MA Religions of Asia and Africa

General

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time


The MA Religions of Asia and Africa is designed both as an end qualification in itself and as a platform preparing students for more advanced graduate work.

It typically suits students falling into one of the following three categories:

  • Students planning to pursue further research, 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 the religions of Asia and Africa and of the theoretical and practical issues involved in their study is essential: arts, media, teaching, NGOs and charities, interfaith dialogue, consultancy for governmental agencies or the private sector, religious institutions, museums, and more;
  • Students who wish to pursue the academic study of religions as a complement to their personal experience and commitments: religious ministers and clerics from all confessions, believers, yoga and meditation practitioners, or anyone interested in specific religious traditions or in religion as an essential dimension of life, and in the critical and experiential enhancement that their academic study may offer.

The MA Religions of Asia and Africa at SOAS offers the premier postgraduate curriculum in the UK for the study of the religions of Asia and Africa. It covers a wider range of religious traditions than most comparable programmes, whether in the UK or abroad: Buddhism in nearly all its doctrinal and regional varieties, Asian and African Christianities, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Taoism, Zoroastrianism as well as the local religious cultures of Asia and Africa.

The programme is strongly interdisciplinary and methodologically diverse, offering advanced learning in theories and methods in the study of religion as well as in historical, anthropological, philosophical, sociological and textual approaches to the study of particular religious traditions. It ensures students can benefit from the unique opportunity to tap cutting-edge academic expertise and library facilities on Asian and African religions as part of a spirited, cosmopolitan student community and within the intense religious and cultural scene of London.

Employment

An MA in Religions of Asia and Africa from SOAS equips students with important knowledge and understanding of different cultures, history and beliefs across the regions of Asia and Africa. As well as subject expertise, students develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional careers in the private and public sectors as well as essential skills necessary to pursue further research. These include: the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources - often both in the original or other relevant languages; analytical skills to assess critically the materials relevant to a specific issue; written and oral communication skills to present, discuss and debate opinions and conclusions; and problem solving skills. 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.

Structure

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.

Dissertation (choose from options below)

  • Dissertation in Gender Studies and Religion
  • Dissertation in Indian Religions
  • Dissertation in Japanese Religions
  • Dissertation in the Christianities of Asia and Africa
  • Dissertation in the Study of Islam
  • Dissertation in the Study of Religions

Taught Component

Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from the list of modules below.

and

Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the list of modules below or from the PGT language modules in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures or the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics.

and

Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the list of modules below or from Postgraduate Open Options.

List of modules (subject to availability)

  • Buddhism
    • Buddhism in Tibet
    • Buddhist Meditation in India and Tibet
    • 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
  • Chinese Religions
    • Chinese Buddhism in Pre-Modern Period
    • Chinese Religious Texts: A Reading Seminar
    • East Asian Buddhist Thought
    • The Great Tradition of Taoism
  • Christianity
    • Colonialism and Christian Missions in Africa: Readings from the Archives
    • Eastern and Orthodox Christianity
    • Christians and Muslims in Syriac Texts
  • East Asian Religions
    • East Asian Buddhist Thought
    • Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers
  • Gender and Religions
    • Judaism and Gender
  • Indian Religions
    • Avestan I
    • The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India
    • Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
  • Islam
    • Modern Trends in Islam
    • Muslim Britain: Perspectives and Realities
    • Approaches in Islamic Intellectual History
  • Jainism
    • Jaina Philosophy in Comparative Perspective
    • Readings in Jaina History and Culture
    • Prakrit Language 1 (PG)
  • Japanese Religions
    • East Asian Buddhist Thought
    • Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers
  • Judaism
    • Family, Work and Leisure in Ancient Judaism
    • Jewishness on Screen
    • Judaism and Gender
    • Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism
    • The Holocaust in Theology, Literature and Art
  • Multi-religious/comparative courses
    • Death and Religion
    • Religions and Development
  • Religion in Africa
    • Colonialism and Christian Missions in Africa: Readings from the Archives
  • Theoretical Approaches
  • Zoroastrianism
    • Avestan I
    • Pahlavi Language
    • Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
  • Modules taught in other departments
    • Religions on the move: New Currents and Emerging Trends in Global Religion

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, minimum upper second class Honours degree from a UK university, or an overseas qualification or equivalent standard. Applicants with qualifications obtained at private or religious institutions should enquire about the School’s position on such qualifications.

Interview Policy:

We welcome applications from students with non-conventional qualifications and usually determine suitability for the programme on the basis of an interview.

English Language Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent).

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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