The South Asia Institute (SSAI) at SOAS University of London represents the largest multi-disciplinary community of scholars working on South Asia of any university in Europe.
The Director of the Institute, Professor Michael J. Hutt, explains the importance and increasing relevance of South Asian Studies in the world today:
What was it that first got you interested in the South Asia region?
“As a schoolboy, I became interested in mountains and Buddhism, and this led fairly naturally to me wanting to discover more about the countries of Tibet and Nepal. When I began to look around for a place to study as an undergraduate, I was introduced to the BA South Asian Studies course at SOAS, and from there I went on to study both Hindi and Nepali.”
What is your current area of research?
“My primary area of research centres on Contemporary Nepali Literature, but ever since the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, I have been working on a research paper looking at the political and cultural impacts of the earthquake.”
What are the benefits of a degree in South Asian Studies?
Doors open if you are able to speak a South Asian language.
“Students benefiting from a degree in South Asian Studies are able to engage at a more profound level with countries in South Asia. Recent years have seen India become a significant economic force in the world and a demonstration of relevant expertise in South Asian Studies increases opportunities for graduates to pursue successful careers in the region.”
What is special about studying South Asian Studies at SOAS?
“What makes the programmes at SOAS special is that South Asian Studies is central to the course of study, as opposed to a marginal add-on as is sometimes the case at other universities. SOAS academics are highly specialised in their fields of study and all are experts in their disciplines and regions. The range of languages, which it is possible to study at SOAS alongside a degree course is extensive, and the mix of students is truly international. I often meet SOAS alumni at events in Mumbai and Delhi who have come from all around the world.”
The SOAS South Asia Institute administers two postgraduate courses.
MA Intensive South Asian Studies offers comprehensive language-based training across a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The course is taken over two years, with the second year including an extended period of study attached to a university or research institute in India, Pakistan or Nepal. The programme is aimed at students pursuing careers in the academic world, business, government and the media that require a skill set that encompasses comprehensive area knowledge and cultural and linguistics fluencies.
MSc Contemporary India Studies offers a critical, cutting-edge study of present day India. Students have the opportunity to study contemporary India topics, issues and challenges in the following subjects: anthropology, cinema, culture, development studies, history, law, literature, politics, study of religions and languages.
The degree offers students the opportunity to go on a 2-4 week work placement to India during the course of their studies.