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MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies

Course Description

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.

This MA is designed to appeal to students from a variety of backgrounds who:

- Wish to know more of the transnational nature of the modern world;
- Wish to continue their anthropological study at a postgraduate level and engage in critical contemporary theory;
- Wish to understand cultural transformation from a global perspective;
- Come from other disciplines, such as Law or Politics, and now wish to incorporate an anthropological perspective on issues of migration and diaspora.

The degree offers students a chance to pursue specialist interests by a considered selection of courses to suit their individual needs. It provides:

1. A broad-based MA for students who wish to enhance their knowledge in light of continuing contemporary research;
2. A special interest MA, enabling students to study diaspora and migration issues in depth in relation to a particular discipline or region.

The programme attracts students from around the world. It 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.

In the recent past, our students have been highly successful in going on to further study and a number have received scholarships for research degrees at SOAS and elsewhere. Many have also gone on to work with NGOs and in the public sector as well as arts organizations. We have a good staff-student ratio, which ensure the best support for personal academic development and training which enhances future career prospects.

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.

Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Programme Convenor, Dr Parvathi Raman at an early stage of their application to seek advice on the most appropriate options for study. The programme consists of four elements, three examined courses and a 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic.

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/programmes/mamigdiaspstudies/

DURATION:One calendar year (Full-Time) Two or three years (Part-Time, daytime only) The expectation in the UK is of continuous study across the year, with break periods used to read and to prepare coursework. 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.

Programme Overview

The course is designed to offer students a chance to pursue specialist interests by a considered selection of courses to suit their individual needs. It provides:

1. a broad-based MA programme for students with some background in issues of migration and diaspora who wish to enhance their knowledge in the light of continuing contemporary research.

2. a special interest MA, which will enable students to study diaspora and migration issues in depth in relation to a particular discipline or region.

Prospective students will be encouraged to contact the Programme Convenor, Dr Parvathi Raman, at an early stage of their application in order to seek advice on the most appropriate options for study. The programme consists of four units, comprised of three examined courses and a dissertation.

Programme Specification 2012/2013 (pdf; 276kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/programmes/mamigdiaspstudies/file39769.pdf

Teaching & Learning

During the academic year, teaching is centred mainly around lectures and seminars. For the core course in the first term, there is a one hour thematic lecture, followed by a two hour seminar, where students are encouraged to develop their ability for critical analysis and reflexivity. Students will occasionally be required to give a group presentation, encouraging collaborative work and the creative exchange of ideas, and in selected classes there will also be an in depth reading of a particular text by the whole class. Each week, students will share the responsibility for reading other selected texts, ensuring that a range of arguments and perspectives are discussed.

In the second term, teaching is framed around a two-hour student led seminar session, where a small group of students are responsible for leading each class. They will be guided by pre distributed lecture notes from the class tutors and selected readings from the reading list, and the objective will be to initiate an informed and lively discussion on the week’s topic. The class tutor will mediate the discussion

The teaching format is designed to help students progress intellectually over the year, advance their writing skills, and instil confidence in forming opinions and developing the ability to express their views articulately.

Assessment is by class participation and written assignments.

SOAS also has a large range of options on migration and diaspora related issues across the school. Teaching methods and assessment vary across these options, and their availability will depend on appropriate staff being available in the relevant academic year.

In addition, students are required to attend the weekly seminars held by the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, where they will hear international scholars give papers on a variety of migration and diaspora related topics. The seminars provide an invaluable backdrop for the transdiciplinary approach of the programme overall.

The student learning experience is also be enhanced by the public lectures, films and workshops the Centre organises.

SOAS library also houses an array of texts which complement the course to help fuel independent thinking and learning.


Studying an MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS develops students’ understanding of the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised. This programme with give students specialized research training in Migration and Diaspora Studies, including a relevant language. Over the years the SOAS department has trained numerous leading anthropologists who have gone on to occupy lectureships and professorships throughout the world. Equally, students gain skills during their degree that transfer well to areas such as information and technology, government service, the media and tourism.

Postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including analytical and critical skills; ability to gather, assess and interpret data; high level of cultural awareness; and problem-solving. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website (http://www.soas.ac.uk/careers/graduate-destinations/).

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

Visit the MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies 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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