[skip to content]

Department of History

MA History

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


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 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').

Email: nf2@soas.ac.uk

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

LIST A: major and minor courses
Near and Middle East
South Asia
East Asia
South East Asia
LIST B: Courses in other departments
Near and Middle East
Central Asia
South Asia
East Asia
South East Asia
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 & 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.


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.

How to apply

How to apply
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 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