SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

BA World Philosophies and ... (2018 entry)

  • Combinations
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


This programme may also be studied as a single-subject degree (BA World Philosophies).

Programme Description

Philosophy has been a significant activity in most cultures for several thousand years. It seems to be a natural development of human societies to ask complex questions about the fundamental nature of reality, about what it is to be human, about what constitutes a good life, about the nature of beauty, justice, knowledge and truth, of how to confront and resolve ethical dilemmas. 

A degree in philosophy from SOAS, with its focus on the philosophical traditions of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, offers you the opportunity to become conversant with the formal epistemological systems and traditions of argumentation, political and ethical systems of thought, and analysis from a wider range of societies and historical contexts than those of the traditional philosophy graduate.  Not only do we have a range of unparalleled expertise in the philosophical traditions of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, many of the School’s lecturers are trained in and conversant with European philosophical traditions. The range of languages offered in the School ensure that you will encounter philosophical traditions in their vernacular contexts. 

In addition to the ability to think critically and logically, acquired through the study of philosophy in general, the study of philosophies from Asia, Africa and the Middle East will enable you to take a broad, balanced, and comprehensive view, to listen attentively to and understand others’ viewpoints with empathy and deep cultural insight. With these skills in hand, you will develop the capacity to become effective mediators between and within diverse societies, in complex and demanding environments and situations. SOAS is uniquely placed to offer a philosophy programme that can equip students with the skills and training to meet this challenge.

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Who is this programme for?:

This degree will suit high-performing students with a global outlook, an interest in diverse philosophical traditions and cultural parameters of non-Western societies, coupled with an aptitude in intellectual history and critical thought. Individuals with inter-cultural competency—the ability to exchange values and concepts, to value and communicate different modes of understanding in the marketplace of ideas—are in huge demand in the job market.

Entry requirements

  • Subjects Preferred: Applicants should preferably have studied Philosophy at A-Level.
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications are usually invited
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

Featured events

3 years

Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


May be combined with:

+ 4-year degree with (compulsory) one year abroad
++ 3 or 4-year degree with option of one year abroad
* Taught at King's College, London

Key Information Set data

Click on a combined programme to load KIS data


The structure of the BA World Philosophies and… introduces students to core philosophical themes, concepts, problems and approaches drawn from European, Anglophone, and non-European philosophical traditions with an accompanying flexibility built in to enable regional or thematic specialism or language capability. Taken as a joint honours degree, it enables students to combine study of the core and compulsory components of World Philosophies with a number of other subject areas offered in the School.

Modules to the equivalent of 30 credits must be taken in each year. In year 1 and 2, modules to the equivalent of 30 credits are compulsory, with students choosing modules for the remaining credits from a list of defined options. In year 3, both modules are compulsory.

The first year of the programme provides an essential foundation in World Philosophies, and introduces core topics in Philosophy, with additional options available that enable focus on discrete traditions, a language, or thematic components.

The second year builds on the foundations established in the first year, enabling students to grapple with questions of interpretation, hermeneutics, phenomenology, and dialogue between and within philosophical traditions. Core components of philosophical methods and concepts are also taught and students are encouraged to develop a regional or thematic specialism, choosing from a wide range of options that address philosophical themes or offer training in specific philosophical traditions. Language training is also encouraged.

The third and final year is characterised by a focus on epistemology and critique, independent research, and the consolidation of a chosen regional or thematic specialism. All students undertake a supervised Independent Study Project which is intended to consolidate and extend a student’s philosophical tradition-based understanding and knowledge applied to prominent themes or debates in the field of World Philosophies.

Programme Overview

Year 1
Core Module - Year 1
Module Code Credits Term
Introduction to World Philosophies 158000197 30 credits (1 unit)
Guided Options - Year 1-term 1

Any module from List 1: Philosophy Benchmarks, Term 1

Students must select a further 30 credits from the following list:

Year 2
Compulsory Module - Year 2
Module Code Credits Term
Philosophies of Interpretation and Understanding 158000135 30 Full Year
Guided Options - Year 2

You will choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the following:

Students must select a further 30 credits from the following list:

Year 3
Compulsory Modules - Year 3
Module Code Credits Term
The Margins of Philosophy 158000116 30 Full Year
Independent Study Project in World Philosophies 158000194 30 Full Year
Students must select a further 30 credits from the following list:

List A:

Students must select a total of 30 credits from this list (30 in Y1 or 30 in Y2 or 15 in Y1 and 15 in Y2).

Year 1

Modules that can be taken in year 1

Module Code Credits Term
Introduction to Logic, Critical Reasoning and Argumentation 158000193 15 Term 2
Metaphysics in Comparative Perspective 158000198 15 Term 2
Year 1 or 2

Modules that can be taken in year 1 or 2

Module Code Credits Term
Comparative Ethics 158000199 15 Term 2
Philosophies of Language 158000196 15 Term 1
List B:

Students must select a total of 30 credits from this list over the course of the programme. Some module may not be available to Y1-students.

Year 1

Modules that can be taken in year 1

Module Code Credits Term
Islam: Religion and Rationality 158000189 15 Term 1
R150 Introduction to Judaism 158000148 15 credits (0.5 unit)
List 3:Traditions of Philosophy Modules
Module Code Credits Term
African Philosophy 155901397 15 Term 1
Philosophy and Decolonisation 155901398 15 Term 2
Indian Buddhist Philosophy 154800308 15 Term 1
Death and the Meaning of Life 158000172 30 Full Year
Developments in Muslim Religious Thought 158000188 15 credits (0.5 unit)
Jaina Philosophy 158000206 15
R451 Jewish Identity from Ancient to Modern Times 158000168 15 Term 2
Modern Indian Philosophy 158000192 30 Full Year
Modern Jewish Thought 158000178 15 Full Year
The Holocaust and the Problem of Evil 158000156 - not running in 2020/21 15 -runs in Term 1
Islamic Philosophy 155901338 15 Term 2
Shi'a Islam: Religious Authority and Community Identity 158000147 30 credits
R471 Taoism: the Great Tradition 158000181 15 Term 2
R490-Zoroastrianism in the Ancient and Modern Worlds 158000029 -Not running 21/22
Ancient and Medieval Indian Philosophy 158000098 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

Teaching & Learning

Most courses involve a 50- 100-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes. The course is examined through written and oral examinations and coursework. In addition, the Independent Study Project (ISP) in year 3 facilitates supervised student research in a prominent topic or debate in the field of World Philosophies.

SOAS Library
The 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.


A degree in philosophy is highly regarded by employers of many kinds. They understand the skills acquired in the study of philosophy as important for management and leadership roles.  

  • Philosophy teaches students how to analyse and communicate ideas in a clear, rational and comprehensive manner. 
  • Students of philosophy learn solid argumentation skills and critical analysis: they learn how to learn, how to develop solid reasoning and assess the strengths and weakness of arguments, and how to communicate their ideas effectively and persuasively. 
  • Students of philosophy develop skills of vision, creativity, and analytical power which are valuable in all contexts where precision, clarity and sophisticated abstract planning and analysis are required. 

The BA World Philosophies degree will thus be of value to those students wishing to pursue careers that require the acute ability to negotiate with other cultures and communities at all levels, from international development, information technologies, management, finance and banking, the civil service, human-rights and international law, diversity management and local government, journalism, as well as the diplomatic corps, and in transnational policy formation roles.

Prospective careers include:
  • International diplomacy
  • Education
  • Legal profession
  • Civil Service
  • Marketing
  • Journalism
  • Psychotherapy
  • Recruitment
  • Finance and Business consultancy/analysis
  • Banking
  • Information Technology
  • International development
  • Government and politics
  • Charitable/NGO sector
  • Arts management

A Student's Perspective

It proved to be a highly stimulating research environment, fostering my analytical skills and allowing me to get in touch with a number of important personalities in my field.

Tullio Lobetti

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