MA Study :SOAS or LEEDSWatch
Hi. I am a non-EU senior, and I applied for PG study of SOAS and Uni of Leeds.(History of Art) I gained conditional acceptances though I wonder which one is the best... (esp. Regarding budgets)My first choice was SOAS and the second one was Leeds.I cannot decide bc I assume how I spend time during the semester must be important...Any advice would be helpful!
Perhaps as many of my classmates did, I made my choice to study at SOAS after careful consideration. When I was making my applications, the Department of Art History in SOAS caught my attention immediately with its highly diversified modules. I was thrilled to know that the Department offers a highly flexible module selection policy, which means that there is no compulsory module (except the dissertation) in the teaching structure, and students can choose freely according to their own field of interest.
In my case, no other institution in the UK offers such specialised modules with a strong regional focus on East Asia, therefore SOAS naturally became my top choice. I believe those interested in the art history of South Asia, Near and the Middle East and Africa will also find SOAS a unique and incomparable institution. Besides, the location of SOAS at the heart of London also encouraged me to make the final decision. For students studying art history, it is important to base our studies on material sources, and SOAS, with numerous museum collections on the doorstep and year-round art events in London, once again became an ideal destination. To give you a sense, one of the modules I took the last term based the seminar discussion on collections and exhibitions in Museums in London. Last November during the Week of Asian Art in London, I went to Sotheby’s with my classmates and got the chance to handle several beautiful auction lots, including some pieces of ancient Chinese ceramics and Japanese lacquerware.
When I first became a student in SOAS, I was really impressed with the kind and enthusiastic staff in the Department. The convenors of the modules that I have taken are all great specialists in their field. They have adapted quite well to the online teaching and answered to student feedback whenever possible. Weekly teaching is always a combination of lecture and seminar, the latter basically in the form of break-out group discussion on key points, which really offers substantial knowledge and diverse perspectives. It is through the group discussion that I get to know about my classmates, who are from and based in different parts of the world with such multiple academic or professional backgrounds. Many of them are studying for a second or third postgraduate degree, quite a few are studying part-time, and some of them come back to the campus after working several years or so. I have this impression that students in SOAS are really passionate about their own area of research, at the same time open-minded to various subjects, ideas, and possibilities. Besides, I am taking a whole-year module on Japanese, which is taught by Japanese teachers. As you may know, language teaching at SOAS is of high repute, and students are free to combine a language with their programme, which can be a truly rewarding experience.
It should be noted that studying in SOAS can be intense because we liberal art students always have more readings to read and essays to finish. Nevertheless, I feel that this half of the year is the most intellectually exciting one I have ever experienced. The most important change of mine is that I am now able to take a transcultural/global mindset to approach art historical questions, which often yields interesting observations. Moreover, I became aware of the importance of taking a non-Eurocentric approach to art history, which is a key focus of the scholarship at SOAS.
In a word, studying art history in SOAS can be a really exciting intellectual journey. Looking forward to welcoming you to SOAS someday!
Meijie, MA History of Art and Archaeology of East Asia