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South Asia Department

Key facts

  • The Department offers the widest coverage in Europe of research and teaching related to the languages, literatures and cultures of the main South Asian countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
  • 21st in the Guardian 2015 Guide (Languages and Linguistics combined)
  • SOAS is the only University in the UK where you can study South Asian languages (Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit, Urdu) as part of your BA degree, and combine in-depth language learning with a broad range of courses related to the area.
  • We offer the widest range of culture courses on South Asia, both at introductory and specialist levels.
  • The four-year degree gives you the unique opportunity of spending the third year attending an intensive language programme in India, Nepal or Bangladesh and experiencing life and study in South Asia in what is a unique life experience.
  • SOAS joining the global elite for Modern Languages in the recent QS World University Rankings by Subject, where it has been ranked sixth in the UK and 32nd internationally.
  • The Department is closely associated with the SOAS South Asia Institute (SSAI) which represents the largest multi-disciplinary community of scholars working on South Asia of any university in Europe.

Our strengths

Devoted to research and teaching the languages, literatures and cultures of the Indian subcontinent, the Department aims to reach a better understanding of one of the most complex and significant areas of the world.

The Department benefits enormously from its world leading experts across the disciplines, including History, Religious Studies, Music, Art, Politics, Anthropology, adding depth and texture to our research and studies. Together we make-up one of the largest centres of South Asian studies outside the subcontinent, which brings incalculable benefits to our students.

Facts and figures

Teaching
  • NSS 2013 - 84% Teaching 84% Overall
  • NSS - Asian Studies departments ranked 4th in UK
  • UG Applicant/Place Ratio 3:1
  • Number of Staff: 5 academic, 3 teaching and scholarship, 12 teaching and scholarship (fractional)
Research:
  • Our research draws heavily upon the resources of SOAS’ world-renowned Library and its extensive South Asia collection, as well as all the institutions, galleries and resources on our doorstep throughout London.
  • Current staff research interests include:  Indian cinema and popular culture; diaspora studies; postcolonial literature; literary and linguistic studies; feminism; representations of Islam; the politics of Nepal and Bhutan; and literary translation.

Research student profile

Akhil Katyal

The most lucrative resource has been the SOAS library which has an excellent South Asia collection. Being in close quarters with the Senate House library and the British Library has been of particular help. Also, the central London location of SOAS means I never really go far for anything!

Akhil Katyal, PhD South Asia
Read Akhil's full profile

Our Head of Department says

Dana Healy

The study of language gives unique access to the culture of a region, to its contemporary life and its historical civilization. Starting from this premise, the South Asia Department is devoted to research and teaching in the languages, literatures and cultures of the Indian subcontinent, with the aim of reaching better understanding of one of the most complex and significant areas of the world. 

This department's work on the languages, literatures and cultures of South Asia complements that of other SOAS South Asianists whose disciplines include History, Religious Studies, Music, Art, Politics, Anthropology, and so forth, and who are based in other departments within the School. Together we constitute one of the largest centres of South Asian studies outside the subcontinent; and being located in a city which itself contains a virtual microcosm of South Asia brings incalculable benefits to us and our students.

The research interests of the Department's staff members include, but are not limited to: Indian cinema and popular culture; diaspora studies; postcolonial literature; literary and linguistic studies associated particularly with Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Nepali, Gujarati, Tamil and Sanskrit; classical Hinduism; feminism; representations of Islam; the politics of Nepal and Bhutan; and literary translation.
Dr Dana Healy

Undergraduate student profile

Mikaela Parrack

I have had the chance to read the most up to date, often controversial and revealing perspectives on South Asia, presented by leading academics who will often actually be members of the South Asia Department Faculty itself. My choice to study at SOAS was the best decision I ever made; being a student here is an exciting and unique experience.

Mikaela Parrack, BA South Asian Studies and Development Studies
Read Mikaela's full profile

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