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South Asia Department

BA South Asian Studies (4 years)

Programme Code: T304 Duration: 4 Years


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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: A foreign language at A level, or equivalent, is preferred.

Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications are often invited for interview, though many applications are assessed on the basis of the UCAS forms alone.

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Our BA South Asian Studies transforms your interest in South Asia into a serious degree, combining extensive knowledge in the area, solid linguistic skills, and a host of much-valued transferable skills. The career paths of our graduates include international development and aid agencies, print journalism and media, local, national and international government agencies, overseas companies, teaching, law, librarianship, arts administration.
As the economies of South Asia continue to expand, a knowledge of language and culture will be more and more of an asset in the world of commerce and international trade. Many of our graduates choose to pursue Masters’ programmes that either focus on particular aspects of South Asia, or are linked to professional qualifications in law, development, media, etc.

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.


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.

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. In all these languages (pathway languages) we offer language courses at beginner, intermediate and advanced level. We also offer courses that use the language skills you acquire to gain access to the present and past culture of South Asia through written and audio-visual texts. We offer a more limited range of language courses in Tamil, Sinhala, Gujarati and Punjabi, subject to a minimum number of students. We also offer exciting courses on the culture and society of South Asia, including unique courses in cinema, literature, art, music, religion, history, politics, law, economics and anthropology. We offer the widest range of culture courses on South Asia, both at introductory and specialist levels.

Year 1
Core Course
Core Language Course

Students choose a South Asian Language pathway (Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit or Urdu). In Year 1 this is usually a level 1 course unless the student has prior language knowledge.

Optional Course

Choose courses to the value of 1 unit from List B OR a further course from List A.

Open Option

Choose courses to the value of 1 unit from List B OR an approved open option course in another department.

Year 2
Core Language Course

A continuation of the South Asian language pathway chosen in Year 1.

Compulsory Course

Students take one of the following courses depending on their chosen language pathway.

Optional Course

Choose courses to the value of 1 unit from List A or List C.

Open Option

Choose courses to the value of 1 unit from List C or an approved open option course in another department.

Year 3

Students spend their 3rd Year abroad. See the Teaching & Learning tab for more details.

Year 4
Core Language Course

An advanced level of the South Asian language pathway chosen in Year 1.

Compulsory Course
Optional Course

A further language course from List A at an intermediate or advanced level OR a course from List C (choice may be restricted depending on the chosen language pathway).

Open Option

Choose courses to the value of 1 unit from List C or an approved open option course in another department.

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.

Centre for Film Studies
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

Year abroad

Year 3 is spent attending an intensive language course abroad, and gives you the unique opportunity of experiencing life and study in South Asia in what is a unique experience.  Please see the relevant language webpages for more information. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to volunteer for local NGOs (valuable work experience) and plan and collect material for the Independent Study Project in year 4.


As a student specialising in 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.

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