SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

BA South Asian Studies (3 years) (2018 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


The department offers the broadest range of teaching in the UK and Europe on the languages, literatures and cultures of the principal countries of South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The degree is centred on language study, but includes a wide range of options which allow the student to study South Asia through several different disciplines including social anthropology, art and archaeology, cinema, economics, geography, history, law, literature, music, politics and religion. The breadth of the School’s expertise on South Asia makes BA South Asian Studies unique in the UK university system.

BA South Asian Studies is a 3-year degree, and four modules are taken each year. The first year features the core module Introduction to South Asia (155906005), which introduces aspects of the languages and cultures of the subcontinent. This is taken alongside an introductory language module in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit, or Urdu, which is also core, which in turn leads to further modules in the same language and its literature in Years 2 and 3. (Pali and Punjabi may also be available, but in a more limited range of modules.) 

 Not all language modules are available every year, and all modules are subject to quorum; current availability can be checked by contacting the South Asia Department. Further modules relevant to South Asia are selected from options taught in other departments. Given the range of modules available, the Department is careful to offer appropriate advice to each student in making his or her selection, in order to ensure an overall coherence of coverage.

Introductory language modules taught in Year 1 assume no previous knowledge of the chosen language or its script: they start completely from scratch. Modules in modern languages concentrate on all four linguistic skills – understanding, speaking, reading and writing; classes are small and interactive, with students being encouraged to use the language actively from the outset. Many of our introductory language modules have been written especially for our needs by members of the Department staff; and Intermediate and advanced language modules feature a wide range of ‘real world’ teaching and study materials. The formal teaching is complemented by the frequent open lectures, seminars and cultural events on South Asian themes that are held regularly in SOAS.

Final-year options include an Independent Study Project, which gives the student an opportunity to pursue a subject of personal interest (in language, literature, politics, culture, religion, the arts and media, or any other aspect of contemporary or historical India), leading to the writing of a 10,000-word dissertation under tutorial supervision.

BA South Asian Studies (3 years) can be taken as a single-subject degree, or as a two-subject degree in combination with African Studies, Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Linguistics, Music, Politics, Social Anthropology, or Study of Religions. The two-subject degree must include at least five units in South Asian Studies over the three years.

Students with a specific interest in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit or Urdu may like to consider, as an alternative to 3 year programme, the 4 year full or half degree featuring these languages as a named pathway; these degrees have a more specific focus on the respective language itself and include a year abroad in South Asia.

Programme Code: T300 BA/SAS

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • Subjects Preferred: No
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with non-standard qualifications may be invited for interview, though many applications are assessed on the basis of the UCAS forms alone.
A Levels:
While a foreign language at A-level will be useful we strongly encourage students with less traditional backgrounds to apply or to discuss their application with the department.
33 (5/5/5)

View alternative entry requirements


Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction

Scottish Highers: AABBB

Scottish Advanced Highers: ABB

Irish LC: 320 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above

Advanced Placement: 4 4 4 (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

Featured events

3 years



Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Students must take 120 credits per year, 90 of which must be from the approved syllabus for their programme of study. Students can choose non-language modules from a range of approved South-Asia related modules from subject areas which include anthropology, art and archaeology, economics, film, geography, history, law, literature, music, politics and religion.

NB: not all modules are available every year - please check to see which modules are on offer.

Core modules must be passed in order to proceed to the following year of study.

Year 1
Compulsory Language Module

Choose a 30 credit module from list A at an appropriate level Bengali/Hindi/Nepali/Sanskrit/Urdu language

Core Module (Year 1)
Compulsory Module (Year 1)
Module Code Credits Term
H140 Introduction to the History of South Asia 154800231 15 Term 2

Choose an additional compulsory module: a module to the value of 15 credits from 'List B'

Guided Option (Year 1)

Guided Options are modules that may be preferable for the learning outcomes of this degree programme. Choose a 30 credit guided option from 'List B'

Open Option (Year 1)

Choose open option modules to the value of 30 credits.

Year 2
Core Module (Year 2)

Choose a module to the value of 15 credits from the following:

Module Code Credits Term
Writing South Asia 155900927 15 Term 1
Imagining Pakistan: Culture, Politics, Gender 155906003 15 Term 1
Cinema and Society in South Asia: Key Issues 155906001 15 Term 2
Compulsory Module (Year 2)

Choose a language module to the value of 30 credits from 'List A' or choose modules to the value of 30 credits from 'List C'.

Guided Option (Year 2)

Guided Options are modules that may be preferable for the learning outcomes of this degree programme. Choose a module to the value of 30 credits from 'List C'.

Open Option/Guided Option (Year 2)

Choose either a guided option module to the value of 30 credits from 'List C' or choose Open Option modules to the value of 30 credits.

Year 3
Compulsory Module (Year 3)

Students are encouraged to undertake the following ISP together with language modules at intermediate or advanced level to the value of 30 credits from 'List A' OR modules to the value of 30 credits from 'List C'

Module Code Credits Term
Independent Study Project in South Asian Studies 155900955 30 Full Year
Guided Option (Year 3)

Guided Options are modules that may be preferable for the learning outcomes of this degree programme. Choose 30 credits at an intermediate or advanced level from 'List C'.

Optional Module /Guided Option (Year 3)

Choose either a guided option module to the value of 30 credits from 'List C' OR an open option module to the value of 30 credits.

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.

Elementary Level
Module Code Credits Term
Bengali Language 1 A 155906054 15 Term 1
Bengali Language 1 B 155906055 15 Term 2
Hindi Language 1 A 155906056 15 Term 1
Hindi Language 1 B 155906057 15 Term 2
Nepali Language 1 A 155906060 15 Term 2
Nepali Language 1 B 155906061 15 Term 2
Punjabi Language 1 A 155906062 15 Term 1
Punjabi Language 1 B 155906063 15 Term 2
Sanskrit Language 1 A 155906064 15 Term 1
Sanskrit Language 1 B 155906065 15 Term 2
Urdu Language 1 A 155906058 15 Term 1
Urdu Language 1 B 155906059 15 Term 2
Intermediate Level
Module Code Credits Term
Bengali Language 2 155900492 30 Full Year
Hindi Language 2 155901183 30 Full Year
Nepali Language 2 155900609 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Language 2 155901304 30 Full Year
Urdu Language 2 155900513 30 Full Year
Advanced Level
Module Code Credits Term
Hindi Language 3 155901269 30 Full Year
Hindi Language 4 155901384 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Texts on Yoga 155901408 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Poetry and Aesthetics 155900860 30 Full Year
List B: Introductory Module on Aspects of South Asian History and Culture
Module Code Credits Term
Themes in the Art and Archaeology of South and Southeast Asia 154900156 15 Term 1
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
Module Code Credits Term
Cinema and Society in South Asia: Key Issues 155906001 15 Term 2
Imagining Pakistan: Culture, Politics, Gender 155906003 15 Term 1
Final Year Only
Module Code Credits Term
Independent Study Project in South Asian Studies 155900955 30 Full Year
Extended Essay in South Asian Studies 155901101 15 Full Year
School of Law
Module Code Credits Term
Law and Society in South Asia 155200032 30 Full Year
Legal Systems of Asia and Africa 155200073 30 Full Year
Department of Politics and International Studies
Module Code Credits Term
Government and politics of South Asia 153400020 30 Full Year
International Relations of South Asia 153400082 15 Term 2
Department of English
Module Code Credits Term
South Asian Political Thought 153400165 15 Term 2
Writing South Asia 155900927 15 Term 1
Department of History
Module Code Credits Term
H234 Colonialism and Culture in Modern South Asia 154800264 15 Term 1
H337 Histories of Partition: India and Pakistan 1947 (I) 154800282 30 Full Year
Department of Art and Archaeology
Module Code Credits Term
Art and Empire in Early Modern India 154900193 15 Term 1
Hindu Art in Medieval India 154900162 15 Term 1
Department of Music
Module Code Credits Term
Music and Sound Art in South Asian Religions 155800086 15 Term 2
Song, Voice, and Body in Indian Music 155800093 15 Term 2
Department of Religions and Philosophies
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Module Code Credits Term
Ethnography of South Asia 151802083 15 Term 2
Department of Economics

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

Year abroad


Teaching & Learning

Contact Hours

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.

Teaching and Assessment

Language teaching is mostly in small tutorial groups; tapes and language laboratory facilities are available for formal teaching and self-study. Non-language modules are taught by lecture and seminar. Language classes are examined by written and oral examination; non-language classes are examined by essays and written examination.

Special Features

SOAS library, the national library for Asian and African materials, is one of the world’s major collections of information in the field of South Asian studies.

Pre Entry Reading

  • G.A. Zograph The Languages of South Asia: a guide London 1981
  • C. Shackle, ed., South Asian Languages: a handbook London 1985
  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, Cambridge 1989


As a student specialising in South Asia, 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

The most lucrative resource has been the SOAS library which has an excellent South Asia collection. Also, the central London location of SOAS means I never really go far for anything!

Akhil Katyal

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