Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time
The Islamic Middle East has given rise to an impressive material culture that continues in the present. This programme covers an area stretching from Islamic Spain through the Arab countries, Turkey, Iran and Central Asia in diverse historical periods. It offers students an unmatched opportunity to study particular regions or categories of art, including Fatimid art; the architecture and urbanism of Morocco; Arab, Persian and Turkish painting; the calligraphy and illumination of the Qur'an; Mamluk art and architecture; the arts and architecture of the Ottomans in Turkey and the Balkans; and the material culture of western Iran. Archaeological issues of the Islamic Middle East are also considered.
In addition, the degree engages with trans-regional topics that extend beyond the Middle East, such as cultural and artistic relationships between the Islamic Middle East and Europe.
Students can decide to study complementary courses on non-Islamic traditions of the Middle East and/or the Islamic traditions of other regions.
The Department of the History of Art and Archaeology contains some of the world’s leading experts in the art history and archaeology of the Islamic Middle East, whose ground-breaking research informs and is informed by their teaching. Students benefit from the unparalleled knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff. As members of the School of Arts, they profit from the insights of scholars and students working in other related fields, such as Music, Film and Media in the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. They can also select from modules in other departments, taking advantage of SOAS’s unrivalled expertise in the languages, history, religions and cultures of the Middle East.
A Masters from the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology provides students with expertise in the History of Art and/or Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Our postgraduates progress to work in arts, culture and heritage roles, including in galleries, museums, archives, conservation, publishing and arts administration. The large portfolio of transferable skills they acquire enables them to forge careers in a range of other fields across the world. Our Masters programmes are also an excellent foundation for MPhil/PhD research.
A Masters from the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology provides students with expertise in the History of Art and/or Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Our postgraduates progress to work in arts, culture and heritage roles, including in galleries, museums, archives, conservation, publishing and arts administration. The large portfolio of transferable skills they acquire enables them to forge careers in a range of other fields across the world. Our Master's programmes are also an excellent foundation for MPhil/PhD research.
Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:
- Asia House
- British Museum
- Christie's Hong Kong
- Design Museum
- Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
- Hong Kong Museum Of Art
- India Foundation For The Arts
- Museum of East Asian Art
- National Gallery National Museum of Singapore
- People Projects Culture & Change
- Schoeni Art Gallery
- Taiwan Embassy
- The Alliance for Global Education
- The British Embassy
- The Chester Beatty Library
- The National Museum Of Korea
- The Royal Collection
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
- Manager of Communications
- Culture Programme Coordinator
- Research Assistant
- Social Anthropology Lecturer
- Specialist - Indian Art
- Art Historian
- Development Specialist
- Gallery Director Innovation Programmes Learning Manager
- Creative Director
- Organisational Consultant
- Travel writer
- Art Collector
- Chinese Painting Specialist
- Professor of Silk Road History
- Rights and Reproductions Officer
- Public Education Coordinator
- Senior Curator of Photographs
Please note that modules need a minimum number of students to run. Should the module not run, students will be notified of an alternative.
Students must complete 120 credits of MA taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits).
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 modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) in the first year, and two 30 credits modules (or equivalent 15 credits modules) 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 modules 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 programme. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.
- Dissertation in History of Art and Archaeology: History of Art and Archaeology of Islamic Middle East
- Choose modules, from the Islamic Middle East list below to the value of 60 credits.
- Choose modules to the value of 15 credits from the list below (excluding Islamic Middle East modules).
Choose modules to the value of 45 credits from the list below OR from open options:
- Language Open Option Modules
- Non-Language Open Option Modules
List of modules (subject to availability)
Options in History of Art and Architecture of the Islamic Middle East
- Arab Painting
- Architectural Boundaries and the Body
- Art and Architecture of the Fatimids
- Asia and Africa On Display: Objects, Exhibitions and Transculturism
- Discourses on Modern and Contemporary Art of the Middle East
- Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts
- Islamic Art and Architecture of Eastern Mediterranean of the Period of the Crusades (11th-14th centuries)
- Art and Architecture of the Seljuks and Ottomans (12th -15th centuries)
- Illustrated Manuscript Cultures of Southeast Asia
- Issues in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art
- Visuality and Islamic Art
- Persian Painting
Other Options in the History of Art and Archaeology
- Architectural Boundaries and the Body
- Arts of Koryo and Chosen Korea
- Arts of Modern and Contemporary China (since 1800)
- Buddhist and Hindu Art of the Maritime Silk Route
- Ceramics in Chinese Culture: 10th - 18th Centuries
- Chinese Porcelain: Trade, Transfer and Reception
- Collecting and Curating Buddhist Art in the Museum
- Critical Themes in Tibetan Art
- Illustrated Manuscript Cultures of Southeast Asia
- Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (1)
- Modern and Contemporary Arts in Africa
- Modern and Contemporary Korean Art
- Monuments and sculpture of Angkor
- Photography and the Image in Africa
- Popular Practice in the Edo Period Arts
- Representing Conflict: A Cross-Cultural and Inter-Disciplinary Approach
- Shogunal Iconography in the Edo Period
- The Indian Temple
- Tibetan Buddhist Monuments in Context
- Theory and Method in Art History
- Visual Arts of Dynastic China (to 1800) (Cohort A)
Options in Other Departments
- Culture and Society of Near and Middle East
- Encountering the Other: the Middle East during the Crusading Period
- Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners
- Media Studies
- Communication, Culture and Politics in the Middle East: Theoretical and Analytical Approaches
- Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications
- Religions & Philosophies
- Avestan I
- Eastern and Orthodox Christianity
- Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (2)
- Pahlavi Language
- Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
- Music, Urbanism and Conflict in Jaffa
- Near & Middle East
- Arabic 400 (PG)
- Arabic 600 (PG)
- Arabic Poetry and Criticism
- Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics
- Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II: Culture and Society
- Elementary Persian Texts (PG)
- Film and Society in the Middle East
- Intensive Turkish Language (PG)
- Arabic 200 (PG)
- Iran: History, Culture, Politics
- Israel and the Palestinians
- Persian for Readers of Arabic Script (PG)
- Intermediate Persian Language (PG)
- Persian 3 (PG)
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.
The normal qualification for admission to the MA programme is an upper second class honours degree. Other qualifications, however, may be acceptable and the Department welcomes mature students. Students taking the MA degree may or may not have previous experience of our subjects. While knowledge of a relevant Asian or African language is not a requirement, for some modules it is an advantage for admission. It is possible to include an element of language training within the MA programme by taking an Asian or African language as one of the two ‘minor’ modules. This option may be particularly desirable for those intending to progress to the PhD, who do not already have the necessary language skills.
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.
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.
About the School
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