Department of Religions and Philosophies, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions & Centre of Buddhist Studies

MA Buddhist Studies

Key information

Duration
One calendar year (full-time:), two or three years (part-time). We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.
Start of programme
September
Attendance mode
Full-time or part-time
Location
Russell Square, College Buildings
Fees

Home student fees: £12,220 per year
Overseas student fees: £24,350 per year

Please note that fees go up each year.
See postgraduate fees for further details.

Entry requirements

Afghanistan: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master's degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 80% or 3.3/4.0 

Argentina: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Titulo / Grado de Licenciado

Equivalent to 2:ii: 7/10

Information for prospective students from Argentina

Australia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 2:2 or Credit or 65%

Information for prospective students from Australia

Austria: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 2.5/5.0 and overall Pass (Bestanden)

Bahrain: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 75% or GPA 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Bahrain

Bangladesh: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor’s from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology or Master's degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 60% or GPA 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Bangladesh

Belgium: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Licentiaat or Licencié

Equivalent to 2:ii: 13/20 or 65%

Information for prospective students from Belgium

Botswana: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree (5-year) or Master's from University of Botswana

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.5/5.0 or 65% or B- or Good

Brazil: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Título de Bacharel / Título de Licenciado (4-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 7/10 or 70%

Information for prospective students from Brazil

Brunei: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: Lower Second Class Honours with 50% overall

Information for prospective students from Brunei

Bulgaria: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 4.3/6

Information for prospective students from Bulgaria

Cameroon: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Diplôme d'Ingénieur/ Diplôme d'Études Supérieures de Commerce (5-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 12-13 assez bien (fair); 70-74; or B+

Canada: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.0/4.0 or 74-77% or overall B

Information for prospective students from Canada

China Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree (4-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 
73% or 2.6/4.0 (C9 unis)
75% or 2.8/4.0 (Double First unis)
80% or 3.25/4.0 (all other unis)

Information for prospective students from China

Colombia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Licenciado / Titulo (4-year) 

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3.5/5.0

Information for prospective students from Colombia

Croatia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Baccalaureus / Baccalaurea (Bachelor degree)

Equivalent to 2:ii: Overall score 3/5

Cyprus: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 6.5/10

Czech Republic: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree (180 ECTS)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 1.75/4.0 or High C 'dobre’ (good)

Information for prospective students from the Czech Republic

Denmark: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 7/12 or 8/13 or grade C

Information for prospective students from the Denmark

Egypt: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 70% or 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Egypt

Estonia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bakalaurusekraad / University Specialist's Diploma / Professional Higher Education Diploma

Equivalent to 2:ii: 4.0/5.0

Finland: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor / Kandidaatti / Kandidat (180 ECTS credits)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3/5 or 2/3

France: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Licence or Diplôme from a grande école

Equivalent to 2:ii: 11.5 out 20

Information for prospective students from France

Gambia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master's degree (2-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.0/4.3 or 64% or B

Germany: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree (180 ECTS)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 2.6/5

Information for prospective students from Germany

Ghana: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 2:2 (Second Class Lower Division) or GPA 3.25/5.0 or 60%

Information for prospective students from Ghana

Greece: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 6.50/10

Information for prospective students from Greece

Hong Kong: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: Upper second class or GPA 2.7/4.0 or 75% or B Minus

Information for prospective students from Hong Kong

Hungary: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor (Alapfokozat) or Diploma (Egyetemi Oklevél)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3.5/5.0

Iceland: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree (Baccalaureus or Bakkalarprof)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 7.0 out of 10

India: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: CGPA: 55-60% or 5.5/10 - 6.0/10

Information for prospective students from India

Iraq: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree (Licence/Karshani)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 0.7

Israel: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 70% or C+

Information for prospective students from Israel

Italy: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Laurea (180 ECTS)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 100/110

Information for prospective students from Italy

Japan: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 70% or C+ or 3.0

Information for prospective students from Japan

Jordan: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3.0/4.0 or 70%

Information for prospective students from Jordan

Kazakhstan: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelors (Bakalavr Diplomi) or Specialist Diploma

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.0/4.0 or GPA 4.0/5.0 or B

Information for prospective students from Kazakhstan

Kenya: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 2:2 or 60%

Information for prospective students from Kenya

Kuwait: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3.0/

Information for prospective students from Kuwait

Latvia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bakalaura Diploms (Bachelor's) or Profesionālā Bakalaura Diploms

Equivalent to 2:ii: 7/10

Lebanon: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree / Licence

Equivalent to 2:ii: 75% or Grade B-/C+ or GPA 2.8/4.0 or 14/20

Information for prospective students from Lebanon

Liberia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master's degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 75% or 2.8/4.0

Libya: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor Degree from selected institution

Equivalent to 2:ii: 75% or GPA 3.0/4.0

Lithuania: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelors / Bakalauro (180 ECTS)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 7.5/10

Information for prospective students from Lithuania

Malawi: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master's degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 70% or GPA 3.0/4.0

Malaysia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3.0/4.0 or B (Class 2 Division 2)

Information for prospective students from Malaysia

Malta: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: Lower Second Class with 65% or Category IIB

Mexico: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Titulo de Licenciado

Equivalent to 2:ii: 8/10 or 80%

Information for prospective students from Mexico

Morocco: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Licence / Licence d'Etudes Fondamentales / Licence Professionnelle

Equivalent to 2:ii: 13/20

Information for prospective students from Morocco

Nepal: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master's degree / Bachelor degree (4-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 70%

Information for prospective students from Nepal

Netherlands: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 6.5/10 or GPA 3.0

Information for prospective students from the Netherlands

New Zealand: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: Majority of credited modules B- or above

Nigeria: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: Lower Second Class or 55% or GPA 3.0/5.0 or 2.5/4.0 or 4.0/7.0

Information for prospective students from Nigeria

Norway: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelors / Bachelorgrad (180 ECTS) or Candidatus /a magisterii

Equivalent to 2:ii: Grade C (with at least 80 ECTS) at grade B or 3.2

Information for prospective students from Norway

Oman: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Oman

Pakistan: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor (4-year) / Master's from HEC recognised institution

Equivalent to 2:ii: CGPA 2.7 or 65%

Information for prospective students from Pakistan

Philippines: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master’s from recognised institution or Centre of Excellence / Bachelor from prestigious institution or Centre of Excellence

Equivalent to 2:ii:
Prestigous Universities: GPA 3.3/4.0 or 1.75/5.0 or Grade B or 83%
Recognised Universities: GPA 3.5/4.0 or 2.0/5.0 or Grade B or 87%

Poland: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Licencjat or Inżynier (3-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 4.25/5

Information for prospective students from Poland

Portugal: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Licenciado (180 ECTS)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 15/20

Qatar: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.0/4.0 or 3.5/5.0 or 70% or 7/10

Information for prospective students from Qatar

Romania: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Diplomă de Licenţă / Diplomă de Inginer / Diplomă de Urbanist Diplomat

Equivalent to 2:ii: 8/10

Information for prospective students from Romania

Russia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Diplom Bakalavra or Specialist Diploma

Equivalent to 2:ii: 3.8/5.0

Information for prospective students from Russia

Rwanda: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor (4-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: Lower Second Class Honours or 65-69% or 14/20

Saudi Arabia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA of 3.0/4.0 or 3.5/5.0 or overall 70%

Information for prospective students from Saudi Arabia

Singapore: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: CAP 3.5/5.0 or 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Singapore

Slovakia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bakalár / Bachelor

Equivalent to 2:ii: 70% or 2.0 overall or C

South Africa: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor (4-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 60%

Information for prospective students from South Africa

South Korea: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 2.7/4.0 or 3.0/4.3 or 3.3/4.5

Information for prospective students from South Korea

Spain: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Título de Grado / Título de Licenciado / Título de Ingeniero / Titulo de Arquitecto

Equivalent to 2:ii: 6.5/10 or GPA 1.75/4.0

Information for prospective students from Spain

Sri Lanka: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor Special Degree or Professional Degree (4-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 55% or 2:2 or GPA 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Sri Lanka

Sudan: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor (5-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: 65%+ or B

Sweden: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree / Kandidatexamen / Yrkesexamen

Equivalent to 2:ii: B (90 credits) and C (90 credits) or Very Good (70 credits) and Good (110 Credits) or C (180 credits)

Information for prospective students from Sweden

Switzerland: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Diplom / Diplôme / Lizentiat / Staatsdiplom / Diplôme d’Etat

Equivalent to 2:ii: Overall 4.5/6 or 7/10 or 2.5/5

Information for prospective students from Switzerland

Syria: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Licence / al-ijaza-fi / Bachelor

Equivalent to 2:ii: 70%+ or 'Good'

Taiwan: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 68-70% or GPA 2.8/4.0-3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Taiwan

Thailand: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from Thailand

Tunisia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Diplôme National d'Ingénieur / Diplôme National d'Architecture / Licence / Maîtrise

Equivalent to 2:ii: 12 out of 20

Turkey: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Lisans Diplomasi

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 2.6/4 from the top universities and 3.0/4 from all others

Information for prospective students from Turkey

Uganda: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 2:2 (Lower Second) or B or GPA 3.0/5.0

Information for prospective students from Uganda

Ukraine: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree or Specialist Diploma

Equivalent to 2:ii: 8/12 or 3.8/5

United Arab Emirates: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.0/4.0 or 3.2/5.0

Information for prospective students from the United Arab Emirates

United States of America: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: GPA 3.0/4.0

Information for prospective students from the USA

Vietnam: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree (4-year)

Equivalent to 2:ii: Overall score of 6.5/10

Information for prospective students from Vietnam

Yemen: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master's degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: Overall 'Good' (71-77%) or Aden University 80-83% (or 3.0/4.0)

Zambia: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Master's degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 65% or B or Credit or GPA 1.7/2.5 or 3.3/5.0

Zimbabwe: Qualifications (Bachelor equivalency): Bachelor degree

Equivalent to 2:ii: 2:2 or 65%

Information for prospective students from Zimbabwe

We will consider all applications with a 2:2 (or international equivalent) or higher in a social science or humanities subject. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application such as supporting statement. References are optional, but can help build a stronger application if you fall below the 2:2 requirement or have non-traditional qualifications.

See international entry requirements 

Course overview

The MA Buddhist Studies is an interdisciplinary programme that engages with Buddhism as a field of inquiry from a historical, philosophical, anthropological and material culture perspectives. The programme follows a non-confessional, contextual approach, which highlights the diversity of Buddhism in its historical and geographical developments and appreciates it as a living religion.

Attention is given to how scholarship, both in the West and in Asia, has shaped our understanding of Buddhism. The programme benefits from teaching on Buddhist languages and regional cultures across the School.

It caters to students who wish to broaden their knowledge of Buddhism as a whole or of specific Buddhist traditions as well as to students intending to embark on further research or fieldwork among Buddhist communities.

It is supported by an active Research Centre which offers extraordinary opportunities of further engagement with the study of Buddhism.

The programme’s inter-disciplinary focus aims to provide students with advanced training in the area of religion and politics through the study of a wide range of theoretical and regional perspectives. It will serve primarily as a platform for professional development and further (MPhil/PhD) graduate research. The programme will offer students

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of significant approaches, methods, debates, and theories in the field of religion and politics, with particular reference to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East;
  • Advanced skills in researching and writing about topics in and theorisations of religion and politics;
  • Advanced skills in the presentation or communication of knowledge and understanding of topics in religion and politics as they pertain to regional, international, and transnational contexts.

SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies is a hub of distinguished Buddhist scholarship that generates synergy among academics and research students, from SOAS and beyond, involved in the study of Buddhism in Asian societies. It is composed of 17 permanent members of staff and emeriti, as well as a pool of associate and graduate student members from SOAS and other UK institutions.

Why study MA Buddhist Studies at SOAS

  • we are World Top 50 for Arts & Humanities (QS World University Rankings 2022) - with a rate of 91.7% overall student satisfaction (NSS 2021)
  • we have been ranked 3rd for research outputs and 7th place overall in the Theology and Religious Studies research rankings in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021
  • SOAS is ranked in the top 5 universities in the UK for producing a CEO or Managing Director, according to new research
  • our Centre of Buddhist Studies convenes The Buddhist Forum, a long-standing and well reputed lecture series offering a venue for international scholars to present their latest research to a wide and interested audience
  • Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions also convenes regular lectures and seminars which frequently include Buddhist topics. The lectures and conferences organised by the Circle of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies predominantly deal with Buddhist art, literature and other aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. There are also lectures and seminars in other departments, which frequently include Buddhist topics

Structure

Students must complete 120 credits of MA taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits) as outlined below.

Part-time studies

Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis: The part-time MA may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) in the first year, and two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) and the dissertation in the second year.

Alternatively, it can be taken over three years in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits evenly in each of the three years.  The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the degree. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.

Part-time students: please note that modules not listed as running, are likely to run in the next academic year. For more information, contact the programme convener.

Important notice

The information on the website reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. The modules are indicative options of the content students can expect and are/have been previously taught as part of these programmes. However, this information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. 

Taught component

Compulsory module

Plus

module(s) to be selected from list A with a total value of 30 credits

Plus

module(s) to be selected from list A or B with a total value of 30 credits plus module(s) to be selected from list A, B or C with a total value of 15 credits plus module(s) from list A, list B, list C or choose an open option to the value of 30 credits open options list A

Teaching and learning

The structure of MA Buddhist Studies provides a unique study pathway, characterised both by its coherence and by its flexibility.

The core module "Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies" provides students with a broad and stimulating journey into key notions and methods in the study of Buddhism.

Programme learning outcomes

Knowledge

  • Students will learn how to assess data and evidence critically, locate and synthesise source materials, critically evaluate conflicting interpretations and sources, use research resources (library catalogues, journal databases, citation indices) and other traditional sources.
  • Subject specific skills, for instance, textual criticism, edition, translation, and interpretation of literary, epigraphical, and ethnographic sources, as well as analysis of archaeological and art-historical artefacts.
  • Whenever appropriate, students will enhance their knowledge of one Buddhist language, or gain familiarity with one of these languages, freely chosen among a wide pool on offer.
  • Students will gain familiarity with Buddhism in its various regional and historical contexts, and with the academic field of Buddhist Studies, its rich history and the variety of academic perspectives on Buddhism.

Intellectual (thinking) skills

  • Students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.
  • Students will develop the capacity to discuss theoretical and epistemological issues in an articulate, informed, and intellectual manner
  • Students will learn to become precise and critical in their assessment of scholarly arguments and to question interpretations, however authoritative, in order to reassess evidence for themselves
  • Students will learn to present complex arguments clearly and creatively.
  • Those students who take a language option should be able to assess primary sources in foreign languages and critically evaluate interpretations proposed by different scholars.
  • Students will acquire both theoretical and regional expertise in order to develop and apply sound academic approaches to the study of Buddhism.

Subject-based practical skills

  • Academic writing
  • IT-based information retrieval and processing
  • Presentational skills
  • Independent study skills and research techniques
  • Reflexive learning

Transferable skills

  • Write concisely and with clarity.
  • Effectively structure and communicate ideas (oral and written).
  • Explore and assess a variety of sources for research purposes.
  • Work to deadlines and high academic standards.
  • Assess the validity and cogency of arguments
  • Make judgements involving complex factors
  • Develop self-reflexivity
  • Question the nature of social and cultural constructs

Dissertation

Students will moreover have to submit a Dissertation in Buddhist Studies of 10,000 words, on a topic chosen from the module chosen as major. The remaining modules may be chosen in the large pool of modules on Buddhist topics and languages, thus allowing each student to build up a specialized knowledge of one or more areas of Buddhist Asia. Students are allowed to take modules taught outside the department of Religions and Philosophies up to one module, which may or may not include a language.

SOAS Library

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. Moreover, every year there is a lively events programme that attracts renowned speakers from around the world, allowing students to engage with cutting edge debates on contemporary politics.

Employment

In addition to an understanding of global faiths, histories and cultures, graduates from the Department of Religions and Philosophies develop the skills to analyse and communicate ideas in a clear, rational and comprehensive manner. These key proficiencies are valuable in many careers and are transferable to a wide range of sectors and roles.

Recent Department of Religions and Philosophies graduates have been hired by:

  • Asia Society
  • British Council
  • Cabinet Office
  • Chatham House
  • Edelman
  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • HELP USA
  • King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Princeton University
  • Royal Government of Cambodia
  • The Happiness Factory
  • The Inter Faith Network for the UK
  • The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
  • United Nations Development Programme

Find out about our Careers Service.