SOAS University of London

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

BA World Philosophies (2018 entry)

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  • Teaching and Learning
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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.

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.

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

Fees 2020/21

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2020/21 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



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.

Modules to the equivalent of 120 credits must be taken in each year. Modules to the equivalent of 60 credits are compulsory per year, with students free to select a further 60 credits 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 1
Core Module - Year 1
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Introduction to World Philosophies 158000197 30 Full Year
Compulsory Modules - Year 1

You will take the three Compulsory Modules:

Module Code Credits Term Availability
Introduction to Logic, Critical Reasoning and Argumentation 158000193 15 Term 1
Metaphysics in Comparative Perspective 158000198 15 Term 2
And choose two Compulsory Modules (30 credits) from:

Module Code Credits Term Availability
R110 Introduction to Buddhism 158000110 15 Term 2
R120 Introduction to Hinduism 158000118 15 Term 2
R130 Islam: Religion and Rationality 158000189 15 Term 2
R150 Introduction to Judaism 158000148 15 Term 1 Not Running 2019/2020
R170 Introduction to the Religions of East and Central Asia 158000100 15 Term 2 Not Running 2019/2020
Open Options - Year 1

Choose Modules to the value of 30 credits from the Language Open Options and/or Non-Language Open Options Lists

Year 2
Compulsory Modules - Year 2

You will take the following three Compulsory Modules

Module Code Credits Term Availability
Anglo-European Philosophies and Critical Dialogue: Hermeneutics and Beyond 158000135 30 Full Year
Comparative Ethics 158000199 15 Term 2
Philosophies of Language 158000196 15 Term 1
Guided Options - Year 2

Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from List B: Traditions of Philosophy

Year 3
Compulsory Modules - Year 3

You will take the following two Compulsory Modules

Module Code Credits Term Availability
'The Margins of Philosophy': Postcolonial, Gender, and Queer Epistemologies 158000116 30 Full Year
Independent Study Project in World Philosophies 158000194 30 Full Year
Guided Options - Year 3

Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from List B: Traditions of Philosophy

List B: Traditions of Philosophy

Module Code Credits Term Availability
African Philosophy 155901397 15 Term 1
Philosophy and Decolonisation 155901398 15 Term 2 Not Running 2019/2020
Ancient and Medieval Indian Philosophy 158000098 15 Term 1
Buddhist Philosophy 154800308 15 Term 1 Not Running 2019/2020
R472 Classical Chinese Thought 158000103 15 Term 1
Death and the Meaning of Life 158000172 30 Full Year Not Running 2019/2020
Developments in Muslim Religious Thought 158000188 15 Term 1 Not Running 2019/2020
R440 Jaina Philosophy 158000206 15 Term 2
Islamic Philosophy 155901338 15 Term 1 Not Running 2019/2020
Japanese Buddhist Thought 154800315 15 Term 2
R451 Jewish Identity from Ancient to Modern Times 158000168 15 Term 2 Not Running 2019/2020
Modern Indian Philosophy 158000192 30 Full Year
Modern Jewish Thought 158000178 30 Full Year Not Running 2019/2020
R210 Religion, Power, and Society in Modern Africa 158000005 30 Full Year
R471 Taoism: the Great Tradition 158000181 15 Term 2 Not Running 2019/2020
The Holocaust and the Problem of Evil 158000156 15 Term 2
List C: Extra-departmental Modules
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Gender, Art and Visual Culture: Explorations in the Representation of Southeast Asia 154900181 15 Term 2 Not Running 2019/2020
The `Historical` Buddha: Explorations in Southeast Asian Arts 154900180 15 Term 2 Not Running 2019/2020
General Linguistics: Understanding Language 152900069 30 Full Year
Introduction to Political Theory 153400001 30 Full Year
Islamic Law 155200037 30 Full Year
Issues in Semantics 152900021 15 Term 2
Law, Multiculturalism and Rights 155200064 1 - Not Running 2019/20
Neoliberalism, Democracy and Development 151010045 15 Term 2
Music, Religion and Society in South Asia 155800086 15 Term 1
Nation and Empire in Modern Japanese History 1868-1945 155900882 15 Term 2
Intermediate Semantics 152900088 15 Term 1
Social Theory 151801003 30 Full Year
List D: Languages
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Japanese 1 A 155906026 15 Term 1
Japanese 1 B 155906027 15 Term 2
Japanese 2 155900875 30 Full Year
Japanese 3 155901345 30 Full Year
Japanese 4 155901346 30 Full Year
Hausa 1 A 155906040 15 Term 1
Hausa 1 B 155906041 15 Term 2
Hausa 2(a) intermediate 155900324 30 Full Year Not Running 2019/2020
Hausa 3(a) advanced 155900327 30 Full Year Not Running 2019/2020
Swahili 1 A 155906044 15 Term 1
Swahili 1 B 155906045 15 Term 2
Swahili 2a Intermediate 155900986 30 Full Year
Swahili 3 155900635 30 Full Year
Yoruba 1 A 155906038 15 Term 1
Yoruba 1 B 155906039 15 Term 2
Yoruba 2 155900935 30 Full Year
Introduction to Classical Chinese 155901219 15 Term 2
Reading Classical and Literary Chinese 155901234 30 Full Year Not Running 2019/2020
Tibetan (Classical) 2 155901289 30 Full Year Not Running 2019/2020
Arabic 100 A 155906050 15 Term 1
Arabic 100 B 155906051 15 Term 2
Arabic 400 155900897 30 Full Year
Arabic 200 155901203 30 Full Year
Arabic 300 155901204 30 Full Year
Intermediate Persian Language 155900801 30 Full Year
Persian 3 155900802 30 Full Year
Intensive Persian Language 155901242 60 Full Year
Introduction to Prakrit 155901323 15 Term 1
Readings in Prakrit 155901324 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

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.

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 feel that the thorough and systematic teaching provided by SOAS has given me not only a good knowledge of Sanskrit but also skills in critical thought, linguistic and socio-political analysis and communication that will give me something unique to offer to a graduate employer.

Andrew Werner


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