SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Languages of South Asia at SOAS: Bengali

Bengali is the national language of Bangladesh and the state language of West Bengal in India. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Bengali is, in terms of numbers of speakers, the sixth largest language in the world. It has a vast vocabulary and a great variety in style and register, which makes it equally expressive in everyday conversation, public oration and sublime poetry. It has a rich literature stretching back many centuries and, with the formidable figure of the Nobel Prize winner Tagore as its defining poet, the language has a unique standing among Indian languages.

We offer courses in Bengali language and literature at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, both as part of degree programmes within the Department, and as minor or open options on a wide variety of SOAS degrees.  A selection of those programmes, as well as a list of Bengali courses, are listed below.


Sahana Bajpaie (

Degree Programmes

Degree Module Options

Language Centre

Other Resources

Suggested reading

  • William Radice, Teach yourself Bengali, (Hodder Headline, London, 1994).
  • W. L. Smith, Bengali reference grammar (Stockholm Oriental Textbook Series, Stockholm, 1997)
  • Hanne-Ruth Thompson, Essential everyday Bengali (Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 1999)
  • Hanne-Ruth Thompson, Bengali: A Comprehensive Grammar (Routledge, Oxford 2010)

Please Note: Not all modules and programmes are available every year