SOAS University of London

Academic Summer School at SOAS

South Asia: Diversity, Democracy, and Discord (2019 entry)

Academic Summer School

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Apply


Programme Description

In April and May of 2019, the world will watch as the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls. This election has been described as the most significant for decades. The stakes are high and the result will have implications for all the states of South Asia, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives. In India itself, electioneering reveals contested ideas about religion, identity and belonging, as well as regional and linguistic differences. These are fascinating times to learn and ask questions about South Asia.

This summer school at SOAS is the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom. It is directed and taught by leading scholars who take pride in innovative and enthusiastic teaching. We encourage students to engage in difficult questions, questions that we at SOAS think worth asking:

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, ethnicity, caste, class, language, 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? How will the world respond to the growing tensions between longstanding regional rivals, India and Pakistan, threatening global security? This course, focused on South Asian politics and society will provide students, professionals and members of the public an opportunity to explore these questions.

This is an opportunity to understand the changing relationship of South Asia with the world and to explore new theories about society. The approach is firmly inter-disciplinary, drawing on the best of political science, history, security studies, anthropology, economics, art and film studies. The course will include visits to museums, film-viewings and historic walks through the South Asian nationalist landscapes of London, tracing connections between material discussed in seminar rooms and the city that surrounds us.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate familiarity with the diverse political systems in South Asia, and the complex histories of these states that have brought them to where they are today.
  • Develop an understanding of the questions of identity and nationalism that drive South Asian politics and define the relationship between state and society in this region.
  • Understand how South Asia shapes and is shaped by actors beyond the region, including foreign powers and diasporic populations.
  • Critically engage with the theories of politics, international relations and anthropology, relevant to themes in South Asian studies.
  • Consider the impact of the 2019 Indian elections on the key themes studied during this course.
  • Understand the distinct challenges that South Asian states must face collectively.
  • 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.


Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and a Record of Study will be available on request.


For more information, please fill out our enquiries form

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: 22 July - 9 August 2019

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • You will have completed one year of undergraduate study at the time of joining the Academic Summer School. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.

Featured events

3 weeks

Tuition Fees 2019

Tuition fee:



Programme Structure

Week 1: Countries of South Asia

The first week will introduce the states of South Asia. We explore key features of the history, politics and culture, and discuss the distinct challenges in each location. This includes a special day-long focus on the results of the Indian elections and its impact at country, regional and global levels.

  • Understanding India
  • Special Focus: Indian Elections 2019
  • Between Piety and Power: The Resilience of Pakistan
  • Challenges to Development and Democracy: The Rise of Bangladesh
  • Moving Beyond Civil War: Sri Lanka and Nepal
  • Field Visit

Week 2: Nations and Identities

The second week explores the complex questions surrounding the construction of identity, and cleavages between identities, in South Asia. We explore the critical fault-lines of South Asian societies, including religion, caste and ethnicity

  • Nationalism, Partition and Nation-Building
  • One Region and a Hundred Ethnicities
  • “The Caste System” in the 21st Century
  • The Religion Question: Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist Identities
  • Gender in South Asia: Sustaining and Overcoming Patriarchy
  • Field Visit

Week 3: South Asia and the World

A week introducing the concept of the South Asian region, the challenges that unite and divide the region, and the relationship of the region with the rest of the world.

  • Kashmir and the Challenge of Regional Security
  • China and South Asia
  • South Asia and its Environment: Islands, Natural Disasters and Climate Change
  • The South Asian Brand Abroad: South Asian Diasporas and Cultural Exports
  • A View of South Asia from Around the World
  • Field Visit

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

Teaching & Learning

Contact hours:

46 hours (lectures, tutorials, activities). The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 3 weeks.

Core hours:

Monday - Friday 10am-3pm. In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course is composed of a range of activities relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc).

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees


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.


20% discount for our partner institutions


Accommodation is available to Summer School students at the SOAS halls of residence, Dinwiddy House. For more details of how to book a room please visit the Dinwiddy House accommodation page.


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


How to Apply

Click to apply

Entry Requirements

In order to join the Academic Summer School, students should meet the following entry requirements:

  • A university student or a graduate at the time of attending. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.
  • Participants must be 18 or over at the time of attendance.
  • Fluency in English language is recommended for non-credit courses, but essential for SOAS Accredited courses. Proficiency can be demonstrated through:
  • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all sub scores.
  • TOEFL Paper based test we require a minimum of 583 with minimum 53 in all skills and for TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 93 with minimum 20 in all skills. 
  • Pearson Test of English a score of 59-64
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Grade B
  • If you have studied in an English speaking institution, or have courses taught at your university in English (excluding English language courses) you may meet our requirements without having to supply a certificate. Evidence of this will either need to be included on a transcript or letter from your university. 
  • If you are unsure whether you meet the above entry requirements, please contact us to discuss your application.

Enrolment of applicants who do not meet the entry requirements is at the discretion of SOAS – please get in touch to speak to us about your application and we will be happy to help. 

Application Procedure

Once you have paid the £40 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Application Deadline

Applications now accepted on a rolling basis for all courses

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