SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

BA History (2022 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

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Overview and entry requirements

BA History offers students a unique perspective of the history of the world. The programme provides sound foundations of history as a discipline by introducing central approaches and theories in historical analysis. This knowledge is embedded in a global perspective, rather than a Eurocentric one.

Particularly, the programme encourages students to develop their understanding of the regional histories of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East in their own terms, link them to the history of the world, and assess their significance in the world today from a decolonised approach.

The programme supports the development of key skills, including source analysis, collecting data, integrating varied sources and concepts, and the construction and presentation of an argument. All this helps the students cultivate a critical understanding of the diversity of cultures and societies in the world, the historical processes that have produced this diversity, and articulate their own position in it.

Programme aims

  • The programme will allow the student to cultivate their critical understanding of the diversity of cultures and societies in the world today, the historical processes that have produced this diversity and continue to unfold, and the importance of historical context and historical writing in understanding the world today.
  • The programme will allow the student to gain an in-depth understanding of the histories and societies in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
  • The programme will allow the student to develop a critical and decolonised view of the history of the world, using the perspectives and experienced of people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and the sources that they produced.
  • The programme will allow the students to develop their skills in gathering information, processing it within various theoretical and analytical framework, shaping their own arguments using this data, and communicating their stand in various platforms.

Why study BA History at SOAS

  • We are ranked 12th in the UK (QS World University Rankings 2022) 
  • SOAS is ranked in the top 5 universities in the UK for producing a CEO or Managing Director, according to new research
  • our unrivalled focus on the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East will help you cultivate a more critical understanding of the diversity of cultures and societies in the world today, the historical processes that have produced this diversity, and the importance of historical context in understanding past and present
  • our academic staff are specialists in the history of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
  • the flexible structure of your programme allows you to use our Open Options modules to take advantage of the global expertise of one of our other departments, including the opportunity to learn a new language
  • we are specialists in the delivery of languages. Your command of a language from SOAS will set you apart from graduates of other universities


Programme Code: V100BA/H

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

Featured events

3 years

Fees 2022/23

Fees for 2022/23 entrants per academic year

UK fees:
Overseas fees:

Please note that fees go up each year. Further details see 'Fees and funding' (tab on this page) or the Registry's undergraduate tuition fees page.




Students take 120 credits per year composed of Core, Compulsory and Optional modules.

Core modules: A core module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken and passed before you move on to the next year of your programme.

Compulsory modules: A compulsory module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken, and if necessary can be passed by re-taking it alongside the next year of your programme.

Optional modules: These are designed to help students design their own intellectual journey while maintaining a strong grasp of the fundamentals.

In the first year, students take introductory modules only, moving on to intermediate level modules in the second year, and then to advanced modules in their final year.

When selecting modules, some students choose to focus mainly on one region (Africa, Near and Middle East, South, Southeast or East Asia) or topic (e.g. Islam, violence and warfare, gender, modernity).

Others choose to range more broadly, exploring various topics and regions. There are advantages to both approaches, though ideally students will develop an in-depth knowledge of regional histories but also be able to place these histories in comparative context.

Year 1
Students will take the following THREE Compulsory modules plus TWO modules from the Regional Introductions list of 30 credits OR a Language open option of 30 credits
Compulsory modules
Module Code Credits Term
H101 Approaching History (15Cr) 155906742 15 Term 1
H103 Colonial Curricula: Empire and Education at SOAS and Beyond 155906741 15 Term 2
H102 World Histories - Global Encounters and Connectivities 154800293 30 Full Year
Regional Introductions
Module Code Credits Term
H110 Introduction to the History of Africa 154800228 15 Term 1
H120 The Confucian World 154800229 15 Term 1
H130 Introduction to the Early History of the Middle East 154800230 15 Term 1
H140 Introduction to the History of South Asia 154800231 15 Term 2
H150 Introduction to the History of Modern East and Southeast Asia 154800323 15 Term 2
H160 The Middle East in the Modern World 154800324 15 Term 2
Year 2
Students will take the following TWO Compulsory modules plus ONE Thematic module of 30 credits plus TWO H2 Intermediate modules of 30 credits OR an approved open option of 30 credits
Language open options
Non-language open options
Compulsory modules
Module Code Credits Term
H201 Historical Research: Approaches and Methods 154800300 15 Term 1
H200 Historical Research Project 154800319 15 Term 2
Year 3
Students will select ONE H3 special subject module of 30 credits plus ONE Compulsory module of 30 credits plus ONE H2 Intermediate module of 30 credits plus one Thematic module of 30 credits OR ONE H2 Intermediate module of 30 credits OR an approved open option of 30 credits
Language open options
Non-language open options

Compulsory Module
Module Code Credits Term
H500 Dissertation in History 154800150 30 Full Year
Thematic modules
Module Code Credits Term
H211 Cities in History 154800301 15 Term 1
H212 Frontiers in History 154800302 15 Term 2
H213 Gender in History 154800303 15 Term 2
H214 Violence in History 154800304 15 Term 1
H2 Intermediate modules

Y2 and Y3

Module Code Credits Term
H235 Nationalism and Identity in South Asia 154800321 15 Term 1
H236 State and Society in Mughal India 154800286 15 Term 2
H250 The Red Sea World: Reimagining Space 154800326 15 Term 2
H248 Rethinking Middle East History 154800328 15 Term 1
H270 Culture and Society in African History, 1900 to the present 154800244 15 Term 1
H280 Atlantic Slavery and its Legacies in West Africa 154800247 15 Term 2
H296 From Courtesans to Suffragettes: Women in Chinese History, 1600s-1910s 154800320 15 Term 1
H278 Muslim Societies in Africa 154800284 15 Term 2
Islam in Britain 154800312 15 Term 1
H299 Islam in China 154800327 15 Term 2
Modernity, Nation and Identity in Japanese History (1853-1945) 155900882 15 Term 2
The Other Korea: North Korea since 1945 155901356 15 Term 2
H3 Special subject


Module Code Credits Term
H337 Histories of Partition: India and Pakistan 1947 (I) 154800282 30 Full Year
H343 Reform, Resistance and Revolution: the Ottoman Empire 1876-1909 (I) 154800197 30 Full Year
H382 Opium and Empires: Eastern Asia's Narcotic Trade and Culture in Global Context 154800294 30 Full Year
H380 South African Apartheid: Origins, Experience and Aftermath 154800325 30 Full Year

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

Recommended pre-entry reading:
  • JR McNeill and WH McNeill, The Human Web: A Bird’s Eye View of World History (2003)
  • John Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires (2007)
  • CA Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914 (2004)
  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (1991)
  • John Iliffe, Africans: The History of a Continent (2007)
  • Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (1991)
  • Barbara D and Thomas R Metcalf, A Concise History of India (2002)
  • MC Ricklefs et al., A New History of Southeast Asia (2010)
  • Charles Holcombe, A History of East Asia (2017)
  • J Black and DM MacRaild, Studying History (2007)

Programme learning outcomes

  • Gain an outline knowledge of the history of the regions covered by SOAS, the global perspective, and the links between them.
  • Understand different historical approaches and theoretical frameworks developed around the study of history.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • Learn to assess data and evidence critically, from both historical sources and contemporary accounts, and to resolve problems of conflicting sources and interpretations. This combined with understanding the complicated contexts within which historiography is produced and disseminated, and how this affects our understanding thereof.
  • Understand the applicability of theories and analytical frameworks in the study of history and the limitations thereof in capturing complex and multifocal human experiences.
Subject-based practical skills
  • Develop the ability to read and analyse a variety of texts and other sources, primary and secondary, learn how to cope with the fragmentary nature of the historical record which demand the use of a range of sources, and encourage reflexivity in their use.
  • Design and execute a substantial, multi-stage research project, including preliminary formulation, project proposal, execution, modification, and final presentation. The project relies on students learning to synthesize their findings in order to advance firmly- substantiated arguments, which acknowledge both the limits of the evidence and the contingency of the conclusions.
Transferable skills
  • Access and evaluate data from a range of sources effectively and efficiently, practicing precision and caution in their use, and integrate data from multiple sources.
  • Solve complex problems of analysis and synthesis between disciplines, articulate their position, and communicate their position and finding in a coherent way

Contact hours

Tutorials are sessions in which students are expected to present reports and take a lead in discussions.

Modules are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials, usually one hour a week of each. Sometimes, one follows the other in a two-hour bloc. Sometimes, the tutorial is at a different time or on a different day than the lecture.

Depending on the size of the class, some intermediate and advanced level modules are less strictly divided between a formal lecture and a tutorial discussion, and instead, the topic is briefly introduced by the lecturer, followed by a seminar discussion. Advanced level modules, which are usually taught in one two-hour bloc, often take this format.

Introductory modules

These are assessed through a combination of essays, oral presentations on selected readings or topics and a three-hour examination, taken in Term 3. Introductory modules are not open to second- and third-year History students.

Intermediate-level modules

These provide specialised study in particular themes and in the history of particular regions, building on the introductory courses. With the exception of the methodological core course (H201) that is entirely assessed through coursework, intermediate-level courses are assessed by a combination of coursework and exams, taken in Term 3. The weighting of assessment between essays and examination varies, with coursework essays counting for between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of the total mark. For the specifics of each module see the individual module unit listings.

Advanced-level modules

Advanced-level modules, so called ‘special subjects,’ focus on the reading and use of original historical documents, so-called ‘primary sources’. The 300-level modules are in-depth explorations of a specific topic, taught in seminar-style. They are assessed in the same way as intermediate-level modules, i.e., a varying combination of essays and a final examination.

The History dissertation

In their final year, all single-subject History students have to write a 10,000 word dissertation. This can either be:

  • a 400-level module, i.e. a dissertation linked to a 300-level ‘special subject’ module, or
  • a 500-level Independent Study Project (ISP), which provides an opportunity for students to conduct original historical research on their own initiative, to engage in in-depth analysis of a particular subject and to use a range of primary historical sources

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.

Fees and funding



With specialised historical knowledge, an understanding of cultural sensibilities and skills in research and analysis, graduates from the Department of History are well respected by employers across private and public sectors.

Recent graduates from the Department of History have been hired by:

  • Al Jazeera
  • Amnesty International
  • Bank of England
  • BBC
  • Blackstock PR
  • Bonhams
  • British Council
  • British Library
  • Dataminr
  • Ernst and Young
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Google
  • HSBC
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • KPMG
  • Middle East Consultancy Services
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Cyprus
  • Natural History Museum
  • Publicis Media
  • United Nations Development Programme

Find out about the SOAS Careers Service

A Student's Perspective

It’s a global experience and, thankfully, everyone is included, no matter what their colour, religion, or ‘class’.

Mysa Kafil-Hussain


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