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Department of Religions and Philosophies

Key facts

  • Two BA programmes (both single or joint degrees), five taught MA programmes, and Research Degree
  • Unrivalled expertise in the religions and philosophies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East
  • First philosophy degree in the UK centred on non-Western and global systems of thought
  • Research-driven, interdisciplinary approach to all the world’s major religious traditions and philosophical systems

Department comes 2nd nationally for research publications

18 December 2014: REF results highlight SOAS publications on religions. Find out more...

Our strengths

At SOAS you can study a wider range of religious and philosophical traditions in more depth than any other programme in the field, anywhere in the world. With our highly diversified expertise, our comprehensive resources, and our interdisciplinary approach we offer a unique learning and research environment for a truly inter-cultural approach to systems of belief and thought in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Facts and figures


  • Small class sizes: currently 120 undergraduate students, 30-40 new Masters students per year.
  • MPhil/PhD enrolment amongst the strongest in the country, research community of close to 50 doctoral students.
  • 90% satisfaction for teaching (Guardian University Guide 2016).
  • Ranked 11th in UK (Guardian University Guide 2016).


  • Ranked 2nd nationally in terms of the proportion of research graded as internationally excellent or higher (REF 2014)
  • Ranked 11th nationally in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, with nearly 80% of work submitted to the panel graded 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
  • Top 10 for research environment (above Oxford, UCL and Sheffield)(REF 2014)
  • Research Centres: Buddhist Studies, World Christianity, Jaina Studies, Study of Japanese Religions.

Undergraduate student profile

Anna Malzy

My course has completely changed the way I see the world. It has taught me never simply to accept the evidence put in front of me but to examine it and not be afraid to ask the questions of why and who and what does this mean?

Anna Malzy, BA Study of Religions

Read Anna's full assessment…

Postgraduate Student profile

Simon Perfect

The Department offers the perfect combination of unparalleled breadth of modules with excellent teaching by leading academics.

Simon Perfect, MA Religions of Asia and Africa

Read Simon's full assessment…


Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Telephone +44 (0)20 7637 2388

Fax +44 (0)20 7898 4699

E-mail: religions@soas.ac.uk

Our Head of Department says:

Erica Hunter

At SOAS we study religions and philosophies because they have been powerful and enduring forces in all societies at all times. A culture’s religion and philosophical thought encapsulates its people’s values and ideas, sets forward their role models and is integrally related to a sense of identity for many. So in studying religions and philosophies one is studying how people reflect on and react to what they consider to be of ultimate significance and value.

As understanding religions and philosophies will be key to your studies of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, I invite you to join one of our programmes for a single or joint degree. Our courses bring to light the most contemporary thought and understanding related to religious beliefs and philosophical thought and how they have come to bear on all aspects of the world today.

Dr Erica Hunter

New Department Name

As of the academic year 2015/16 the Department has adopted the new name of “Religions and Philosophies” to reflect its wide interdisciplinary approach to the study of religions and its new degree in World Philosophies. The degree is the first of its kind in the UK, offering offering a wider range of societies and contexts than traditional philosophy programmes.

Religions professor teaching in India

Almut Hintze

Prof. Almut Hintze is teaching ‘An Introduction to the Avestan Language’ in Pune, India this summer. The programme, which focuses on the ancient language of Zoroastrianism, will run at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune and has been made possible by an external donor. More information…

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