SOAS University of London

Department of Religions and Philosophies

BA World Philosophies

3 years

Fees 2017/18

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2017/18 entrants. 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 Undergraduate Tuition Fees page

2017 Entry requirements

  • Applicants should preferably have studied Philosophy at A-Level.
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications are usually invited
A Levels:
33 (555 at HL)

View alternative entry requirements


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

Scottish Highers: AABBB

Scottish Advanced Highers: ABB

Irish LC: 320 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above

Advanced Placement: 4 4 4 (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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  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
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Programme Code: UGSF0061

Start of programme: September 2016

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.

This programme may also be studied in combination with other subjects (BA World Philosophies and…).

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.


Key Information Set Data


The structure of the BA World Philosophies, taken as a single-subject honours degree, ensures that students gain a rigorous grounding in 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.

Courses to the equivalent of 4 full units must be taken in each year. Courses to the equivalent of 2 full units are compulsory per year, with students free to select a further 2 from a list of options in various traditions or themes in World Philosophies, or to choose a language specialism.

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 one:

(note: half unit courses in ‘Aesthetics’, ‘Philosophy of Mind’, and ‘Political Philosophy’ will be developed in subsequent years to supplement the compulsory half unit courses but will also be available in year 3)

Year two:
Year three:
List I: Traditions of Philosophy
Module Code Unit value Term Availability
African Philosophy 155901397 0.5 UnitsTerm 2
Afrophone Philosophies 155901398 0.5 UnitsTerm 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Classical Chinese Thought 158000103 0.5 UnitsTerm 1
Developments in Muslim Religious Thought 158000188 0.5 UnitsTerm 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Death and the Meaning of Life 158000172 1 UnitFull Year
Buddhist Philosophy 158000195 1 UnitFull Year Not Running 2017/2018
Jewish Identity 15800O168 0.5 - Not Running 2017/18
Modern Indian Philosophy 158000192 1 UnitFull Year
Modern Jewish Thought 158000178 1 UnitFull Year
Non-Violence in Jain Literature, Philosophy and Law 158000054 1 UnitFull Year
Philosophies of the Vedic Traditions: Mimamsa, Vedanta and Vyakarana 158000098 0.5 UnitsTerm 2
Religion, Power and Society in Modern Africa 158000005 1 UnitFull Year
The Holocaust and the Problem of Evil 158000156 0.5 UnitsTerm 1
List II: Extra-Departmental Options
Module Code Unit value Term Availability
General Linguistics: Understanding Language 152900069 1 UnitFull Year
Gender, Art and Visual Culture: Explorations in the Representation of Southeast Asia 154900181 0.5 UnitsTerm 2
The `Historical` Buddha: Explorations in Southeast Asian Arts 154900180 0.5 UnitsTerm 1
Intermediate Semantics 152900088 0.5 UnitsTerm 1
Introduction to Political Theory 153400001 1 UnitFull Year
Islamic Intellectual Tradition 155901338 1 UnitFull Year
Islamic Law 155200037 1 UnitFull Year
Issues in Semantics 152900021 0.5 UnitsTerm 2
Law, Multiculturalism and Rights 155200064 1 UnitFull Year
Modern Jewish Thought 158000178 1 UnitFull Year
Music, Religion and Society in South Asia 155800086 0.5 UnitsTerm 1
Neoliberalism, Democracy and Development 151010045 0.5 UnitsTerm 1
Readings in Japanese Intellectual History 155900882 0.5 UnitsTerm 2


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.

Fees and funding


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

I chose SOAS over any other university because of the languages available to be studied here. At the time I was in Sri Lanka learning Sinhala and I had to make a decision about where I wanted to go. SOAS was the only place in the UK where I could continue learning such an obscure language!

Anna Malzy


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