MA Religion in Global Politics


Read more about this programme on the school's website

Programme Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

The MA Religion in Global Politics is designed to appeal to policy-makers, analysts, journalists and researchers in either international, national or regional institutions and organisations engaged in policy formation, inter-religious dialogue and community development, social work, development, conflict resolution, peacebuilding or diversity management. It will also provide a solid basis from which to pursue doctoral study. The programme is intended to enable professional development in the area of 'Religion and Politics' as well to provide pre-doctoral research training in social scientific analyses of 'Religion and Politics'.

Programme Description

Religion has become a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary global geopolitical landscape and as such demands a reassessment of once predominant understandings of processes of secularisation, as well as the meanings of, and tensions inherent within, secular assumptions and secularist positions. The so-called 'resurgence' of religion in the public sphere in recent decades is now a significant area of interdisciplinary scholarship eliciting a complex array of responses, ranging from vehement opposition to the very idea that religious concepts and commitments have a right to expression in political debates, to a reassessment of the origins and implications of divisions between the secular and the religious and their relationship to the nation-state. The notion that there is no singular secularism, but rather a plurality of secularisms, and of ‘religion’ as an invention of European modernity and colonial interests are two of many emerging efforts to reconceptualise the meanings of religion and the secular and the entangled relationship between them.

The MA Religion in Global Politics offers an opportunity to examine these questions and issues at an advanced level by studying the complex relationships between religion and politics in the histories and contemporary political contexts (both national and international) of the regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. A core objective is to challenge the Eurocentrism of current debates around secularism, secularisation, the nature of the public sphere within modernity, by indicating the plurality and contested nature of conceptions of both religion and the secular when considered in a global framework.

The programme is unique: it has a regional focus and disciplinary breadth rarely addressed in similar programmes in the subject area, draws on a wealth of multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives (Law, International Relations and Politics, History, Philosophy, Development, Anthropology, Migration and Diaspora Studies, and Gender Studies, amongst others) and has a rigorous theoretical basis built-in, such that students will be familiarised with the current state-of-the-art debates regarding religion in the public sphere, secularisms, post secularism, and political theology and their relevance to issues of democracy, war, violence, human rights, humanitarianism and development, multiculturalism, nationalism, sectarianism, religious extremism, and free speech amongst others. The range of course options available on the programme is unparalleled, ensuring that students will benefit from a truly interdisciplinary, intellectually rigorous, and regionally focused programme.

Programme Aims

The programme's inter-disciplinary focus aims to provide students with advanced training in the area of religion and politics through the study of a wide range of theoretical and regional perspectives. It will serve primarily as a platform for professional development and further (MPhil/PhD) graduate research. The programme offers students:

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of significant approaches, methods, debates, and theories in the field of religion and politics, with particular reference to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East;
  • Advanced skills in researching and writing about topics in and theorisations of religion and politics;
  • Advanced skills in the presentation or communication of knowledge and understanding of topics in religion and politics as they pertain to regional, international, and transnational contexts.


Students are required to take taught modules to the equivalent of 120 credits, and to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words (60 credits) as outlined below.

Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis:

  • The part-time MA may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) in the first year, and two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) and the dissertation in the second year.
  • Alternatively, it can be taken over three years, in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits evenly in each of the three years. The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the degree. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.


  • Dissertation in Religion in Global Politics

Taught Component

Core Module

  • Religion in Global Politics: Theories and Themes

Optional modules

Students must select 60 credits from the list of modules below.


Students must select another 30 credits either from the list of modules below or from the list of available PGT language modules in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures or the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics.

List of modules (subject to availability)

  • Aid and Development
  • African and Asian Cultures in Britain
  • African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World
  • African Philosophy (PG)
  • Philosophy and Decolonisation (PG)
  • Anthropology of Globalisation (PG)
  • Borders and Development
  • Buddhism in Tibet
  • Civil society, social movements and the development process
  • Colonial Conquest and Social Change in Southern Africa
  • Colonialism and Christian Missions in Africa: Readings from the Archives
  • Colonialism, Empire and International Law
  • Communication, Culture and Politics in the Middle East: Theoretical and Analytical Approaches
  • Comparative International Political Thought
  • Conflict, rights and justice
  • Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics
  • Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II: Culture and Society
  • Culture and Conflict in Nepal
  • Death and Religion
  • East Asian Buddhist Thought
  • Eastern and Orthodox Christianity
  • Encountering the Other: the Middle East during the Crusading Period
  • Gender and Development
  • Gender, Armed Conflict and International Law
  • Gender in the Middle East
  • Gender, law and the family in the history of modern South Asia
  • Gendering Migration & Diasporas
  • Historical Perspectives on Gender in Africa
  • 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
  • Human Rights and Islamic Law
  • International Political Communication
  • Iran and the Persianate world, 1400 to 1800
  • Iran and the Persianate world, 1800 to 1979
  • Iran: History, Culture, Politics
  • Islam and the West: Artistic and Cultural Contacts
  • Islam in South Asia
  • Israel and the Palestinians
  • Jaina Philosophy in Comparative Perspective
  • Judaism and Gender
  • Law and Postcolonial Theory
  • Mediated Culture in the Middle East: Politics and Communications
  • Migration and Policy
  • Modern Trends in Islam
  • Muslim Britain: Perspectives and Realities
  • Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China
  • Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners
  • Political Economy of Institutions
  • Public Policy and Management: Perspectives and Issues
  • Queer Politics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • Readings in Jaina History and Culture
  • Religion, Nationhood and Ethnicity in Judaism
  • Religions and Development
  • Religions on the move: New Currents and Emerging Trends in Global Religion
  • Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers
  • Representing Conflict: A Cross-Cultural and Inter-Disciplinary Approach
  • Security
  • Taiwan's politics and cross-strait relations
  • The Body and the Making of Colonial Difference in British India
  • The Early Development of Islam: Emerging Identities and Contending View
  • The Great Tradition of Taoism
  • The Holocaust in Theology, Literature and Art
  • The Making of the Contemporary World
  • The Origin of Islam: Sources and Perspectives
  • The Politics of Culture in Contemporary South Asia
  • Transnational Communities and Diasporic Media: Networking, Connectivity, Identity
  • Understanding Communal Violence in India since 1947
  • Violence, justice and the politics of memory
  • War to Peace Transitions
  • Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

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

SOAS has general minimum entrance requirements for registration for a postgraduate taught degree. However, due consideration is given to the applicants’ individual profiles, and to the fact that great potential for the successful undertaking of the academic study of the field is not necessarily acknowledged or certified through the applicant’s academic qualifications. Interviews can be arranged for applicants who do not meet the minimum entrance requirements, and early contact with the programme convenor is advisable.

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 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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