Overview and entry requirements
The MA South Asian Studies and Intensive Language two-year programme (or part-time, 4-year) is directed at students with a professional and academic interest in South Asia. It provides students with exceptional opportunities for advanced study of one of the world’s most diverse and important regions, with an opportunity for an intensive training in a South Asian language (Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit) as well as studying a range of modules across the disciplines.
Knowledge of a South Asian language is not a pre-requisite for admission to this programme which is designed primarily for ab initio language study. Students with intermediate or advanced language levels are advised to contact the programme convenor before applying. If necessary, proficiency levels will be assessed.
This MA South Asian Studies programme includes a summer of intensive language which is currently only offered in India (students must note that SOAS cannot take responsibility for obtaining visas for travel to India). Students bear the costs of travel to and from India, as well as all living expenses (including accommodation) during the period of their stay.
Students come from a wide range of backgrounds: some will have acquired an interest in South Asia during their undergraduate career or as a result of travelling in the region, while others will be keen to explore personal connections. The programme will also attract mature students: some may take the MA as a partial preparation for employment in the region; others, having lived in South Asia for a number of years, may seek to place their experience and impressions into a more structured, analytical framework.
See South Asia Department
Why study South Asia and Intensive Language at SOAS
- SOAS is ranked 8th in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2021 for South Asian Studies
- we are specialists in the studies of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia
- gain in-depth understanding of one these key world regions, grounded in the study of one or more languages of the region
- access our comprehensive cross-regional expertise and gain an understanding of the interconnectedness of these regions in an increasingly globalised world
- solid methodological and interdisciplinary foundation
- students have an opportunity to develop a holistic and integrated approach to the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East through their languages and cultures
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time
- 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.
- Two Years Full Time
Students must take 315 credits in total, comprised of 255 taught credits (45 of which are taught abroad as part of a Summer School) and a 60-credit dissertation in the selected discipline.
In their first year, students take:
- 30 credits of intensive language instruction in Hindi, Sanskrit or Urdu, AND
- 45 credits in the disciplines and up to 15 credits of open options.
These modules should be chosen in close consultation with the programme convenor. They also take:
Over the summer between year 1 and 2, students study at one of our partner institutions in India (Study Abroad module - worth 45 credits), before returning to take another 30 language credits as well as 60 credits in the discipline. They also write their 10,000-word dissertation (15PSAC997 Dissertation in South Asian Studies, worth 60 credits).
All students will take language modules in Hindi, Sanskrit or Urdu to the value of 30 credits from the list below
Language [up to 30 credits as a minor only; additional language may exceptionally be taken, but only one at beginner's level]
AND Intensive Summer abroad study worth 45 credits.
Students will take optional modules to the value of 60 from the list below (subject to availability)
Anthropology (minor only)
Art and Archaeology
Politics & International Studies
Study of Religions & Philosophies
All students will take language modules in Hindi, Sanskrit or Urdu to the value of 30 credits from the list above.
Students will take optional modules to the value of 60 from the list above (subject to availability)
AND Intensive Summer abroad study worth 45 credits.
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 & Learning
Two-year Masters programmes consist of 315 credits in total, comprised of 255 taught credits (45 of which are taught abroad as part of a Summer School) and a 60-credit dissertation in the selected discipline.
The 215 credits taught at SOAS are 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, 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.
The programme includes a summer of intensive language which is currently only offered in India (students must note that SOAS cannot take responsibility for obtaining visas for travel to India). Students bear the costs of travel to and from India, as well as all living expenses (including accommodation) during the period of their stay.
- How to assess data and evidence critically from printed and digital sources, solve problems of conflicting sources and interpretations, locate materials, use research sources (particularly research library catalogues) and other relevant traditional sources.
- Subject specific skills, for instance familiarity with a South Asian language and the ability to read texts in that language, or advanced study of a South Asian literature in its original language.
- Aspects of South Asian history, economics, political, management and legal systems, art and archaeology, literature, visual and popular culture, anthropology and music.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
- Students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence.
- Students should question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves
- Apply language learning skills to new linguistic challenges, or to new oral or written texts.
Subject-based practical skills
- Communicate effectively in writing.
- Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
- Present seminar papers.
- Participate constructively in the discussion of ideas introduced during seminars.
- Work to strict deadlines.
- Use and apply foreign language skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
The programme will encourage students to:
- Write good essays and dissertations
- Structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing
- Understand unconventional ideas
- Study a variety of written and digital materials, in libraries and research institutes of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates
- Present (non – assessed) material orally
- Communicate in a foreign language
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.