SOAS University of London

Department of History

MA History

Full-time: 12 months; Part-time: 24 or 36 months

Fees 2016/17

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page

2016 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.

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  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
  • Apply


Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

The programme is designed for students with a keen interest in studying the remote as well as the more recent past of the countries, peoples, and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It is also ideal for students who seek to understand the historical conditions of the contemporary world from a global perspective. While the course is open to students with backgrounds in a diverse range of disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the ideal applicant would have an UG degree in History or a relevant area studies programme, some knowledge of foreign, in particular Asian or African languages, and preferably relevant background in the region of specialism.

This is one of the few Master-level programmes in History focusing on the study of Asia, the Middle East and Africa in the UK. With its high concentration of expertise of these regions, SOAS can offer an unrivalled breadth of courses on their histories. Apart from the possibility of acquiring regional expertise, the programme also provides a sound training in the historical sciences more generally. Students who wish to study manifestations of particular issues in a variety of regions may opt for the broader MA History. Others may prefer to focus on the study of a single region and choose one of the available regional pathways. These are

  • MA History: Africa
  • MA History: Near and Middle East
  • MA History: South Asia
  • MA History: South East Asia
  • MA History: East Asia

Students in this programme take three units of taught courses plus a 10,000 word dissertation. The proximity to the School of many archive depositories and records offices, including its own archival collection as well as the British Library, greatly enhances the potential for dissertation work. A broad range of courses is available in every single year (see 'Structure' tab for more details), though you may want to contact the programme convenor to ask about the availability of particular courses in a particular year. Those who wish to further develop their linguistic skills may choose from a range of African and Asian language courses.

In addition to their studies on the MA programme, students at SOAS have the opportunity to participate in the Regional History Seminars, as well as in a wide range of research seminars, lectures and conferences, which regularly take place in different departments and centres across the School and at other colleges of the University of London.

If you wish to continue your studies on the research level you may want to consider the MA in Historical Research Methods. To help with funding, there is a limited number of relevant scholarship opportunities available (see under 'How To Apply').


English language requirements: Those whose mother tongue is not English must take the English test run by the British Council (IELTS) and obtain a score acceptable to the School.



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 programme consists of four units in total: three units of taught courses and a 10,000 word dissertation worth one unit. One of the taught courses will be recognised as the student’s Major course and normally the dissertation will be on a topic linked to that course. Apart from the History courses, approved courses from other departments, language courses, and in some cases intercollegiate courses are available as additional options (see lists A to D below).

The syllabus of the MA History includes the following elements:

  1. Courses totalling at least two units from List A, including a half or full unit designated as the Major course;
  2. 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];
  3. Dissertation in History (one unit) written in conjunction with the Major course.

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). If you have questions about pathway requirements, please contact the programme convenor.

Please note that not all the courses listed here will be available every year, and some new courses are likely to be added. For up-to-date information consult the Convener of the History MA programme, who will also be happy to provide more detailed information on individual courses.

Course Options

ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Dissertation in History 15PHIC999 1 Unit Full Year
Dissertation in History: Africa 15PHIC993 1 Unit Full Year
Dissertation in History: East Asia 15PHIC994 1 Unit Full Year
Dissertation in History: Near and Middle East 15PHIC995 1 Unit Full Year
Dissertation in History: South Asia 15PHIC996 1 Unit Full Year
Dissertation in History: South East Asia 15PHIC997 1 Unit Full Year
LIST A: major and minor courses
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
The Making of the Contemporary World 15PHIH035 0.5 Unit Term 1
Environmental History of Asia 15PHIH023 0.5 Unit Term 2
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Slavery in West Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries 15PHIH028 0.5 Unit Term 2
Historical Perspectives on Gender in Africa 15PHIH029 0.5 Unit Term 1
Social and Cultural Transformations in Southern Africa Since 1945 15PHIH003 0.5 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
Colonial Conquest and Social Change in Southern Africa 15PHIH002 0.5 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Warfare and the Military in Precolonial Africa 0.5 Unit
Warfare and the Military in Modern Africa 0.5 Unit
Near and Middle East
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
The Early Development of Islam: Emerging Identities and Contending View 15PHIH039 0.5 Unit Term 2
Iran and the Persianate World 1400 to 1800 0.5 Unit
Iran and the Persianate World 1800 to 1979 0.5 Unit
The End of Empire in the Middle East & the Balkans 15PHIC004 1 Unit Full Year
Encountering the Other: the Middle East during the Crusading Period 15PHIH037 0.5 Unit Term 1
Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East I 15PHIH031 0.5 Unit Term 1
Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East II 15PHIH032 0.5 Unit Term 2
The Origin of Islam: Sources and Perspectives 15PHIH045 0.5 Unit Term 1
Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners 15PHIH006 0.5 Unit Term 2
South Asia
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Modern Muslim Thinkers of South Asia 15PSRC169 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Islam in South Asia 15PHIH044 0.5 Unit Term 1
Gender, law and the family in the history of modern South Asia 15PHIH030 0.5 Unit Term 2
Colonialism and Nationalism in South Asia 15PHIH041 0.5 Unit Term 1
The Body and the Making of Colonial Difference in British India 15PHIH033 0.5 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
East Asia
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Japanese Modernity I 15PHIH013 0.5 Unit Term 1
Japanese Modernity II 15PHIH014 0.5 Unit Term 2
Knowledge and Power in Early Modern China 15PHIH024 0.5 Unit Term 1
Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China 15PHIH022 0.5 Unit Term 2
Topics in Modern Korean History 15PEAC059 1 Unit Full Year
North Korea since 1945: the rise and decline of an East Asian developmental state 15PJKH012 0.5 Unit Term 2
Topics in the History of Traditional Korea 15PEAC053 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
South East Asia
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Asian Armies and National Development 0.5 unit Unit
Asian Wars : World War II and the End of Empire, 1942-1960 15 PHI H038 0.5 unit Unit
World War II, Cold War, and the "War On Terror": the United States and South East Asia 15PHIC059 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
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
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Research Methods in History With Special Reference to Asia and Africa 15PHIC033 1 Unit Full Year
LIST B: Courses in other departments
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Oriental religions in European academia and imagination, 1815-1945 15PSRC168 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Media Production Skills 15PANH050 0.5 Unit Term 2
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Colonialism and Christian Missions in Africa: Readings from the Archives 15PSRH043 0.5 Unit Term 1
Preaching, Prayer and Politics: Independent Christians in Southern Africa 15PSRH042 0.5 unit Unit
International politics of Africa 15PPOC009 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Government and politics in Africa 15PPOC205 1 Unit Full Year
State & society in Asia & Africa 15PPOC008 1 Unit Full Year
Culture and Society of East Africa 15PANH063 0.5 Unit Term 1
Culture and Society of West Africa 15PANH068 0.5 Unit Term 1
Near and Middle East
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Topics in the History of Traditional Korea 15PEAC053 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Comparative politics of the Middle East 15PPOC026 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Culture and Society of Near and Middle East 15PANH067 0.5 Unit Term 2
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 1 Unit Full Year
Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography 15PNMC378 1 Unit Full Year
Israel, the Arab World and the Palestinians 15PNMC038 1 Unit Full Year
Central Asia
South Asia
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Contemporary Islamism in South Asia: Readings in Sayyid Abu al-A'la Mawdudi 15PSRC170 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
History and Doctrines of Indian Buddhism 15PSRC059 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
The Indian Temple 15PARC034 1 Unit Full Year
Pakistan: History, Culture, Islam 15PSAC288 1 unit Unit - Not Running 2016/17
Modern Bengal: the Evolution of Bengali Culture and Society from 1690 to the Present Day (MA) 15PSAC289 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Government and politics of modern South Asia 15PPOC003 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Culture and Society of South Asia 15PANH064 0.5 Unit Term 1
Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters) 15PSAH005 0.5 Unit Term 1
East Asia
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
State and society in the Chinese political process 15PPOC012 1 Unit Full Year
Culture and Society of China 15PANH062 0.5 Unit Term 2
Culture and Society of JAPAN 15PANH065 0.5 Unit Term 1
South East Asia
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters) 15PSEH006 0.5 Unit Term 2
Government and politics of modern South East Asia 15PPOC247 1 Unit Full Year
Culture and Society of South East Asia 15PANH066 0.5 Unit Term 2
LIST C: Language courses, minor only

Please contact the Faculty of Languages and Cultures for more information. Note that all applicants must be able to demonstrate some prior competence in learning languages, and for certain languages other restrictions apply.

LIST D: Intercollegiate Courses

Because of different MA structures in other Colleges, these courses have a variety of weightings, some of which are different from those at SOAS. Students may not take courses that are lighter in weight than their SOAS equivalent. They may take courses that are heavier, provided that they appreciate that there may be a greater work load involved. The programme convenor for the MA can give further advice. The weight of the courses is shown in ECTS points (European Credit Transfer Scheme). A SOAS full unit course is 22.5 ECTS points, and a half unit course is 11.25 ECTS.

Programme Specification


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Lectures and Seminars 

Teaching is generally by informal lectures and seminar discussions. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

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.

Learning Resources

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.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 1 tuition fee.

The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Full-timePart-time 2 YearsPart-time 3 Years
£7,985 £17,215 £3,993 £8,608 £2,662 £5,738
Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2016-02-12 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2016-01-29 17:00

SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00

Santander Taught Master’s Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2016-02-22 17:00

Sochon Foundation Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2016-05-03 17:00

The Ahmad Mustafa Abu-Hakima Bursary

Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00

The Prospect Burma - Hla Pe Memorial Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


A postgraduate degree from the History department at SOAS provides its students with an understanding of the world, giving them specialised historical knowledge and understanding of cultural sensibilities of a region. Postgraduate students are equipped with the expertise to continue in research as well as the skills needed to enable them to find professional careers in the private and public sectors. 

Postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including familiarity with methods of research; the competence to manage large quantities of information; the ability to select and organise information and analytical skills.  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.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • Afghan Aid
  • Amnesty International
  • Church of England
  • Dar Al Hekma College
  • Department For Transport
  • Högskolan Dalarna
  • Home Office - UKBA
  • Hongik University, South Korea
  • MoD
  • Dutch National Council for Culture
  • Savannah Publications
  • The Jewish Chronicle
  • The Royal Institute of International Affairs
  • World Youth Service Society Japan

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include: 

  • Community and Events Fundraiser
  • Senior Learning and Impact Advisor
  • International Director
  • Head of Africa Department
  • Senior Advocate
  • Teacher
  • Senior Information Management Officer
  • Civil Servant
  • Lecturer in History
  • Associate Professor
  • Consultant
  • Account Manager
  • Headmaster
  • Political Editor
  • Editor
  • Manager and Research Fellow
  • Counsellor

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

A Student's Perspective

Studying history at SOAS has been an immersive experience unlike any other. The teaching has been passionate and engaging with a level of expertise hard to find elsewhere. It has encouraged us to constantly challenge the dominant narratives and developed our critical faculties. The student body is diverse and this adds to the discussions and perspectives in the classroom, enriching the learning environment.

Sehrish Javid


Find out more

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    Postgraduate programme applications should be made through our online application system.

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