SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

MA South Asian Area Studies

One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Fees 2018/19

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2018/19 entrants. This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page

2018 Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

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  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
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Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

The MA in South Asian Studies provides exceptional opportunities for advanced study of one of the world’s most diverse and important regions.

Students can choose to concentrate on pre-modern or modern South Asia and can acquire a basic knowledge of one of the area’s languages.

The degree provides a wide-ranging interdisciplinary analysis of the South Asian countries – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Disciplines available include Politics, Economics,Anthropology, Law and History.

The programme attracts students from a variety of backgrounds. While some wish to broaden their previous studies or experience of South Asia, others approach the programme without having a South Asian element to their first degree, but with a desire to focus their previous training on the region.



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 take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. A maximum of 60 credits can be taken from one discipline and a minimum of three disciplines must be covered. For students opting to take two language acquisition modules, only one of these can be from 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.

All modules are subject to availability

Anthropology (minor only)
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Culture and Society of South Asia 15PANH064 15 Term 1
African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World 15PANH010 15 Term 1
Art and Archaeology
Module Code Credits Term Availability
The Indian Temple 15PARC034 30 Full Year
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context 15PSAH001 15 Term 1
Indian Cinema: Key Issues 15PSAH002 15 Term 2
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Contemporary Punjab: Society and Culture across Borders 15PAIC001 30 Full Year
Culture and Conflict in the Himalaya 15PSAC291 30 Full Year
The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia 15PSAC314 30 Full Year

Some background in Economics is a prerequisite for these modules. Please contact the convenor for details.

Module Code Credits Term Availability
Economic development of South Asia a) the macroeconomy 15PECC026 15 Term 1
Economic Development of South Asia B) Major Sectors & The International Economy 15PECC027 15 Term 2
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Islam in South Asia 15PHIH044 15 Term 1
Environmental History of Asia 15PHIH023 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Colonialism and Nationalism in South Asia 15PHIH041 15 Term 1
Gender, law and the family in the history of modern South Asia 15PHIH030 15 Term 2
Language [one language option as minor only]
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Bengali Language 1 (PG) 15PSAC303 30 Full Year
Bengali Language 2 (PG) 15PSAC304 30 Full Year
Hindi Language 1 (PG) 15PSAC295 30 Full Year
Hindi Language 2 (PG) 15PSAC296 30 Full Year
Hindi Language 3 (PG) 15PSAC297 30 Full Year
Hindi Language 4 (PG) 15PSAC308 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Readings in Contemporary Hindi (PG) 15PSAC305 30 Full Year
Nepali Language 1 (PG) 15PSAC298 30 Full Year
Nepali Language 2 (PG) 15PSAC299 30 Full Year
Basic Pali (PG) 15PSRC176 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Pali: Intermediate Level 15PSRC053 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Prakrit Language 1 (PG) 15PSAC309 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Sanskrit Language 1 (PG) 15PSAC294 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Language 2 (PG) 15PSAC306 30 Full Year
Punjabi Language 1 15PSAC320 30 Full Year
Urdu Language 1 (PG) 15PSAC300 30 Full Year
Urdu Language 2 (PG) 15PSAC301 30 Full Year
Urdu Literacy (PG) 15PSAC302 30 Full Year
Elementary Written Persian 15PNMC387 30 Full Year
Intensive Persian Language 155901242 60 Full Year
Intermediate Persian Language 155900801 30 Full Year
Advanced Persian Language 155900802 30 Full Year
Persian Language 2 (PG) 15PNMC033 30 Full Year
Introduction to Classical Literary Tibetan (Masters) 15PEAC020 30 Full Year
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Law and Society in South Asia 15PLAC129 30 Full Year
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Literatures of South Asia 15PSAC284 30 Full Year
Postcolonial Theory and Practice 15PCSC003 30 Full Year
Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature 15PCSC002 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Literature 15PSAC003 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Directed Readings in the Literature of a Modern South Asian Language 15PSAC016 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Sanskrit Texts from the Hindu Tradition 15PSAC014 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters) 15PSAH005 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Narratives of Mobility in Contemporary Hindi Literature (Masters) 15PSAH006 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Raga: concept and practice (PG) 15PMUH020 15 Term 2 Not Running 2017/2018
Indian vocal music: Styles and histories 15PMUH025 15 Term 2
Sacred Sound in South Asia 15PMUH021 15 Term 1
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Government and politics of modern South Asia 15PPOC003 30 Full Year
Study of Religions
Module Code Credits Term Availability
Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (1) 15PARH078 15 Term 1
Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (2) 15PSRH051 15 Term 2
Religions and Development 15PSRH049 - Not Running 2017/18
Modern Muslim Thinkers of South Asia 15PSRC169 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
History and Doctrines of Indian Buddhism 15PSRC059 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Issues in Religion and Media 15PSRH047 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Buddhism in Tibet 15PSRH008 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
The Buddhist Conquest of Central Asia 15PSRH009 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World 15PSRC024 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Oriental religions in European academia and imagination, 1815-1945 15PSRC168 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Features of Buddhist Monasticism 15PSRH014 15 Term 1 Not Running 2017/2018
Contemporary Islamism in South Asia: Readings in Sayyid Abu al-A'la Mawdudi 15PSRC170 30 Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
Buddhist Meditation in India and Tibet 15PSRC172 30 Full Year
The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India 15PSRC173 30 Full Year


This is the structure for 2017/18 applicants

If you are a current student you can find structure information on Moodle or through your Faculty.

Programme Specification


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Contact Hours

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.

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.


  • 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.

Transferrable skills

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

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 1 tuition fee.

Fees for 2018/19 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Full-time Part-time 2 Years Part-time 3 Years
£9,225 £18,980 £4,613 £9,490 £3,075 £6,327
Bishwa Bangla Scholarships at SOAS

Application Deadline: 2018-02-20 17:00

Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2018-01-29 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2018-01-29 00:00

John Loiello AFSOAS FISH Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2018-02-20 17:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2018-06-05 00:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


A postgraduate degree in South Asian 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.

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. 

An MA in South Asian Area Studies can open many doors. Those remaining in London will be able to take advantage of the numerous international bodies here, and those with specialist areas of knowledge (finance, law, art) will find relevant opportunities. Many students may choose to pursue a career in South Asia to put their skills into practice. Research degrees are also possibilities for graduates with high grades.

Among a variety of professions, career paths may include: Academia; Commerce; Community; Finance; Government; NGOs; Media; Politics; and UN Agencies.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

Access to Justice Asia
BBC World Service
Cambridge Archaeological Unit
EMMA Media
Environmental Defense Fund
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Foremarke Exhibitions Ltd
Harvard University
Meyado Private Wealth Management
Mohurgong & Gulma Tea Estates
Momoyama Gakuin University
Neon Tree Media
SOAS, University of London
University of Edinburgh

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

Interpreter and Translator
Consulting Associate
Senior Major Gifts Officer
Trade Commissioner
Digital designer
Human Resources Director
Professor of Comparative Religion & Indian Studies
Senior Investment Advisor
Script Writer and Coordinator
Humanitarian and CSR photographer
Professor of Musicology
Head of Humanities
Research Fellow
Lecturer in South Asian History

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

The professors I had were all high quality, and willing to spend the extra time going over concepts, or taking time during class to have in depth discussions.

Jen Guha (USA)


Find out more

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