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SOAS South Asia Institute

MA Intensive South Asian Studies

Duration: Two Years Full Time


Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

The two-year MA Intensive South Asian Studies offers comprehensive language-based training across a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Students on the programme take four taught courses at SOAS during their first year, of which a course at an appropriate level in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali or Urdu and the course ‘The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia’ are core.  In addition to the two core courses, students must choose courses to the value of 90 credits from the list of options advertised for the MA South Asian Area Studies. The disciplines available include Anthropology, Art and Archaeology, Cinema, Cultural and Regional Studies, Economics, History, Law, Literature, Music, Politics, and Study of Religions.

In their second year, students will undertake an extended period of study attached to a university or research institute in India, Pakistan or Nepal (the location depending on their choice of language), where they will further develop their language proficiency and conduct research for an extended dissertation.  The second half of the second year will be taken up with the writing of the dissertation under close supervision back in London.

The programme is aimed at students pursuing careers in the academic world, business, government and the media that require a skill set which encompasses disciplinary rigour, comprehensive area knowledge and cultural and linguistic fluencies. No prior knowledge of a South Asian language is required but applicants should provide evidence of their language-learning ability.  The language element of the training will be tailored to meet the needs of students with existing language skills.

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MA Intensive South Asian Studies


Students take The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia - 15PSAC314 and a course in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali or Urdu in their first year, plus courses to the value of two full units (90 credits) from the list given below.  These courses should be chosen in close consultation with the programme convenor.

Students spend the first half of their second year studying at one of our partner institutions in South Asia, before returning to work on their 20,000-word dissertation. 

All courses are subject to availability

Anthropology (minor only)
Art and Archaeology
Language [one language option as minor only]
Study of Religions

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Lectures and Seminars

Most courses require students to attend two or three hours of classes each week. This time will be spent in lectures, seminars, tutorial discussions and student presentations: the exact mixture of activities varies somewhat from course to course. At Masters level there is a particular emphasis on students’ contributions and presentations, and students are also expected to read extensively and prepare for each class in advance.

Language courses typically involve more hours of contact time, especially at elementary level, and regular homework.

The assessment on most courses consists of two or three coursework essay assignments and an unseen written examination, sat in April or May.  However, some courses are assessed purely on the basis of coursework, including essays and reaction papers.


A 20,000-word dissertation will be written by each student on this programme after his/her return from South Asia, for submission in September of the second year. The dissertation will be on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.

Learning Resources

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.  The South Asia collection consists of approximately 88,000 volumes in English and other European languages and about 70,000 volumes in South Asian languages.

A Student's Perspective

Studying at SOAS is an absolute joy as well as an enriching experience. I am being taught by two of the most inspirational teachers I have ever met and they challenge me to ‘unpack’ and think more deeply about the issues that I am enthusiastic about.

Bobby Danial