SOAS University of London

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

MA South East Asian Studies (2019 entry)

Select year of entry: 2019

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
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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

Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours (or equivalent)

Featured events

One year (full-time) Two or three years (part-time)


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.


Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in South East Asian Area Studies 15PSEC998 60 Full Year

Taught Component

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.

Guided Options

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

Compulsory Modules

Students will take a final 30 credits from the list of South East Asian languages below

List of modules (subject to availability)

Language Modules

Students must take 30 credits from the following list of SEA languages. A maximum of 30 credits only at beginners level.

Module Code Credits Term
Burmese Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH022 15 Term 1
Burmese Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH023 15 Term 2
Burmese Language 2 (PG) 15PSEC045 30 Full Year
Burmese Language and Texts (PG) 15PSEC046 30 Full Year
Indonesian Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH018 15 Term 1
Indonesian Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH019 15 Term 2
Indonesian Language 2 (PG) 15PSEC033 30 Full Year
Indonesian Language 3 (PG) 15PSEC034 30 Full Year
Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH026 15 Term 1
Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH027 15 Term 2
Thai Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH024 15 Term 1
Thai Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH025 15 Term 2
Thai Language 2 (PG) 15PSEC041 30 Full Year
Thai Language 3 (PG) 15PSEC042 30 Full Year
Vietnamese Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH020 15 Term 1
Vietnamese Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH021 15 Term 2
Vietnamese Language 2 (PG) 15PSEC037 30 Full Year
Vietnamese Language and Texts (PG) 15PSEC051 30 Credits
Chinese 1 A (PG) 15PCHH031 15 Term 1
Chinese 1 B (PG) 15PCHH032 15 Term 2
Chinese 2 (PG) 15PCHC011 30 Full Year
Chinese 3 (PG) 15PCHC009 30 Full Year
Chinese 4 (PG) 15PCHC012 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Language 1 A (PG) 15PSAH020 15 Term 1
Sanskrit Language 1 B (PG) 15PSAH021 15 Term 2
Sanskrit Language 2 (Postgraduate) 15PSAC306 30 Credits
Module Code Credits Term
Culture and Society of South East Asia 15PANH066 15 Term 1
Art and Archaeology
Module Code Credits Term
The Figure of the Buddha: Theory, Practice and the Making of Buddhist Art History 15PARH076 15 Term 2
Issues in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art 15PARH083 15 Term 2
Buddhist and Hindu Art of the Maritime Silk Route 15PARH057 15 Term 2
Southeast Asia's Art Histories I 15PARH087 15 Term 1
Module Code Credits Term
Genders and Sexualities in South East Asian Film 15PSEH011 15 Term 1
Economics (Minor only)

Requires module convenor approval

Module Code Credits Term
Economic development in the Asia Pacific region 15PECC030 15 Term 2
Economic Development Of The Asia Pacific Region 2 15PECC031 15
Module Code Credits Term
Asian Wars : World War II and the End of Empire, 1942-1960 15PHIH038 0.5 unit
International Studies and Diplomacy
Module Code Credits Term
Energy Policy in the Asia-Pacific 15PFFH011 15 Term 2
Law (minor only)
Module Code Credits Term
Law and Society in Southeast Asia 15PLAH049 15 Term 2
Islamic Law (MA/LLM) 15PLAC121 30 Full Year
Literature (appropriate language skills required)
Module Code Credits Term
Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters) 15PSEH006 15 Term 1
Directed Readings in a South East Asian Language 15PSEH016 15 Term 1
Literature (no language requirement)
Module Code Credits Term
War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asia Literatures in Translation (Masters) 15PSEH009 15 Term 2
English Literatures of South East Asia 15PSEH013 15 Term 1
Under Western Eyes: European Writings on South East Asia (PG) 15PSEH017 15 Term 1
Music (minor only)
Module Code Credits Term
Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia 15PMUH017 15 Term 2


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

Teaching & Learning

Contact Hours

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.

Transferrable 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.


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
British Embassy
Calyon Corporate and Investment Bank
DesaKota Productions
Education First
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Institut de Recherche sur l'Asie du Sud-Est Contemporaine
Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC)
National Archives of Japan
NBC News
Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA)
Singapore Press Holdings
The Finacial Times
The Japan Foundation
The New York Times
TIME Magazine
Vietnam Holding

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

Programme Editor
Training and event Officer
HM Ambassador
Director - Senior Credit Analyst
Head Of Product Management
Political Attache
Travel Consultant
Desk Officer
Project Manager
Grants, Trusts & Major Donor Fundraiser
Archival Specialist
Associate Consultant
Regional Research Coordinator
Vietnam Correspondent
Senior Lecturer

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

Find out more