MA Religious Arts of Asia

General

Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time


This is the only history of art and archaeology degree in Europe focused on the great religious traditions of Asia. It includes within its scope diverse countries, regions and time periods from antiquity to the present, with a particular emphasis on Buddhism in South, Central and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, China, Korea and Japan. Hinduism, Shinto and animistic and syncretic practices are also studied. Students consider iconography, ritual, faith and pilgrimage in their multiple regional and historical guises. They study temple buildings, statues and paintings, formal, informal and popular.

The Department of the History of Art and Archaeology contains some of the world’s leading experts in the art history and archaeology of Asia, many of whom are principally concerned with religious art. Their 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 and religion in Asia, historically and in the present. They can also select from modules in other departments, taking advantage of SOAS’s unrivalled expertise in the religions, languages, history and cultures of Asia.

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.

Employment

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
  • Bonhams
  • 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
  • Sotheby's
  • 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
  • Architect
  • Art Historian
  • Development Specialist
  • Archivist
  • 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

Structure

Occasionally the availability of optional modules changes as a result of staffing and other circumstances. Students who had signed up for such modules will be notified as soon as possible and given the opportunity to choose from available alternatives.

Students must complete 120 credits of MA taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits).

Dissertation

  • Dissertation in History of Art and Archaeology: Religious Arts of Asia

Taught Component

Choose modules to the value of 60 credits in the department related to Religious Arts of Asia listed below.

and

Choose a module to the value of 15 credits from MA modules in the department - not limited to Religious Arts of Asia, listed below.

and

Choose modules to the value of 45 credits from the list of recommended options from other SOAS departments, also listed below.

or

Choose modules from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 45 credits.

List of modules (subject to availability)

  • Options in Religious Arts of Asia
    • Arts of the Tamil Temple
    • Buddhist and Hindu Art of the Maritime Silk Route
    • Buddhist Art in a Cosmopolitan Environment: Gandharan Art and its Heritage
    • Collecting and Curating Buddhist Art in the Museum
    • Critical Themes in Tibetan Art
    • Monuments and sculpture of Angkor
    • Illustrated Manuscript Cultures of Southeast Asia
    • Interpreting Visual Expressions of the Mandala
    • Shogunal Iconography in the Edo Period
    • Southeast Asia's Art Histories
    • (En)gendering Southeast Asia: Aesthetics and Politics of Sexual Difference
    • The Figure of the Buddha: Theory, Practice and the Making of Buddhist Art History
    • The Indian Temple
    • Tibetan Buddhist Monuments in Context
  • Other Options in the History of Art and Archaeology
    • Arab Painting
    • Architectural Boundaries and the Body
    • Art and Architecture of the Fatimids
    • Arts of Koryo and Chosen Korea
    • Arts of Modern and Contemporary China (since 1800)
    • Ceramics in Chinese Culture: 10th - 18th Centuries
    • China and the Silk Road: Art and Archaeology
    • Chinese Porcelain: Trade, Transfer and Reception
    • Discourses on Modern and Contemporary Art of the Middle East
    • Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (1)
    • 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)
    • Issues in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art
    • Modern and Contemporary Arts in Africa
    • Modern and Contemporary Korean Art
    • Visuality and Islamic Art
    • Persian Painting
    • Photography and the Image in Africa
    • Popular Practice in the Edo Period Arts
    • Representing Conflict: A Cross-Cultural and Inter-Disciplinary Approach
    • The Silk Road and its Origins: Art and Archaeology
    • Visual Arts of Dynastic China (to 1800) (Cohort A)
    • Theory and Method in Art History

Options in Other Departments

  • Anthropology
  • Culture and Society of South Asia
  • Culture and Society of South East Asia
  • History
    • 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
  • Media Studies
  • Study of Religions
    • Avestan I
    • Buddhism in Tibet
    • Buddhist Meditation in India and Tibet
    • Imag(in)ing Buddhahood in South Asia (2)
    • Pahlavi Language
    • The Origins and Development of Yoga in Ancient India
    • Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
  • Music
    • Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia
  • South Asia
    • Bengali Language 2 (PG)
    • Culture and Conflict in Nepal
    • Hindi Language 1 A (PG)
    • Hindi Language 1 B (PG)
    • Hindi Language 2 (PG)
    • Hindi Language 3 (PG)
    • Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context
    • Indian Cinema: Key Issues
    • Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters)
    • Literatures of South Asia
    • Nepali Language 2 (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 2 (PG)
    • The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia
    • Urdu Language 2 (PG)
  • Southeast Asia
    • Burmese Language 2 (PG)
    • Genders and Sexualities in South East Asian Film
    • Indonesian Language 2 (PG)
    • Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters)
    • Thai Language 2 (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

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 (see individual module descriptions for details). 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

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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