MA in Cultural Studies


Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

The aim of the programme is to offer grounding in the theories on Cultural Studies which draws on Marxism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Post-Marxism, Feminism, and Post-Modernism and their use, application and adaption in the cross-cultural contexts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It provides an examination of the main historical concepts in Western culture such as ideology, power, class, identity, race, nation, subjectivity, representation, and memory and how these are challenged by scholars working in non-Western cultures of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The aim is to explore the different and plural cultural histories and memories of these contexts to which Cultural Studies must adapt.

Theoretical paradigms covered will reflect on issues of class, ‘race’, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, representation and religion. The course will investigate central questions of epistemology and methodology in relation to the application of Cultural Studies theories in non-Western contexts. The programme is theory and practice-based and therefore, it draws on case studies from a diversity of cultural practices, genres and contexts to elucidate complex theoretical concepts and challenge their limitations and/or validity in the context of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The programme aims to equip students with sufficient knowledge to understand and evaluate the way in which Cultural Studies theories and methods are used in cross-cultural contexts and hence develop analytic skills for undertaking their own research projects.


A postgraduate degree in Cultural Studies from SOAS provides its students with expertise in non-European cultures, in-depth regional knowledge, and strong research and critical analysis skills. As well as subject expertise, Postgraduate students are equipped with the transferable skills needed to continue in research as well as the skills needed to enable them to find professional careers in the private and public sectors. These include familiarity with methods of research; the ability to absorb and analyse large quantities of information; organisational 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.


Students take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. You may take a 30 credit language acquisition module at an appropriate level as one of your modules.

Please follow the structure below.


  • Dissertation in Cultural, Literary, and Postcolonial Studies

Compulsory Modules

  • Cultural studies theories and the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East


Guided Options and Open Options

  • Students can select 60 credits from the list of Guided Options below and 30 credits from the list of Postgraduate Open Options.

List A

  • Philosophy and Decolonisation (PG)
  • African Philosophy (PG)
  • Turkey: Continuity and Change
  • Selected Topics in 20th Century Turkish Literature
  • Curating Africa: African Film and Video in the Age of Festivals
  • Travelling Africa: Writing the Cape to Cairo
  • Japanese Traditional Drama (PG)
  • Modern Japanese Literature (PG)
  • Modern Chinese Film and Theatre (PG)
  • Modern Film from Taiwan and the Chinese Diaspora (PG)
  • Traditional Chinese Literature in Translation
  • Literatures in African languages
  • Literatures of South Asia
  • The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia
  • Film and Society in the Middle East
  • Post-crisis Thai Cinema (1997-2007)
  • (Post) Colonialism and Otherness in South East Asia on Screen
  • Genders and Sexualities in South East Asian Film
  • English Literatures of South East Asia
  • The Story of African Film: Narrative Screen Media in Africa
  • Realism and Magical Realism in the African Novel (PG)
  • Sci-fi and Afrofuturism in the African Novel (PG)
  • Censoring Japan: A Socio-Cultural History of Japanese Television
  • Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context
  • Indian Cinema: Key Issues
  • Indonesia on Screen(PG)
  • Vietnam on Screen (PG)
  • Under Western Eyes: European Writings on South East Asia (PG)
  • Directed Readings in a South-East Asian Language
  • Hebrew Literature from the Arab World (PG)
  • Department of Anthropology and Sociology
    • Culture and Society of China
    • Culture and Society of East Africa
    • Culture and Society of Japan
    • Culture and Society of South Asia
    • Culture and Society of South East Asia
    • Culture and Society of Near and Middle East
    • African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World
    • African and Asian Cultures in Britain
  • Centre for Media and Film Studies
    • Theoretical Approaches to International Journalisms
    • Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media: Networking, Connectivity, Identity
    • Japanese Transnational Cinema: From Kurosawa to Asia Extreme and Studio Ghibli
    • Japanese Post-War Film Genres and the Avant-Garde
    • Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications
    • International Political Communication
    • Theoretical and Contemporary Issues in Global Media and Post-National Communication
  • Department of Music
    • Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) 15PMUH014 15 Term 1
    • Gender and Music (MMus) 15PMUH009 15 Term 2
  • Department of the Study of Religions
    • Muslim Britain: Perspectives and Realities 15PSRC158 30 Full Year Not Running 2019/2020
  • Department of 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
    • Social and Cultural Transformations in Southern Africa Since 1945
    • Knowledge and Power in Early Modern China
    • Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China
  • Department of Art and Archaeology
    • Modern and Contemporary Arts in Africa
    • Representing Conflict: A Cross-Cultural and Inter-Disciplinary Approach
    • Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts

List B

You may only take 30 credits from List B.

  • Gender theory and the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • Postcolonial Theory and Practice
  • Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature

List C

You may take 30 credits from List C.

  • Africa
    • Amharic 1 A (PG)
    • Amharic 1 B (PG)
    • Amharic 2 (PG)
    • Hausa 1 A (PG)
    • Hausa 1 B (PG)
    • Hausa 2 (PG)
    • Somali 1 A (PG)
    • Somali 1 B (PG)
    • Somali 2 (PG)
    • Advanced Somali: Language (PG)
    • Advanced Somali: Literature (PG)
    • Swahili 1 A (PG)
    • Swahili 1 B (PG)
    • Intermediate Swahili 2A (PG)
    • Swahili 3 (PG)
    • Practical Translation Swahili into English
    • Yoruba 1 A (PG)
    • Yoruba 1 B (PG)
    • Yoruba 2 (PG)
    • Zulu 1 A (PG)
    • Zulu 1 B (PG)
    • Zulu 2 (PG)
  • China and Inner Asia
    • Elementary Spoken Cantonese (PG)
    • Elementary spoken Hokkien (Minnanyu, Taiwanese) (PG)
    • Tibetan (Modern) 1 A (PG)
    • Tibetan (Modern) 1 B (PG)
    • Chinese 1 A (PG)
    • Chinese 1 B (PG)
    • Chinese 2 (PG)
    • Chinese 3 (PG)
    • Chinese 4 (PG)
    • Reading Classical and Literary Chinese (PG)
  • Japan and Korea
    • Japanese 1 A (PG)
    • Japanese 1 B (PG)
    • Japanese 2 (PG)
    • Korean 1 A (PG)
    • Korean 1 B (PG)
    • Korean 2 (PG)
    • Korean Readings (PG)
    • Japanese 3 (PG)
    • Japanese 4 (PG)
  • Near and Middle East
    • Elementary Persian Texts (PG)
    • Elementary Written Persian A (PG)
    • Elementary Written Persian B (PG)
    • Elementary Written Turkish A (PG)
    • Elementary Written Turkish B (PG)
    • Hebrew 1 A (PG)
    • Hebrew 1 B (PG)
  • South Asia
    • Bengali Language 1 A (PG)
    • Bengali Language 1 B (PG)
    • Bengali Language 2 (PG)
    • Hindi Language 1 A (PG)
    • Hindi Language 1 B (PG)
    • Hindi Language 2 (PG)
    • Hindi Language 3 (PG)
    • Hindi Language 4 (PG)
    • Nepali Language 1 A (PG)
    • Nepali Language 1 B (PG)
    • Nepali Language 2 (PG)
    • Punjabi Language 1 A (PG)
    • Punjabi Language 1 B (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 1 A (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 1 B (PG)
    • Sanskrit Language 2 (PG)
    • Prakrit Language 1 (PG)
    • Urdu Language 1 A (PG)
    • Urdu Language 1 B (PG)
    • Urdu Language 2 (PG)
  • South-East Asia
    • Burmese Language 1 A (PG)
    • Burmese Language 1 B (PG)
    • Burmese Language 2 (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 1 A (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 1 B (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 2 (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 3 (PG)
    • Indonesian Language 4 (PG)
    • Thai Language 1 A (PG)
    • Thai Language 1 B (PG)
    • Thai Language 2 (PG)
    • Thai Language 3 (PG)
    • Vietnamese Language 1 A (PG)
    • Vietnamese Language 1 B (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 equivalent of a UK 2:1 degree.

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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