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MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation

Course Description

Who is this programme for?:

The thematic components and cross-regional perspectives typically suit students with the following interests and/or aspirations:

- Experienced practitioners of yoga and meditation who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that shaped their traditions.

- Students with a background in psychology seeking to gain knowledge of meditation and mindfulness for their clinical work.

- Students planning to pursue further research which may involve, at a subsequent stage, the acquisition of a doctoral degree and a career in higher education.

- Students seeking to pursue a career or professional activity for which advanced knowledge of the yoga and meditation traditions of Asia is required.

- Students who wish to pursue the academic study of these traditions as a complement to their personal experience.

This MA offers an in-depth introduction to the yogic and meditational techniques and doctrines of India, Tibet, China and Japan within the historical and cultural context of their formation. Furthermore, it explores the nature of spiritual experience that arises from yoga and meditation through a cross-cultural, inter-regional perspective.

Classes are held three evenings per week with Full-time and Part-time Study Available.

The thematic, but inter-regional, focus of this MA programme promotes the academic study of the different traditions through the deployment of a wide range of regional perspectives. Its core unit explores the methodological foundations at the heart of yoga/meditation practice. The specialist components integrated within this MA are organised to serve as platform for further (MPhil/PhD) graduate research; the more general components of the programme provides those students who do not intend to pursue doctoral research with an advanced introduction to the physiological dynamics, doctrinal foundations, history, regional context and theoretical presuppositions that shaped the traditions of yoga and meditation. The programme thus offers students (a) advanced knowledge of the background to, and understanding of, yoga and meditation, from their origin in ancient India to their apex in mediaeval Japan; (b) advanced skills in research and writing on topics that pertain to yoga/meditation, drawing on both primary sources (in translation) and secondary sources; (c) advanced skills in presentation and communication of their knowledge of the topics covered in the lectures.

This MA is taught through evening classes, typically running between 18.00h and 20.00h on weekdays, at the SOAS Russell Square Campus in Central London.

The reading materials connected to all four courses of this MA programme are largely disseminated through online resources. Essay submission takes place either in hard copy or electronically.

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/religions-and-philosophies/programmes/ma-traditions-of-yoga-and-meditation/

Teaching & Learning

Students are required to follow taught units to the equivalent of three full courses and to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words. All courses in this MA are assessed through a combination of short and long essays. An overall percentage mark is awarded for each course, based on the marks awarded for individual assessment items within the course. The MA may be awarded at Distinction, Merit or Pass level in accordance with the common regulations for MA/MSc at SOAS.

The MA ‘Traditions of Yoga and Meditation’ is designed both as an end qualification in itself and as a platform preparing students for more advanced graduate work.

Programme Learning Outcomes:


- Students will learn how to assess data and evidence critically, locate and synthesise source materials, critically evaluate conflicting interpretations and sources, use research resources (library catalogues, journal databases, citation indices) and other traditional sources.

- Subject specific skills, for instance, text analysis, comparative investigations, interpretation of art-historical evidence, familiarity with the study of the traditions of yoga and meditation as a field of critical enquiry in its various regional and historical contexts.

- Aspects of literature in the study of yoga and meditation with its manifestations in philosophy, religion, iconography and history, as well as the impact of these traditions on religious societies.

Intellectual (thinking) skills:

- Students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.

- Students will develop the capacity to discuss theoretical and epistemological issues in an articulate, informed, and intellectual manner.

- Students will learn to become precise and critical in their assessment of scholarly arguments and to question interpretations, however authoritative, in order to reassess evidence for themselves.

- Students will learn to present complex theoretical arguments clearly and creatively.

- Students will acquire both theoretical and regional expertise in order to develop and apply self-reflexive approaches to the issues raised by the cross-cultural study of yoga and meditation traditions.

Subject-based practical skills:
The programme aims to help students with the following practical skills:

- Academic writing
- IT-based information retrieval and processing
- Presentational skills
- Independent study skills and research techniques
- Reflexive learning

Transferable skills:
The programme will encourage students to:

- Write concisely and with clarity.
- Effectively structure and communicate ideas (oral and written).
- Explore and assess a variety of sources for research purposes.
- Work to deadlines and high academic standards.
- Assess the validity and cogency of arguments.
- Make judgements involving complex factors.
- Develop self-reflexivity.
- Develop an awareness of the ethical complexity of representational practices.
- Question the nature of social and cultural constructs.

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

Visit the MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

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). External qualifications in Yoga/Meditation may be considered at the university's discretion.

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Recipient: SOAS University of London
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