Online Academic Summer School

South Asia: Contested Histories, Uncertain Futures (Online) (2020 entry)

Key information

2 weeks
Start of programme
20 July – 31 July 2020
Attendance mode

Course overview


How should we go about studying the political aspirations and agency of almost two billion people in South Asia, governed by contradictory and unstable regimes, where religion, language, caste, class, gender, and other identities unite and divide such vast populations? What does it mean when the world’s fastest growing regional economy, also has the largest number of people living in abject poverty? Why do South Asia’s borders remain contested, even after seventy years? Today’s burning questions of borders, identity, development and democracy can only be understood if we listen to the voices of South Asia, echoing through the ages to the present day. From the philosophies of the heroes of anti-colonial and independence movements including Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and Mujib ur Rehman, to the divisive but enduring ideologies of religious and ethnic nationalists including Savarkar and Maulana Maudoodi, this course introduces students to the ideas and philosophies that emerged and evolved within South Asia, and that continue to shape this exciting and turbulent region.

For more information, please see the course handbook: South Asia: Contested Histories, Uncertain Futures online handbook (pdf; 88kb)

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Critically engage with South Asia’s unique ideologies, philosophies, and intellectual giants.
  • Understand the questions of identity, security, development and nationalism that drive South Asian politics and define the relationship between state and society in this region.
  • Draw connections between South Asia’s intellectual history and its contemporary social and political debates and discord
  • Understand the distinct challenges that South Asian states must face collectively.
  • Consider South Asia’s relationship with the wider world from a local perspective
  • Finally, the module will inspire students to continue with further study or interest in South Asia – provision will be made over the three weeks for students to develop a particular interest within the general structure of course progression.


This course is worth 15 credits in the UK system. 15 credits is equivalent to 4 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution.

Current SOAS students selecting this course as an open option module will not be charged the tuition-fee. For further information and assistance, please contact


For more information, please fill out our enquiries form


Programme schedule:

A full programme schedule and updated handbook are being developed and will be available soon.



Sample Reading list:

  • Bose, S., Jalal, A. 2013. Modern South Asia. History, Culture, Political Economy. New York, Routledge.
  • Brass, Paul. 2009. Routledge Handbook of South Asian Politics: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Routledge.
  • Dasgupta, S. 2019. Awakening Bharat Mata. The Political Beliefs of the Indian Right. New Delhi, Penguin.
  • Devji, F. 2013. Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea. London, Hurst.
  • Khilnani, Sunil. 2003. The Idea of India. London, Penguin.
  • Jaffrelot, C. 2007 Hindu Nationalism: A Reader. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

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


The programme is delivered online through a Virtual Learning Environment (intranet page) that sets out the readings for each week, the guiding questions for discussion and hosts the discussion boards. This page provides a platform to share other material such as videos, internet links, quizzes and feedback on assignments. Students also have access to a vast amount of academic and policy-related material through the SOAS library.


Time Commitment

Courses are taught intensively over two weeks between Monday - Friday.  Students should expect to spend between 4-6 hours per day completing course related activities including video lectures, live tutorials, readings, forum discussion and assignments.  Students studying for credit will submit a 2000-2500 word written assignment one week after the course finishes.



Each course is assessed by two online assessments (‘e-tivities’*) comprising of 30%, the remaining 70% is formed of a 2,500 word essay.  The e-tivities provide formative and summative feedback to students as a means of monitoring their progress and encouraging areas in which they can improve. E-tivities will vary in format but will include article reviews, quizzes, blog posts, essay plans and more. On successful completion of the assessments, students will receive a transcript confirming the credit awarded. Students that do not require credit are strongly encouraged to take part in the e-tivities, but are not required to complete the assessments.

* An 'e-tivity' is a framework for online, active and interactive learning following a format that states clearly to the students its 'Purpose'; the 'Task' at hand; the contribution or 'Response' type; and the 'Outcome' (Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, New York and London: Routledge Falmer.)


Students will require regular access to a computer with a good internet connection, and the following applications installed:

  • A word processor that accepts Microsoft Word formats (.doc and .docx)
  • A PDF reader

Navigating Time Zones

Courses have been designed with varying time zones in mind.  All lectures will be recorded for access at any time and the discussion forum is open to posts from students at all times.  The limited 'live' sessions will be scheduled between 13:00 - 15:00 BST and will be recorded for any students unable to attend.


Students that successfully complete all course assessments will be awarded 15 SOAS credits.  This is normally equivalent to 7.5 ECTS or 4 US credits.  If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply.




Fees and funding


Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £40 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.


Save £200 when if apply by 30th April

10% discount if you apply for two courses over 4 weeks

20% discount for SOAS Alumni (including Academic Summer School alumni)

20% discount for our partner institutions

Other discounts are available for groups. Please contact us for more information.


Academic Summer School Ambassador Scholarship 2022

Applications for our 2022 Ambassador Scholarship are now open.

The Ambassador Scholarship programme 2022 offers 3 full tuition fee waiver scholarships for highly morivated and academically driven students. Take a look at our Ambassador Scholarship page for more information on how to apply.

Application Deadline: 2022-04-30 00:00