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Department of the Study of Religions

Key facts

  • BA Study of Religions (single or joint degree), five taught MA programmes and Research Degree
  • 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

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 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).


  • 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

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:

Erica Hunter

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.

Three new taught Masters Degrees

The Department of the Study of Religions is offering three new taught Masters Degrees with the new academic year 2014/15: Buddhist Studies, Religion in Global Politics, and the combination of an Intensive Language with Religions of Asia and Africa. Read more about our degree programmes here.

Jordan Lectures held by Harvard scholar

Michael Witzel

Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University, was this year's guest of honour in holding the prestigious Jordan Lectures of the Department of the Study of Religions. In his four lectures, he presented and elaborated on key themes of his revolutionary new book in comparative mythology, The Origin of the World’s Mythologies (OUP, 2013).

Forthcoming Events