Sanskrit has functioned for over two thousand years as the basic vehicle of classical Indian literature. It is the key to a first-hand understanding of the vast field of classical Hindu religion and philosophy, being the language of the Vedas and Upanishads, the great epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and the texts of Vedanta and Yoga.
It is also an important language for the study of Buddhism, Indo-European comparative philology, and the achievements of the classical civilisation of India in such wider fields as aesthetic theory, linguistics, law and political theory, medicine, mathematics and astronomy.
The Sanskrit pathway is designed to give students a high level of competence in reading and understanding a wide range of Sanskrit texts, and a good knowledge of their cultural context. We also encourage students to learn Pali and Prakrit. The pathway assumes no previous knowledge of Sanskrit or its script, though we do prefer candidates to have some record of successful language-learning, for example an A-level qualification in a European language. Students with previous knowledge of Sanskrit will be accommodated in a higher level module.
Students must take modules to the value of 120 credits in each year of their degree. If a student passes 120 credits of modules in one Pathway Language then the language will be named in the degree title, i.e. BA South Asian Studies (Sanskrit). Text, Directed Readings and literature modules, and an Independent Study Project in which the language is used to a large extent all count as language modules.
Students must discuss this with their undergraduate tutor at the end of year 1 or the beginning of year 2. The specialism will be added at the award stage only, when the degree has been completed, and will not feature during application or enrolment. As such, students should refer to the BA South Asian Studies (4 years) full and half degree pages for full and definitive outlines, structures, and lists of available modules.
Programme Code: See "Combinations" Tab
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Mode of Attendance: Full-time
- A Levels:
- AAB - ABB
- A Level language preferred
- 35 (6/6/5)
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
Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.
May be combined with:
Key Information Set data
Click on a combined programme to load KIS data
Not all modules may run each year; students must seek advice from their undergraduate tutor before signing up for modules.
This structure indicates the expected progression for a student who begins their programme of Sanskrit language study without prior knowledge of the language (ab initio). Students who arrive with some prior knowledge of Sanskrit will follow a modified structure, to be worked out on an individual basis.
Students may not take more than one language module at the elementary level in any given year. Passing of the intermediate level language module (or its equivalent) in Sanskrit is a prerequisite for admission to the Year Abroad.
You must take the following two core modules
Compulsory Module - Year 1
Further modules to the value of 15 credits from List B OR C (below) or another module approved by the convenor.
Second Subject Options - Year 1
Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from your second subject
You will take the following Core Module
Compulsory Module - Year 2
Second Subject Options - Year 2
Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from your second subject
Year 3 of 4 - Study Abroad
Students will spend the whole academic year in India, where they are expected to attend an intensive Sanskrit language course at an appointed institution and are required to sit local examinations.
Year 3 of 3 or 4 of 4
You will take 60 credits which will be the 30 credit module:
15 credits at level 6 from List C (below) as well as
Second Subject Options - Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
You will choose modules to the value of 60 credits from your second option
List of optional modules
List A: South Asian Language Modules
The list below indicates the pathway along which students can progress as they do their South Asian language modules. Students may not take more than one language module at elementary level in any given year.
List B: Introductory Module on Aspects of South Asian History and Culture
List C: Non-Language Based South Asian and South Asian-Related Modules
Some modules require successful attendance of a relevant introductory module; students are advised to check the relevant module descriptions for prerequisites and consult the relevant module convenor before selecting modules.
Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia
Final Year Only
School of Law
Department of Politics and International Studies
Department of English
Department of History
Department of Art and Archaeology
Department of Music
Department of Religions and Philosophies
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Department of Economics
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.
Students on the 4 year Sanskrit Pathway will spend their third year at the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) in Pune, India. More information on the Institute can be found at The American Institute of Indian Studies web site. Students must pass their second year overall and their core language module to progress to the Year Abroad. Modules run from September to April with students receiving approximately 18-20 hours of instruction per week, including one-to-one personal tutorials. Towards the end of the programme, students are required to complete an Independent Study Project of approximately 3,000-3,500 words in Sanskrit on a subject of their choice. This must be successfully completed to continue to Year 4.
Information on living costs can be found on the AIIS website by clicking on the 'Estimated Expenditure' tab.
Teaching & Learning
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.
As a student specialising in South Asia and Sanskrit, you will gain 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 and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of South Asia.
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 in both business and 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.
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
A Student's Perspective
People come here to pursue things they’re passionate about and the sheer diversity of the student body is also another reason why school life is so fascinating