MA History and Intensive Language


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

This is the only Master-level programme in History focusing on the study of Asia, the Middle East and Africa in the UK, and can, therefore, offer an unrivalled breadth of courses on the history of these regions. The programme provides sound training in the historical sciences.

It can also be taken with an intensive language pathway over two years, therefore making this programme unique in Europe.

The programme would suit students with a keen interest in learning about the historical conditions of the contemporary world and in particular those who are prepared to look at the world from the perspective of other people and cultures. While the course is open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal applicant would have a UG degree in History (or a related discipline), some knowledge of foreign, including Asian or African languages, and preferably some relevant background in the region of specialism.

Graduates will find a wide range of career options open to them, in particular, those involving inter-cultural or international contact, such as in international organizations, government institutions, non-profit organizations, and journalism, but also museums, educational institutions, or the publishing sector more generally. It would also be suitable preparation for students considering embarking on a research degree focusing on one of the regional or topical areas of expertise represented in the department.

The two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language course would enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

May be combined with:

The following Intensive Language pathways are available with the MA History:

  • Arabic
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Persian
  • South-East Asian Languages: Burmese, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese
  • Swahili
  • Turkish


Students must take 315 credits in total, comprised of 255 taught credits (45 of which are taught abroad as part of a Summer School) and a 60-credit dissertation (10,000 words with a detailed 2,500-word dissertation plan worth 10% of the mark for this module) as outlined below.

There are five regional pathways within the History part of the programme: Africa, East Asia, Near and Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia. If you have any questions about pathway requirements, please contact the programme convenor.

In their first year, students on the two-year Intensive Language programmes take 60 credits of intensive language instruction and 60 credits in the discipline. During the summer, they participate in a Summer School abroad. In the second year, they take another 30 language credits as well as 60 credits in the discipline; they also complete their dissertation in the discipline.

Year 1 (two years full time)

Language Component

Students take 60 credits in the selected language.

Discipline Component

  • Debating Pasts, Crafting Histories


A module from List A below to the value of 15 credits.


A module from the List of Independent Research Essays in History (IREH1).

Summer Abroad

Students participate in a Summer School abroad for the selected language.

Year 2 (two years full time)

Language Component

Students take 30 credits in the selected language.

Discipline Component

Choose a module(s) from List A or List B below to the value of 30 credits.


Choose a module(s) from List A or List B below to the value of 30 credits.


Choose a module(s) from List A and the List of IREH1 below to the value of 30 credits.


Choose a module(s) from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 30 credits.


Students must complete a Dissertation (10,000 words).

List of modules (subject to availability)

Dissertation Modules

  • Dissertation in History
  • Dissertation in History: Africa
  • Dissertation in History: East Asia
  • Dissertation in History: Near and Middle East
  • Dissertation in History: South Asia
  • Dissertation in History: South East Asia

Independent Research Essay

Students must do at least one of these essays; each essay is tied to a specified List A module.

  • Independent Research Essay in History 1
  • Independent Research Essay in History 2
  • Independent Research Essay in History 3

List A

  • Comparative/Global
    • The Making of the Contemporary World
    • Environmental History of Asia
    • Colonial curricula: empire and education at SOAS and beyond
  • Africa
    • Slavery in West Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries
    • Historical Perspectives on Gender in Africa
    • Social and Cultural Transformations in Southern Africa Since 1945
    • Colonial Conquest and Social Change in Southern Africa
    • Warfare and the Military in Precolonial Africa
    • Warfare and the Military in Modern Africa
    • Colonialism and Christian Missions in Africa: Readings from the Archives
  • Near and Middle East
    • The Early Development of Islam: Emerging Identities and Contending View
    • Iran and the Persianiate world, 1400 to 1800
    • Iran and the Persianiate world, 1800 to 1979
    • The End of Empire in the Middle East and the Balkans II
    • Encountering the Other: the Middle East during the Crusading Period
    • Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East I
    • Modernity and the Transformation of the Middle East II
    • The Origin of Islam: Sources and Perspectives
    • Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners
    • Mesopotamian Languages and Literature A: the third millennium
    • Mesopotamian Languages and Literature C: the first Millenium BC
    • Sumerian Language
    • Israel and the Palestinians
    • Modern Trends in Islam
    • Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography
  • South Asia
    • Islam in South Asia
    • Gender, law and the family in the history of modern South Asia
    • Colonialism and Nationalism in South Asia
    • The Body and the Making of Colonial Difference in British India
  • East Asia
    • Knowledge and Power in Early Modern China
    • Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China
    • The Making of Modern Korea, 1864-1953
    • The Two Koreas since 1953 (PG)
  • South-East Asia
    • Asian Armies and National Development
    • Asian Wars: World War II and the End of Empire (1942-1960)
    • Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia 1 - Making States and Building Nations
    • Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia 2 - Non-National Perspectives

List B

  • Methodology
    • Media Production Skills (Group B)
  • Africa
    • Religions and Development
    • International Politics of Africa
    • Government and politics in Africa
    • State & society in Asia & Africa
  • Near and Middle East
    • Medieval Arabic Thought
    • Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism
    • Family, Work and Leisure in Ancient Judaism
    • Comparative politics of the Middle East
    • Culture and Society of Near and Middle East
    • Modern Trends in Islam
    • Approaches in Islamic Intellectual History
  • South Asia
    • The Religions of Ancient India
    • The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India
    • Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
    • The Indian Temple
    • Government and politics of modern South Asia
    • Imagining Pakistan (PG)
    • The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia
  • East Asia
    • State and society in the Chinese political process
    • East Asian Buddhist Thought
    • The Great Tradition of Taoism
  • South-East Asia
    • Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters)
    • Government and politics of modern South-East Asia

Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

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 of 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), in History, or a related discipline in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

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 Oct 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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