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Department of Religions and Philosophies

BA Study of Religions

Programme Code: V627 BA/SR Duration: 3 years


2016 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: ABB-BBB
  • IB: 33 (555 at HL)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AABBB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: ABB
  • Irish LC: 320 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 4 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: Applicants are not required to have studied Religions at A-Level.

Subjects Preferred: No

Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications usually invited

There is a wide range of approaches in SOAS to the study of religions. If your major interest lies in the study of religious ideas and practices, then the BA in the Study of Religions is the right degree for you. Students on this degree may pursue a special interest in one tradition, but they are also expected to select from a broad range of other options (with or without some language study), and to learn about theories and methods in the study of religions.

Our teaching is research driven and interdisciplinary. This means that our courses offer:

  • Study of a wider range of religious traditions and in more depth than any other programme in the field, anywhere in the world: Buddhism in nearly all its doctrinal and regional varieties, Asian, African and Middle Eastern Christianities, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Taoism, Zoroastrianism as well as the local religious cultures of Asia and Africa.
  • Strongly interdisciplinary and methodologically diverse, and intellectually rigorous approaches, ensuring advanced and comprehensive learning in theoretical approaches to religion as well as in historical, anthropological, philosophical, sociological and textual approaches to the study of particular religious traditions.
  • A unique opportunity to access cutting-edge academic expertise and unrivalled resources on Asian and African religions as part of a spirited, cosmopolitan student community and within the vibrant religious and cultural scene of London. Visits to centres of worship form an integral part of many of our courses.


Students may either take a BA degree dedicated to the study of religions, with options in the individual religious traditions, gender, method and theory, or combine the religion component with a vast array other subjects taught at SOAS, including languages.


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.

General Information

  • You must register for 4 full course units or equivalent each year.
  • At least 9 of your 12 units over the 3 years of your degree must be from the approved Study of Religions units. 
  • To be eligible for an Honours degree a student must have passed a minimum of eleven courses, those passing only ten being awarded a Pass degree.
  • Only the grades of courses taken after the first year is completed count towards your final degree result. In your first year, all you need to do is pass the courses to continue. The pass mark is 40%.

Programme Structure

Year One

Your study programme in year one consists of the following components:

  1. The core course Introduction to the Study of Religions - 158000096 (1 unit)
  2. A selection of four of the half-unit foundation courses (2 units total), see course list I (below)
  3. The remainin 1 course unit drawn from any of the following options:
Years Two and Three

In years two and three, you will largely design your own study programme by choosing from the intermediate and advanced courses available each year. The only compulsory course is the Independent Study Project in the Study of Religions - 157400023 (1 unit).

For the remaining units – four in year two and three in year three – you can choose your courses from the following list of options:

  • Languages in the Department of Religions and Philosophies, see course list II (below).
  • Comparative and theory courses, see course list III (below)
  • Courses pertaining to specific religious traditions, see course list IV (below)
  • Courses partaining to a geographical region, see course list V (below)
  • ‘Open options’ from other departments, including language options (no more than 3 units total over the three years of your study, including languages).

Course Lists

Courses are sorted into lists of options (as defined in the programme structure) and may appear more than once.

Note: In order to provide a broad offer, many second and third year courses run in alternating years. Courses not running in a given year, therefore normally run in the next. Students may also contact the course conveners for details on when a course will run again.

I) First Year Foundation Courses
II) Languages offered by the Department

(Language courses from other departments at SOAS can also be taken as part of a Study of Religions Degree.)

III) Comparative and Theory Courses (second & third year)
IV) Courses by Religious Tradition (second & third year)
African Religions

Limited offer in 2016/17 due to research leave.


Limited offer in 2016/17 due to research leave.

Japanese Religions

Limited offer in 2016/17 due to research leave. Students interested in Zoroastrianism are advised to select Middle Persian, which also has a cultural component and introduces students to the religion as well as the language.

V) Courses by Geographical Region (second & third year)
East and Inner Asia
Iran and Central Asia
Near and Middle East
South Asia

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Most courses involve a 50- 100-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes. The course is examined through written and oral examinations and coursework.

SOAS Library
The 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 degree in the Study of Religions from SOAS equips students to follow many different careers. Graduates are provided with important knowledge and understanding of peoples’ different culture, history and beliefs concerning fundamental issues which they can develop in the field of research or utilise in a professional
career. Students also develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many
professional and management careers in business, public and charity sectors. These include: the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources - often both in the original or other relevant languages; analytical skills to assess critically the materials relevant to a specific issue; written and oral communication skills to present, discuss and debate opinions and conclusions; and problem solving skills.

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

Refugee Action
Crown Prosecution Service
European Union
Inside India
Lapido Media
Islamic Centre of England
Politics First
Pricewatrehouse Coopers
Whitbread Plc
Piper Smith Watton LLP
The British Museum
Bodleian Library

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

Associate  Consultant
Case manager
Ceramic Artist
Company Director
Deputy to Special Representative for Afghanistan
Editorial Director
Educational Officer
Features Assistant
Forests and ecosystems associate
International Reporting Manager
PhD Student
Procurement & Social Responsibility Administrator
Project Manager
Religious Education Teacher
Research Manager
Senior Advisor
Tibetan Subject Consultant Librarian

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

A Student's Perspective

The courses at SOAS are highly specialised which makes it a unique institution in the world and it’s a privilege to be studying here. SOAS has been an experience that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Carl Eoghain Cooper