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Department of the Study of Religions

MA Buddhist Studies

Duration: Full time: 1 calendar year Part time: 2 or 3 calendar years. We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.


Start of programme: September 2014

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?:

The MA Buddhist Studies suits students with different academic backgrounds and prospective personal objectives, from those interested in broadening their knowledge of Buddhism as a whole or of specific Buddhist traditions to those intending to embark on language-based research or fieldwork among Buddhist communities.

It typically suits:

  • students planning to pursue further research in Buddhist Studies, which may involve at a subsequent stage the acquisition of a doctoral degree and a career in higher education.
  • students willing to pursue a career or professional activity, for which advanced knowledge of Buddhism as a global cultural force is essential.
  • students who wish to pursue the academic study of religions as a complement to their personal experience and commitments.
  • students from traditionally Buddhist countries, willing to broaden their knowledge of Buddhism as a global religion, and to be introduced to an academic approach that is characterised both by its critical distance and by its empathy.


The structure of MA Buddhist Studies provides a unique study pathway, characterised both by its coherence and by its flexibility. The core course, “Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies” (0.5 Unit), co-taught by four staff whose expertise cover most of Buddhist Asia, provides students with a broad and stimulating journey into key notions and methods in the study of Buddhism. Students will moreover have to submit a Dissertation in Buddhist Studies of 10,000 words, on a topic chosen from the course chosen as major. The remaining 2.5 Units may be chosen in the large pool of courses on Buddhist topics and languages, thus allowing each student to build up a specialized knowledge of one or more areas of Buddhist Asia. Students are allowed to take courses taught outside the department of the Study of Religions up to one unit, which may or may not include a language.

For more informations, please contact Antonello Palumbo (ap47@soas.ac.uk) or Vincent Tournier (vt6@soas.ac.uk)

Core Courses
Units available as Major
Other courses available within the Study of Religions Department
Relevant language courses available in other Departments
Relevant courses available in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology
Relevant courses available in the Department of Music

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

A Student's Perspective

From Indian Buddhism to Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, the diversity of the courses perfectly fitted my interests in Buddhism.

Qingniao Li