Overview and entry requirements
The MA History and Intensive Language 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.
See Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies
Why study MA History and Intensive Language at SOAS
- for History we are 11th in the UK (QS World University Rankings 2021) and 45th in the World (QS World University Rankings 2021).
- 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.
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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
- 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.
- 2 years full time, 4 years part time
May be combined with:
Combine MA History and Intensive Language with other subjects
The following Intensive Language pathways are available:
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)
Students take 60 credits in the selected language.
A module(s) from List A below to the value of 30 credits.
Students participate in a Summer School abroad in the selected language to the value of 45 credits
Year 2 (two years full time)
Students take 30 credits in the selected language.
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.
List of Modules (subject to availability)
Comparative / Global
Near and Middle East
South East Asia
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 & Learning
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Language skills appropriate to chosen region and field of study (recommended).
Intellectual (thinking) skills
- 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.
- 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.
- Students should be able to think critically about the nature of the historical discipline, its methodology, historiography, and openness for interdisciplinary approaches.
- 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
- Effective writing and referencing skills, attention to detail and accuracy in presentation.
- Effective oral presentation of seminar papers, articulation of ideas, and constructive participation in seminar discussions.
- 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.
- Ability to formulate research questions and design an independent research project, including the use of primary sources.
- 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
- Critical thinking.
- Ability to communicate effectively in oral and written forms.
- Information gathering skills from conventional and electronic sources.
- Effective time-management, writing to word limits, and meeting deadlines
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.
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
- Blackstock PR
- British Council
- British Library
- Ernst and Young
- Goldman Sachs
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- 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
Nothing can truly describe your own personal SOAS experience, but one thing I can say is that it will be something you will remember for a lifetime and learn from not only your classes, but through life experience while being here.