Modern South Asian Studies MSc

Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The MSc in Modern South Asian Studies is a new 12-month, taught master's course, offered jointly by the Faculty of Oriental Studies and the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies. You will study this important region, with its rich history and its complex present-day societies, from a number of disciplinary and analytical perspectives, culminating in a 12,000-word dissertation.

The MSc in Modern South Asian Studies is an exciting new degree bringing together Oxford’s wealth of expertise on South Asia in a single programme. Students gain access to teaching and expert supervision across departments, the ability to combine courses in both the social sciences and the humanities, rigorous training in one of three tailored modules in research methods, and the option to build in language training.  

As a student on the MSc, you will choose one of two streams: Contemporary India or Modern South Asia. These distinctive streams build on the strong master's courses previously offered by the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies and the Faculty of Oriental Studies, but offer new flexibility.

The first stream, Contemporary India, is intended for students wishing to explore present-day India’s social, economic and political achievements and challenges, and the connections between the country’s democratic and developmental successes and failures.

The second stream, Modern South Asia, is intended for students aiming to range more broadly across the states and societies of the subcontinent. Students within this stream may pursue any combination of interests, including history, literature, language, religion, economy and interstate relations.

Both streams comprise four components: the core course, a module in research methods, three option papers and the dissertation.

All students attend the core course, introducing modern South Asia across the disciplines. Delivered by faculty members with a range of specialisations, the course explores both individual states within the region and the connections and comparisons between them.

You will also receive training in research methods through one of the following specially tailored programmes:

  • research methods for area studies, both qualitative and quantitative (compulsory for the Contemporary India stream)
  • qualitative and historical methods
  • qualitative methods: literature and language

You will also choose three option papers. If you are pursuing the Contemporary India stream, you must take at least one of the relevant options. For a full list of option papers, please see the course pages on the department website. Please note that the options will change from time to time, and not all will be run every year.

During the course of the year, you will select a topic for your 12,000-word dissertation and receive expert supervision. Students pursuing the Contemporary India stream must select a topic related to contemporary India.

The MSc is jointly taught by staff within the social sciences and humanities, who will also assess your application. The application process is administered by the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.

Students on the course will experience a variety of teaching modes, including lectures, seminars, classes, student presentations, and small group teaching. Supervision for the dissertation will be offered as a series of individual meetings between you and your dissertation supervisor.

You will be required to gather relevant materials for your dissertation during the course, usually by working in libraries and archives in the UK but potentially also via fieldwork. 

Assessment is through a combination of coursework, assessed essays, written examinations and the dissertation

Graduate destinations

The department aims to equip its graduates with a range of valuable skills which will enable them to compete successfully within a number of different careers - in the civil service and policy-making bodies in Britain, Europe and further afield, in non-governmental organisations concerned with development, in the charitable sector, in journalism, public and private sector research and consultancy, law and academia. The MSc is a valuable preparation for students wishing to go on to doctoral research.

Related courses

  • MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies
  • MSt in Global and Imperial History
  • MPhil in Development Studies
  • MSt in Oriental Studies
  • DPhil in Area Studies
  • DPhil in Oriental Studies
  • Oxford 1+1 MBA

For further information about this course please contact admissions@area.ox.ac.uk

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