SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

MA Islamic Societies and Cultures

One calendar year (full-time), or two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Fees 2017/18

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2017/18 entrants. This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page

2017 Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)
  • Subjects Preferred: Applicants are not required to have previous academic experience of this subject, although a strong interest in Islamic societies and cultures is of course expected.

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  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
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Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

This MA programme studies many aspects of the world of Islam, from its early development to its modern trends. Its primary objective is to approach the study of Islam through a variety of disciplines, cultural contexts and periods. The programme examines Islamic tradition, law and art, as well as the place of Islam in modern politics and alongside other religions. The degree may be considered as a preparation for research or as a way of completing a liberal education.



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.

Candidates will take three taught courses (one major and two minor) and write a dissertation of 10,000 words. The major must be a course from List A, each of which treats subjects of general interest throughout the Islamic world.

The MA Islamic Societies and Cultures is an interdisciplinary (multi-subject) degree.  Therefore applicants must choose their Major in a subject different from their Minors.  Both Minors may be in the same subject, but not the same subject as the Major.  Students may not take more than one language course, and may not take a language course as their Major.  The subjects available are:  Development Studies, Economics, Gender Studies,  History, History of Art/Archaeology, Islamic Studies, Language, Law, Music and Politics. '

All courses will be taught subject to availability. Courses in relevant languages can be taken as an integral part of the MA where appropriate. This Masters degree may be considered either as a preparation for research or as a way of completing a liberal education.

When applying, applicants are asked to specify their preferred major, and asked to give alternative choices. Once enrolled, students have one week to finalise their choice of subjects and have the opportunity of sampling a variety of subjects through attending lectures etc.

For further information on the courses listed, applicants are advised to consult the Course Descriptions on the website. For more information on the departments which offer the subjects, see the Departments section.

Major Options (List A)
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
The Early Development of Islam: Emerging Identities and Contending View 15PHIH039 0.5 Unit Term 2
The Origin of Islam: Sources and Perspectives 15PHIH045 0.5 Unit Term 1
Modern Trends in Islam 15PNMC228 1 Unit Full Year
Islamic Law (Ma/Llm) 15PLAC121 1 Unit Full Year
Law and Society in The Middle East and North Africa 15PLAC130 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Minor Options (List B)
Near and Middle East
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Early and Medieval Arabic Linguistic Thought: Scholarship and Literature 15PNMC410 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Arabic Women's Writing: Theories and Practices 15PNMC411 1 Unit Full Year
Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa 15PDSH019 0.5 Unit Term 2
Human Rights and Islamic Law 15PLAC150 1 Unit Full Year
Medieval Arabic Thought: the Philosophical and Theological Traditions 15PNMC388 1 Unit Full Year
Economic development of the Middle East 15PECC341 1 Unit Full Year
Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts 15PARH034 0.5 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Art and Architecture of the Fatimids 15PARH035 0.5 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
Gender in the Middle East 15PGNH001 0.5 Unit Term 1
Comparative politics of the Middle East 15PPOC026 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Central Asia
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
State and Society in Central Asia and the Caucasus 15PPOH022 0.5 Unit Term 2
South Asia
Languages- Only one language option can be chosen

N.B. all courses designated ‘PG’ require the student to attend an extra series of lectures and to write an essay or, for more advanced courses, possibly prepare a translation with commentary to count for 30% of the overall mark for the course

ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Persian for Readers of Arabic Script (PG) 15PNMC422 1 Unit Full Year
Introduction to Standard Modern Arabic 15PNMC032 1 Unit Full Year
Arabic 300 (Postgraduate) 15PNMC390 1 unit - 45 cats Unit
Arabic 2 (PG) 15PNMC382 1 Unit Full Year
Advanced Standard Modern Arabic 15PNMC402 1 Unit Full Year
Arabic 4 (PG) 15PNMC391 1 Unit Full Year
Swahili 1 (PG) 15PAFC140 1 Unit Full Year
Intermediate Swahili 2A (PG) 15PAFC141 1 Unit Full Year
Swahili 3 (PG) 15PAFC142 1 Unit Full Year
Urdu Language 1 (PG) 15PSAC300 1 Unit Full Year
Urdu Language 2 (PG) 15PSAC301 1 Unit Full Year
Indonesian Language 1 (PG) 15PSEC032 1 Unit Full Year
Indonesian Language 2 (PG) 15PSEC033 1 Unit Full Year
Indonesian Language 3 (PG) 15PSEC034 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Indonesian Language 4 (PG) 15PSEC035 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017


Important information for 2017/18 applicants

For the 2017 academic year, SOAS has introduced a new academic framework for all of our postgraduate taught courses. The new model will mean that taught programmes are now made up of four units each worth 30 credits – our current structure is based on three units – plus dissertation. This approach is in line with PG programmes in most other universities.

In practice this means that there will be additional choice of modules for students taking PG taught programmes in 2017. The modules set out here represent the options available in the programme in 2016. In most cases, our 2017 programmes will contain these options plus additional modules – broadening the range of what is available on your programme.

Programme Specification


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Students take three taught courses (one major and two minor) and write a dissertation of 10,000 words. Each course has its own series of classes and seminars, and in addition students attend general lectures and seminars organised by the Middle East Centre. In most courses there is one two-hour class each week. This may be an informal lecture followed by a discussion or a student presentation. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take. The dissertation is on an approved topic linked to one of the taught courses. For further details on the structure of the programme and the courses available, see the menu at left.

Learning resources

SOAS library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 1 tuition fee.

Fees for 2017/18 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Full-timePart-time 2 YearsPart-time 3 Years
£8,785 £18,075 £4,393 £9,038 £2,928 £6,025
Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2017-01-31 17:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2017-01-31 17:00

H.E. Dr Issa Ghanim Jassim Al-Kawari Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2017-02-22 17:00

John Loiello AFSOAS FISH Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2017-02-22 17:00

The Prospect Burma Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2017-02-22 17:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


Graduates in MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies have entered various professions after leaving the School. Some have been able to pursue careers directly related to their study area while others have made use of the general intellectual training provided by the advanced study of cultures for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems contemporary societies now face. Among a variety of professions, career paths may include academia, charity work, community, government, NGOs, media and publishing, UN agencies SOAS Careers Services The School has a careers service available to all SOAS students while they are at the school, free of charge. This office helps with job listings, interviews during "milk rounds", putting together CVs, and even organising postgraduate study.

A Student's Perspective

I personally never even had time to stay in my room. Whether it was spending time with the clubs I joined, going to Covent Garden and watching the street shows, or travelling around the rest of Europe, there was always something to do. It’s amazing how diverse the city is

Ramy Sedhom, Siena College


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