MA Buddhist Studies


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

The MA Buddhist Studies suits students with different academic backgrounds and prospective personal objectives, from those interested in broadening their knowledge of Buddhism as a whole or of specific Buddhist traditions to those intending to embark on language-based research or fieldwork among Buddhist communities.

It typically suits:

  • Students planning to pursue further research in Buddhist Studies, which may involve at a subsequent stage the acquisition of a doctoral degree and a career in higher education.
  • Students willing to pursue a career or professional activity, for which advanced knowledge of Buddhism as a global cultural force is essential.
  • Students who wish to pursue the academic study of religions as a complement to their personal experience and commitments.
  • Students from traditionally Buddhist countries, willing to broaden their knowledge of Buddhism as a global religion, and to be introduced to an academic approach that is characterised both by its critical distance and by its empathy.


Students must complete 120 credits of MA taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits) as outlined below.

Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis:

The part-time MA may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) in the first year, and two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) and the dissertation in the second year.

Alternatively, it can be taken over three years in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits evenly in each of the three years. The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the degree. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.

Note to part-time students: Modules not listed as running, are likely to run in the next academic year.

For more information, please contact the programme convener.

  • Dissertation in Buddhist Studies

Taught Component

  • Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies


  • Module(s) to be selected from List A with a total value of 30 credits.


  • Module to be selected from List A or B with a total value of 15 credits.


  • Module(s) to be selected from List A, B or C with a total value of 30 credits.


  • Module(s) from the Open Options to the value of 30 credits (subject to convenor approval).

List A

  • Buddhism in Tibet
  • Buddhist Meditation in India and Tibet
  • Chinese Religious Texts: A Reading Seminar
  • Chinese Buddhism in the Pre-Modern Period
  • East Asian Buddhist Thought
  • Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (1)
  • Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (2)
  • Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers

List B

  • The Great Tradition of Taoism
  • The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India

List C

  • Languages
    • Japanese 1 A (PG)
    • Japanese 1 B (PG)
    • Japanese 2 (PG)
    • Japanese 3 (PG)
    • Japanese 4 (PG)
    • Japanese 5 (PG)
    • Burmese Language 1 A (PG)
    • Burmese Language 1 B (PG)
    • Burmese Language 2 (PG)
    • Korean 1 A (PG)
    • Korean 1 B (PG)
    • Intermediate Korean (PG)
    • Advanced Korean Readings (PG)
    • Tibetan (Classical) 1 A
    • Tibetan (Classical) 1 B
    • Nepali Language 1 A (PG)
    • Nepali Language 1 B (PG)
    • Nepali Language 2 (PG)
    • Prakrit Language 1 (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 1 A (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 1 B (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 2 (PG)
    • Chinese 1 A (PG)
    • Chinese 1 B (PG)
    • Chinese 2 (PG)
    • Chinese 3 (PG)
    • Chinese 4 (PG)
    • Reading Classical and Literary Chinese (PG)
    • Thai Language 1 A (PG)
    • Thai Language 1 B (PG)
    • Thai Language 2 (PG)
    • Thai Language 3 (PG)
    • Vietnamese Language 1 A (PG)
    • Vietnamese Language 1 B (PG)
    • Vietnamese Language 2 (PG)
  • Relevant modules in other departments
    • The Indian Temple
    • Buddhist and Hindu Art of the Maritime Silk Route
    • Buddhist Art in a Cosmopolitan Environment: Gandharan Art and its Heritage
    • Critical Themes in Tibetan Art
    • Tibetan Buddhist Monuments in Context
    • The Figure of the Buddha: Theory, Practice and the Making of Buddhist Art History
    • Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

You can apply for this course via the online application form.

We aim to assess a complete application and provide a decision within a 5-week time frame. Overseas students who require a Tier 4 visa and wish to join SOAS should bear in mind visa applications can take several weeks, so you should apply as soon as possible.

Consideration of Application

The whole application, including transcript and references, is considered before a decision is reached. You are therefore advised to submit a complete application including references and transcript (where required). An incomplete application will add considerable delays to the decision-making process.

Students will receive an acknowledgement of their application. Each application is carefully considered and although we try and respond as quickly as possible, we do ask that students should expect to receive a response within five weeks of receipt.

Candidates who are available in the United Kingdom may be called for an interview. The absence of academic members of staff (or instance on study leave) may affect the timing of decisions.

Entry Requirements

Normally an upper second class Honours degree, preferably in the field of Humanities from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard obtained after a course of study extending over not less than three years in a university (or educational institution of university rank).

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Sep 2019

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
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