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Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia

BA Vietnamese and...

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


2016 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB - ABB
  • A Level language preferred
  • IB: 35 (6/6/5)
  • 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: None

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

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Vietnam claims an unbroken history of at least 4000 years, though an earlier part is recorded in myth, legend and archaeological evidence rather than in, and has maintained intact its own linguistic and cultural identity as a nation to the present day despite a millennium of Chinese rule, although there is no written record of the language prior to the 11th century AD. With the ending of Chinese rule in the early part of the 10th century AD, Vietnamese culture developed independently. While literary forms based on Chinese models survived, and continued to be much practised and admired, indigenous forms were added, making the literature of Vietnam one of the richest in the region. 

In the 17th century, Christian missionaries devised a romanised script which eventually displaced the older character-based writing completely. With the arrival of French colonial rule in the 19th century, the Vietnamese encountered Western civilisation for the 1st time; an encounter which added yet another dimension to Vietnamese civilisation and literature. The wars which ravaged Vietnam after 1940 produced an immense wealth of prose, poetry and song, as yet undiscovered by the outside world. 

The breadth of expertise in the field of Asian Studies is reflected in the score of 5 achieved by the department in the 2001 government assessment of research in all British universities. SOAS has the highest percentage of research-active academics in the field of Asian Studies of any British university. The range of research interests, expertise and resources in SOAS, not only in Vietnamese and South East Asian Studies, but also with regard to the languages and literatures of other regions, religious studies, anthropology, history, art and archaeology is unique in UK institutions and this gives you an unparalleled choice in choosing a second subject of study.

Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


May be combined with

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

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.

Key Information Set data

Click on a combined programme to load KIS data


The course may be studied as a three or four year degree programme, with the option of a year abroad in Vietnam. 4 units must be taken each year.
Year 1: 3 & 4 Year Degree
Core Module
Compulsory Courses
Other Subject

The remaining units are taken in the other subject or as open options depending on the requirements of the other subject.

Year 2: 3 & 4 Year Degree
Core Module
Compulsory Modules
Compulsory Module

Choose a half-unit module from List A.

Other Subject

The remaining units are taken in the other subject or as open options depending on the requirements of the other subject.

Year 3: 3 Year Degree
Core Module
Compulsory Module

Choose modules to the value of one unit from List A

Other Subject

The remaining units are taken in the other subject or as open options depending on the requirements of the other subject.

Year 3: 4 Year Degree

Students spend their 3rd year abroad in Vietnam before returning to SOAS to sit examinations in the courses below.

Year 4: 4 Year Degree
Core Module
Compulsory Modules

Choose modules to the value of one unit from List A

Other Subject

The remaining units are taken in the other subject or as open options depending on the requirements of the other subject.

List A
List A (Final Year only)

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

Students on their Vietnamese Year Abroad have the option of spending their year at either Vietnam National University in Hanoi, or the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City.

Students are required to take the following classes:

  •  Vietnamese Language 1
  • Vietnamese Language 2: Texts
  • Vietnamese History and Culture

In order to proceed to Year 3, students will be assessed by two written exams and one oral exam at SOAS in September. Students are also required to submit an Independent Study Project (ISP) to their teachers at SOAS, consisting of 10,000 words on a subject relating to Vietnamese language or culture and should involve speaking to Vietnamese informants and consulting Vietnamese written materials. The proposed topic and procedure for collecting data should be emailed to teachers by the end of November, and the completed ISP submitted before the exams in September.  

Students should budget to spend around £500 per month on accommodation and food.

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.

Pre Entry Reading

  • D. Healy Studies on Vietnamese language and literature in South East Asian languages and literatures, edited by E. Ulrich Kratz. London:Tauris, 1996
  • Nguyen Du The tale of Kieu (translated and annotated by Huynh Sanh Thong) Yale UP, 1983
  • N. Jamieson Understanding Vietnam Berkeley 1993
  • Huynh Sanh Thong The heritage of Vietnamese Poetry Yale UP, 1979


As a graduate who specialised in Vietnamese, 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 Vietnamese 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