MA South Asian Area Studies
Duration: One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)
Start of programme: September intake only
The MA in South Asian Studies provides exceptional opportunities for advanced study of one of the world’s most diverse and important regions.
Students can choose to concentrate on pre-modern or modern South Asia and can acquire a basic knowledge of one of the area’s languages.
The degree provides a wide-ranging interdisciplinary analysis of the South Asian countries – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Disciplines available include Politics, Economics,Anthropology, Law and History.
The programme attracts students from a variety of backgrounds. While some wish to broaden their previous studies or experience of South Asia, others approach the course without having a South Asian element to their first degree, but with a desire to focus their previous training on the region.
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 take three taught courses, one of which is considered a major, and complete a 10,000-word dissertation related to the major.
Some disciplines, such as Politics, Economics or Social Anthropology, require an appropriate qualification (such as part of a first degree) if any of their courses are to be taken as the major subject.
All courses are subject to availability
Anthropology (minor only)
- Culture and Society of South Asia - 15PANC087 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World - 15PANH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
Art and Archaeology
- The Indian Temple - 15PARC034 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context - 15PSAH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Indian Cinema: Key Issues - 15PSAH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- South Asian Cinema and the Diaspora (MA) - 15PSAH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2014/2015
- Contemporary Punjab: Society and Culture across Borders - 15PAIC001 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Modern Bengal: the Evolution of Bengali Culture and Society from 1690 to the Present Day (MA) - 15PSAC289 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Culture and Conflict in the Himalaya - 15PSAC291 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia - 15PSAC314 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Islam in South Asia - 15PHIC042 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- History of Environment and Globalisation in Asia and Africa - 15PHIH023 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Gender, law and the family in the history of modern South Asia - 15PHIH030 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2014/2015
- Colonialism and Nationalism in South Asia - 15PHIC071 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Language [one language option as minor only]
- Bengali Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC303 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Bengali Language 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC304 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hindi Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC295 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hindi Language 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC296 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hindi Language 3 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC297 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hindi Language 4 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC308 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Readings in Contemporary Hindi (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC305 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Nepali Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC298 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Nepali Language 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC299 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Pali: Intermediate Level - 15PSRC053 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Prakrit Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC309 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Sanskrit Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC294 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sanskrit Language 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC306 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sinhala Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC310 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Sinhala Language 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC307 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Tamil Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC311 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Urdu Language 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC300 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Urdu Language 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC301 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Urdu Literacy (Postgraduate) - 15PSAC302 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Elementary Written Persian - 15PNMC387 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Persian Language 1 - 155901242 (2 Unit) - Full Year
- Persian Language 2 - 155900801 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Persian Language 3 - 155900802 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Persian Intermediate (Masters) - 15PNMC033 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Introduction to Classical Literary Tibetan (Masters) - 15PEAC020 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Law and society in South Asia (MA/LLM) - 15PLAC129 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Law, Multiculturalism and Intercultural Human Rights (MA/LLM) - 15PLAC109 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Vedic Prose and Poetry (PG) - 15PSAC318 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Literatures of South Asia - 15PSAC284 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Postcolonial Theory and Practice - 15PCSC003 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature - 15PCSC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sanskrit Literature - 15PSAC003 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Directed Readings in the Literature of a Modern South Asian Language - 15PSAC016 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Sanskrit Texts from the Hindu Tradition - 15PSAC014 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters) - 15PSAH005 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Narratives of Mobility in Contemporary Hindi Literature (Masters) - 15PSAH006 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Indian Classical Music - 15PMUC027 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Raga: concept and practice (Postgraduate) - 15PMUH020 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2014/2015
- Music in South Asian Culture (Masters) - 15PMUC005 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Sacred Sound in South Asia - (0.5 Unit)
- Government and politics of modern South Asia - 15PPOC003 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Study of Religions
- Religions and Development - 15PSRH049 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Modern Muslim Thinkers from South Asia - 15PSRC169 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- History and Doctrines of Indian Buddhism - 15PSRC059 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Religious and Philosophical Ideas of Ancient and Medieval India - 15PSRC049 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Classical Hindu Texts in Translation: Epics and Puranas - 15PSRC167 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Buddhism in Tibet - 15PSRH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- The Buddhist Conquest of Central Asia - 15PSRH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2014/2015
- Buddhist Rituals - 15PSRH012 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2014/2015
- Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World - 15PSRC024 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Pali: Intermediate Level - 15PSRC053 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Oriental religions in European academia and imagination, 1815-1945 - 15PSRC168 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Features of Buddhist Monasticism - 15PSRH014 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2014/2015
- Contemporary Islamism in South Asia: Readings in Sayyid Abu al-A'la Mawdudi - 15PSRC170 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2014/2015
- Buddhist Meditation in India and Tibet - 15PSRC172 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India - 15PSRC173 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Teaching & Learning
Teaching & Learning
Lectures and Seminars
For most courses there is one 2-hour class each week. This may be an informal lecture followed by a discussion or student presentation. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.
The 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.
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.
A postgraduate degree in South Asian studies from SOAS provides its students with 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law.
Postgraduate students are equipped with linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research, along with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in business, public or charity sectors. 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.
An MA in South Asian Area Studies can open many doors. Those remaining in London will be able to take advantage of the numerous international bodies here, and those with specialist areas of knowledge (finance, law, art) will find relevant opportunities. Many students may choose to pursue a career in South Asia to put their skills into practice. Research degrees are also possibilities for graduates with high grades.
Among a variety of professions, career paths may include: Academia; Commerce; Community; Finance; Government; NGOs; Media; Politics; and UN Agencies.
Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:
|Access to Justice Asia|
BBC World Service
Cambridge Archaeological Unit
Environmental Defense Fund
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Foremarke Exhibitions Ltd
Meyado Private Wealth Management
Mohurgong & Gulma Tea Estates
Momoyama Gakuin University
Neon Tree Media
SOAS, University of London
University of Edinburgh
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
|Interpreter and Translator|
Senior Major Gifts Officer
Human Resources Director
Professor of Comparative Religion & Indian Studies
Senior Investment Advisor
Script Writer and Coordinator
Humanitarian and CSR photographer
Professor of Musicology
Head of Humanities
Lecturer in South Asian History
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
A Student's Perspective
Tora Toreng, University of Oslo
I chose SOAS because of the reputation of the language courses. The South Asian languages that are offered at SOAS are the best option if you’re not able to go to the region. For the first time I was able to study Asia from an Asian perspective through Asian literature.