BA South Asian Studies (dual degree options)


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

The department offers the broadest range of teaching in the UK and Europe on the languages, literature and cultures of the principal countries of South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The degree is centred on language study but includes a wide range of options which allow the student to study South Asia through several different disciplines including social anthropology, art and archaeology, cinema, economics, geography, history, law, literature, music, politics and religion. The breadth of the School’s expertise in South Asia makes BA South Asian Studies unique in the UK university system.

BA South Asian Studies is a 3-year degree, and four modules are taken each year. The first year features the core module Introduction to South and South-East Asia (152900122), which introduces aspects of the languages and cultures of the subcontinent. This is taken alongside an introductory language module in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit, or Urdu, which is also core, which in turn leads to further modules in the same language and its literature in Years 2 and 3. (Gujarati, Pali, Sinhala and Tamil are also available, but in a more limited range of modules.) Not all language modules are available every year, and all modules are subject to quorum; current availability can be checked by contacting the South Asia Department. Further modules relevant to South Asia are selected from options taught in other departments. Given the range of modules available, the Department is careful to offer appropriate advice to each student in making his or her selection, in order to ensure an overall coherence of coverage.

Introductory language modules taught in Year 1 assume no previous knowledge of the chosen language or its script: they start completely from scratch. Modules in modern languages concentrate on all four linguistic skills – understanding, speaking, reading and writing; classes are small and interactive, with students being encouraged to use the language actively from the outset. Many of our introductory language modules have been written especially for our needs by members of the Department staff, and Intermediate and advanced language modules feature a wide range of ‘real world’ teaching and study materials. The formal teaching is complemented by the frequent open lectures, seminars and cultural events on South Asian themes that are held regularly in SOAS.

Final-year options include an Independent Study Project, which gives the student an opportunity to pursue a subject of personal interest (in language, literature, politics, culture, religion, the arts and media, or any other aspect of contemporary or historical India), leading to the writing of a 10,000-word dissertation under tutorial supervision.

BA South Asian Studies (3 years) can be taken as a single-subject degree, or as a two-subject degree in combination with African Studies, Development Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Linguistics, Music, Politics, Social Anthropology, or Study of Religions. The two-subject degree must include at least five units in South Asian Studies over the three years.

Students with a specific interest in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit or Urdu may like to consider, as an alternative to 3 year programme, the 4 years full or half degree featuring these languages as a named pathway; these degrees have a more specific focus on the respective language itself and include a year abroad in South Asia.


As a student specialising in South Asia, you will gain competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of South Asia.

Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in both business and the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.


Students must take 120 credits per year, 90 of which must be from the approved syllabus for their programme of study. Students can choose non-language modules from a range of approved South-Asia related modules from subject areas which include anthropology, art and archaeology, economics, film, geography, history, law, literature, music, politics and religion.

Core modules must be passed in order to proceed to the following year of study.

Year 1

Core Module

  • Introduction to South and South East Asia
  • Decolonising Otherness

Compulsory Modules

Choose module(s) to the value of 30 credits from list A at an appropriate level (Bengali/Hindi/Nepali/Sanskrit/Urdu language)


  • H140 Introduction to the History of South Asia
  • Languages of the World
  • Understanding Texts

Year 2

Core Module

  • Cultural Studies of South Asia
  • Introduction to Research


Choose a module to the value of 15 credits from the following:

  • Writing South Asia
  • Framing Pakistan
  • Imagining Pakistan: Culture, Politics, Gender
  • Cinema and Society in South Asia: History and Social Context
  • Cinema and Society in South Asia: Key Issues
  • Public Culture in Contemporary Nepal

Compulsory Modules

Choose module(s) to the value of 30 credits from list A or list C.

Optional Modules

Choose a module to the value of 15 credits from List C.


Choose module(s) to the value of 30 credits from list C or the list of undergraduate open options.

Year 3

Compulsory Module

Students are encouraged to undertake the following ISP together with language modules at an intermediate or advanced level to the value of 30 credits from 'List A' OR modules to the value of 30 credits from 'List C'.

  • Independent Study Project in South Asian Studies

Compulsory Modules

Choose module(s) to the value of 30 credits from list A at an intermediate or advanced level (Bengali/Hindi/Nepali/Sanskrit/Urdu language) or from list C.

Optional Modules

Choose module(s) to the value of 30 credits from List C.


Choose module(s) to the value of 30 credits from list C or the list of undergraduate open options.

List A: South Asian Language Modules

The list below indicates the pathway along which students can progress as they do their South Asian language modules. Students may not take more than one language module at an elementary level in any given year.

  • Elementary Level
    • Bengali Language 1 A
    • Bengali Language 1 B
    • Hindi Language 1 A
    • Hindi Language 1 B
    • Nepali Language 1 A
    • Nepali Language 1 B
    • Punjabi Language 1 A
    • Punjabi Language 1 B
    • Sanskrit Language 1
    • Sanskrit Language 1 B
    • Urdu Language 1 A
    • Urdu Language 1 B
    • Elementary Written Persian A
    • Elementary Written Persian B
  • Intermediate Level
    • Bengali Language 2
    • Hindi Language 2
    • Readings in Contemporary Hindi
    • Nepali Language 2
    • Sanskrit Language 2
    • Urdu Language 2
    • Urdu Literacy A
    • Urdu Literacy B
  • Advanced Level
    • Hindi Language 3
    • Hindi Language 4
    • Literature & Colonialism in North India
    • Narratives of Mobility in Contemporary Hindi Literature
    • Nepali Language 3
    • Sanskrit Texts on Yoga
    • Sanskrit Poetry and Aesthetics
    • Selected Texts from the Sanskrit Epic

List B: Introductory Module on Aspects of South Asian History and Culture

  • R110 Introduction to Buddhism
  • R120 Introduction to Hinduism
  • Themes in the Art and Archaeology of South and Southeast Asia

List C: Non-Language Based South Asian and South Asian-Related Modules

Some modules require successful attendance of a relevant introductory module; students are advised to check the relevant module descriptions for prerequisites and consult the relevant module convenor before selecting modules.

  • Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia
    • Cinema and Society in South Asia: Key Issues
    • Imagining Pakistan: Culture, Politics, Gender
    • Public Culture in Contemporary Nepal
    • South Asian Lives
  • Final Year Only
    • Independent Study Project in South Asian Studies
    • Extended Essay in South Asian Studies
  • School of Law
    • Law and Society in South Asia
    • Legal Systems of Asia and Africa
  • Department of Politics and International Studies
    • Government and politics of South Asia
  • Department of English
    • Writing South Asia
  • Department of History
    • H234 Culture and Identity in Modern South Asia 1800-2000
    • H335 Gandhi and Gandhism
    • H337 Histories of Partition: India and Pakistan 1947 (I)
  • Department of Art and Archaeology
    • Imag(in)ing Buddhas in South Asia (1)
    • Imag(in)ing Buddhas in South Asia (2)
    • Art and Empire in Early Modern India
  • Department of Music
    • Music, Religion and Society in South Asia
    • Classical singing in India: Continuity and change
    • Raga: concept and practice
  • Department of Religions and Philosophies
  • Department of Anthropology and Sociology
    • Ethnography of South Asia
  • Department of Economics

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

To apply for an undergraduate degree at SOAS (including students wishing to transfer from another university) you must apply through the UK's central universities application organization, UCAS. An application form and details of courses can be found on their website. UCAS charges an applicant's fee for handling the application.

You can apply to up to five choices of higher education institutions or course on the UCAS form. How you utilise the choice is up to you. In other words, you could apply to do the same subject, for example, economics, at five different universities, or five different courses at the same university, or any combination of subject and institution. Nor do you have to use up all five choices. Whatever you choose you should list your choices in the order they appear in the UCAS handbook.

Entry Requirements

  • Subjects Preferred: No
  • A-Levels: AAB-ABB
    IB: 35 (665 at HL)
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with non-standard qualifications may be invited for an interview, though many applications are assessed on the basis of the UCAS forms alone.

Alternative entry requirements

  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 5 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

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 Sep 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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