SOAS University of London

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

BA World Philosophies (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


Overview and entry requirements

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

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.

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

Why study BA World Philosophies at SOAS

  • we are World Top 50 for Arts & HumUniversity Rankings 2021) - with a rate of 91.7% overall student satisfaction (NSS 2021)
  • SOAS is ranked in the top 5 universities in the UK for producing a CEO or Managirding anities (QS World to new research
  • SOAS academics possess 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 ng Director, acco

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

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

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.
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




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.

Year 1, term 1
You will take TWO Compulsory Modules of 15 credits and TWO guided options of 15 credits:
Module Code Credits Term
World Philosophies in Context 158000211 15 Term 1
Guided Options Year 1 -  from list below. You will take up to 105 credits - starting with term 1 and followed with term 2 modules
Module Code Credits Term
Comparative Ethics 158000199 15 Term 2
Debates, Methods and Themes in World Philosophies 158000209 15 Term 1
Introduction to Logic, Critical Reasoning and Argumentation 158000193 15 Term 2
Introduction to Epistemology 158000210 15 Term 2
Metaphysics in Comparative Perspective 158000198 15 Term 2
Philosophy, Race, and Racism 158000207 - Term 1 15
Reading and Writing Philosophy 158000208 15 Term 1
OR - replace ONE guided option per term with a 15 credit Language module

Open Option Language modules

Year 2 - you will take TWO compulsory modules. 

Module Code Credits Term
Philosophies of Interpretation and Understanding 158000135 30 Full Year
Philosophies of Language 158000196 15 Term 1

Traditions of Philosophies 

Module Code Credits Term
African Philosophy 155901397 15 Term 1
Ancient and Medieval Indian Philosophy 158000098 15 Term 1
Indian Buddhist Philosophy 154800308 15 Term 1
R472 Classical Chinese Thought 158000103 15 Term 1
Islamic Philosophy 155901338 15 Term 2
Japanese Buddhist Thought 154800315 15 Term 2
Modern Indian Philosophy 158000192 30 Full Year
R471 Taoism: the Great Tradition 158000181 15 Term 2
The Holocaust and the Problem of Evil 158000156 - not running in 2020/21 15 -runs in Term 1
R451 Jewish Identity from Ancient to Modern Times 158000168 15 Term 2
Islam: Religion and Rationality 158000189 15 Term 1
R430 Political Islam 154800310 30 Full Year
Death and the Meaning of Life 158000172 30 Full Year
Modern Indian Philosophy 158000192 30 Full Year

30 credits of the Guided Options may be exchanged for a language or non language open option: Language Open Option modules
Year 3 
You will take one compulsory module
Module Code Credits Term
The Margins of Philosophy 158000116 30 Full Year
Independent Study Project in World Philosophies 158000194 30 Full Year
You will select TWO modules of 30 credits from the Traditions of Philosophy List 2 AND the Independent Study Project in World Philosophies OR a further 30 credits from the Traditions of Philosophy List 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

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.

Contact hours

Most courses involve a 50-100-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.



In addition to an understanding of global faiths, histories and cultures, graduates from the Department of Religions and Philosophies develop the skills to analyse and communicate ideas in a clear, rational and comprehensive manner. These key proficiencies are valuable in many careers and are transferable to a wide range of sectors and roles.

Recent Department of Religions and Philosophies graduates have been hired by:

  • Asia Society
  • British Council
  • Cabinet Office
  • Chatham House
  • Edelman
  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Princeton University
  • Royal Government of Cambodia
  • The Happiness Factory
  • The Inter Faith Network for the UK
  • The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
  • United Nations Development Programme

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A Student's Perspective

From Indian Buddhism to Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, the diversity of the courses perfectly fitted my interests in Buddhism.

Qingniao Li

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