SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

BA South Asian Studies (Sanskrit Pathway) (2019 entry)

(3 or 4 years with optional Year Abroad available)

Select year of entry: 2019

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


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.

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

A Levels:
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

Featured events


Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


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.

Core Modules

You must take the following core modules

Module Code Credits Term
Sanskrit Language 1 A 155906064 15 Term 1
Sanskrit Language 1 B 155906065 15 Term 2
Introduction to South and South East Asia 152900122- 15
Compulsory Modules

You must take the following three compulsory modules

Module Code Credits Term
H140 Introduction to the History of South Asia 154800231 15 Term 2
AND one Open Option 

Choose one module to the value of 15 credits from the Language Open Option or Non-Language Open Option Lists

Year 2
Core Module

You will take the following Core Module

Module Code Credits Term
Sanskrit Language 2 155901304 30 credits
Guided Option - Year 2

A language module or modules to the value of 30 credits from List A or a module or modules from List B below; or another module approved by the convenor


Guided Option - Year 2

You will choose guided options to a value of 15 credits from list C below or from the language open option or non-language open option lists.

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
Compulsory Modules - Year 3 and year 4

Module Code Credits Term
Independent Study Project in South Asian Studies 155900955 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Poetry and Aesthetics 155900860 30 Full Year
Guided Options - Year 3 and Year 4

You will choose guided options to a value of 60 credits, of which 30 credits can be gained from list C below or from the language open option or non-language open option lists.

Guided Options - Year 3 and Year 4

You will choose guided options to a value of 60 credits, of which 30 credits can be gained from list C below or from the language open option or non-language open option lists.

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.

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
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
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
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
Department of English
Module Code Credits Term
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
Imag(in)ing Buddhas in South Asia, Part 2 158000191 0.5
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

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 siteStudents 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

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.


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

At SOAS, my area of study is nothing unique, it’s quite normal, and I like being among people who know what I’m talking about and appreciate what I’m doing.

Hannah Fitzpatrick, Barnard College

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