SOAS University of London

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

MA South East and Pacific Asian Studies (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


Overview and entry requirements

The MA South East and Pacific Asian Studies programme provides exceptional opportunities for advanced study of one of the world’s most diverse and important regions, and students gain competency in language skills, intercultural awareness and understanding.

Students on this programme come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some join after having acquired an interest in South East Asia during their undergraduate career, or as a result of travelling in the region. 

This South East and Pacific Asian Studies MA programme also attracts mature students: some take the MA degree as a partial preparation for employment in the region; others, having lived in South East and Pacific Asia for a number of years, seek to place their experience and impressions into a more structured, analytical framework.

Knowledge of a South East or Pacific 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 or Pacific Asian language as one their modules.

See South East Asia Department

Why study South East and Pacific Asian Studies at SOAS

  • SOAS is ranked 1st in London in the Complete University Guide 2021 for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and 6th in the UK
  • Ranked 8th in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2021 for South Asian Studies
  • SOAS is specialist in the studies of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia
  • access SOAS’s comprehensive cross-regional expertise and gain an understanding of the interconnectedness of these regions in an increasingly globalised world.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • 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.

Featured events

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




Students take 180 credits, 60 credits from a dissertation and 120 credits 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 and Pacific Asian Studies 15PSEC997 60 Full Year

Taught Component

All students will take:

  • The 15 credit compulsory module 'Remapping Area Studies'
  • A 15 credit language and culture module from List A
  • A 15 credit module from List A or List B
  • Area Studies modules to the value of 30 credits from List B
  • Language modules to the value of 30 credits from the Language Options List
  • A 15 credit module from List B or the list of postgraduate open options

Module Code Credits Term
Remapping Area Studies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PNMH053 15 Term 1

List A: Language and Culture Modules

Module Code Credits Term
Genders and Sexualities in South East Asian Film 15PSEH011 15 Term 1
English Literatures of South East Asia 15PSEH013 15 Term 1
War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asia Literatures in Translation (Masters) 15PSEH009 15 Term 2
Language, Society and Communication (Masters) 15PLIH004 15 Term 1

List B: Area Studies Modules

Module Code Credits Term
750B Ethnographic Locations: East Asia 15PANH062 15
Culture and Society of Japan 15PANH065 15 Term 1
Culture and Society of South East Asia 15PANH066 15 Term 1
Culture and Society of Taiwan (PG) 15PCHH003 15 Term 1
Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia 15PMUH017 15 Term 2
Southeast Asia's Art Histories I 15PARH087 15 Term 1
Southeast Asia's Art Histories II 15PARH100 15 Term 2
Modern and Contemporary Korean Art 15PARH060 15 Term 2
Issues in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art 15PARH083 15 Term 2
The Silk Road and its Origins: Art and Archaeology 15PARH095 15 Term 1
Arts of Modern and Contemporary China (since 1800) 15PARH055 15 Term 2
China and the Silk Road: Art and Archaeology 15PARH093 15 Term 2
Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers 15PSRC071 30 Full Year
Economic development in the Asia Pacific region 15PECC030 15 Term 2
Economic Development Of The Asia Pacific Region 2 15PECC031 15
Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China 15PHIH022 15 Term 1
Gender and Empire in Early Modern China 15PHIH024 15 Term 2
Historical Perspectives on Gender in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PHIH029 15 Term 2
Energy Policy in the Asia-Pacific 15PFFH011 15 Term 2
Law and Society in Southeast Asia 15PLAH049 15 Term 2
State and Society in the Chinese Political Process 1 15PPOH071 15 Term 1
State and Society in the Chinese Political Process 2 15PPOH072 15 Term 2
Politics of Island Southeast Asia 15PPOH066 15 Term 2
Politics of Mainland Southeast Asia 15PPOH067 15 Term 1
Political Economies of Northeast Asia: Japan, Korea and Taiwan 15PPOH061 15 Term 2
Comparing Democracies in North East Asia 15PPOH050 15 Term 2

Language Options

Students should choose from the following ab initio modules (or a higher level subject to programme convenor approval)

Module Code Credits Term
Burmese Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH022 15 Term 1
Burmese Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH023 15 Term 2
Chinese 1 A (PG) 15PCHH031 15 Term 1
Chinese 1 B (PG) 15PCHH032 15 Term 2
Indonesian Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH018 15 Term 1
Indonesian Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH019 15 Term 2
Japanese 1 A (PG) 15PJKH035 15 Term 1
Japanese 1 B (PG) 15PJKH036 15 Term 2
Korean 1 A (PG) 15PJKH037 15 Term 1
Korean 1 B (PG) 15PJKH038 15 Term 2
Thai Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH024 15 Term 1
Thai Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH025 15 Term 2
Vietnamese Language 1 A (PG) 15PSEH020 15 Term 1
Vietnamese Language 1 B (PG) 15PSEH021 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

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.

Contact hours

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.

Learning outcome

  • 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.

SOAS Library

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. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.



A postgraduate degree in South East and Pacific Asian Studies 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.

Skills gained

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
  • BOND
  • 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
  • NHS
  • Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA)
  • Singapore Press Holdings
  • The Finacial Times
  • The Japan Foundation
  • The New York Times
  • TIME Magazine
  • Vietnam Holding


The 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
  • Writer/Photographer
  • Travel Consultant
  • Teacher
  • Desk Officer
  • Project Manager
  • Grants, Trusts & Major Donor Fundraiser
  • Archival Specialist
  • Associate Consultant
  • Regional Research Coordinator
  • Vietnam Correspondent
  • Senior Lecturer

Find out more on our Careers Service website

A Student's Perspective

Not only does SOAS offer a first class education with top scholars in the field, it also offers a great professional and social network. Upon graduation, my professional career path was wide opened. The SOAS experience has taught me to be a specialist in different fields, not only politics, but also development, gender and migration, and good governance.

Dinita Setyawati

Find out more