MA Religion and Global Politics

SOAS University of London

Program Description

MA Religion and Global Politics

SOAS University of London

MA Religion in Global Politics

Duration: Full time: 1 calendar year Part time: 2 or 3 calendar years. We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?

The programme is designed to appeal to policy-makers, analysts, journalists and researchers in either international, national or regional institutions and organisations engaged in policy formation, inter-religious dialogue and community development, social work, development, conflict resolution, peace building or diversity management. It will also provide a solid basis from which to pursue doctoral study. The programme is intended to enable professional development in the area of ‘Religion and Politics’ as well to provide pre-doctoral research training in social scientific analyses of ‘Religion and Politics.

Religion has become a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary global geopolitical landscape and as such demands a reassessment of once predominant understandings of processes of secularisation, as well as the meanings of, and tensions inherent within, secular assumptions and secularist positions. The so-called ‘resurgence’ of religion in the public sphere in recent decades is now a significant area of interdisciplinary scholarship eliciting a complex array of responses, ranging from vehement opposition to the very idea that religious concepts and commitments have a right to expression in political debates, to a reassessment of the origins and implications of divisions between the secular and the religious and their relationship to the nation state. The notion that there is no singular secularism, but rather a plurality of secularisms, and of ‘religion’ as an invention of European modernity and colonial interests are two of many emerging efforts to reconceptualise the meanings of religion and the secular and the entangled relationship between them.

The MA Religion in Global Politics offers an opportunity to examine these questions and issues at an advanced level by studying the complex relationships between religion and politics in the histories and contemporary political contexts (both national and international) of the regions of the Asia, Africa and the Middle East. A core objective is to challenge the Eurocentrism of current debates around secularism, secularisation, the nature of the public sphere within modernity, by indicating the plurality and contested nature of conceptions of both religion and the secular when considered in a global framework.

The programme is unique: it has a regional focus and disciplinary breadth rarely addressed in similar programmes in the subject area, draws on a wealth of multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives (Law, International Relations and Politics, History, Philosophy, Development, Anthropology, Migration and Diaspora Studies, and Gender Studies, amongst others) and has a rigorous theoretical basis built in, such that students will be familiarised with the current state-of-the-art debates regarding religion in the public sphere, secularisms, postsecularism, and political theology and their relevance to issues of democracy, war, violence, human rights, humanitarianism and development, multiculturalism, nationalism, sectarianism, religious extremism, and free speech amongst others. The range of course options available on the programme is unparalleled, ensuring that students will benefit from a truly interdisciplinary, intellectually rigorous, and regionally focused programme.

Programme Aims

The programme’s inter-disciplinary focus aims to provide students with advanced training in the area of religion and politics through the study of a wide range of theoretical and regional perspectives. It will serve primarily as a platform for professional development and further (MPhil/PhD) graduate research. The programme offers students:

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of significant approaches, methods, debates, and theories in the field of religion and politics, with particular reference to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East;
  • Advanced skills in researching and writing about topics in and theorisations of religion and politics;
  • Advanced skills in the presentation or communication of knowledge and understanding of topics in religion and politics as they pertain to regional, international, and transnational contexts.

Entry Requirements

SOAS has general minimum entrance requirements for registration for a postgraduate taught degree. However, due consideration is given to the applicants’ individual profiles, and to the fact that great potential for the successful undertaking of the academic study of the field is not necessarily acknowledged or certified through the applicant’s academic qualifications. Interviews can be arranged for applicants who do not meet the minimum entrance requirements, and early contact with the programme convenor is advisable.


You are required to take taught courses to the equivalent of three full units, and to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words. A full unit runs for the whole academic year; a half unit runs for one term. Students may select a combination of full and half units. The dissertation topic must be approved in advance by the Programme Convenor and must be on a topic connected with one of your taught courses. Dissertation training will be provided as part of the compulsory core course. Students may take other SOAS courses relevant to their studies that are not listed below but may do so only with the written approval of the Tutor of the relevant course, the Programme Convenor, and the Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Compulsory Courses

  • Dissertation in Religion in Global Politics - 15PSRC987 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Religion in Global Politics: Theories and Themes - 15PSRC174 (1 Unit) - Full Year

Taught Option Courses

NOTE: not all courses will be offered every year due to course rotation and alternation.

Full Units

  • Christianity and Social Change in Sub Saharan Africa - 15PSRC157 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Communication, Culture and Politics in the Middle East: Theoretical and Analytical Approaches - 15PMSC005 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Contemporary Islamism in South Asia: Readings in Sayyid Abu al-A'la Mawdudi - 15PSRC170 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Critical Theory and the Study of Religions - 15PSRC037 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Culture and Conflict in the Himalaya - 15PSAC291 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Death and Religion - 15PSRC162 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Eastern and Orthodox Christianity - 15PSRC055 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • History and Doctrines of Indian Buddhism - 15PSRC059 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Human Rights and Islamic Law - 15PLAC150 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Human Rights in The Developing World - 15PLAC111 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Imagining Pakistan: culture, politics, gender (MA) - 15PSAC313 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Iran: History, Culture, Politics - 15PNMC405 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Israel, the Arab World and the Palestinians - 15PNMC038 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World - 15PSRC024 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Modern Bengal: the Evolution of Bengali Culture and Society from 1690 to the Present Day (MA) - 15PSAC289 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Modern Muslim Thinkers of South Asia - 15PSRC169 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Modern Trends in Islam - 15PNMC228 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Muslim Britain: Perspectives and Realities - 15PSRC158 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Mystical Traditions - 15PSRC068 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Non-Violence in Jain Scriptures, Philosophy and Law - 15PSRC062 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Religion in Britain: Faith Communities and Civil Society - 15PSRC163 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers - 15PSRC071 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Taiwan's politics and cross-strait relations - 15PPOC252 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Text and Context in Classical Hinduism - 15PSRC007 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia - 15PSAC314 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Theory and Method in the Study of Religion - 15PSRC010 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • World War II, Cold War, and the "War On Terror": the United States and South East Asia - 15PHIC059 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Zionist Ideology - 15PNMC035 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives - 15PSRC052 (1 Unit) - Full Year

Half Units

  • African and Asian Cultures in Britain - 15PANH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World - 15PANH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Colonial and Christian Missions in Africa: Readings from the Archives - 15PSRH043 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • African Philosophy (PG) - 15PAFH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Afrophone Philosophies (PG) - 15PAFH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Anthropology of Globalisation (PG) - 15PANH061 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Borders and Development - 15PDSH023 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Buddhism in Tibet - 15PSRH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Civil society, social movements and the development process - 15PDSH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Colonial Conquest and Social Change in Southern Africa - 15PHIH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Colonialism, Empire and International Law - 15PLAH025 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Comparative International Political Thought - 15PPOH021 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Conflict, rights and justice - 15PPOH018 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics - 15PNMH006 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II: Culture and Society - 15PNMH007 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Diaspora Contexts and Visual Culture - 15PARH042 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • East Asian Buddhist Thought - 15PSRH018 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Encountering the Other: the Middle East during the Crusading Period - 15PHIH037 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Gender in the Middle East - 15PGNH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Gender, Armed Conflict and International Law - 15PGNH005 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Gender, law and the family in the history of modern South Asia - 15PHIH030 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Gendering migration & diasporas - 15PGNH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia 1 - Making States and Building Nations - 15PHIH011 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia 2 - Non-National Perspectives - 15PHIH012 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • International Political Communication - 15PMSH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts - 15PARH034 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Japanese Modernity I - 15PHIH013 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Japanese Modernity II - 15PHIH014 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Judaism and Gender - 15PSRH029 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Law & Critique - 15PLAH053 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Law and Postcolonial Theory - 15PLAH050 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications - 15PMSH003 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Migration and Policy - 15PDSH029 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners - 15PHIH006 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Political economy of institutions - 15PECC020 (0.4 Unit) - Term 2
  • Queer Politics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East - 15PGNH007 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism - 15PSRH030 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Religions and Development - 15PSRH049 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Religions on the move: New Currents and Emerging Trends in Global Religion - 15PANH055 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Representing Conflict: A Cross-Cultural and Inter Disciplinary Approach - 15PARH039 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Security - 15PDSH020 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • The Body and the Making of Colonial Difference in British India - 15PHIH033 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • The Great Tradition of Taoism - 15PSRH036 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • The Holocaust in Theology, Literature and Art - 15PSRH028 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • The Making of the Contemporary World - 15PHIH035 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media:Networking, Connectivity, Identity - 15PMSH004 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Violence, justice and the politics of memory - 15PPOH019 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1

Teaching & Learning

Students are required to follow taught units to the equivalent of three full courses and to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words. Courses are assessed through a variety of methods including short and long essays, examinations, oral presentations, and response papers. An overall percentage mark is awarded for each course, based on the marks awarded for individual assessment items within the courses. The MA may be awarded at Distinction, Merit or Pass level in accordance with the common regulations for MA/MSc at SOAS.

The MA Religion in Global Politics is designed both as a professional development qualification and as a platform preparing students for doctoral research.

Programme Learning Outcomes


  • Inter-and multidisciplinary specialist understanding of the relationship between religion/secularism and the public sphere;
  • Knowledge of the comparative and historical contexts of religion and secularism;
  • Theories and practices of criticism and analysis in relation to core topics in the field of religion and politics in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe;
  • Understanding of the disciplinary range of the field and the necessity of engagement with the topic of religion for the understanding of politics;
  • Familiarity with various frameworks and key concepts that enable the integration of a variety of perspectives around the problematic of the role of religion in the public sphere and of the interrelationship of state and religious structures, values, and commitments.

Intellectual (thinking) skills

  • Precision in assessment of evidence and argumentation;
  • Capacity to discuss theoretical and epistemological issues in an articulate, informed, and intellectual manner;
  • Precision and critical acumen in the assessment of scholarly arguments and interpretations;
  • The ability to assess evidence and arguments independently;
  • Effective presentation of complex theoretical arguments and their relationship to empirical data;
  • Theoretical and regional expertise in order to develop and apply self-reflexive approaches to dominant issues in the comparative study of religion and politics.

Subject-based practical skills

  • Academic and professional writing to the highest standards;
  • IT-based information retrieval, processing and data organisation;
  • Fieldwork and archival research techniques;
  • Research project design;
  • Presentational skills;
  • Independent study skills;
  • Reflexive learning.

Transferable skills

  • Problem solving and research skills;
  • Oral and written communication;
  • Critical and independent thought;
  • Synthesising of difficult and wide ranging empirical material;
  • Regional specialism;
  • Working to deadlines and to high standards of presentation and argumentation;
  • Ability to make assessments involving complex factors.

A Student's Perspective

"It proved to be a highly stimulating research environment, fostering my analytical skills and allowing me to get in touch with a number of important personalities in my field."

Tullio Lobetti

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated December 1, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
Part time
Full time
United Kingdom - London, England
Start date: Sept. 2017
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2017
United Kingdom - London, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info