The MA in South East Asian Studies provides exceptional opportunities for advanced study of one of the world’s most diverse and important regions.
Students on the programme come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some come into the programme having acquired an interest in South East Asia during their undergraduate career or as a result of travelling in the region.
The programme also attracts mature students: some take the MA as a partial preparation for employment in the region; others, having lived in South East Asia for a number of years, seek to place their experience and impressions into a more structured, analytical framework.
Knowledge of a South East Asian language is not a pre-requisite for admission to this programme. However, all students on this programme are required to take a South East Asian language as one their modules.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- Minimum upper second class honours (or equivalent)
- One year (full-time)
Two or three years (part-time)
- UK/EU fees:
- Overseas fees:
Fees for 2020/21 entrants. This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page
Students take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. A maximum of 60 credits can be taken from one discipline and a minimum of three disciplines must be covered. All students on this programme are required to take a South East Asian language as one their modules. For students opting to take two language acquisition modules, only one of these can be at an introductory level.
Some disciplines such as politics, economics or social anthropology require an appropriate qualification (such as part of a first degree) if any of their modules are to be taken as the major subject.
A maximum of 60 credits can be taken from one discipline and a minimum of three disciplines must be covered. For students opting to take two language acquisition modules, only one of these can be from an introductory level.
Students will take 60 credits from the list of modules below
Guided Options or Open Options
Students will take 30 credits from the list of modules below or the list of Postgraduate Open Options
Students will take a final 30 credits from the list of South East Asian languages below
List of modules (subject to availability)
Students must take 30 credits from the following list of SEA languages. A maximum of 30 credits only at beginners level.
Art and Archaeology
Economics (Minor only)
Requires module convenor approval
International Studies and Diplomacy
Law (minor only)
Literature (appropriate language skills required)
Literature (no language requirement)
Music (minor only)
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
One-year Masters programmes consist of 180 credits. 120 credits are taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks); the dissertation makes up the remaining 60 units. 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, including reading and research, preparing coursework and revising for examinations. 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. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.
More information is on the page for each module.
- How to locate and evaluate data from a variety of sources.
- Knowledge of aspects of the region, such as its history, politics, economics, arts, religions etc.
- Subject specific skills, such as an awareness of current critical thinking in a specific field, and the acquisition of language skills.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
- Development of precision and caution in assessing evidence.
- Development of critical awareness and independence of thought.
- Sensitivity to the existence of non-Eurocentric views and an awareness of the limitations of purely Eurocentric interpretations.
- Awareness of the value of a South East Asian language in understanding the culture of a specific country within the region.
Subject-based practical skills
- Development of written communication skills.
- Development of oral communication skills.
- Development of research skills.
- Development of language skills.
- Effective oral and written communication skills.
- Ability to access and assess information from both traditional and electronic sources.
- Ability to work to deadlines.
- Ability to interact with native speakers of the language at an appropriate level.
Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.
This is a Band 1 tuition fee.
Fees for 2020/21 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Fees go up each year, therefore, your tuition fee in your second & subsequent years of study will be higher. Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.
||Part-time 2 Years
||Part-time 3 Years
||Part-time 4 Years
Intensive Language only
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section
A postgraduate degree in South East Asian studies from SOAS provides its students with competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature, history, cinema, politics, economics or law.
Postgraduate students are equipped with linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research, along with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in
many professional and management careers in business, public or charity sectors. 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. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.
Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:
|American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce
BBC Worldwide Japan Ltd
Calyon Corporate and Investment Bank
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Institut de Recherche sur l'Asie du Sud-Est Contemporaine
Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC)
|National Archives of Japan
Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA)
Singapore Press Holdings
The Finacial Times
The Japan Foundation
The New York Times
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
Training and event Officer
Director - Senior Credit Analyst
Head Of Product Management
Grants, Trusts & Major Donor Fundraiser
Regional Research Coordinator
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
A Student's Perspective
Magda Biran Taylor
I always maintained my early interest in South East Asia and hoped to return to SOAS one day, in order to complete my studies. The opportunity to do this occurred when I retired. I am now studying for an MA in South East Asian Studies.