SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

MA Migration and Diaspora Studies (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

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Imagine(ing) Migration: The Aesthetics of Borders and Resistance

Overview and entry requirements

Our MA Migration and Diaspora Studies is a broad-based degree for students who want to receive research training in migration and diaspora, as well as humanitarian and refugee studies, including a relevant language as part of the specialisation. The degree prepares you to proceed to advanced postgraduate research or to work as practitioners in fields related to migration, refugees and humanitarian relief.

The MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies is a highly interdisciplinary program, taught from a Global South perspective and uniquely committed to anthropology and other disciplines' accountability towards the subjects they study.

The MA programme is engaged and practice oriented and offers the possibility of creative assignments along with conventional assessment forms. It is enthused by the belief that knowledge and practice produced by diaspora and migrants' grassroots organisations, activists, practitioners and artists should be intertwined with academic knowledge, and validated as part of a real decolonising effort.

Students enrolled in the MA programme have the unique chance to carry out internships while studying through the module From Theory to Practice and Back: Work-placements in Migration Research. The internships aim to bridge theory and practice in the fields of migration, diaspora and humanitarian practice.

The course is available exclusively to students enrolled in the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies. The course is organised in the form of internships and independent study projects, along with some class seminars in collaboration with the organisations, with whom we partner. Students have the opportunity to work with a broad range of organisations operating in areas as varied as migrants' support and refugees’ legal protection, activist and political campaigns and networks, as well as galleries and art collectives promoting diaspora and BAME cultures, identities, and arts. You may also be interested in this degree if you come from other disciplines, such as Law or Politics, and now wish to incorporate an anthropological perspective on issues of migration and diaspora.

Why study Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS

  • SOAS in ranked 5th the UK in the 2021 QS World University Rankings for Anthropology, and 16th worldwide
  • the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies programme has a first-rate graduate employability record
  • increase your knowledge of the transnational nature of the modern world
  • engage with critical theories to understand the management of mobility and the impact of humanitarian relief
  • understand the role of migration in the major political and cultural processes of the contemporary world
  • unique opportunity of internships to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

The degree offers students a chance to pursue their specific areas of interest by selecting from optional modules:

  • a broad-based perspective enhancing your knowledge in light of continuing contemporary research
  • a specific area, allowing you to study diaspora and migration issues in depth in relation to a particular discipline or region

The MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies is considerably enriched by the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, which runs seminars, films and public lectures and also hosts a number of international scholars. The Centre is also a part of a migration research network of London colleges including LSE and UCL. Students on the programme therefore have unparalleled access to a critical body of scholars and scholarship on migration and diaspora related issues.

Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Programme Convenor, Dr Ruba Salih (, at an early stage of their application to seek advice on the most appropriate options for study.

See Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Testimonial: Jorge Rodriguez Solorzano

Jorge Rodriguez Solorzano

"My time in the Migration and Diaspora Studies MA programme at SOAS helped me expand my intellectual and creative horizons in very exciting ways. The programme’s interdisciplinary structure allows students to pick up many skills along the way and facilitates access to opportunities to engage in extracurricular projects, such as the London in Motion Documentary Film Workshop. The programme is headed by a compelling group of scholar-teachers. These foster an approach to the study of mobility and migration that is unique among Anthropology departments: you will read Paul Gilroy, Avtar Brah and Didier Fassin in the same module! In addition to pursuing exciting coursework in Anthropology, I took a rigorous full-year course in Modern Standard Arabic and also joined a module in Postcolonial thought with a phenomenal professor in the Law department. Professionally, the MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies is highly regarded in the academy, in the UK and transnationally. I am set to start a PhD in Anthropology in my top school in the U.S. this fall, which would have been unthinkable without this enriching intellectual experience. SOAS itself is an incredibly dynamic institution because of the global composition of its study body and the inherently political ethos of the school. Finally, the dissertation component of the MA trains you to be an independent researcher while giving you room to explore. I would definitely recommend this department to prospective students, particularly if you hope to continue on to a PhD".

Jorge Rodriguez Solorzano, PhD student Columbia University

Start of programme: September only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.

Featured events

One calendar year (Full-Time) Two or three years (Part-Time, daytime only) The expectation in the UK is of continuous study across the year, with break periods used to read and to prepare coursework. We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.



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.


The programme consists of 180 credits in total: 120 credits of modules and a dissertation of 10,000 words at 60 credits.

Students are expected to take all core and compulsory modules listed below, and 30 credits from the Department of Anthropology and Sociology list below. The remaining credits can be selected from the relevant lists in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology or relevant options from other departments or a language module. 


Taught Component
Compulsory Modules

All students take 30 credits in the compulsory modules:

Module Code Credits Term
725 African and Asian Diasporas: Culture, Politics, Identities 15PANH085 15 Term 2
724 Migration, Borders and Space: Decolonial Approaches 15PANH086 15 Term 1
702 Ethnographic Research Methods 15PANH002 15

* NOTE: Students are required to audit the lectures for Ethnographic Research Methods, but it will not count towards the required 180 credits. Students who wish to take this module for credit may do so as part of their guided options.

All students choose 30 credits from List D or any module from the School Open Options List or a language


Students must complete a Dissertation (10,000 words) worth 60 credits.

Module Code Credits Term
799A Dissertation (MA) in Anthropology 15PANC999 60 Full Year
List of Modules (subject to availability)
Anthropology and Sociology
Module Code Credits Term
Anthropology of Development and Sustainability: Knowledge, Power and Inequality 15PANH084 15 Term 1
729 Anthropology of Sustainability: Global Challenges and Alternative Futures 15PANH083 15 Term 1
723 Diet, Society and Environment 15PANH090 15 Term 2
722 Food, Place and Mobility 15PANH087 15 Term 1
752 Anthropology of 'Race', Gender and Sexuality 15PANH082 15 Term 2
750A Ethnographic Locations: Sub-Saharan Africa 15PANH063 15 Term 2
750C Ethnographic Locations: Near and Middle East 15PANH067 15
702 Ethnographic Research Methods 15PANH002 15
797B From Theory to Practice and Back: Work Placements in Migration Research 15PGNH010 15 Term 2
730 Anthropology and Climate Change 15PANH070 15 Term 2
753 Mind, Culture and Psychiatry 15PANH032 15 Term 1
754 Medical Anthropology: Global Perspectives 15PANH089 15 Term 1
755 Anthropological Approaches to the Body and Embodiment 15PANH088 15
750B Ethnographic Locations: East Asia 15PANH062 15
Culture and Society of Japan 15PANH065 15 Term 1
731 How to Change Things 15PANH093 15 Term 2
Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology 15PANC008 30 Full Year

* These courses are open only to students with previous Law background or work-related knowledge. Pre-approval from module convenor required.

Module Code Credits Term
International Refugee Law 15PLAH069 15 Term 1
International Migration Law 15PLAH068 15 Term 2
Modules in Other Department
Module Code Credits Term
Civil society, social movements and the development process 15PDSH001 15 Term 2
Borders and Development 15PDSH023 15 Term 1
Queering Migrations and Diasporas 15PGNH002 15 Term 2
Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context 15PSAH001 15 Term 1
Indian Cinema: Key Issues 15PSAH002 15 Term 2
International migration and diaspora politics 15PPOH012 15 Term 2
Issues in Forced Migration 15PDSH015 15 Term 2
Migration and Development 15PDSC006 30 Full Year
Migration and Policy 15PDSH029 15 Term 1
Political Theory, Race and Empire 15PPOH045 15 Term 1
Postcolonial Theory 15PCSC003 30 Full Year
Law and Postcolonial Theory 15PLAH050 15 Term 2
Race and Caste 15PPOH070 15 Term 2
Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media:Networking, Connectivity, Identity 15PMSH004 15 Term 2
Labour, Activism and Global Development 15PDSH032 15 Term 2


Programme Specification

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

SOAS has a large range of options on migration and diaspora related issues across the school. Teaching methods and assessment vary across these options, and their availability will depend on appropriate staff being available in the relevant academic year.

In addition, students are required to attend the weekly seminars held by the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, where they will hear international scholars give papers on a variety of migration and diaspora related topics. The seminars provide an invaluable backdrop for the transdisciplinary approach of the programme overall. Students are also encouraged to apply to the biennial Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival, which in March 2021 included the exhibition 'Imagine(ing) migration.The aesthetics of borders and resistance', curated by SOAS MA Migration and Diaspora staff and students.

The student learning experience is also be enhanced by the public lectures, films and workshops the Centre organises.


During the academic year, modules are delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and/or seminars. Students can expect an average of two hours of classroom time per week for each module. Outside of the classroom, students explore topics of the module through independent study and through personal exchanges with teachers and fellow students. In some cases, modules are taught by several teachers within the department to provide students with an array of perpsectives on the subject. All modules involve the active participation of students in the discussion of ideas, viewpoints and readings.


The MA Migration and Diaspora culminates in a 10,000-word dissertation, based on original research on a topic of the student's own choosing and developed in discussion with a supervisor.

SOAS Library

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.



Students from SOAS’ Department of Anthropology and Sociology develop an in-depth understanding of the world. Employers value our graduates’ cultural awareness and global perspective, as well as their skills in analysis, data interpretation and problem-solving.

Recent Department of Anthropology and Sociology graduates have been hired by:

  • Allen & Overy
  • BBC
  • British Council
  • Deloitte
  • Hackney Migrant Centre
  • IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)
  • IOM- UN Migration
  • Media 52
  • New York Times
  • Social Mobility Foundation
  • The Week
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • World Bank Group

Find out about our Careers Service.

A Student's Perspective

The programme is structured so that students are given a huge choice of options covering a wide geographic, thematic and conceptual scope. This breadth and the inter-disciplinary nature of the programme guarantee that students bring diverse academic knowledge and professional experiences to tutorials and the postgraduate community. Further, the seminars and events organised by the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies really complement the course, convening scholars and students from various disciplines to discuss migration and diaspora issues.

James Ingram

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