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Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition

Duration: Three Weeks


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Ben Murtagh

Ben Murtagh


Start of programme: Monday 30 June 2014

Mode of Attendance: Full Time

Jawi is the adapted Arabo-Persian script used from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century across Indonesia and the Malay world.  Materials written in Jawi include indigenous chronicles and romances, Sufi poetry, letters between rulers of the archipelago and European traders and administrators, legal codes, Islamic treatises, early autobiographies and nationalist journalism. Knowledge of Jawi is an essential tool for students and researchers in fields as diverse as history, politics, literature, Islam, art history, law, anthropology, and linguistics. For a hundred years, SOAS has been a global centre for the study of Jawi and the literary traditions of Indonesia and the Malay world, while the holdings of SOAS Library, the British Library and the Royal Asiatic Society constitute one of the richest collections of Malay and Indonesian manuscripts in the world. This course is a unique opportunity to draw on this expertise and gain first-hand access to the collections.

This intensive course will enable students with at least intermediate Indonesian or Malay to read Jawi. Students will also learn philological approaches to the study of manuscripts and other primary material, as well as related theoretical issues.  Instructors will introduce students to key resources such as dictionaries, electronic resources and catalogues. Many of the materials discussed in class are in London collections-- and students will have the opportunity to view them during the various visits included in the course. Weekly film screenings will explore the continued resonance of the manuscript tradition in the modern world.

Language Requirements

Students should have intermediate knowledge of intermediate Malay or Indonesian language. It is not necessary to have any knowledge of Malay or Indonesian written in Jawi (Arabic based script).


Monday 30 June - Friday 18 July 2014

Social Programme

You will also be able to enjoy our social programme, starting with a welcome party and a river cruise on the Thames. A guided tour of historical Bloomsbury where SOAS is situated will help you find your way around the campus area. You will also receive discount codes for day trips and overnight tours with our partner International Friends once you have registered for one of our courses. 

Further details International Friends Summer School students are also welcome to attend the wealth of activities hosted by the SOAS Students Union in the summer months. 



An early bird discount of 10% is available if fees are paid by 15 April 2014.
10% discount for SOAS Alumni.
20% discount for current SOAS students.
Other discounts are available for partner institutions and groups, please email summerschool@soas.ac.uk for further information.


A tuition fee of £1250 will be charged per 3 week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.


A limited number of rooms will be available at International Hall which is located in the heart of Bloomsbury. You will be able to request a place once your application has been approved. The cost for 20 nights is £800, which includes breakfast every day. Please email summerschool@soas.ac.uk to reserve place.

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £55 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment, once you have submitted your summer school application.


Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and generally our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. However the summer courses remain non-accredited by SOAS. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol.

We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.


For more information, please email Sophie Dilley at summerschool@soas.ac.uk.


The three-week course will consist of 14 contact hours per week: seven hours of intensive Jawi, three hours of lectures, and four hours of visits to key London collections and film screenings. 

Assessment: At the end of the course students will undertake an optional assessment of a 2 hour paper to test their skill in reading Jawi worth 50% of their mark, as well as a 2000-2500 word essay in English or Malay/Indonesian, which will be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course. 

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • An introduction to the reading of Malay texts in the Jawi script, both printed and handwritten. By the end of the course students will be able to read simple printed and manuscript texts.
  • To develop an awareness of the various philological issues involved in the study and editing of manuscripts.
  • To develop an understanding of the various writing systems in Indonesia and the Malay world, and the various writing materials used across the archipelago, including inscriptions, palm leaf books, manuscripts, letters, lithographs and newspapers.
  • To develop an awareness of the key genres found in the Malay manuscript tradition, and the development and transformation of these genres with the emergence of lithograph and typographical production.
  • To develop experience and knowledge of the various Indonesian/Malay bibliographic and other library resources.
  • An introduction to issues of illumination and other decorative arts in the manuscript traditions of the archipelago.

How to Apply

In order to join our Summer School, you will need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • A minimum English language requirement if English is not your first language:
    • IELTS (www.ielts.org), 7 overall or higher, with at least 6.5 in all subscores.
    • iBT 105+ with 22 in all subscores or 100 overall with no less than 25 in writing and no less than 22 in any other subscores.
    • Or equivalent.

Summer School Application Form (pdf; 779kb)

Application deadline for the summer school courses is 31 May 2014.