[skip to content]

South Asia Department

BA South Asian Studies and... (3 years)

Programme Code: See "Combinations"


Featured events

2016 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB
  • A Level language desirable but not essential
  • 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.

Interview Policy: Applicants with non-standard qualifications may be invited for interview.

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

BA South Asian Studies and... is a 3-year degree, and four courses are taken each year. The first year features the core course South Asian Culture, a modular course which introduces aspects of the languages and cultures of the subcontinent. This is taken alongside an introductory language course in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit, or Urdu, which in turn leads to further units in the same language and its literature in Years 2 and 3. (Gujarati, Pali, Punjabi, Sinhala and Tamil are also available, but in a more limited range of courses.) Not all language courses are available every year, and all courses are subject to quorum; current availability can be checked by contacting the South Asia Department. Further courses relevant to South Asia are selected from options taught in other departments. Given the range of courses available, the Department is careful to offer appropriate advice to each student in making his or her selection, in order to ensure an overall coherence of coverage.

Introductory language courses taught in Year 1 assume no previous knowledge of the chosen language or its script: they start completely from scratch. Courses in modern languages concentrate on all four linguistic skills – understanding, speaking, reading and writing; classes are small and interactive, with students being encouraged to use the language actively from the outset. Many of our introductory language courses have been written especially for our needs by members of the Department staff; and Intermediate and advanced language courses feature a wide range of ‘real world’ teaching and study materials. The formal teaching is complemented by the frequent open lectures, seminars and cultural events on South Asian themes that are held regularly in SOAS.

Final-year options include an Independent Study Project, which gives the student an opportunity to pursue a subject of personal interest (in language, literature, politics, culture, religion, the arts and media, or any other aspect of contemporary or historical India), leading to the writing of a 10,000-word dissertation under tutorial supervision.

BA South Asian Studies (3 years) can be taken as a single-subject degree, or as a two-subject degree in combination with African Studies, Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Linguistics, Music, Politics, Social Anthropology, or Study of Religions. The two-subject degree must include at least five units in South Asian Studies over the three years.

Students with a specific interest in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit or Urdu may like to consider, as an alternative to the 3 year degree, the 4 year full or half degree featuring these languages as a named pathway; these degrees have a more specific focus on the respective language itself, and include a year abroad in South Asia.

Key Information Set Data

The information for BA, BSc, or LLB programmes refer to data taken from the single subject degrees offered at SOAS; however, due to the unique nature of our programmes many subjects have a separate set of data when they are studied alongside another discipline.  In order to get a full picture of their chosen subject(s) applicants are advised to look at both sets of information where these occur.


May be combined with

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


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Students must take four course units per year, and have considerable flexibility in constructing their own programme of study. Students can choose non-language units from a range of approved South-Asia related courses from subject areas which include anthropology, art and archaeology, economics, film, geography, history, law, literature, music, politics and religion.  Students must take 4 course units each year. Over the three years they must take at least 5 units from one subject and at least 4 units from the other subject. The subject with the largest number of course units will be named first in the degree.

NB: The structure for this course has changed for new students enrolling in (or after) the 2012/13 academic year

Structure for students who enrolled in 2011/12 or before

Please see the PDF document if you enrolled in 2011/12 or earlier BA South Asian Studies and...(3 years) Structure (pdf; 11kb)

Structure for students who enrol in 2012/13 or after

Year 1
Core Course
Optional Course

Choose a language course from List A at an appropriate level OR courses to the value of 1 unit from List B.

Other Subject

Students take 2 units in their other subject.

Year 2
Core Course

Choose one unit from the following courses:

Optional Course

Any language course at an appropriate level from List A OR courses to the value of 1 unit from List C.

Other Subject

Students take 2 units in their other subject.

Year 3
Optional Course

Choose the ISP below OR a course from List A at an intermediate or advanced level OR a course from List C.

Optional Course

Choose a course from the following list.

Other Subject

Students take 2 units in their other subject.

List A South Asian language courses

The list below indicates the pathway along which students can progress as they do their South Asian language courses. Students may not take more than one language course at elementary level in any given year. Passing of the intermediate level course (or its equivalent) in Bengali OR Hindi OR Nepali OR Sanskrit OR Urdu is a pre-requisite for admission to the Year Abroad.

Elementary level
Intermediate level
Advanced level
List B Introductory courses on aspects of South Asian history and culture
List C Non-language-based South Asian and South Asian-related courses

Some courses require successful attendance of a relevant introductory course; students are advised to check the relevant course descriptions for prerequisites and consult the relevant course tutor before selecting units.

Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia
School of Law
Department of Politics and International Studies
Department of History
Department of Art and Archaeology
Department of Music
Department of the Study of Religions
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Department of Economics

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

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. Language classes are examined by written and oral examination; non-language classes are examined by essays and written examination. 


As a student specialising in the languages and cultures of South Asia, you will gain competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of South Asia. 

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 in both business and 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 South Asia, or to make comparative study with other areas. South Asian Studies 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

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