SOAS University of London

South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

BA Thai and... (2018 entry)

Please note this programme is not accepting applications for 2019/20

  • Combinations
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


Please note this programme is not accepting applications for 2019/20

Prospective students may be interested in our BA South East Asian Studies or BA South East Asian Studies and ... combined degree programmes.

Thailand, formerly known as Siam until 1939, differs from other countries in South East Asia as a result of never having been formally colonized. Its semicolonial status makes it an interesting starting point for comparison with other nations in the region. In 1932 a coup brought an end to the absolute monarchy and established in its place the constitutional monarchy which still remains today. Ever since, the military have played a dominant role in the governing of the country and coups, plots and counter-coups have been a salient feature of the domestic political scene, the most recent occurring in September 2006.

After a turbulent decade in the 1970s, Thailand enjoyed a period of political stability and rapid economic growth, which came to a drastic halt in mid 1997. It has since made some economic growth, partly fuelled by a vibrant tourist industry, despite setbacks in confidence as as a result of the tsunami which devastated its south western coastline in December 2004. Thailand currently enjoys widespread publicity abroad as a result of its popular cuisine and a vibrant film industry that has, in the new millennium, made significant inroads into the international marketplace.

Thai is a member of the Tai family of languages which are dispersed over a wide area of Asia from northern Vietnam to northern India. It is the national language of Thailand and spoken by over 60 million people. Distinct dialects are spoken in the north, north-east and south of the country, but the language of the Central Region is regarded as the standard and is used both in schools and for official purposes throughout the country. The earliest surviving writings in Thai are stone inscriptions, dating back to the 13th century, which often record historical or religious events. By the end of the 18th century a refined court literature encompassing poetry and drama had begun to emerge, sometimes building upon indigenous traditions, sometimes adopting and adapting works of foreign origin. The introduction of printing, the emergence of a reading public as a result of the spread of education and contact with the west stimulated a demand for more reading material toward the end of the 19th century, and by the early 20th century prose fiction had begun to gain popular acceptance.

Today there is an enormous diversity of short stories and novels available.

Thai may be combined with another Asian language, or with a non-language discipline (Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Management, Music, Politics, Social Anthropology or Study of Religions). In addition, Thai may be combined with French; in this combination the European language portion of the degree is taught at University College London, to which initial applications should be directed. The general pattern is that the two-subject degrees are taken over four years, with the third year being spent on a programme of study in Thailand. However, students taking Thai and French spend their third year in France. There are also three-year versions of the degrees in Thai and a discipline which do not involve a year abroad. Students must take 120 credits per year, consulting closely with their tutors when choices arise, and achieving a balance between the two subjects of study.

Programme Code: See 'May be Combined With:'

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • Interview Policy: Candidates with non-standard qualifications may be invited for interview, though many applications are assessed on the basis of the UCAS forms alone.
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 or 4 years


Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


May be combined with:

** Taught at University College London (UCL)

Key Information Set data

Click on a combined programme to load KIS data


Year 1: 3 & 4 Year Degree
Core Module
Module Code Credits Term
Thai Language 1 A 155906072 15 Term 1
Thai Language 1 B 155906073 15 Term 2
Compulsory Module
Other Subject

Students take 60 credits in the other subject.

Year 2: 3 & 4 Year Degree
Core Module
Module Code Credits Term
Thai Language 2 155901367 30 Full Year
Compulsory Module
Module Code Credits Term
Cultural Studies of Mainland South East Asia 155907003 15 Term 1
Compulsory Module

Choose 15 credits from List A.

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits in the other subject.

Year 3: 3 Year Degree
Core Module
Module Code Credits Term
Thai Language 3 155901353 30 Full Year
Compulsory Module

Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A.

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits in the other subject

Year 3: 4 Year Degree

Year abroad in Thailand.

Year 4: 4 Year Degree
Core Module
Module Code Credits Term
Thai Language 4 155901357 30 Full Year
Compulsory Module

Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A.

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits in the other subject

List A

Before selecting a module, student's must first check that the module is at the correct level. They must also ensure that they meet any pre-requisites.

South East Asian Language Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Burmese Language 1 A 155906070 15 Term 1
Burmese Language 1 B 155906071 15 Term 2
Indonesian Language 1 A 155906066 15 Term 1
Indonesian Language 1 B 155906067 15 Term 2
Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1A 155906074 15 Credits
Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1 B 155906075 15 Term 2
Thai Language 1 A 155906072 15 Term 1
Thai Language 1 B 155906073 15 Term 2
Vietnamese Language 1 A 155906068 15 Term 1
Vietnamese Language 1 B 155906069 15 Term 2
Sanskrit Language 1 A 155906064 15 Term 1
Sanskrit Language 1 B 155906065 15 Term 2
Burmese Language 2 155900997 30 Full Year
Indonesian Language 2 155901022 30 Full Year
Thai Language 2 155901367 30 Full Year
Vietnamese Language 2 155900705 30 Full Year
Indonesian Language 3 155901023 30 Full Year
Thai Language 3 155901353 30 Full Year
Vietnamese Language And Texts 155901049 30 credits
Thai Language 4 155901357 30 Full Year
Vietnamese Literature 155901113 30 credits
Non-Language South East Asian Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Thailand On Screen 155901317- 15
Queer Cinema in Asia 155907000 15 Term 2
English Literatures of South East Asia 155901410 15 Term 1
Under Western Eyes: European Writings on South East Asia 155907001 15 Term 1
War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asian Literatures in Translation 155901316 15 Term 2
Extended Essay in South East Asian Studies 155901307 15 Full Year
List A (Final Year only)
Module Code Credits Term
Independent Study Project in South East Asian Studies 155901243 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

Year abroad

The Thai Year Abroad is split between Rak Thai Language School and Thammasat University in Bangkok.

You are expected to take 3 consecutive language modules at Rak Thai Language School, which will typically last from the end of September to the end of December. You will then have a break of approximately three weeks prior to commencing tuition at Thammasat University, joining in their second term. Classes will run from mid-January to the beginning of June, and you will be given a list of available modules before you leave SOAS. Full participation in class, including 100% attendance and completion of class assignments (where possible) and examinations is expected.  Students are expected to sit the examinations for each module, although passing is not a prerequisite for re-entry to year 4 at SOAS.

Students must also complete and submit a 5,000 word ISP by 1 September 2016 on a topic agreed with the Year Abroad Programme Convenor at SOAS. The topic chosen should involve speaking to Thai informants and consulting Thai written materials. Past topics have included pronominal usage in Thai, selected works of a famous writer, Buddha amulets, the making of the Thai blockbuster, Suriyothai, and provincial goldsmiths. Students will take an entry examination in Thai in the registration week of term 1 of their fourth year.

You are expected to make your own accommodation arrangements. The university would be happy to assist with/provide this, but on past experience, students have preferred to find their own accommodation. Small, one-room apartments with air-conditioning located near to the University can be found for about 6-8,000 Baht per month (c. £100).

Teaching & Learning

Contact Hours

All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks). The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS). It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others.

In the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, undergraduate modules take various forms. Modules may be taught through 1 or 2 hours of lectures a week, and some may have an additional 1-2 hours of weekly seminars. Languages classes may be 4-5 hours per week in the first and second year, typically less at higher levels.

More information is on the page for each module.

Module Information 

Language teaching is mostly in small tutorial groups; tapes and language laboratory facilities are available for formal teaching and self-study. Non-language modules are taught by lecture and seminar. Students are assessed by a combination of written examination (and oral for language modules) and coursework, including essays and translations.

Special Features

The SOAS's teaching is backed up by the South East Asia collection within the SOAS library, one of the world’s major collections of information in the field of South East Asian studies. The South East Asia collection now contains over 6500 books and pamphlets and 550 periodical titles as well as substantial collections of microfilms and manuscripts.

Pre Entry Reading

Further reading:

  • Baker, Chris and Pasuk Phongpaichit.  A History of Thailand. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009 (2nd ed.).
  • Cornwel-Smith, Philip. Very Thai. Bangkok, Thailand: River Books, 2005.
  • Mulder, Niels. Inside Thai Society: Religion, Everyday Life, Change. Chiangmai: Silkworm Books, 2000.


As a graduate who specialised in Thai, you will have gained competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a study of language in combination with literature, development studies, economics, geography, history, history of art and archaeology, law, linguistics, music, politics, social anthropology or religion.

Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers, both in business and in the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources. Choosing to study a joint degree programme will increase the breadth of your knowledge, and will develop additional skills with which to further your studies of the region, or to make comparative study with other areas. The study of Thai may be combined with a huge range of other disciplines. For more information on the extra skills you will gain from your second subject, please see the relevant departmental page.

Former students in the Department of South East Asia have gone on to work in a variety of capacities in commerce, industry, teaching, the media, finance, the civil service, academe, the armed forces and other spheres. Some have chosen to work in South East Asia or have found work related to the region thus being able to make direct use of their linguistic and cultural expertise.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

One of the highlights of my course has been having the opportunity to study for one year at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. It was really daunting at first but there is no better way to learn a language than to totally immerse yourself in it and you learn all about the society and culture that you’re living in.

Nicholas Day

Find out more