MA Religious Arts of Asia
Duration: One calendar year (full-time) Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time
The Department of Art and Archaeology at SOAS provides a uniquely broad range of courses in the history of art, architecture and material culture of Africa and Asia, from their origins to modern times. The regions covered include China, Japan, Korea, the Islamic world, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Africa (including the African Diaspora). Our aim is to enable students to investigate the cultures of this immensely diverse area, while giving them the opportunity to specialise in fields of their choice.
This is the only programme of its kind anywhere in Europe, looking at the great religious traditions of Asia. It deals with many countries, regions and time periods from antiquity to the present. In practice, Buddhism receives the greatest coverage, from India, through Central Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Japan, but other notable religions, such as Hinduism and Shinto, and animistic and syncretic practices are also addressed. Courses consider iconography, ritual, faith and pilgrimage in their diverse regional and historical guises, making use of temple buildings, statues, paintings, vestments, accoutrements and fittings, formal, informal and popular. Students select at least two units (or four half units) from among MA courses that are designated as belonging to the Religious Arts of Asia programme.
In addition to the three taught courses, the fourth component of the degree is a 10,000 word dissertation. Students undertake independent research on a topic of their own choosing, generally related to the area of one of their taught courses, and supervised by a member of the department.
The MA has two main purposes. First, it can be used as a training programme for those who hope to go on to higher independent research (for a PhD), especially if their BA background lies in another field (such as the History of Western Art, or Asian/African area/language studies). For such students, the MA provides the necessary grounding in the material and techniques in the study of Asian and African art or archaeology. Secondly, for those who already have some background in this field, it provides an opportunity to broaden or deepen their knowledge at a higher level.
The normal qualification for admission to the MA programme is an upper second class honours degree. Other qualifications, however, may be acceptable and the Department welcomes mature students. Students taking the MA degree may or may not have previous experience of our subjects. While knowledge of a relevant Asian or African language is not a requirement, for some courses it is an advantage for admission (see individual course descriptions for details). It is possible to include an element of language training within the MA programme by taking an Asian or African language as one of the two ‘minor’ courses. This option may be particularly desirable for those intending to progress to the PhD, who do not already have the necessary language skills.
Classes are normally two hours per week for each course. Teaching methods include lectures with discussion, seminars (at which students’ present papers) and museum visits. Students at all levels are expected to take an active part in class presentation. A particularly important element is the training of the student's visual memory.
For each of the three taught courses, the student will be expected to submit two or three pieces of written work usually around 3,000 to 4,500 words – for a total of 9,000 words per course. The emphasis is thus on developing essay skills during the session in preparation for the dissertation. In some courses the assessment is 100% on written work. On other courses, assessed course work forms 75% of the student’s final grade; an additional 25% is in some cases determined by slide quizzes, projects, or other forms of assessment (correct information will be distributed to students during the first few weeks of teaching). The 10,000 word dissertation must be submitted no later than 15 September.
Students may, under certain circumstances, be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis. The MA can be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two taught courses in the first year, and one taught course and the dissertation in the second. Alternatively, it can be taken over three years, in which case the student takes one taught course in each year. The dissertation can be written in any year, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the programme. It must be submitted by 15 September of the year in which the student registers for it.
Students must complete three units (or 0.5 unit equivalent) of taught MA courses in addition to the compulsory Dissertation. A minimum of two units must be selected from the MA courses available within the History of Art & Archaeology Department. No more than one unit (or equivalent) may be selected from the minor MA options available from other SOAS Departments
- Dissertation in History of Art and Archaeology: Religious Arts of Asia - 15PARC998 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Art and Archaeology of the Silk Road - 15PARC032 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Arts of the Tamil Temple - 15PARH067 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2015/2016
- Buddhist and Hindu Art of the Maritime Silk Route - 15PARH057 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Collecting and Curating Buddhist Art in the Museum - 15PARH069 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Critical Themes in Tibetan Buddhist Art - 15PARH074 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Illustrated Manuscript Cultures of Southeast Asia - 15PARH073 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Monuments and sculpture of Angkor - 15PARH071 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Sacred Art and Architecture of Ancient Korea - 15PARH056 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2015/2016
- Shogunal Iconography in the Edo Period - 15PARH007 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- The Indian Temple - 15PARC034 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Tibetan Buddhist Monuments in Context - 15PARH075 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
Minor Options in Other Departments
- Culture and Society of South Asia - 15PANC087 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Culture and Society of South East Asia - 15PANC088 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Colonialism and Nationalism in South Asia - 15PHIC071 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia 1 - Making States and Building Nations - 15PHIH011 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia 2 - Non-National Perspectives - 15PHIH012 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Islam in South Asia - 15PHIC042 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2015/2016
- Emerging digital cultures in Asia and Africa - Theory and Practice - 15PMSH018 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2015/2016
Study of Religions
- Avestan I - 15PSRC033 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Buddhism in Tibet - 15PSRH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2015/2016
- Buddhist Meditation in India and Tibet - 15PSRC172 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Features of Buddhist Monasticism - 15PSRH014 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2015/2016
- History and Doctrines of Indian Buddhism - 15PSRC059 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2015/2016
- Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (1) - 15PARH078 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (2) - 15PSRH051 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World - 15PSRC024 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2015/2016
- Mystical Traditions - 15PSRC068 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Non-Violence in Jain Scriptures, Philosophy and Law - 15PSRC062 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Pahlavi Language - 15PSRC034 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2015/2016
- The Buddhist Conquest of Central Asia - 15PSRH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India - 15PSRC173 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Theory and Method in the Study of Religion - 15PSRC010 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives - 15PSRC052 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia - 15PMUH017 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Central Asian Music - 15PMUH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2015/2016
- Indian Classical Music - 15PMUC027 (1.0 Unit) - Not Running 2015/16
- Music in South Asian Culture (Masters) - 15PMUC005 (1.0 Unit)
- Popular and Fusion Music in South East Asia (PG) - 15PMUH018 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2015/2016
- Raga: concept and practice (PG) - 15PMUH020 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2015/2016
South and South East Asia
- Bengali Language 1 (PG) - 15PSAC303 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Bengali Language 2 (PG) - 15PSAC304 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Culture and Conflict in the Himalaya - 15PSAC291 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hindi Language 1 (PG) - 15PSAC295 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hindi Language 2 (PG) - 15PSAC296 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hindi Language 3 (PG) - 15PSAC297 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Imagining Pakistan: culture, politics, gender (MA) - 15PSAC313 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context - 15PSAH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Indian Cinema: Key Issues - 15PSAH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters) - 15PSAH005 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Literatures of South Asia - 15PSAC284 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Modern Bengal: the Evolution of Bengali Culture and Society from 1690 to the Present Day (MA) - 15PSAC289 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Nepali Language 1 (PG) - 15PSAC298 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Nepali Language 2 (PG) - 15PSAC299 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sanskrit Language 1 (PG) - 15PSAC294 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sanskrit Language 2 (PG) - 15PSAC306 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sinhala Language 1 (PG) - 15PSAC310 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2015/2016
- Tamil Language 1 (PG) - 15PSAC311 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2015/2016
- The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia - 15PSAC314 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Urdu Language 1 (PG) - 15PSAC300 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Urdu Language 2 (PG) - 15PSAC301 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Burmese Language 1 (PG) - 15PSEC039 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Burmese Language 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PSEC045 (1 Unit Unit)
- Genders and Sexualities in South East Asian Film - 15PSEH011 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Indonesian Language 1 (PG) - 15PSEC032 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Indonesian Language 2 (PG) - 15PSEC033 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters) - 15PSEH006 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Pre-Modern historical Texts of Java, Bali and the Malay World in English Translation (Masters) - 15PSEH007 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2015/2016
- Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1 (PG) - 15PSEC043 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Thai Language 1 (PG) - 15PSEC040 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Thai Language 2 (PG) - 15PSEC041 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Vietnamese Language 1 (PG) - 15PSEC036 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Vietnamese Language 2 (PG) - 15PSEC037 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Teaching & Learning
Teaching & Learning
Lectures and Seminars
Teaching consists of a combination of lectures and seminars. Classes are normally between two and three hours per week for each course. Teaching methods include lectures with discussion, seminars and museum visits.
Students at all levels are expected to take an active part in class presentation. A particularly important element is the training of the student's visual memory.
In addition to their studies on the MA programme, students at SOAS are able to participate in a wide range of research seminars, lectures and conferences that regularly take place in the School and in the University of London.
The 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.
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.
DestinationsStudents of MA Religious arts of Asia will develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek including research skills; written and oral communication skills; visual awareness; and specialist subject knowledge of the Religious art of Asia. Art and Archaeology postgraduates very often continue to work in arts, culture and heritage roles and also forge careers in a wide range of fields across the world, including international development, diplomacy, banking and finance, language services, the legal sector, education and policy research. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
How to apply
How to apply
- How to Apply
- Online Application
- Request a prospectus
- Got a question - use our enquiry form (opens a new window)
- Funding options
- English language requirements
- Tuition Fees
- Admissions Contacts
Application Deadline: 2015-03-20 17:00
Application Deadline: 2015-02-27 17:00
Application Deadline: 2014-12-18 13:00
Application Deadline: 2015-05-01 17:00
A Student's Perspective
The insight provided, knowledge delivered and understanding transmitted during lectures, seminars and conferences at SOAS is impressive and requires real personal involvement in the topics.