Overview and entry requirements
The MA Buddhist Studies with Intensive Language is designed to be an immersive experience that draws on the significant expertise of our diverse academic specialists in the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The structure of SOAS Buddhist Studies provides a unique study pathway characterised by its coherence and flexibility.
The core module Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the major processes and dynamics at work in the growth and development of Buddhism as a world religion and with the key methodological tools required to approach this major cultural force in its fascinating diversity.
The Buddhist Studies postgraduate degree is attractive to students who:
- will pursue further research in Buddhist Studies doctoral degree and a career in higher education
- seek a career for which advanced knowledge of Buddhism as a global cultural force is essential
- study religions as a complement to their personal experience and commitments
- are from traditionally Buddhist countries, willing to broaden their knowledge of Buddhism as a global religion, and to be introduced to an academic approach that is characterised both by its critical distance and empathy
- will take advantage of our Intensive Language pathway options including Japanese, Korean and South East Asian
SOAS academic staff members are qualified to offer guidance and supervision in a wide range of research areas relating to Buddhist literature, doctrine, philosophy, history, ritual, iconography, and art in South Asia, Tibet, Central Asia, China and Japan.
SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies is a hub of distinguished Buddhist scholarship that generates synergy among academics and research students, from SOAS and beyond, involved in the study of Buddhism in Asian societies. It is composed of 17 permanent members of staff and emeriti, as well as a pool of associate and graduate student members from SOAS and other UK institutions.
See Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies
Why study MA Buddhist Studies with Intensive Language at SOAS
- we are World Top 50 for Arts & Humanities (QS World University 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 Managing Director, according to new research
- employability — our strong focus on enhancing your career prospects and practical skills are integrated across the programme
- our Centre of Buddhist Studies convenes The Buddhist Forum, a long-standing and well reputed lecture series offering a venue for international scholars to present their latest research to a wide and interested audience
- SOAS Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions also convenes regular lectures and seminars which frequently include Buddhist topics. The lectures and conferences organised by the Circle of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies predominantly deal with Buddhist art, literature and other aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. There are also lectures and seminars in other departments, which frequently include Buddhist topic
- we are specialists in the delivery of languages — your command of a language from SOAS will set you apart from graduates of other universities
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.
- Full time: 1 calendar year Part time: 2 or 3 calendar years. We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.
May be combined with:
The following Intensive Language pathways are currently available with the MA Buddhist Studies
Students must take 315 credits in total, comprised of 255 taught credits (45 of which are taught abroad as part of a Summer School) and a 60-credit dissertation as outlined below.
In their first year, students on the two-year Intensive Language programmes take 60 credits of intensive language instruction and 60 credits in the discipline. During the summer, they participate in a Summer School abroad. In the second year, they take another 30 language credits as well as 60 credits in the discipline; they also complete their dissertation in the discipline.
Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis.
For information on the programme structure for the four-year part-time version of the programme, please see the pdf programme specification at the bottom of this page.
Please see the relevant web pages in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics for information on the intensive language part of the programme.
Year 1 (two years full time)
Modules in the selected language to the value of 60 credits
Modules from List A, B or C to the value of 60 credits
Modules from List A, B or C OR choose an open option to the value of 30 credits
Summer School abroad for the selected language (45 credits)
Year 2 (two years full time)
Modules in the selected language to the value of 30 credits
Modules from list A, B, or C to the value of 30 credits
Module from list A, B or C OR choose an open option up to the value of 30 credits
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 & Learning
The structure of MA Buddhist Studies provides a unique study pathway, characterised both by its coherence and by its flexibility. The core module "Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies" is taught by four staff whose expertise cover most of Buddhist Asia, provides students with a broad and stimulating journey into key notions and methods in the study of Buddhism.
Students will moreover have to submit a Dissertation in Buddhist Studies of 10,000 words, on a topic chosen from the module chosen as major. The remaining modules may be chosen in the large pool of modules on Buddhist topics and languages, thus allowing each student to build up a specialized knowledge of one or more areas of Buddhist Asia. Students are allowed to take modules taught outside the department of Religions and Philosophies up to one module, which may or may not include a language.
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
- Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
- HELP USA
- 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
Visit SOAS Careers Service
A Student's Perspective
I wanted to be able to study in detail several diverse religious traditions side-by-side, from sociological and historical perspectives as well as theological. The SOAS course has proved ideal in this.