- One calendar year (full-time), two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
- Start of programme
- Attendance mode
- Full-time or part-time
- Russell Square, College Buildings
Home student fees: £15,130 per year
Overseas student fees: £25,740 per year
Please note that fees go up each year.
See postgraduate fees for further details.
- Entry requirements
A 2:1 degree in a relevant undergraduate degree.
If you have a lower degree classification, your application may be considered if you can present a strong case, either through relevant work experience, other legal qualifications, or a strong supporting statement. References are not required, but can help build a stronger application if you fall below the 2:1 requirement or have non-traditional qualifications.
Our MA in Legal Studies programme gives students the opportunity to study at our vibrant School of Law with its unique focus on the legal systems and legal challenges of the Global South generally and Asia, Africa and the Middle East in particular.
The programme allows students to create their own programme structure, choosing modules from a range covering comparative regional law, trade law, law and development, commercial law (including copyright and patent law), human rights, environmental law, Islamic law, dispute resolution, and international law.
All SOAS modules are designed not only to introduce students to the general fields of law, but also to provide an understanding of how generic legal structures and processes may operate in non-Western social and cultural settings.
In addition, students may be able undertake modules outside of the School of Law, opening up SOAS’ array of world-leading options in languages, cultures, arts, humanities, politics, economics and finance, and beyond. Students complete the MA in Legal Studies by undertaking a dissertation, developing an extended research project on a topic of their own choice.
The MA may be taken full-time over a period of one year, or part-time over a period of two, three or four years.
Why study MA Legal Studies (General Programme) at SOAS?
- We are ranked in the UK top 20 (QS World University Rankings 2023).
- SOAS is ranked 6th in the UK for employability (QS World University Rankings 2023).
- Our research publications have been rated first in the UK - and our School of Law rated sixth in the UK - in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.
- Our MA in law teaching reflects our research strengths in the laws of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and in Islamic, international, human rights, commercial and trade, comparative, and environmental law. Much of our teaching concerns the critical study of law and the ways that law can be used to marginalise or to empower individuals and communities.
- In today’s globalised environment, our teaching also explores the study of the society in which the law operates, and the relationship of law to other structuring forces such as gender, sexuality, race, and economic status.
- All teachers on modules offered at SOAS are experts in their designated field, and many have years of experience advising governments, international and non-governmental organisations, or in professional practise.
- Undertaking the MA in law at SOAS brings you into the heart of a world-leading, one-of-a-kind law school to study the world’s most pressing legal issues.
The MA in Legal Studies programme is ideal for those who wish to study law at a post-graduate level but do not already possess an undergraduate law degree. It is designed for those who wish to enhance their knowledge of law-related subjects to benefit their careers(e.g., journalists, NGO/INGO workers), and to expand their knowledge of, and critical engagement with, law, particularly as it relates to the Global South.
You will join an international alumni of LLM/ MA in law graduates at SOAS, many of whom are now working at the UN, in NGOs, in government, in private practice, in policy work or in academia. Since the MA in Legal Studies may be taken full-time or part-time, many students have been able to successfully combine their studies at SOAS with their existing careers.
Please note that all MA students are required to attend a two-week Law and Legal Methods Pre-sessional Module in the September before they begin their MA.
To facilitate their study of law, all MA students are required to attend a two-week Preliminary Law, Legal Reasoning and Legal Methods in the September before they begin their MA. Students must take modules to a total value of 180, consisting of a dissertation (60 credits) and 120 credits of taught modules. Taught modules are worth either 15 or 30 credits.
Please note that not all modules will be available every year.
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.
Students must complete a Dissertation (12,000 words) in Law, which should be on a topic relating to their chosen MA specialism.
|MA Dissertation in Law||60|
120 credits total
Students take the below compulsory modules below (15 credits)
Choose modules from the List A to the value of 45 credits
Choose modules from List A or List B OR postgraduate open options to the value of 60 credits
|Preliminary Law, Legal Reasoning and Legal Methods||0|
|Law, Rights & Social Change||15|
List A (subject to availability)
List B (subject to availability)
Open options from cross-Faculty list will need approval of deputy PG programme convenor (LLM or MA)
Teaching and learning
All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. 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, revising for examinations and so on. 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.
Knowledge and understanding
- Through attendance in all classes, independent and group study, and class preparation.
- In some subjects through non-assessed as well as assessed coursework.
- Through in course lectures/ seminars and through coursework.
- Through a compulsory but non-assessed presessional course on law and legal method.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
- Through courses which introduce information and ideas that need to be assessed critically and analysed in context. Students are encouraged not
- simply to summarise evidence and arguments but also develop their own assessments as to the relative value of different strategies/ arguments/evidence.
- Through independent dissertation and course work which entail selecting,designing and refining topics [with advice and assistance from tutors] and elaborating precise research questions/hypotheses.
- Through the structure and content of courses of an interdisciplinary nature.
Subject-based practical skills
- Through the writing of long essays and dissertations.
- Through regular seminar presentations.
- Through seminar discussion.
- Through independent work for essays/ dissertations.
- Through independent work, departmental dissertation guidance notes and meetings, and meetings with supervisor.
- Through required regular readings for weekly seminar discussions.
- Through the holding of moots and debates in the law and legal method seminars and in some of the taught courses.
- Through preparation for seminars, writing of long essays and other coursework, dissertation and examinations.
- Through individual and /or joint seminar presentations and class participation.
- Through preparation for seminars, through discussion in seminars, through correction of course work by tutors and through preparation of answers to exam questions.
- Through the formation of study groups.
- Through unseen examinations. Long essays,course work and dissertations may also be used/ required.
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.
SOAS Law graduates leave SOAS as civic minded and critically engaged individuals who can effectively contribute to their communities and societies. With a thorough understanding of the legal dimensions underlying many of our global challenges today, our Law students are valued by employers due to their analytical skills, specialist knowledge, and global perspective.
Recent graduates have been hired by organisations including:
- PwC LLP
- BLM Law
- British Medical Association
- Clifford Chance
- DAC Beachcroft LLP
- Department for Work and Pensions
- HM Treasury
- Latham & Watkins
- Legal Cheek
- Simpson Millar Solicitors
- The Economist
- Travers Smith
- World Cancer Research Fund
Find out about our Careers Service.
The Social Life of Law in Authoritarian Contexts
Food security and the governance of local knowledge in India and Indonesia (2018–2023)
Working with the Australian Research Council to examine the ways small farmers identify, conserve and exchange useful plant material.
Fostering ecocentric community-led river restoration and conservation in the Ganga Basin (2022–2023)
Interrogating the concept of "river rights" to examine the contribution of ecocentric rights for river restoration and conservation.
Conflicts over Access to Water and Land: Evolving dimensions (2022–2025)
Addressing water conflicts through the lens of water security.
Carceral Policy, Policing and Race
Amplifying the carceral experiences of marginalised populations across the Global South.
Sanitation in India: Understanding a complex and controversial human right (2016)
Examining the right to sanitation in India from a broad perspective that encompasses the various dimensions of the right.
Legalissues Related to water sector restructuring in India (2006–2009)r
The first major study of water law in India since the early 1990s and contributed to ensuring policy-makers would consider it a more important part of sector reforms.
UKIERI: Climate change and groundwater management in India (2013–2015)
Analysing the impact of climate change on groundwater.
Rule of Law in Thailand
Enhancing SOAS knowledge and capacity in the study and research of East and Southeast Asian laws, with a focus on Thai law.
Age of consent and child-marriage in the British Empire
Exploring the debates that led to the reform of age of consent laws in UK and their introduction in other parts of the Empire at the end of the 19th century.
HURIME Project: Human Rights in the Post-Uprisings Middle East
Enhancing the knowledge of academicians and politicians on the new tendencies of human rights discourses and practices in the MENA region.
SOAS Influencing the Corridors of Power project
Influencing the Corridors of Power (ICOP) is an innovative front-line project which addresses the democratic deficit between UK universities and UK politics.