SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Culture and Society of South Asia

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2

South Asia is the region which includes Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Because of the availability of academic literature, the course does tend to have a stronger focus on Indian ethnographies, but the other regions are represented. 

The course, over two terms, introduces students to some core topics in the anthropology of South Asia, such as the study of caste and issues of agrarian relations, kinship, South Asian religion (Hinduism, Islam and Christianity); it gives students a chance to explore both classic and contemporary ethnographies;it offers opportunities for deeper study of particularly salient issues as they appear in South Asian ethnography (such as gender or modernity); and it introduces students to recent debates and scholarship on 'breaking issues' of research, (e.g. environment, consumption).


This course is available to students on degrees in MA Area Studies as a minor only.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of the course students:

  • will be able to critically evaluate a range of theories and ethnographic source material relating to South Asian society;
  • will be able to locate and use secondary sources relevant to selected topics;
  • will have a grasp of the key debates in the anthropology of South Asia.

This will form a base which will enable MA Anthropology students to write their dissertations (10,000 words) on a topic relating to South Asia should they so wish.

Method of assessment

The written exam will count for 60%. 2 pieces of coursework will count for 40% (20% each) towards the final mark.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules