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MA South Asian Area Studies

Course Description

The MA in South Asian Studies provides exceptional opportunities for advanced study of one of the world’s most diverse and important regions.

Students can choose to concentrate on pre-modern or modern South Asia and can acquire a basic knowledge of one of the area’s languages.

The degree provides a wide-ranging interdisciplinary analysis of the South Asian countries – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Disciplines available include Politics, Economics,Anthropology, Law and History.

The programme attracts students from a variety of backgrounds. While some wish to broaden their previous studies or experience of South Asia, others approach the course without having a South Asian element to their first degree, but with a desire to focus their previous training on the region.

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/southasia/programmes/masastud/


Students take three taught courses, one of which is considered a major, and complete a 10,000-word dissertation related to the major.

Some disciplines, such as Politics, Economics or Social Anthropology, require an appropriate qualification (such as part of a first degree) if any of their courses are to be taken as the major subject.

Programme Specification

MA South Asian Area Studies - Programme Specifications 2012/13 (pdf; 34kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/southasia/programmes/masastud/file80818.pdf

Teaching & Learning

- Lectures and Seminars

For most courses there is one 2-hour class each week. This may be an informal lecture followed by a discussion or student presentation. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

- Dissertation

The 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.

Learning Resources

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


A postgraduate degree in South Asian studies from SOAS provides its students with competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature, history, cinema, politics, economics or law.

Postgraduate students are equipped with linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research, along with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in business, public or charity sectors. These include written and oral communication skills; attention to detail; analytical and problem solving skills; and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.

An MA in South Asian Area Studies can open many doors. Those remaining in London will be able to take advantage of the numerous international bodies here, and those with specialist areas of knowledge (finance, law, art) will find relevant opportunities. Many students may choose to pursue a career in South Asia to put their skills into practice. Research degrees are also possibilities for graduates with high grades.

Among a variety of professions, career paths may include: Academia; Commerce; Community; Finance; Government; NGOs; Media; Politics; and UN Agencies.

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 South Asian Area Studies page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Jen Guha (USA)

Studying South Asia at SOAS was the best decision I made….. A two year MA would be ideal as you would have even more time to take courses, learn new things, research and write your dissertation, and spend time in a South Asian country. My time at SOAS went by too quickly -- I would have liked to have another year there! The courses I took were so interesting, and I even audited another two because I could not decide which ones to take. One of my favourite classes was my Bengali class, as I got to learn a language not frequently taught, though one of the most spoken languages world wide. I started out auditing the Bengali 1 class, and ended up putting a lot of time and effort into the course, did well on all the tests, and ended up taking it for credit the second term. It was a great opportunity to learn the language of my grandfather, and if it were not for SOAS I don't know if I would have had the chance to take up Bengali! The professors I had were all high quality, and willing to spend the extra time going over concepts, or taking time during class to have in depth discussions. I guess what I'm trying to say is...I miss studying at SOAS!

(Student Profile)

Aishwarya Singh (India)

It’s not difficult to fall in love with SOAS at first sight! It is very welcoming, has a multi-cultural, multi-lingual setting and is always abuzz with interesting activities. The teaching faculty is par excellence….. SOAS rightfully boasts of an exceptionally resourceful library, a paradise of sorts for bookworms and students alike! ….. SOAS has a special place in my heart. It is where I fine-tuned my academic abilities, pushed my limits and constantly found myself growing each day.

I made some wonderful friends for life at SOAS. I will always remember it as the place which gave me back much more than I ever anticipated when I first landed in London.

(Student Profile)

Xiaoyu Zhang (China)

I gained very professional academic training by following the professors of the South Asian Department and got the opportunity to figure out what I am really interested in around South Asian academic circles. Especially in the course ‘The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia’, I got multi-dimensional knowledge about the area, from India to Pakistan, from Nepal to Bhutan, from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka. The course touched different topics and it opened my mind to diversified South Asian cultures, social issues and literature, etc. For me, as a student with language skills in Bengali, the South Asia department is an ideal place to pursue further study in both Bengali language and literature under the guidance of professional tutors from Britain and India….. SOAS changed my life, especially my academic career. I learn to deal with people from different cultures and gain an open mind that is very helpful in my future life.

(Student Profile)

Rahul Verma (UK)

I found the flexibility of South Asian Studies very useful, it enabled me to pick a broad range of courses, across anthropology and cultural studies, which suited my personal and professional interests.

Overall as an older (some might say mature) student with over 15 years of work experience as a journalist, South Asian Studies was an absolutely fantastic course - it provided me with fresh perspectives and ways of seeing, as well as developing my analytical, critical thinking and research skills beyond measure. The MA, course tutors and overall SOAS experience invigorated and inspired me more than I could ever have imagined.


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


Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

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