SOAS University of London

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

BA Languages and Cultures (2020 entry)

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BA Languages and Cultures at SOAS

The BA Languages and Cultures degree introduces  students to the cultures and societies of Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia through the study of languages, film, literature and cultural studies.

In the first year, students are equipped with a broader understanding of these regions in order to gain a vital comparative perspective. Students will have the opportunity to explore particular regional interests through their language study, selected optional modules and in their course work throughout the degree, culminating in the final year Study Project where, guided by lecturers, they will draw on skills gained over the course of the degree to produce their own original research.

Language is crucial to the understanding of culture and therefore all students will be required to choose from a range of languages in their first year of study. We encourage students to further develop their language skills as the degree progresses. Students will have the option to spend a year abroad or a summer abroad to gain cultural and linguistic fluency in languages including Swahili, Turkish, Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Indonesian and Vietnamese.

Key critical thinking, project management and study skills are built into the programme to ensure that students graduate with a range of transferable skills ensuring they are prepared for a range of careers.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Who is this programme for?:

This programme is designed for students who are interested in the languages and cultures of four of the key areas of SOAS specialisation: Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia.

The programme provides students with in-depth understanding of one these key world regions and is grounded in the study of one or more languages of the region. At the same time the programme gives students access to SOAS’s comprehensive cross-regional expertise and so provides them with an understanding of the interconnectedness of these regions in an increasingly globalised world.

The programme provides students with a solid methodological, interdisciplinary foundation and allows them to develop a holistic and integrated approach to the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East through their languages and cultures.

Entry requirements

A Levels:
35 (665 at HL)

View alternative entry requirements


Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction

Scottish Highers: AAABB

Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB

Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above

Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0

Euro Bacc: 80%

French Bacc: 14/20

German Abitur: 2.0

Italy DES: 80/100

Austria Mat: 2.0

Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

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Year 1 Guided Curriculum: Foundations

All students will take two 15 credit modules from the list of languages below plus all of the following modules:

Module Code Credits Term
Cultures of Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia I: Basic Terms and Concepts 152900122 15 Term 1
Languages of the World 152900118 15 Term 2
Decolonising Otherness 152900120 15 Term 2
Language, Learning and Writing 152900117 15 Term 1
Literatures of Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia 1: The Art of Storytelling 155901379 15 Term 1
Films of Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 155901317 15 Term 2

Year 2 Guided Curriculum: Momentum

All students will take two 15 credit modules from the list of languages or from List A below plus all of the following modules:

Module Code Credits Term
Introduction to Research 152900121 15 Term 2
Beyond Regions: Oceans, Networks, Trajectories 155906706 15 Term 1
Understanding Texts 152900123 15 Term 1
Cultures of Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia II: Selected Topics 155900947 15 Term 2
Literatures of Africa, Middle East, South and South East Asia 2: Of Love, Loss and Desire 155901277 15 Term 1
Films of Asia, Africa and the Middle East 2 155901354 15 Term 2

Year 3 Optional Year Abroad

Year Abroad for Students taking the 4-year programme

Final Year 3/4 Guided Curriculum: Designing your own Pathway

Students have the option to take either a 15 credit Arabic module level 5 or 6 from the Language List below or Directed Readings in Asia, Africa and the Middle East or a 15 credit module from List A or B


Students will take either a 30 credit Independent Study Project (ISP) or a 30 credit Translation Project.


Students will take modules to the value of 30 credits from List A or B and/or Open Options


Students will take one 15 credit module from either List B, open option or list of Languages

List A

Module Code Credits Term
H211 Cities in History 154800301 15 Term 2
Comparative Ethics 158000199 15 Term 2
Cultural Studies of South and South East Asia 155907002 15 Term 2
Cultures of Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia II: Selected Topics 155900947 15 Term 2
Cinemas of the Middle East and North Africa 1 155905000 15 Term 1
Language, Identity and Society in Africa 15
H213 Gender in History 154800303 15 Term 1
Introduction to Arabic Culture 155901205 15 Term 1
Introduction to Arabic Literature 155905004 30 credits
Literatures of the Islamic Near and Middle East 155900991 15 Term 2
Contemporary Middle East Fiction A: Identity and Belonging 155906727 15 Term 1
H214 Violence in History 154800304 15 Term 1

List B

Module Code Credits Term
Cinemas of the Middle East and North Africa 2 155905001 15 Term 2
Classical Persian Poetry 155901372 15 Full Year
Classical Ottoman Texts 155900744 15 Full Year
Contemporary African literature 155900839 15 Term 1
Culture Society and Politics in Classical Arabic Literature 155901373 15 Full Year
Introduction to Translation Theory 152900113 15 Term 1
Jerusalem: City in Conflict (UG) 155905003 15 Term 1
Language, Society and Communication 152900083 15 Term 1
Perspectives on African experience 155900933 30 Term 1
Queer Cinema in Asia 155907000 15 Term 2
Under Western Eyes: European Writings on South East Asia 155907001 15 Term 1
War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asian Literatures in Translation 155901316 15 Term 2
Introduction to Yoga Studies 155906085 15 Term 2
R490-Zoroastrianism in the Ancient and Modern Worlds 158000029 -Not running 21/22

List of Languages

Please note the 30 credit languages will be split into two 15 credit modules (A and B)

Module Code Credits Term
Amharic 1 A 155906036 15 Term 1
Amharic 1 B 155906037 15 Term 2
Bengali Language 1 A 155906054 15 Term 1
Bengali Language 1 B 155906055 15 Term 2
Burmese Language 1 A 155906070 15 Term 1
Burmese Language 1 B 155906071 15 Term 2
Hausa 1 A 155906040 15 Term 1
Hausa 1 B 155906041 15 Term 2
Hebrew 1 A 155906052 15 Term 1
Hebrew 1 B 155906053 15 Term 2
Hebrew 2 A (UG) 155906734 15 Term 1
Hebrew 2 B (UG) 155906733 15 Term 2
Hindi Language 1 A 155906056 15 Term 1
Hindi Language 1 B 155906057 15 Term 2
Hindi Language 2 155901183 30 Full Year
Indonesian Language 1 A 155906066 15 Term 1
Indonesian Language 1 B 155906067 15 Term 2
Indonesian Language 2 155901022 30 Full Year
Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1 A 155906074 15 Term 1
Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1 B 155906075 15 Term 2
Nepali Language 1 A 155906060 15 Term 2
Nepali Language 1 B 155906061 15 Term 2
Ottoman Turkish Language A 155900549 15 credits
Persian 1 A 155906048 15 Term 1
Persian 1 B 155906049 15 Term 2
Persian 2 A (UG) 155906714 15 Term 1
Persian 2 B (UG) 155906713 15 Term 2
Introduction to Prakrit 155901323 15 Term 1
Punjabi Language 1 A 155906062 15 Term 1
Punjabi Language 1 B 155906063 15 Term 2
Sanskrit Language 1 A 155906064 15 Term 1
Sanskrit Language 1 B 155906065 15 Term 2
Sanskrit Language 2 155901304 30 Full Year
Somali 1 A 155906034 15 Term 1
Somali 1 B 155906035 15 Term 2
Swahili 1 A 155906044 15 Term 1
Swahili 1 B 155906045 15 Term 2
Swahili 2a Intermediate 155900986 30 Full Year
Thai Language 1 A 155906072 15 Term 1
Thai Language 1 B 155906073 15 Term 2
Turkish 1 A 155906046 15 Term 1
Turkish 1 B 155906047 15 Term 2
Turkish 2 A (UG) 155906710 15 Term 2
Turkish 2 B (UG) 155906709 15 Term 2
Urdu Language 1 A 155906058 15 Term 1
Urdu Language 1 B 155906059 15 Term 2
Urdu Language 2 155900513 30 Full Year
Vietnamese Language 1 A 155906068 15 Term 1
Vietnamese Language 1 B 155906069 15 Term 2
Yoruba 1 A 155906038 15 Term 1
Yoruba 1 B 155906039 15 Term 2
Yoruba 2 155900935 30 Full Year
Zulu 1 A 155906042 15 Term 1
Zulu 1 B 155906043 15 Term 2

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

Contact Hours

All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks). The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional. 

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS). It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others.

In the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, undergraduate modules take various forms. Modules may be taught through 1 or 2 hours of lectures a week, and some may have an additional 1-2 hours of weekly seminars. Languages classes may be 4-5 hours per week in the first and second year, typically less at higher levels.

More information is on the page for each module.

Teaching is normally provided by lecture or seminar and students are required to attend such classes. Most modules involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.

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.


After graduating, Languages and Cultures graduates, with the regional specific expertise gained through this degree programme and enhanced by the year-abroad experience, are able to move between careers, using their language, communication and intercultural skills to adapt to different sectors and industries and become successful leaders, innovators and managers.

Languages and Cultures graduates are found throughout the creative industries and the cultural sectors, as well as in education, the media, policy making and service industries where they apply the skills and knowledge of their disciplines more directly.

Language graduates not only have advanced linguistic skills, but also a high degree of cultural awareness, communicative competence and an easy way of adopting different perspectives and thinking outside the box. The BA Languages and Cultures provides a rich context for the development of higher-level skills and lifelong learning that will allow the workforce of the future to cope, adapt and thrive.

These are qualities highly valued in any professional context, and by employers from across the spectrum, and having proficiency in more than one language qualifies you to work for a much larger selection of clients and employers. Internationally oriented companies, in particular, recognise the significant importance of language knowledge at recruitment stage and further into employment.

A Student's Perspective

Let me put it like this: studying South Asia at SOAS is a greatly enriching experience.

Michele Serafini (Italy)

Find out more