The thematic components and cross-regional perspectives typically suit students with the following interests and/or aspirations:
- Experienced practitioners of yoga and meditation who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that shaped their traditions.
- Students with a background in psychology seeking to gain knowledge of meditation and mindfulness for their clinical work.
- Students planning to pursue further research which may involve, at a subsequent stage, the acquisition of a doctoral degree and a career in higher education.
- Students seeking to pursue a career or professional activity for which advanced knowledge of the yoga and meditation traditions of Asia is required.
- Students who wish to pursue the academic study of these traditions as a complement to their personal experience.
This degree explores the origins and historical development of yoga and meditation in India and Tibet, from ancient times to the modern world. It would suit yoga/meditation teachers, practitioners, students of religion as well as those with a background in psychology interested in mindfulness therapy.
Full-time and Part-time Study is available.
The Modules run:
- Monday evening: 5.00-7.00 pm
- Wednesday: 11.00-1.00, 1.00-3.00, 5.00-7.00 pm
The thematic, but inter-regional, focus of this MA programme promotes the academic study of the different traditions through the deployment of a wide range of regional perspectives. Its core unit explores the methodological foundations at the heart of yoga/meditation practice. The specialist components integrated within this MA are organised to serve as platform for further (MPhil/PhD) graduate research; the more general components of the programme provides those students who do not intend to pursue doctoral research with an advanced introduction to the physiological dynamics, doctrinal foundations, history, regional context and theoretical presuppositions that shaped the traditions of yoga and meditation. The programme thus offers students (a) advanced knowledge of the background to, and understanding of, yoga and meditation, from their origin in ancient India; (b) advanced skills in research and writing on topics that pertain to yoga/meditation, drawing on both primary sources (in translation) and secondary sources; (c) advanced skills in presentation and communication of their knowledge of the topics covered in the lectures.
The reading materials connected to all four courses of this MA programme are largely disseminated through online resources. Essay submission takes place either in hard copy or electronically.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
Students must complete 120 credits of MA taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits).
Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the Postgraduate Open Options list subject to programme convenor approval.
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
Students are required to follow taught modules to the equivalent of 120 credits AND submit a dissertation of 10,000 words equivalent of 60 credits. All modules in this MA are assessed through a combination of short and long essays. An overall percentage mark is awarded for each module, based on the marks awarded for individual assessment items within the module. The MA may be awarded at Distinction, Merit or Pass level in accordance with the common regulations for MA/MSc at SOAS.
The MA ‘Traditions of Yoga and Meditation’ is designed both as an end qualification in itself and as a platform preparing students for more advanced graduate work.
Programme Learning Outcomes
- Students will learn how to assess data and evidence critically, locate and synthesise source materials, critically evaluate conflicting interpretations and sources, use research resources (library catalogues, journal databases, citation indices) and other traditional sources.
- Subject specific skills, for instance, text analysis, comparative investigations, interpretation of art-historical evidence, familiarity with the study of the traditions of yoga and meditation as a field of critical enquiry in its various regional and historical contexts.
- Aspects of literature in the study of yoga and meditation with its manifestations in philosophy, religion, iconography and history, as well as the impact of these traditions on religious societies.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
- Students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
- Students will develop the capacity to discuss theoretical and epistemological issues in an articulate, informed, and intellectual manner.
- Students will learn to become precise and critical in their assessment of scholarly arguments and to question interpretations, however authoritative, in order to reassess evidence for themselves.
- Students will learn to present complex theoretical arguments clearly and creatively.
- Students will acquire both theoretical and regional expertise in order to develop and apply self-reflexive approaches to the issues raised by the cross-cultural study of yoga and meditation traditions.
Subject-based practical skills
The programme aims to help students with the following practical skills:
- Academic writing
- IT-based information retrieval and processing
- Presentational skills
- Independent study skills and research techniques
- Reflexive learning
The programme will encourage students to:
- Write concisely and with clarity.
- Effectively structure and communicate ideas (oral and written).
- Explore and assess a variety of sources for research purposes.
- Work to deadlines and high academic standards.
- Assess the validity and cogency of arguments.
- Make judgements involving complex factors.
- Develop self-reflexivity.
- Develop an awareness of the ethical complexity of representational practices.
- Question the nature of social and cultural constructs.