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MA Migration and Diaspora Studies and Intensive Language

Course Description

Who is this programme for?:

Students who wish to know more of the transnational nature of the modern world;

Students who wish to continue their anthropological study at a postgraduate level and engage in critical contemporary theory;

Students who wish to understand cultural transformation from a global perspective;

Students who come from other disciplines, such as Law or Politics, and now wish to incorporate an anthropological perspective on issues of migration and diaspora.

Students with a degree in social anthropology wishing to pursue more specialist migration and diaspora related topics along with regional or language-based study
Students without a previous degree in Anthropology looking for an MA conversion degree to serve as a qualification for pursuing a further research degree in issues relating to migration and diaspora.
The two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with a country in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language courses will enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

The MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies is a broad-based degree for students who want to receive specialized research training in Migration and Diaspora Studies, including a relevant language, which will prepare them to proceed to advanced postgraduate research in Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS or elsewhere.
The programme encourages a transdisciplinary approach to issues of migration and diaspora, providing historical depth as well as perspectives from anthropology, sociology, and postcolonial studies. The programme also works closely with a number of departments across the school, such as Development Studies, the Centre for Gender Studies as well as Law and Politics, which also run migration and diaspora related courses. Most of these courses are available as options on the programme, making it a unique MA in terms of both its breadth and depth.
The MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies is considerably enriched by the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, which runs seminars, films and public lectures and also hosts a number of international scholars. The Centre is also a part of a migration research network of London colleges including LSE and UCL. Students on the programme therefore have unparalleled access to a critical body of scholars and scholarship on migration and diaspora related issue.

It can also be taken with an intensive language pathway over two years, therefore making this programme unique in Europe.

The Japanese pathway is available for students who have an intermediate level of Japanese. Students will be required to take a placement exam in the week before classes begin in order to determine if their level is suitable. Please contact Professor Drew Gerstle () for further information.

The Korean pathway is designed for beginner learners of Korean. Students with prior knowledge of Korean are advised to contact the programme convenor, Dr Anders Karlsson (). Students will take four course units in the Korean language, one of them at a Korean university during the summer after year 1.

The Arabic pathway is designed for beginner learners of Arabic. Students will take four units of Arabic, one of them at the Qasid Institute in Jordan or another partner institution during the summer after year 1. Programme convenor: Dr Mustafa Shah ()

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/programmes/ma-migration-and-diaspora-studies-and-intensive-language/


Core course:

- African and Asian Diasporas in the Contemporary World (1 unit)
- Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology (1 unit)
- Additionally all MA Anthropology students 'audit' the course Ethnographic Research Methods during term 1 - this will not count towards your 4 units.

Foundation course:
- Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology (1 unit). This is recommended for students without a previous anthropology degree.

- Students choose their remaining unit (or two units if not taking Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology) from the Option Courses list. A language course from the Faculty of Languages and Cultures may also be included.

In the two-year language pathway, students take 2 intensive language units and African and Asian Diasporas in the Contemporary World (1 unit) in their first year. During the summer, they will participate in a summer school abroad (location dependant on language). Upon their return, they will take one intensive language unit in their second year and two optional anthropology units. In the intensive-language pathway, the same rules apply as for the usual MA.

Programme Specification

MA Migration and Diaspora Studies and Intensive Language Programme Specification (pdf; 253kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/programmes/ma-migration-and-diaspora-studies-and-intensive-language/file93570.pdf

Teaching & Learning

Aims and Outcomes:
- To introduce students to important areas of contemporary social theory which deal with issues of migration, globalisation, the postcolonial world, and cultural transformations.

- To ground students in the historical basis of these issues

- To encourage transdisciplinary thinking on issues of migration

- To enable students to translate theoretical perspectives for practical application in the material world.

- To provide students with a near proficient ability in a language.


- Students will be expected to grasp the key debates in migration and diaspora studies from a critical perspective

- To understand the global/historical/political and cultural background within which issues of migration and diaspora occur.

- A critical understanding of the ways that migration has shaped the modern world, and the implications of this for future research.

Intellectual (thinking) skills:

- The development of analytical and theoretical skills based on a detailed understanding of the social science literature on migration and diaspora.

- To approach theories and debates from a critical and reflexive basis.

- To develop their presentation skills and their ability to articulate arguments coherently in order to promote class discussion and critical engagement with ideas and practices.

Subject-based practical skills:

- Communicate effectively in writing, in academic English

- Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources including print and other forms of mass media

- Listen to and discuss ideas introduced during seminars.

- Students with no knowledge of media technologies will have the opportunity to learn photographic and film making techniques through the Media unit.

- Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes

- In the two year intensive language pathway, to acquire/develop skills in a language to Effective Operational Proficiency level, i.e., being able to communicate in written and spoken medium in a contemporary language

Transferable skills:
Students will be expected to learn to:

- Plan, organise and write masters’ level essays and dissertations.
- Structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
- Understand unconventional ideas.
- Present (non–assessed) material orally.
- Function as a student and researcher in a radically different environment.
- Be able to apply for funding to do a PhD.
- Be prepared to enter a Social Science PhD programme.
- An ability to work, and be at ease in, a multicultural environment

Find out how to apply here - http://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/pg/howtoapply/

Visit the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies and Intensive Language page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Linda Renland

The public discourse is one that increasingly presents international migration and diasporic settlements in various places in negative terms. At the MA Migration and Diaspora studies, students are allowed to see the human aspects of the topics which is often hidden behind the the endlessly debated theories, policies, numbers and finances. We are reminded that migration has always been a part of human history and that movement has a much longer and widespread history than the nation-state itself. Furthermore, the idea that the world is more globalized than ever is questioned, as only the movement of some is celebrated, while for others movement is increasingly restricted. The MA fundamentally challenge the perceptions students have of migration and allow students to critically question our own perceptions.

(Student Profile)

James Ingram

Prior to studying at SOAS, I had several years post-bachelor’s work experience in the human rights and asylum sectors, along with a typically fragmented diasporic identity. I was aware that I was struggling to fully understand the subject of my work within an interconnected context of culture, history, and political economy. I knew that for both personal and professional ends, this broad interdisciplinary MA would enable me to develop a rigorous analysis, and normalise my understanding of my own family’s post-migration values. Having worked in Kenya and Cambodia, SOAS seemed like the perfect place for me to continue my studies and learn about the world without being forced to narrow my interests. And SOAS did not disappoint, providing an unparalleled vibrant and multicultural setting for the study of migration and diasporas.

The range of academic expertise and specialised postgraduate courses show why the Department of Anthropology and Sociology continues to be so popular. The programme is structured so that students are given a huge choice of options covering a wide geographic, thematic and conceptual scope. This breadth and the inter-disciplinary nature of the programme guarantee that students bring diverse academic knowledge and professional experiences to tutorials and the postgraduate community. Further, the seminars and events organised by the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies really complement the course, convening scholars and students from various disciplines to discuss migration and diaspora issues. Working with communities at a grassroots level, it is easy to find yourself bound up in a very specific set of circumstances, losing sight of broader contexts. The programme offers students the opportunity to learn how to modulate between local and global trends, planting roots for continued study and specialisation or exploring new professional routes.

The course has been of immense benefit to me in my professional career, for employment and volunteering undertaken both while studying and post-graduation. In my capacity as an advisor to leaders of migrant and refugee community organisations, I feel far better equipped to understand the multiple intersecting challenges of reconciling belonging while negotiating alien and onerous state systems as well as differing cultural, social and economic realities. Through my time undertaking the MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS, I indulged old passions, cultivated a range of new interests, developed a strong professional network, a vibrant social network, refined my skills in policy analysis, participatory research, and learned how to thrive in my superdiverse working environments.


Canon Collins Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

These scholarships are for Masters study in any subject field.
The application process normally opens in December and closes in February, for study commencing in September the following year. Please go to the Canon Collins website and click "Apply for A Scholarship" and then "Canon Collins Scholarship for Masters Study in the UK" for further information on how to apply.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See website


Country/Nationality: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Application Procedure

See the website

Further Information



SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Arts & Humanities - 5 Awards

There are five SOAS Master's scholarships available in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities (Department of Anthropology and Sociology - 1 scholarship, History - 1 scholarship, History of Arts&Archaeology/Music & Media - 2 scholarships, Religions and Philosophies - 1 scholarship). Each scholarship is valued at £16,765 in total. Fees will be deducted from this amount and the remainder will be used toward maintenance. Candidate Assessment
- Candidates will be assessed on academic merit by an Advisory Panel consisting of at least three academic members of the Faculty. - The assessment of your application will be based on the information in your scholarship application. Selectors will be looking at the degree results and also at academic references, statements and other relevant information.Scholarship Application Deadline
- Scholarship applications must be received no later than 17:00 (UK local time) on 24 February 2016.- In order to be considered for this scholarship, you must ALSO submit a complete online application to the degree programme as soon as possible and then submit an application for the scholarship. Applicants applying for scholarships must also submit an application for admission well in advance. Please note that complete applications for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year. You should prepare to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods. - Late or incomplete applications will not be considered

Value of Scholarship(s)



- Applicants must possess or expect to be awarded a First Class Honours Degree or equivalent. Students with a non-UK degree to be adjudged in the top rank by their referees and transcript.
- This scholarship is open to UK/EU applicants only.
- Applicants must have an offer of admission to pursue one of the eligible full-time masters programmes at SOAS by the scholarship application deadline.
- The scholarship cannot be held along with any other major scholarship or studentship.

Application Procedure

You must apply for this scholarship via this on-line scholarship application form.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

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