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Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia

BA Burmese (Myanmar) and...

Duration: Combined Honours - 3 years or 4 years (including a year abroad). Students can also take Burmese throughout their degree and spend their year abroad in Burma by taking the programme BA South East Asian Studies (including year abroad).

Overview

2014 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB
  • A Level language preferred
  • IB: 36 (6/6/6)
  • BTEC: DDM
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (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: Languages at SOAS are taught ab initio, and no prior knowledge is required. A foreign language at A-level or equivalent is preferred but not essential.

Subjects Preferred: No

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

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full Time

Degree Profile
Burmese is the national language and the language of the largest ethnic group (the ‘Burmans’) in Burma/Myanmar,

Burmese is related to Tibetan and is an important language in the study of Theravada Buddhism as well as many other fields of cultural and social-scientific work.

Students find that the study of Burmese, as well as guaranteeing a warm welcome in a society that captivates most visitors to the country, enables them to view the culture in a more informed perspective.

The range of expertise in SOAS, not only in Burmese and South East Asian studies, but also with regard to languages and literatures of other regions is unique in UK institutions. Along with proven excellence in other disciplines, such as religious studies, anthropology, art and archaeology, and history, this offers students an unparalleled range of options in choosing their second subject of study.

The course may be studied as a 3- or 4-year degree programme, with the option of a year abroad in Burma.

One of the most exciting aspects of the combined degree in Burmese at SOAS is the very rare opportunity to spend a year in Burma/Myanmar. The numbers of students taking up the Year Abroad option have been few in recent years, but those that have undertaken it have had wonderful experiences and the benefits for their proficiency in Burmese are obviously considerable. Students should expect to go to Burma alone or with one or two others at the most. The exact nature of the Year Abroad is tailor-made to suit the student and situation in the country at the time. Study is either with private tutors in Yangon, or may include tuition at the Yangon University of Foreign Languages, or a combination of both. The programme is flexible, though, and students with an interest or connections in another part of the country should get in touch to discuss their preferences.

The School’s teaching is backed up by the South East Asia collection within the SOAS library, one of the world’s major collections of information in the field of South East Asian studies. The South East Asia collection now contains over 6500 books and pamphlets and 550 periodical titles as well as substantial collections of microfilms and manuscripts.

Combinations

May be combined with

* Taught at King's College, London

Students wishing to combine this subject with Management Studies should contact the Head of Department or Undergraduate Tutor for information.  See Department Staff page for contact details.

Structure

Burmese can be combined with African Studies, Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Linguistics, Management Studies (with Birkbeck College London), Music, Politics, Social Anthropology, Study of Religions.

Combined Honours

Year 1: (3 or 4 Year Degree)
Compulsory Courses
Other Subject

2 units are taken in the second subject.

Year 2:(3 or 4 Year Degree)
Compulsory Course
Optional Course

Choose an approved literature/culture unit

Other Subject

2 units are taken in the second subject.

Year 3: (3 Year Degree)

Up to 4 units in language and literature, usually including an Independent Study Project, plus units in the 2nd subject to make an overall total of 4 units.

Year 3: (4 Year Degree)

Year abroad in SE Asia. See the Teaching & Learning tab for more details.

Year 4: (4 Year Degree)

Up to 4 units in language and literature, usually including an Independent Study Project, plus units in the 2nd subject to make an overall total of 4 units.

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

One of the most exciting aspects of the combined degree in Burmese at SOAS is the very rare opportunity to spend a year in Burma/Myanmar. The numbers of students taking up the Year Abroad option have been few in recent years, but those that have undertaken it have had wonderful experiences and the benefits for their proficiency in Burmese are obviously considerable. Students should expect to go to Burma alone or with one or two others at the most. The exact nature of the Year Abroad is tailor-made to suit the student and situation in the country at the time. Study is either with private tutors in Yangon, or may include tuition at the Yangon University of Foreign Languages, or a combination of both. The programme is flexible, though, and students with an interest or connections in another part of the country should get in touch to discuss their preferences.

Teaching & Learning

Language teaching is mostly in small tutorial groups; tapes and language laboratory facilities are available for formal teaching and self-study. Non-language units are taught by lecture and seminar.

Students are assessed by a combination of written examination (and oral for language units) and coursework, including essays and translations.

SOAS Library

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.

Pre Entry Reading

Recommended academic reading on Burma
  • Charney, M. (2009). A History of Modern Burma. Cambridge University Press.
  • Cheesman, N., M. Skidmore and T. Wilson (eds) (2010). Ruling Myanmar: From Cyclone Nargis to National Elections. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.
  • Fink, Christina. (2001). Living silence: Burma under military rule. London: Zed Books.
  • Lintner, Bertil.  (1990) Outrage: Burma's struggle for democracy.  Bangkok: White Lotus.  
  • Maung Maung (1999).  The 1988 Uprising in Burma.  New Haven:  Yale Southeast Asia Studies, monograph 49.
  • Myint-U, Thant. (2001).  The making of modern Burma.  Cridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Smith, Martin. (1999)  Burma: insurgency and the politics of ethnicity (2nd edition). London: Zed Books.
  • Smith, Martin. (2002).  Burma (Myanmar): the time for change.  London: Minority Rights Group International.
  • Steinberg, David I. (2001).  Burma, the state of Myanmar. Washington DC:  Georgetown University Press.
  • Steinberg, David I. (2009). Burma/Myanmar: what everyone needs to know.  Oxford University Press.
  • Pedersen, M., E. Rudland and R. May (eds) (2000). Burma-Myanmar:  Strong Regime, Weak State? Adelaide: Crawford House.
  • Taylor, Robert. (2008). The State in Myanmar. C Hurst & Co.
  • Watkins, Justin (2007) ‘Burma/Myanmar’ in A. Simpson (ed.) Language and National Identity in Asia. London: Oxford University Press.
Burma-related fiction / non-fiction / literature / holiday reading:
  • Aung San Suu Kyi. (1995).  Freedom from Fear and other writings. London: Penguin Books.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi. (1997).  Letters from Burma.   London: Penguin Books.
  • Connelly, Karen. (2007). The Lizard Cage. London: Harvill Secker
  • Delisle, Guy. (2006) Burma Chronicles. (graphic novel). Jonathan Cape.
  • Ghosh, Amitav. (2001). The Glass Palace.  London: HarperCollins.
  • Khoo-Thwe, Pascal. (2002). From the Land of Green Ghosts. London: HarperCollins.
  • Larkin, Emma. (2005). Finding George Orwell in Burma. Granta Books.
  • Larkin, Emma. (2010). Everything is Broken. Granta Books
  • Mason, Daniel. (2002). The Piano Tuner. London: Picador.
  • Marshall, Andrew (2002) The Trouser People. London: Viking.
  • Myint-U, Thant. (2007)  The River of Lost Footsteps. London: Faber.
  • Orwell, George. Burmese Days. Penguin Classics.
  • Thanegi, Ma. (2005). The Native Tourist: A Holiday Pilgrimage in Myanmar. Silkworm Books.
Sources of Burma-related news on the web:
  • BurmaNet News - an online daily digest of news and information about Burma - with searchable archives – subscribe at www.burmanet.org
  • Irrawaddy www.irrawaddy.org
  • Mizzima www.mizzima.com
  • BBC news news.bbc.co.uk
  • The Online Burma/Myanmar Library at www.ibiblio.org/obl has an immense amount of information on all aspects of Burma.

You can, of course, find much more using Google, Facebook and the other usual internet methods.  

Destinations

As a graduate who specialised in Burmese, you will have gained competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a study of language in combination with literature, development studies, economics, geography, history, history of art and archaeology, law, linguistics, music, politics, social anthropology or religion.

Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers, both in business and in the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources. Choosing to study a joint degree programme will increase the breadth of your knowledge, and will develop additional skills with which to further your studies of the region, or to make comparative study with other areas. The study of Burmese may be combined with a huge range of other disciplines. For more information on the extra skills you will gain from your second subject, please see the relevant departmental page.

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

A Student's Perspective

Not only does SOAS offer a first class education with top scholars in the field, it also offers a great professional and social network. Upon graduation, my professional career path was wide opened. The SOAS experience has taught me to be a specialist in different fields, not only politics, but also development, gender and migration, and good governance.

Dinita Setyawati