Overview and entry requirements
The MA History of Art and Architecture of the Islamic Middle East programme covers an area stretching from Islamic Spain through the Arab countries, Turkey, Iran and Central Asia in diverse historical periods. The Islamic Middle East has given rise to an impressive material culture that continues in the present. This programme offers students an unmatched opportunity to study particular regions or categories of art, including Fatimid art; the architecture and urbanism of Morocco; Arab, Persian and Turkish painting; the calligraphy and illumination of the Qur'an; Mamluk art and architecture; the arts and architecture of the Ottomans in Turkey and the Balkans; and the material culture of western Iran. Archaeological issues of the Islamic Middle East are also considered.
In addition, the degree engages with trans-regional topics that extend beyond the Middle East, such as cultural and artistic relationships between the Islamic Middle East and Europe.
Students can decide to study complementary courses on non-Islamic traditions of the Middle East and/or the Islamic traditions of other regions.
See Department of History of Art and Archaeology
Why study History of Art and Architecture of the Islamic Middle East at SOAS
- SOAS is ranked 44th in the world in the 2021 QS World University Rankings for Arts and Humanities
- The Department of the History of Art and Archaeology contains some of the world’s leading experts in the art history and archaeology of the Islamic Middle East, 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 working in other related fields, such as Music, Film and Media in the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.
- Students can also select from modules in other departments, taking advantage of SOAS’s unrivalled expertise in the languages, history, religions and cultures of the Middle East.
- Our Masters programmes are also an excellent foundation for MPhil/PhD research.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- 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.
- One year (full-time). Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
Students must complete 120 credits of MA taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits).
Please note that modules need a minimum number of students to run. Should the module not run, students will be notified of an alternative.
Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis.
- The part-time MA may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) in the first year, and two 30 credits modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) and the dissertation in the second year.
- Alternatively, it can be taken over three years, in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits modules evenly in each of the three years. The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the programme. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.
- 60 credits from the List of Options in the History of Art and Architecture of the Islamic Middle East
- 15 credits from EITHER the List of Options in the History of Art and Architecture of the Islamic Middle East OR Other Options in the History of Art and Archaeology
- 45 credits from List of Options in the History of Art and Architecture of the Islamic Middle East, Other Options in the History of Art and Archaeology AND/OR List of Options in Other Departments AND/OR modules from Postgraduate Open Options if approved by the programme convenor.
List of modules (subject to availability)
Other Options in the History of Art and Archaeology
Options in Other Departments
Study of Religions
Near & Middle East
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 & Learning
Teaching consists of a combination of lectures and seminars. Classes are normally between two and three hours per week for each course. Teaching methods include lectures with discussion, seminars (at which students present papers) and museum visits. Students at all levels are expected to take an active part in class presentations. A particularly important element is the training of the student's visual memory.
In addition to their studies on the MA programme, students at SOAS can participate in a wide range of research seminars, lectures and conferences that regularly take place in the School and in the University of London.
All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. 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, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. 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. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.
More information is on the page for each module.
For each of the taught modules, students will be expected to submit two or three pieces of written work usually around 3,000 to 4,500 words – for a total of 9,000 words per module. The emphasis is on developing essay skills during the session in preparation for the dissertation. In some modules the assessment is 100% on written work. On other modules, assessed course work forms 75% of the student’s final grade and an additional 25% is determined by slide quizzes, projects or other forms of assessment. The 10,000 word dissertation is submitted in September.
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 in the School of Arts develop a critical and theoretically informed approach to global arts and culture. In addition to an intercultural awareness and practical expertise, graduates gain a wide portfolio of transferable skills which are especially sought after in the creative and cultural industries.
Recent School of Arts graduates have been hired by:
- Christine Park Gallery
- Design Museum
- Hong Kong Museum Of Art
- India Foundation For The Arts
- Japanese Gallery
- Museum of East Asian Art
- Music in Detention
- National Gallery
- Pan Arts
- People Projects Culture & Change
- Roundhouse Trust
- Somerset House Trust
- Songlines Magazine
- South Asian Art UK
- Stratford Circus Arts Centre
- Taiwan Embassy
- The Alliance for Global Education
- The British Embassy
- The National Museum Of Korea
- The Royal Collection
- Victoria and Albert Museum
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A Student's Perspective
With the guidance of an eminent team of professors, and the support of the various resources SOAS has to offer, my time here has indeed been very productive, academically and professionally.