SOAS University of London

History of Art and Archaeology

BA History of Art and ... (2020 entry)

  • Combinations
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment



The BA History of Art is an unrivalled opportunity to study the visual arts, architecture and material culture of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In the first year, students are introduced to the art and archaeology of different regions. They also receive theoretical and methodological training to prepare them for the study of Asian and African art. In subsequent years students broaden and deepen their knowledge and have the chance to specialise in particular regions or themes. An emphasis is placed on training students’ visual memory through the study of images. Students are also provided with a critical introduction to the creative and cultural industries.

On this two-subject programme, the study of the History of Art is combined with another subject. See the ‘Combinations’ tab for the list of subjects that can be taken. Some two-subject programmes are completed in three years while others take four years and include a year abroad.

The Department of the History of Art and Archaeology contains some of the world’s leading experts in Asian and African art history and archaeology, whose ground-breaking research informs and is informed by their teaching. Students benefit from the unparalleled knowledge and enthusiasm of staff. As members of the School of Arts, they profit from the insights of scholars and students studying the Music, Film and Media of Asia, Africa and the Middle East in historical and contemporary contexts. They can also select from courses in other departments, taking advantage of SOAS’s unrivalled expertise in the languages, history, religions and cultures of Asia and Africa.

A degree from the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology provides students with expertise in the History of Art and/or Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Our graduates work in arts, culture and heritage roles, including in galleries, museums, archives, conservation, publishing and arts administration. The large portfolio of transferable skills they acquire enables them to forge careers in a range of other fields across the world. Many graduates decide to pursue postgraduate study in the History of Art and Archaeology or a related discipline.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • Interview Policy: We welcome applications from mature candidates with relevant work experience. No particular background is expected for the programme, although for those wishing to specialise in East Asia, some knowledge of the languages of the region is an advantage.
A Levels:
35 (665 at HL)

View alternative entry requirements


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

Featured events

3 or 4 years


Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


May be combined with:

+ 4-year degree with (compulsory) one year abroad

Key Information Set data

Click on a combined programme to load KIS data


Occasionally the availability of optional modules changes as a result of staffing and other circumstances. Students who had signed up for such modules will be notified as soon as possible and given the opportunity to choose from available alternatives.

The structure of modules reflects the importance given to conceptual and methodological clarity, and to independent interests of students. Particular importance is given to the training of the student’s visual memory through the study of slide images. Special emphasis is given to the exploration of arts and artefacts as evidence in historical, religious and cultural studies of societies and cultures.

Year 1
Core Module: Year 1
Module Code Credits Term
Theory and Method I 154900190 15 Term 1
Compulsory Modules: Year 1

Students will take the following compulsory module

Module Code Credits Term
Great Works: art, films, literature, music 158100003 15 Term 2

30 credits from the following list of "Themes in the Art and Archaeology of…" modules

Module Code Credits Term
Themes in the Art and Archaeology of the Near and Middle East 154900101 15 Term 2
Themes in the Art and Archaeology of Africa 154900155 15 Term 1
Themes in the Art and Archaeology of South and Southeast Asia 154900156 15 Term 1
Themes in the Art and Archaeology of East Asia 154900163 15 Term 2
Modules from your second subject

You can choose modules to the value of 60 credits from your second subject 

Year 2
Compulsory Modules: Year 2

Students will take modules to the value of 60 credits from list of Year 2/3 options in History of Art & Archaeology below

Modules from your second subject

You can choose modules to the value of 60 credits from your second subject 

Year 3
Compulsory Modules: Year 3
Module Code Credits Term
Independent study project in History of Art 154900123 30 Full Year

Students will take modules to the value of 30 credits from list of Year 2/3 options in History of Art & Archaeology below

Modules from your second subject

You can choose modules to the value of 60 credits from your second subject 

List of modules (subject to availability)
Options in History of Art & Archaeology available in Year 2 or Year 3
Module Code Credits Term
Japanese Art 154900110 30 Full Year
Visual Culture of Early-Modern Japan 154900120 30 Full Year
Art and Culture in Modern China 154900141 15 Term 2
Art and Archaeology of Medieval China 154900142 15 Term 2
Modern and Contemporary Art in East Asia 154900150 15 Term 2
Royal Arts of Korea 154900152 15 Term 1
Hindu Art in Medieval India 154900162 15 Term 1
Chinese Contemporary Art 154900174 15 Term 1
Museums and Museology 154900178 15 Term 1
Ottoman Art and Architecture (14th-17th centuries) 154900185 15 Term 1
Mosque and Palace in the Muslim World 154900187 15 Term 1
Islamic Art and Architecture of Medieval Iran and Central Asia (10th-13th centuries) 154900188 15 Term 2
Collecting and Collections 154900189 15 Term 2
Global Issues in Contemporary Art 154900191 15 Term 1
Art and Empire in Early Modern India 154900193 15 Term 1
Arts of the African Diaspora 154900203 15 Term 1
Approaches to Modern and Contemporary Arts in Africa 154900204 15 Term 2
Islamic Art Theories and Aesthetics 154900205 15 Term 2
Arts, Culture and Commodification: Themes in the Global Creative and Cultural Industries 158100001 15 Term 2
Key Concepts in Cultural Theory 158100002 15 Term 1
Curating Global Arts 158100004 15 Term 1
Sound, Text, and Image in South Asian Arts 158100005 15 Term 2
Music and travel on the Silk Road 158100006 15 Term 1
Theories of Art II 154900206 15 Term 1
Mosaics, Manuscripts and Wall Painting in Islamic Art 158100014 15 Term 2
Arts of Tibet 158100013 15 Term 1
Options in History of Art & Archaeology available in Year 3

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

Year abroad

A 4 year combined degree involves a year abroad

Teaching & Learning

All 1st year modules involve a weekly lecture and tutorial; in the 2nd and 3rd year, where student numbers may be lower, a seminar may replace the lecture.

For most modules, assessment involves coursework and an unseen examination.

In the 1st year, coursework entails short, concentrated pieces of work; in the 2nd and 3rd years, coursework emphasis shifts to longer papers.

In the final year, students are required to complete an Independent Study Project on a subject of their choice, and are also encouraged to undertake projects, supervised by members of staff, in the form of an essay-based advanced.

Contact Hours

All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, in modules of 30 or 15 credits. They are taught over 10 or 20 weeks. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS). It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. In the School of Arts, most undergraduate modules have a one- or two-hour lecture or seminar every week. Some, but not all, also have a 1-hour seminar or tutorial every week.

More information is on the page for each module.

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.


A degree from the department of History of Art & Archaeology provides students with a number of transferrable skills that can be applied to other types of professions.  These include: research skills; written and oral communication skills; visual awareness; and specialist subject knowledge of Asian and African art.  Former History of Art & Archaeology students have gone on to employment in a range of professional roles in business and public sectors, as well as continuing in the field of research either at SOAS or other institutions

Studying a combined honours degree gives students to blend a solid grounding in another discipline or subject area which enables them to place the knowledge they gain as part of their degree within a specific regional, cultural or disciplinary context.

Careers include employment in museums, galleries, conservation organisations, commercial galleries, auction houses and art journalism. Other areas include the heritage industry, specialist travel companies, NGOs with cultural programmes such as UNESCO, UNOP, ICOMOS and the World Monuments Fund.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

Studying at SOAS was an opportunity to refine my interests and methodologies in the study, care and handling of Asian material religion.

Ayesha Fuentes

Find out more