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Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia

BA Thai and...

Programme Code: See 'May be Combined With:' Duration: 3 or 4 years

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

Thailand, formerly known as Siam until 1939, differs from other countries in South East Asia as a result of never having been formally colonized. Its semicolonial status makes it an interesting starting point for comparison with other nations in the region. In 1932 a coup brought an end to the absolute monarchy and established in its place the constitutional monarchy which still remains today. Ever since, the military have played a dominant role in the governing of the country and coups, plots and counter-coups have been a salient feature of the domestic political scene, the most recent occurring in September 2006.

After a turbulent decade in the 1970s, Thailand enjoyed a period of political stability and rapid economic growth, which came to a drastic halt in mid 1997. It has since made some economic growth, partly fuelled by a vibrant tourist industry, despite setbacks in confidence as as a result of the tsunami which devastated its south western coastline in December 2004. Thailand currently enjoys widespread publicity abroad as a result of its popular cuisine and a vibrant film industry that has, in the new millennium, made significant inroads into the international marketplace.

Thai is a member of the Tai family of languages which are dispersed over a wide area of Asia from northern Vietnam to northern India. It is the national language of Thailand and spoken by over 60 million people. Distinct dialects are spoken in the north, north-east and south of the country, but the language of the Central Region is regarded as the standard and is used both in schools and for official purposes throughout the country. The earliest surviving writings in Thai are stone inscriptions, dating back to the 13th century, which often record historical or religious events. By the end of the 18th century a refined court literature encompassing poetry and drama had begun to emerge, sometimes building upon indigenous traditions, sometimes adopting and adapting works of foreign origin. The introduction of printing, the emergence of a reading public as a result of the spread of education and contact with the west stimulated a demand for more reading material toward the end of the 19th century, and by the early 20th century prose fiction had begun to gain popular acceptance.

Today there is an enormous diversity of short stories and novels available.

Thai may be combined with another Asian language, or with a non-language discipline (Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Management, Music, Politics, Social Anthropology or Study of Religions). In addition, Thai may be combined with French; in this combination the European language portion of the degree is taught at University College London, to which initial applications should be directed. The general pattern is that the two-subject degrees are taken over four years, with the third year being spent on a programme of study in Thailand. However, students taking Thai and French spend their third year in France. There are also three-year versions of the degrees in Thai and a discipline which do not involve a year abroad. Students must take four course units per year, consulting closely with their tutors when choices arise, and achieving a balance between the two subjects of study.

Combinations

May be combined with

** Taught at King's College, London
** Taught at University College London (UCL)

Structure

Thai may be combined with another Asian language, or with a non-language discipline (Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Management, Music, Politics, Social Anthropology or Study of Religions). In addition, Thai may be combined with French; in this combination the European language portion of the degree is taught at University College London, to which initial applications should be directed. 

The general pattern is that the two-subject degrees are taken over four years, with the third year being spent on a programme of study in Thailand. However, students taking Thai and Japanese spend their second year in Japan, and students taking Thai and French spend their third year in France. There are also three-year versions of the degrees in Thai and a discipline, which do not involve a year abroad. Students must take four course units per year, consulting closely with their tutors when choices arise, and achieving a balance between the two subjects of study.

Year 1: 3 & 4 Year Degree
Core Courses
Other Subject

Students take 2 units in the other subject.

Year 2: 3 & 4 Year Degree
Core Courses
Other Subject

Students take 2 units in the other subject.

Year 3: 3 Year Degree
Core Course
Compulsory Courses

Students do either an Independent Study Project (1unit) OR an Extended essay (0.5 unit) and a further approved half-unit in Thai or South East Asian Studies.

Other Subject

Students take 2 units in the other subject or approved option units from the list below.

Year 3: 4 Year Degree

Year abroad in Thailand.

Year 4: 4 Year Degree
Core Course
Compulsory Courses

Students do either an Independent Study Project (1unit) OR an Extended essay (0.5 unit) and a further approved half-unit in Thai or South East Asian Studies.

Other Subject

Students take 2 units in the other subject or approved option units from the list below.

Approved option units

Before selecting a course, student's must first check that the course is at the correct level. They must also ensure that they meet any pre-requisites.

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Course Information 

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.

Special Features

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.

Pre Entry Reading

Further reading:

  • Baker, Chris and Pasuk Phongpaichit.  A History of Thailand. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009 (2nd ed.).
  • Cornwel-Smith, Philip. Very Thai. Bangkok, Thailand: River Books, 2005.
  • Mulder, Niels. Inside Thai Society: Religion, Everyday Life, Change. Chiangmai: Silkworm Books, 2000.

Destinations

As a graduate who specialised in Thai, 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 Thai 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.

Former students in the Department of South East Asia have gone on to work in a variety of capacities in commerce, industry, teaching, the media, finance, the civil service, academe, the armed forces and other spheres. Some have chosen to work in South East Asia or have found work related to the region thus being able to make direct use of their linguistic and cultural expertise.

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

A Student's Perspective

One of the highlights of my course has been having the opportunity to study for one year at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. It was really daunting at first but there is no better way to learn a language than to totally immerse yourself in it and you learn all about the society and culture that you’re living in.

Nicholas Day