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Department of History

MA History and Intensive Language

Duration: 2 years full time, 4 years part time

Overview

Minimum Entry Requirements: Normally, an Upper Second Class Honours degree of a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard obtained after a course of study extending over not less than three years in a university (or educational institution of university rank), in History, or a related discipline in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?:

The programme would suit students with a keen interest in learning about the historical conditions of the contemporary world, and in particular those who are prepared to look at the world from the perspective of other people and cultures. While the course is open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal applicant would have an UG degree in History (or a related discipline), some knowledge of foreign, including Asian or African languages, and preferably some relevant background in the region of specialism.  

Graduates will find a wide range of career options open to them, in particular those involving inter-cultural or international contact, such as in international organizations, government institutions, non-profit organizations, and journalism, but also museums, educational institutions, or the publishing sector more generally. It would also be a suitable preparation for students considering embarking on a research degree focusing on one of the regional or topical areas of expertise represented in the department.

The two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language course would enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

This is the only Master-level programme in History focusing on the study of Asia, the Middle East and Africa in the UK, and can therefore offer an unrivalled breadth of courses on the history of these regions. The programme provides a sound training in the historical sciences.

It can also be taken with an intensive language pathway over two years, therefore making this programme unique in Europe.

Email: wd2@soas.ac.uk

Structure

The programme includes the following elements totalling four units: Courses totalling at least two units from List A [History courses], including a half or full unit designated as the Major course; further minor courses totalling one unit from Lists A [Major and minor history courses], B [Courses from other departments], C [Language courses] or D [Intercollegiate courses]; and a dissertation of 10,000 words written in conjunction with the Major course (one unit).

There are five regional pathways within the MA History:  Africa, East Asia, Near and Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia.  To meet the pathway requirement, students must choose courses from the relevant regional section in List A to the minimum value of 1.5 units, including their Major.

In the two-year intensive language pathway, students take 2 intensive language units and one discipline unit in their first year.  During the summer, they will participate in a summer school abroad.  Upon their return, they will take one intensive language unit in their second year and two discipline units.  They would also be expected to choose a Major in which to write the dissertation.  In the intensive-language pathway, the same rules apply as for the usual MA.

The Japanese pathway is available for students who have an intermediate level of Japanese. Students will be required to take a placement exam in the week before classes begin in order to determine if their level is suitable. Please contact Professor Drew Gerstle (ag4@soas.ac.uk) for further information.

The Korean pathway is designed for beginner learners of Korean. Students with prior knowledge of Korean are advised to contact the programme convenor, Dr Anders Karlsson (ak49@soas.ac.uk). Students will take four course units in the Korean language, one of them at a Korean university during the summer after year 1.

The Arabic pathway is designed for beginner learners of Arabic. Students will take four units of Arabic, one of them at the Qasid Institute in Jordan or another partner institution during the summer after year 1.  Programme convenor: Dr Mustafa Shah (ms99@soas.ac.uk)

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

Yes (summer)

Teaching & Learning

Aims and Outcomes

  • An advanced understanding of the historical sciences and its various methodologies and approaches in general, and specialist knowledge of Asian and African history in particula
  • Practical research and writing skills, developed through the study of primary and secondary sources related to Asian and African history
  • The critical, conceptual, and analytical skills required for historical research as well as for positions of responsibility in all other professions
  • In the two-year pathway, the student will also be provided with a near proficient ability in a language.

 

Knowledge

  1. Factual knowledge about the histories of Asian and African societies, the ways they interacted with each other and other world regions of the world, and the major historical forces that shaped our contemporary world.
  2. Familiarity with a variety of different approaches to historical research and current scholarly debates, and, on that basis, the ability to formulate a valuable research question.
  3. How to locate materials and use research resources (particularly research library catalogues, archival hand lists, and digital resources), assess data and evidence critically from manuscripts, printed, and digital sources, and solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations.  
  4. Language skills appropriate to chosen region and field of study (recommended).

 

Intellectual (thinking) skills

  1. Students should be able to synthesize different kinds of information, become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence and understand what the different types of historical sources can and cannot tell us.
  2. Students should question interpretations, however authoritative, maintain an open-minded attitude to interpretations that challenge older interpretations, and analyse and reassess evidence and research questions for themselves.
  3. Students should be able to think critically about the nature of the historical discipline, its methodology, historiography, and openness for interdisciplinary approaches.
  4. Students should be able to reflect about the potential of historical research on non-Western societies and civilizations for the advancement of the historical discipline and human civilization in general.

 

Subject-based practical skills

  1. Effective writing and referencing skills, attention to detail and accuracy in presentation.
  2. Effective oral presentation of seminar papers, articulation of ideas, and constructive participation in seminar discussions.
  3. Ability to retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources, including relevant professional databases, effective note-taking, record keeping and planning of projects.
  4. Ability to formulate research questions and design an independent research project, including the use of primary sources.
  5. In the two year intensive language pathway, to acquire/develop skills in a language to Effective Operational Proficiency level, i.e., being able to communicate in written and spoken medium in a contemporary language

 

Transferable skills

  1. Critical thinking.
  2. Ability to communicate effectively in oral and written forms.
  3. Information gathering skills from conventional and electronic sources.
  4. Effective time-management, writing to word limits, and meeting deadlines.

A Student's Perspective

If I were to describe SOAS in one sentence it would say that you will hear at least six different languages on the same day while you casually walk through the corridors of the university.

Stephanie Koch