MA Korean Studies (Literature Pathway)


Read more about this programme on the school's website

Programme Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

The MA Korean Studies (Literature Pathway) aims to:

  • Provide extensive, critical knowledge of pre-modern and modern Korean literary traditions;
  • Develop advanced competency in reading and understanding literary works in Korean, and literary translation skills into English;
  • Develop advanced skills in research, analysis, and critical method in the study of Korean literature, with consideration to socio-historical context and comparative approaches;
  • Serve as a foundation for students who wish to pursue further research or work in the fields of literary translation, writing and publishing.

The programme suits anyone interested in the literary cultures of Korea, as well as students of literature with no prior knowledge of Korean literature who are looking for new areas of inquiry.

Incoming students will be expected to have completed at least the equivalent of two years of undergraduate Korean language study.

The programme will benefit anyone wishing to pursue a research degree (MPhil/PhD) afterwards. It also provides a solid basis for anyone wishing to pursue a career in literary translation or publishing.

Please note that to be considered for the MA Korean Studies (Literature Pathway) programme you will need to apply for MA Korean Studies and select the relevant literature modules at enrolment.


A postgraduate degree in MA Korean Studies (Literature Pathway) from SOAS provides students with 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. Graduates of this programme will develop their ability to engage with and explore relationships between indigenous aesthetics of the region and contemporary literary theories. Some graduates leave SOAS to pursue careers directly related to their study area, while others have made use of the intellectual training for involvement in analysing and solving many of the problems that contemporary societies now face.

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in the business, public and charity sectors. They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including 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. A postgraduate degree in Korean Literature 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, 30 credits of core modules, 30 credits of compulsory modules, and the remaining 30 credits can be from the list of optional modules.

All modules are subject to availability.

Compulsory Dissertation

The dissertation must be on a subject in Korean Literature.

  • Dissertation in Korea Studies

Core Modules

  • Literary Traditions and Culture of Korea (PG)
  • Trajectories of Modernity in Korean Literature (PG)

Compulsory Modules

  • Theory and techniques of Comparative Literature
  • Readings in Korean Literature (PG)
  • Translating Korean Literature (PG)

Optional Modules

Students must choose 30 credits from the lists below.

List A: Korean Related Modules

  • Connections and Intersections: Core Aspects of East Asian Studies
  • Directed readings in Korean Studies A
  • Directed readings in Korean Studies B
  • Advanced Korean Readings (PG)
  • Practical Translation: English into Korean
  • The Making of Modern Korea, 1864-1953
  • The Two Koreas since 1953 (PG)

List B: Literature options from East Asia Department (please note that some modules are taught in original language)

  • Modern Japanese Literature (PG)
  • Japanese Traditional Drama (PG)
  • Reading Pre-modern Japanese Texts 1 (PG)
  • Reading Pre-modern Japanese Texts 2 (PG)
  • Self, City and Sexuality in Modern Japanese Literature 1868-1945 (PG)
  • Writing from the Margins: Minority Voices in Modern Japanese Literature, 1945 to the Present (PG)
  • Traditional Chinese Literature in Translation
  • Classical Documentary Texts
  • Modern Documentary Texts
  • Reading Seminar: Masterpieces of Modern Chinese Literature
  • Reading Seminar: Modern Chinese Literature and the World

List C: Literature options from Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (please note that some modules are taught in original language)

  • Literatures in African languages
  • Postcolonial Theory and Practice
  • Social and Political Dimensions of Modern Arabic Literature
  • Social And Political Trends In 19th Century Turkish Literature
  • Selected Topics in 20th Century Turkish Literature
  • Modern Palestinian Literature (PG)
  • Arabic Poetry and Criticism
  • Hebrew Literature from the Arab World (PG)
  • Classical Ottoman Texts (PG)
  • Classical Persian Poetry: Texts and Traditions (PG)
  • Sanskrit Literature
  • Sanskrit Texts from the Hindu Tradition
  • Literatures of South Asia
  • Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters)
  • War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asia Literatures in Translation (Masters)
  • The Urban/Rural Divide in South East Asian Literature
  • English Literatures of South East Asia
  • Under Western Eyes: European Writings on South East Asia (PG)

List D: Language modules

  • Korean 1 A (PG)
  • Korean 1 B (PG)
  • Korean 2 (PG)
  • Intermediate Korean (PG)
  • Japanese 1 A (PG)
  • Japanese 1 B (PG)
  • Japanese 2 (PG)
  • Japanese 3 (PG)
  • Japanese 4 (PG)
  • Japanese 5 (PG)
  • Practical Translation: Japanese into English
  • Practical Translation: English into Japanese
  • Chinese 1 A (PG)
  • Chinese 1 B (PG)
  • Chinese 2 (PG)
  • Chinese 3 (PG)
  • Practical Translation: Chinese to English
  • Practical Translation: English to Chinese

List E: Non-literature modules (Korea/East Asia related)

  • Culture/Film/Media
    • Modern Chinese Film and Theatre (PG)
    • Modern Film from Taiwan and the Chinese Diaspora (PG)
    • Censoring Japan: A Socio-Cultural History of Japanese Television
    • Japanese Transnational Cinema: From Kurosawa to Asia Extreme and Studio Ghibli
    • Japanese Post-War Film Genres and the Avant-Garde
  • Politics
    • International politics of East Asia
    • Northeast Asian politics: Japan, Korea and Taiwan
    • Media Spectacle and Urban Space in East Asia
  • Art
    • Arts of Koryo and Chosen Korea
    • Modern and Contemporary Korean Art
  • Music
    • Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters)
    • Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters)

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

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent).

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 Nov 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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