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Department of the Study of Religions

Key facts

  • BA Study of Religions (single or joint degree), four taught MA programmes and research degrees
  • Unrivalled expertise in the religions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East
  • Research-driven, interdisciplinary approach to the practice and history of all the world’s major religious traditions

Our strengths

At SOAS you can study a wider range of religious traditions and 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 religions in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. More about us…

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 (NSS 2012/13).
  • Ranked 13th in UK (Guardian University Guide 2014).


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

Tullio Lobetti

The MA year was probably one of the most life-changing experiences in my life, and it was paramount in my decision to continue my studies towards an academic career.

Tullio Lobetti, PhD Study of Religions

Read Tullio's full assessment…


Department of the Study of Religions, 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:

Cosimo Zene

At SOAS we study religions because they have been powerful and enduring forces in all societies at all times. A culture’s religion 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 one is studying how people reflect on and react to what they consider to be of ultimate significance and value.

As understanding religions 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 how they have come to bear on all aspects of the world today.

Engaging with our students of tomorrow

Sixth forms students at Everlasting Flame

On 2 December 2013, the Department of the Study of Religions hosted a one-day conference for sixth form students on the relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘philosophy’. As part of the programme, the students received a guided a tour of the Everlasting Flame exhibition in the Brunei Gallery. This exhibition about Zorastrianism, which was organised by members from our department, was open until 15 December 2013 and attracted visitors from all over world. The Wall Street Journal called it "a welcome and elegant way to learn more about this endangered faith".

Expert witness aids asylum seekers

Erica Hunter

Dr Erica Hunter’s research has had a huge impact on the Mandaeans, a small ethno-religious group who have experienced extreme persecution in Iraq and Iran over the last two decades. Expert witness reports by Dr Hunter have all resulted in successful applications by Mandaeans from Iraq and Iran for asylum in the UK.

Forthcoming Events