MA Comparative Literature (Africa / Asia)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

The opportunity to move from the familiar Euro-American literary canons into the fresh but less well-known worlds of African and Asian literature is what attracts most students to this popular MA.

At SOAS, students benefit from the unique expertise in this vast field possessed by the school’s faculty.

This expertise is available to students interested in studying this literature through English - including both original English language literature of Africa and Asia and literature written in African and Asian languages presented through English translations.

While exploring new horizons and breaking out of the Euro-centric space in which comparative literature has developed so far, the programme covers the major theoretical contributions made by Western scholars.

In doing so, it constructs a unique multi-cultural domain for the study of literature and its location in culture and society.

Prior knowledge of an African or Asian language is not a requirement for admission to this degree.


A postgraduate degree in Comparative Literature (Africa/Asia) provides students with competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the selected region will have been developed through a combination of the study of its literature and exploration of contemporary literary theories. Some graduates leave SOAS to pursue careers directly related to their study area, while others have made use of the intellectual training for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems that contemporary societies now face.

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in the business, public and charity sectors. They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including 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. 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.


Students take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. You may take a 30 credit language acquisition module at an appropriate level as one of your modules.

  • Dissertation in Cultural, Literary, and Postcolonial Studies

Core Module

  • Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature 15PCSC002 30 Full Year


  • Guided Options and Open Options
    Students can select 60 credits from the list of Guided Options below and 30 credits from the list of Postgraduate Open Options.

List of modules (subject to availability)

Students can take 60 credits from the list below or 30 credits from the list below and a 30 credit language acquisition module.

  • English Based Options
    • Japanese Traditional Drama (PG)
    • Translating Cultures 1
    • Modern Japanese Literature (PG)
    • Modern Chinese Film and Theatre (PG)
    • Modern Film from Taiwan and the Chinese Diaspora (PG)
    • Traditional Chinese Literature in Translation
    • Literature in African languages
    • Travelling Africa: Writing the Cape to Cairo
    • The Story of African Film: Narrative Screen Media in Africa
    • African Philosophy (PG)
    • Philosophy and Decolonisation (PG)
    • Realism and Magical Realism in the African Novel (PG)
    • Sci-fi and Afrofuturism in the African Novel (PG)
    • Literary Traditions and Culture of Korea (PG)
    • Trajectories of Modernity in Korean Literature (PG)
    • Film and Society in the Middle East
    • Literature of South Asia
    • English Literatures of South East Asia
    • Postcolonial Theory and Practice
    • Post-crisis Thai Cinema (1997-2007)
    • Under Western Eyes: European Writings on South East Asia (PG)
    • War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asia Literatures in Translation (Masters)
    • Genders and Sexualities in South East Asian Film
    • Japanese Transnational Cinema: From Kurosawa to Asia Extreme and Studio Ghibli
    • Japanese Post-War Film Genres and the Avant-Garde
    • Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context
    • Indian Cinema: Key Issues
    • African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World
    • Turkey: Continuity and Change
  • Language-Based Options:
    • Readings in Korean Literature (PG)
    • Social And Political Trends In 19th Century Turkish Literature
    • Selected Topics in 20th Century Turkish Literature
    • Social and Political Dimensions of Modern Arabic Literature
    • Modern Palestinian Literature (PG)
    • Sanskrit Literature
    • Directed Readings in the Literature of a Modern South Asian Language
    • Directed Readings in a South-East Asian Language
    • Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters)
    • Narratives of Mobility in Contemporary Hindi Literature (Masters)
    • Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters)
    • Hebrew Literature from the Arab World (PG)
  • Africa
    • Amharic 1 A (PG)
    • Amharic 1 B (PG)
    • Amharic 2 (PG)
    • Hausa 1 A (PG)
    • Hausa 1 B (PG)
    • Hausa 2 (PG)
    • Somali 1 A (PG)
    • Somali 1 B (PG)
    • Somali 2 (PG)
    • Advanced Somali: Language (PG)
    • Advanced Somali: Literature (PG)
    • Swahili 1 A (PG)
    • Swahili 1 B (PG)
    • Intermediate Swahili 2A (PG)
    • Swahili 3 (PG)
    • Practical Translation Swahili into English
    • Yoruba 1 A (PG)
    • Yoruba 1 B (PG)
    • Yoruba 2 (PG)
    • Zulu 1 A (PG)
    • Zulu 1 B (PG)
    • Zulu 2 (PG)
  • China and Inner Asia
    • Elementary Spoken Cantonese (PG)
    • Elementary spoken Hokkien (Minnanyu, Taiwanese) (PG)
    • Tibetan (Modern) 1 A (PG)
    • Tibetan (Modern) 1 B (PG)
    • Chinese 1 A (PG)
    • Chinese 1 B (PG)
    • Chinese 2 (PG)
    • Chinese 3 (PG)
    • Chinese 4 (PG)
    • Reading Classical and Literary Chinese (PG)
  • Japan and Korea
    • Japanese 1 A (PG)
    • Japanese 1 B (PG)
    • Japanese 2 (PG)
    • Korean 1 A (PG)
    • Korean 1 B (PG)
    • Korean 2 (PG)
    • Korean Readings (PG)
    • Japanese 3 (PG)
    • Japanese 4 (PG)
  • Near and Middle East
    • Elementary Persian Texts (PG)
    • Elementary Written Persian A (PG)
    • Elementary Written Persian B (PG)
    • Elementary Written Turkish A (PG)
    • Elementary Written Turkish B (PG)
    • Hebrew 1 A (PG)
    • Hebrew 1 B (PG)
  • South Asia
    • Bengali Language 1 A (PG)
    • Bengali Language 1 B (PG)
    • Bengali Language 2 (PG)
    • Hindi Language 1 A (PG)
    • Hindi Language 1 B (PG)
    • Hindi Language 2 (PG)
    • Hindi Language 3 (PG)
    • Hindi Language 4 (PG)
    • Nepali Language 1 A (PG)
    • Nepali Language 1 B (PG)
    • Nepali Language 2 (PG)
    • Punjabi Language 1 A (PG)
    • Punjabi Language 1 B (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 1 A (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 1 B (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 2 (PG)
    • Prakrit Language 1 (PG)
    • Urdu Language 1 A (PG)
    • Urdu Language 1 B (PG)
    • Urdu Language 2 (PG)
  • South East Asia
    • Burmese Language 1 A (PG)
    • Burmese Language 1 B (PG)
    • Burmese Language 2 (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 1 A (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 1 B (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 2 (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 3 (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 4 (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)

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

Applicants should have a first or good second class honours bachelors degree from a UK university, or equivalent, in a subject appropriate to that of the programme to be followed. As an approximate comparison, an equivalent BA from a US university would have a Grade Point Average of either 3.3 or 3.5 depending on the awarding university. If an applicant does not have a bachelors degree in an appropriate field s/he may be required to complete a qualifying year or a one-year diploma before entering the master's programme. Relevant work experience may also be taken into consideration. Individual courses may have specific entry requirements, so you are advised to consult the postgraduate prospectus for further information.

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). Incoming students will be expected to have completed at least the equivalent of two years of undergraduate Chinese language study.

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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