Overview and entry requirements
The MA Religion in Global Politics is designed to appeal to policy-makers, analysts, journalists and researchers in either international, national or regional institutions and organisations engaged in policy formation, inter-religious dialogue and community development, social work, development, conflict resolution, peace building or diversity management. It will also provide a solid basis from which to pursue doctoral study.
The programme is intended to enable professional development in the area of 'Religion and Politics' as well to provide pre-doctoral research training in social scientific analyses of 'Religion and Politics'.
Religion has become a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary global geopolitical landscape and as such demands a reassessment of once predominant understandings of processes of secularisation, as well as the meanings of, and tensions inherent within, secular assumptions and secularist positions.
The so-called 'resurgence' of religion in the public sphere in recent decades is now a significant area of interdisciplinary scholarship eliciting a complex array of responses, ranging from vehement opposition to the very idea that religious concepts and commitments have a right to expression in political debates, to a reassessment of the origins and implications of divisions between the secular and the religious and their relationship to the nation state.
The notion that there is no singular secularism, but rather a plurality of secularisms, and of ‘religion’ as an invention of European modernity and colonial interests are two of many emerging efforts to reconceptualise the meanings of religion and the secular and the entangled relationship between them.
See Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies
Why study MA Religion in Global Politics 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
- the programme offers an opportunity to examine these questions and issues at an advanced level by studying the complex relationships between religion and politics in the histories and contemporary political contexts (both national and international) of the regions of the Asia, Africa and the Middle East
- a core objective is to challenge the Eurocentrism of current debates around secularism, secularisation, the nature of the public sphere within modernity, by indicating the plurality and contested nature of conceptions of both religion and the secular when considered in a global framework
- led by our global community of research-active academic staff the programme is unique: it has a regional focus and disciplinary breadth rarely addressed in similar programmes in the subject area, draws on a wealth of multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives (Law, International Relations and Politics, History, Philosophy, Development, Anthropology, Migration and Diaspora Studies, and Gender Studies, amongst others)
- the programme has a rigorous theoretical basis built in, such that students will be familiarised with the current state-of-the-art debates regarding religion in the public sphere, secularisms, postsecularism and political theology and their relevance to issues of democracy, war, violence, human rights, humanitarianism and development, multiculturalism, nationalism, sectarianism, religious extremism and free speech amongst others
- the range of course options available on the programme is unparalleled, ensuring that students will benefit from a truly interdisciplinary, intellectually rigorous and regionally focused programme
- you may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis
The programme's inter-disciplinary focus aims to provide students with advanced training in the area of religion and politics through the study of a wide range of theoretical and regional perspectives. It will serve primarily as a platform for professional development and further (MPhil/PhD) graduate research. The programme offers students:
- advanced knowledge and understanding of significant approaches, methods, debates, and theories in the field of religion and politics, with particular reference to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East;
- advanced skills in researching and writing about topics in and theorisations of religion and politics;
- advanced skills in the presentation or communication of knowledge and understanding of topics in religion and politics as they pertain to regional, international, and transnational contexts
SOAS has general minimum entrance requirements for registration for a postgraduate taught degree. However, due consideration is given to the applicants’ individual profiles, and to the fact that great potential for the successful undertaking of the academic study of the field is not necessarily acknowledged or certified through the applicant’s academic qualifications. Interviews can be arranged for applicants who do not meet the minimum entrance requirements, and early contact with the programme convenor is advisable.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: October
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.
Students are required to take taught modules to the equivalent of 120 credits, and to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words (60 credits) as outlined below.
Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis:
The part-time MA may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) in the first year, and two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) and the dissertation in the second year.
Alternatively, it can be taken over three years, in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits evenly in each of the three years. The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the degree. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.
Students will take modules up to the value of 30 credits from the list of Guided Options: Religions
Modules up to the value of 30 credits from either Guided Options: Religions OR Thematic and Regional
Modules up to the value of 30 credits from either Guided Options: Religions OR Thematic and Regional OR a language
Guided Options: Religious Traditions
Guided Options: Thematic and Regional Approaches
Anthropology and Sociology
Finance and Management
Global Media and Communication
Languages, Cultures and Lingusitics
Politics and International Relations
See https://www.soas.ac.uk/language-open-options/ for list of available languages
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 MA Religion in Global Politics is designed both as a professional development qualification and as a platform preparing students for doctoral research.
Students are required to follow taught modules to the equivalent of 120 credits and in addition to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words, worth 60 credits. Modules are assessed through a variety of methods including short and long essays, examinations, oral presentations, and response papers. An overall percentage mark is awarded for each module, based on the marks awarded for individual assessment items within the courses. The MA may be awarded at Distinction, Merit or Pass level in accordance with the common regulations for MA/MSc at SOAS.
Programme learning outcomes
- Inter-and multidisciplinary specialist understanding of the relationship between religion/secularism and the public sphere;
- Knowledge of the comparative and historical contexts of religion and secularism;
- Theories and practices of criticism and analysis in relation to core topics in the field of religion and politics in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe;
- Understanding of the disciplinary range of the field and the necessity of engagement with the topic of religion for the understanding of politics;
- Familiarity with various frameworks and key concepts that enable the integration of a variety of perspectives around the problematic of the role of religion in the public sphere and of the interrelationship of state and religious structures, values, and commitments.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
- Precision in assessment of evidence and argumentation;
- Capacity to discuss theoretical and epistemological issues in an articulate, informed, and intellectual manner;
- Precision and critical acumen in the assessment of scholarly arguments and interpretations;
- The ability to assess evidence and arguments independently;
- Effective presentation of complex theoretical arguments and their relationship to empirical data;
- Theoretical and regional expertise in order to develop and apply self-reflexive approaches to dominant issues in the comparative study of religion and politics.
Subject-based practical skills
- Academic and professional writing to the highest standards;
- IT-based information retrieval, processing and data organisation;
- Fieldwork and archival research techniques;
- Research project design;
- Presentational skills;
- Independent study skills;
- Reflexive learning.
- Problem solving and research skills;
- Oral and written communication;
- Critical and independent thought;
- Synthesising of difficult and wide ranging empirical material;
- Regional specialism;
- Working to deadlines and to high standards of presentation and argumentation;
- Ability to make assessments involving complex factors.
Students also benefit from the vibrant learning environment SOAS provides more broadly. 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. Moreover, every year there is a lively events programme that attracts renowned speakers from around the world, allowing students to engage with cutting edge debates on contemporary politics.
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.