SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Society, Culture and Politics in Nepal

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year


None. This module must not be combined with the module 155900812 - South Asian Culture.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This module is intended to introduce undergraduate students to the culture and history of Nepal, the distinctive features of modern Nepali society, and current socio-cultural and political issues and debates in Nepal. It is intended to complement modules in Nepali language and to provide students with the proper context for their more advanced study of language and literature.


A total of 22 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The module will involve a weekly lecture followed by a seminar.  Most lectures will involve slide and powerpoint presentations and students will also be introduced to online resources such as Digital Himalaya.  The weekly topics will be as follows:

  1. Module introduction and context setting: geography, ethnicity, language, religion
  2. The ancient past: Licchavis to Mallas
  3. The medieval period: Gorkha to the Ranas
  4. Caste, ethnicity and the Muluki Ain
  5. Modernity 1: Panchayat to the first Jan Andolan
  6. Modernity  2: democracy 1990-2002
  7. Modernity 3: the Maoist People’s War and its aftermath
  8. Culture, language and identity: the Tarai
  9. Culture, language and identity: the hill regions
  10. Culture, language and identity: the mountains
  11. Culture, language and identity: the Newars
  12. Nepali cultural and political identity outside Nepal
  13. Constructing the state: the new Nepal constitution
  14. Political parties
  15. Civil society and the Nepali media
  16. Democracy, development and fatalism
  17. Gorkhas, Gurkhas and Lahures
  18. Sherpas and  tourism
  19. Gender and Nepali law
  20. Refugees from Bhutan
  21. The history and development of Nepali literature
  22. Two Nepali poets: Laksmiprasad Devkota and Bhupi Sherchan

Texts are read in English translation

Method of assessment

One three hour written examination to be taken in May/June (60%); one essay of 2,5000 words to be submitted on day 2, week 1, term 2 (20%); one essay of 2,5000 words to be submitted on day 2, week 1, term 3 (20%).

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading list for this module will be supplied by the convenor at the beginning of the module.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules