, course work entails short, concentrated pieces of work; in the 2nd and 3rd years, course work emphasis shifts to longer papers.

In the final year, students are normally required to complete an independent study project on a subject of their choice.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


A degree from the department of History of Art & Archaeology provides students with a number of transferrable skills that can be applied to other types of professions.  These include: research skills; written and oral communication skills; visual awareness; and specialist subject knowledge of Asian and African art.  Former History of Art & Archaeology students have gone on to employment in a range of professional roles in business and public sectors, as well as continuing in the field of research either at SOAS or other institutions.

Careers include employment in museums, galleries, conservation organisations, commercial galleries, auction houses and art journalism. Other areas include the heritage industry, specialist travel companies, NGOs with cultural programmes such as UNESCO, UNOP, ICOMOS and the World Monuments Fund.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

When I heard about SOAS I immediately knew it was the school for me. An institution like SOAS is the ideal platform for students who want to learn a language and gain insight into a culture. It is also a leading school in Tibetan studies.

Beatriz Cifuentes