SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

MA History and Intensive Language (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2021 2020

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This is the only Master-level programme in History focusing on the study of Asia, the Middle East and Africa in the UK, and can therefore offer an unrivalled breadth of courses on the history of these regions. The programme provides a sound training in the historical sciences.

It can also be taken with an intensive language pathway over two years, therefore making this programme unique in Europe.

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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?:

The programme would suit students with a keen interest in learning about the historical conditions of the contemporary world, and in particular those who are prepared to look at the world from the perspective of other people and cultures. While the course is open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal applicant would have an UG degree in History (or a related discipline), some knowledge of foreign, including Asian or African languages, and preferably some relevant background in the region of specialism.  

Graduates will find a wide range of career options open to them, in particular those involving inter-cultural or international contact, such as in international organizations, government institutions, non-profit organizations, and journalism, but also museums, educational institutions, or the publishing sector more generally. It would also be a suitable preparation for students considering embarking on a research degree focusing on one of the regional or topical areas of expertise represented in the department.

The two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East 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.


Entry requirements

  • 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.

Featured events

2 years full time, 4 years part time

Fees 2021/22

UK fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2021/22 entrants. This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page



May be combined with:

The following Intensive Language pathways are available with the MA History


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 (10,000 words with a detailed 2,500-word dissertation plan worth 10% of the mark for this module) as outlined below.

There are five regional pathways within the History part of the programme: Africa, East Asia, Near and Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia. If you have any questions about pathway requirements, please contact the programme convenor.

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)
Language Component

Students take 60 credits in the selected language.

Discipline Component
Module Code Credits Term
Debating Pasts, Crafting Histories 15PHIC033 30 Full Year

A module from List A below to the value of 15 credits


A module from the List of Independent Research Essays in History (IREH1) below

Summer Abroad

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

Year 2 (two years full time)
Language Component

Students take 30 credits in the selected language.

Discipline Component

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


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


Choose a module(s) from List A and the List of IREH1 below to the value of 30 credits


Choose a module(s) from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 30 credits


Students must complete a Dissertation (10,000 words) see list of Dissertation Module options below.

List of Modules (subject to availability)
Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in History 15PHIC999 60 Full Year
Independent Research Essay

Student must do AT LEAST one of these essays; each essay is tied to a specified List A module.

Module Code Credits Term
Independent Research Essay in History 1 15PHIH051 15 Term 1
List A
Comparative / Global
Module Code Credits Term
The Making of the Contemporary World 15PHIH035 0.5
Environmental History of Asia 15PHIH023 0.5
Colonial curricula: empire and education at SOAS and beyond 15PHIH054 15 Term 1
Module Code Credits Term
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 2
White Supremacy and African Resistance in Colonial Southern Africa 15PHIH002 0.5
Warfare and the Military in Precolonial Africa 15PHIH047 0.5
Warfare and the Military in Modern Africa 15PHIH046 0.5
Colonialism and Christian Missions in Africa: Readings from the Archives 15PSRH043 15 credits (0.5 unit)
Near and Middle East
Module Code Credits Term
Iran and the Persianate World 1400 to 1800 15PHIH042 0.5
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 1
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
The Origin of Islam: Sources and Perspectives 15PHIH045 0.5
Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners 15PHIH006 0.5
Advanced Cuneiform Texts: The Earliest Literature 15PNMC021 30 Full Year
Sumerian Language 15PNMC024
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
South Asia
Module Code Credits Term
Islam In South Asia 15PHIH044 0.5
Gender, Law, and the Family in the History of Modern South Asia 15PHIH030 0.5
Community, Religion, and Conflict in South Asian History 15PHIH041 15 Term 1
The Body and the Making of Colonial Difference in British India 940: Expansion And Impact 15PHIH033 0.5
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 1
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
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
Medieval Arabic Thought (PG) 15PNMC388 30 credits
Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism 15PSRH030 15 Term 1
Family, Work and Leisure in Ancient Judaism 15PSRH027 0.5
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 30 Full Year
Approaches in Islamic Intellectual History 15PSRH058 - HRP 15PSRH058 15
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
Government And Politics Of Modern South Asia 15PPOC003 30
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
Government And Politics Of Modern South East Asia 15PPOC247


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)

Teaching & Learning

Aims and Outcomes

  • An advanced understanding of the historical sciences and its various methodologies and approaches in general, and specialist knowledge of Asian and African history in particular
  • Practical research and writing skills, developed through the study of primary and secondary sources related to Asian and African history
  • The critical, conceptual, and analytical skills required for historical research as well as for positions of responsibility in all other professions
  • In the two-year pathway, the student will also be provided with a near proficient ability in a language.



  1. Factual knowledge about the histories of Asian and African societies, the ways they interacted with each other and other world regions of the world, and the major historical forces that shaped our contemporary world.
  2. Familiarity with a variety of different approaches to historical research and current scholarly debates, and, on that basis, the ability to formulate a valuable research question.
  3. 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.  
  4. Language skills appropriate to chosen region and field of study (recommended).


Intellectual (thinking) skills

  1. Students should be able to synthesize different kinds of information, 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 analyse and reassess evidence and research questions 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, including relevant professional databases, effective note-taking, record keeping and planning of projects.
  4. Ability to formulate research questions and design an independent research project, including the use of primary sources.
  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.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 1 tuition fee.

Fees for 2021/22 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Fees go up each year, therefore, your tuition fee in your second & subsequent years of study will be higher. Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.

Full-time Part-time 2 Years Part-time 3 Years Part-time 4 Years
Intensive Language only
£10,680 £21,980 £5,340 £10,990 £3,560 £7,330 £5,340 £10,990

Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2021-01-29 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2021-02-15 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – East Asia

Application Deadline: 2021-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Europe

Application Deadline: 2021-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – India

Application Deadline: 2021-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Pakistan

Application Deadline: 2021-05-31 00:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2021-03-08 00:00

Sochon Foundation Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2020-06-05 15:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


Find out more

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