SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

MA Historical Research Methods and Intensive Language (2018 entry)

  • Combinations
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning


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Studying History at postgraduate level at SOAS

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Who is this programme for?:

Students must complete 255 credits of taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits).

The programme is tailored for students who wish to proceed to further research on the doctoral level on a topic related to the history of the Near and Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia, East Asia and Africa, but it also makes sense as a stand-alone programme for those who wish to explore a specific topic or question within a shorter period of time.

The two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with a country in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language course would enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

Career opportunities include:

  • Further historical research (PhD)
  • Research positions in government institutions, NGOs, journalism, etc.

This is the only Master-level programme in Historical Research Methods focusing on the study of Asia and Africa in the UK. It provides the unique opportunity to develop and carry out a research project under the guidance of regional specialists and thus an ideal preparation for a research degree. It can also be taken with an intensive language pathway over two years, therefore making this programme unique in Europe.


Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent); relevant background in the region of specialism

Featured events

Full-time: 2 years; Part-time: 4 years


May be combined with:

The following Intensive Language pathways are available with the MA Historical Research Methods


Students must take 315 credits in total, comprised of 255 taught credits (45 of which are taught abroad as part of a Summer School) and a 60-credit dissertation as outlined below.

In their first year, students on the two-year Intensive Language programmes take 60 credits of intensive language instruction and 60 credits in the discipline. During the summer, they participate in a Summer School abroad. In the second year, they take another 30 language credits as well as 60 credits in the discipline; they also complete their dissertation in the discipline.

For information on the programme structure for the four-year part-time version of the programme, please see the pdf programme specification at the bottom of this page.

Please see the relevant web pages in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics for information on the intensive language part of the programme.

Year 1 (two years full time)
Discipline Component
Module Code Credits Term
Debating Pasts, Crafting Histories 15PHIC033 30 Full Year
Language Component

Students take 60 credits in the selected language.

Summer Abroad

Students participate in a Summer School abroad for the selected language.

Year 2 (two years full time)
Discipline Component

A module(s) from List A or B below to the value of 30 credits.


A module(s) from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 30 credits.


A module(s) from List A or B below to the value of 30 credits.

Language Component

Students take 30 credits in the selected language.

Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in History 15PHIC999 60 Full Year
List of Modules (subject to availability)
List A
Module Code Credits Term
Slavery in West Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries 15PHIH028 15 Term 2
Historical Perspectives on Gender in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PHIH029 15 Term 2
Race, Segregation, and Apartheid in Twentieth-century South Africa (PG) 15PHIH003 15 Term 1
Warfare and the Military in Precolonial Africa 15PHIH047 0.5
Warfare and the Military in Modern Africa 15PHIH046 0.5
Near and Middle East
Module Code Credits Term
The Early Development of Islam: Emerging Identities and Contending Views 15PHIH039 15 Term 2
Iran and the Persianate World 1800 to 1979 15PHIH043 0.5
Empire, Law, and Citizenship in the Middle East and the Balkans 15PHIH049 15 Term 2
Encountering the Other: The Middle East during the Crusading Period 15PHIH037 15PHIH037 0.5
Empire and Reform in the Modern Middle East, 1789-1914 15PHIH031 15 Term 1
Nationalism and Revolution in the Modern Middle East, 1914-1979 15PHIH032 15 Term 2
Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners 15PHIH006 0.5
Advanced Cuneiform Texts: The Earliest Literature 15PNMC021 30 Full Year
Advanced Cuneiform Texts: The Age of Empires 15PNMC023 30 Full Year
Sumerian Language 15PNMC024
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
South Asia
Module Code Credits Term
Community, Religion, and Conflict in South Asian History 15PHIH041 15 Term 1
East Asia
Module Code Credits Term
Gender and Empire in Early Modern China 15PHIH024 15 Term 2
Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China 15PHIH022 15 Term 1
The Making of Modern Korea 15PJKH032 15 Term 2
The Two Koreas since 1953 (PG) 15PJKH033 15 Term 2
South East Asia
Module Code Credits Term
Asian Wars : World War II and the End of Empire, 1942-1960 15PHIH038 0.5 unit
List B
Module Code Credits Term
Religions and Development 15PSRH049 15 Term 2
International Politics Of Africa 15PPOC009 30 Credits
Government And Politics In Africa 15PPOC205 30
State and Society In Asia and Africa 15PPOC008 30 Credits
Near and Middle East
Module Code Credits Term
Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism 15PSRH030 15 Term 2
Comparative politics of the Middle East 15PPOC026 30 Full Year
Culture and Society of Near and Middle East 15PANH067 15 Term 1
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
South Asia
Module Code Credits Term
The Religions of Ancient India 15PSRH054 15 Term 2
The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India 15PSRC173 30 Full Year
Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives 15PSRC052 30 Full Year
The Indian Temple 15PARC034 30 Full Year
Imagining Pakistan (PG) 15PSAH013 15 Term 1
The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia 15PSAC314 30 Credits
East Asia
Module Code Credits Term
State And Society In The Chinese Political Process 15PPOC012 30 Credits
East Asian Buddhist Thought 15PSRH018 15 Term 2
The Great Tradition of Taoism 15PSRH036 15 Term 2
South East Asia
Module Code Credits Term
Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters) 15PSEH006 15 Term 1


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

Yes (Summer of first year)

Teaching & Learning

Aims and Outcomes

  • Knowledge of a variety of theoretical issues and methodological approaches relevant for the study of historical problems
  • Practical research and writing skills, developed through the study of primary and secondary sources related to Asian and African history
  • A sound grounding for further research, either in a doctoral programme or in a professional environment
  • A near proficient ability in the a language.



  1. How to locate materials and use research resources (particularly research library catalogues, archival hand lists, and digital resources), assess data and evidence critically from manuscripts, printed, and digital sources, and solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations.  
  2. How to formulate and carry out a research project, based on a thorough knowledge and understanding of the particular field of study chosen by the student, the relevant literature and current debates.
  3. Language skills appropriate to chosen region of study.


Intellectual (thinking) skills

  1. Students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence and understand what the different types of historical sources can and cannot tell us.
  2. Students should question interpretations, however authoritative, maintain an open-minded attitude to interpretations that challenge older interpretations, and reassess evidence for themselves.
  3. Students should be able to think critically about the nature of the historical discipline, its methodology, historiography, and openness for interdisciplinary approaches.
  4. Students should be able to reflect about the potential of historical research on non-Western societies and civilizations for the advancement of the historical discipline and human civilization in general.

Subject-based practical skills

  1. Effective writing and referencing skills, attention to detail and accuracy in presentation.
  2. Effective oral presentation of seminar papers, articulation of ideas, and constructive participation in seminar discussions.
  3. Ability to retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources, effective note-taking, record keeping and planning of projects.
  4. Effective use of relevant professional databases.
  5. In the two year intensive language pathway, to acquire/develop skills in a language to Effective Operational Proficiency level, i.e., being able to communicate in written and spoken medium in a contemporary language

Transferable skills

  1. Critical thinking.
  2. Ability to communicate effectively in oral and written forms.
  3. Information gathering skills from conventional and electronic sources.
  4. Effective time-management, writing to word limits, and meeting deadlines.

Find out more