The Student Room Group
School of Oriental and African Studies
London

What is studying politics and international relations at SOAS like?

(At undergraduate level)
commenting so i get a notif too - sorry abt that
School of Oriental and African Studies
London
@umbrellala did IR as part of a joint honours degree and might be able to provide some insight into the department :smile:
Original post by artful_lounger
@umbrellala did IR as part of a joint honours degree and might be able to provide some insight into the department :smile:


Hi! Thank you artful_lounger that’s considerate of you :smile:
Original post by sciencegcsesss
Hi! Thank you artful_lounger that’s considerate of you :smile:


Hiya! Thanks @artful_lounger for the tag as always.

Are there any particular aspects of the course that you're interested in? Overall I'd say studying IR at SOAS is pretty amazing -- I look back very fondly on that part of my degree :smile:
Reply 5
Original post by umbrellala
Hiya! Thanks @artful_lounger for the tag as always.

Are there any particular aspects of the course that you're interested in? Overall I'd say studying IR at SOAS is pretty amazing -- I look back very fondly on that part of my degree :smile:

Hiya, how would you say the student life and things like societies and clubs are at soas?
Hello,

I am currently studying an MA in Social Anthropology at SOAS! If you’d like to learn more about studying Politics + IR at SOAS you can sign up to SOAS's on-demand open-day which gives you instant access to taster lectures and course introductions across all the departments at the university.

You can also attend SOAS’s open day, which is on the 10th of June this year. Here you’ll be able to see more about the campus, attend taster lectures and ask academics and current students' questions about the course.

- Monica (MA Social anthropology at SOAS)
Original post by SOAS Official Student Rep One
Hello,

I am currently studying an MA in Social Anthropology at SOAS! If you’d like to learn more about studying Politics + IR at SOAS you can sign up to SOAS's on-demand open-day which gives you instant access to taster lectures and course introductions across all the departments at the university.

You can also attend SOAS’s open day, which is on the 10th of June this year. Here you’ll be able to see more about the campus, attend taster lectures and ask academics and current students' questions about the course.

- Monica (MA Social anthropology at SOAS)


Ah okay thank you Monica, I’ll definitely attend the open day to know more! I’ve watched the on-deman lecture and it was really interesting!
Original post by umbrellala
Hiya! Thanks @artful_lounger for the tag as always.

Are there any particular aspects of the course that you're interested in? Overall I'd say studying IR at SOAS is pretty amazing -- I look back very fondly on that part of my degree :smile:


Hi umbrellala, thanks for this! I have a few questions; 1) did you get to learn a non-Westetn view AS WELL AS the western canon because I’d like to learn both to have a balanced view, 2) was the library/uni well-funded during your studies, 3) how was the careers department? Thank you :smile:
Original post by sciencegcsesss
Hi umbrellala, thanks for this! I have a few questions; 1) did you get to learn a non-Westetn view AS WELL AS the western canon because I’d like to learn both to have a balanced view, 2) was the library/uni well-funded during your studies, 3) how was the careers department? Thank you :smile:

No worries! Just going to caveat all my answers below with the fact that I only did IR modules so this may differ on the politics side, and that I was at SOAS 2018-22 so things might have changed a bit since then.

1) Yes and no. It's actually quite difficult to answer this question as what 'balanced' means is kind of relative... I'm taking 'Western/non-Western view' to mean theoretical views here. You are taught the classic Western models and theories so you're given a good foundational knowledge of them, and in my early 'intro to IR' modules, it was probably more skewed towards Western theories (probably because there are more of them and they're simpler to teach to newbies). In a lot of my modules, we'd be presented with a topic or event and we'd go through different ways you could interpret them based on different lenses, but critical theories would be more favoured generally by the class than classical ones. I would say the teaching is balanced in terms of how much time you spend on each view, but definitely more critical of Western theories and tends to err on the side of giving more airtime to non-Western perspectives. They know that in a lot of the mainstream reading you'll do, you'll be reading the Western perspective so there's not a huge benefit to reiterating that.

If you mean Western/non-Western in terms of topics or events, we very rarely touched on the West unless it was for a point of comparison. For example, we'd look at the Haitian Revolution in the context of the French Revolution, or the suffrage struggle among Maori populations in the context of British suffrage. We'd never learn the Western event as a stand-alone (although this may be more of an IR thing than a SOAS teaching thing).

2) Also yes and no haha I was there during a slightly different era where there were cuts and restructuring but they're now in a surplus and seem to have done a lot of nice work on the buildings (typically in summer after I left). But, the pol & IR department is always super well funded since it's one of the biggest, if not the biggest, department

3) Careers department is incredible! Could shout about them for days, they're genuinely amazing and always had good experiences with them. Students definitely don't use them enough.
Original post by umbrellala
No worries! Just going to caveat all my answers below with the fact that I only did IR modules so this may differ on the politics side, and that I was at SOAS 2018-22 so things might have changed a bit since then.

1) Yes and no. It's actually quite difficult to answer this question as what 'balanced' means is kind of relative... I'm taking 'Western/non-Western view' to mean theoretical views here. You are taught the classic Western models and theories so you're given a good foundational knowledge of them, and in my early 'intro to IR' modules, it was probably more skewed towards Western theories (probably because there are more of them and they're simpler to teach to newbies). In a lot of my modules, we'd be presented with a topic or event and we'd go through different ways you could interpret them based on different lenses, but critical theories would be more favoured generally by the class than classical ones. I would say the teaching is balanced in terms of how much time you spend on each view, but definitely more critical of Western theories and tends to err on the side of giving more airtime to non-Western perspectives. They know that in a lot of the mainstream reading you'll do, you'll be reading the Western perspective so there's not a huge benefit to reiterating that.

If you mean Western/non-Western in terms of topics or events, we very rarely touched on the West unless it was for a point of comparison. For example, we'd look at the Haitian Revolution in the context of the French Revolution, or the suffrage struggle among Maori populations in the context of British suffrage. We'd never learn the Western event as a stand-alone (although this may be more of an IR thing than a SOAS teaching thing).

2) Also yes and no haha I was there during a slightly different era where there were cuts and restructuring but they're now in a surplus and seem to have done a lot of nice work on the buildings (typically in summer after I left). But, the pol & IR department is always super well funded since it's one of the biggest, if not the biggest, department

3) Careers department is incredible! Could shout about them for days, they're genuinely amazing and always had good experiences with them. Students definitely don't use them enough.


Thank you so much for this and how detailed your answers are, they’re really helpful and I’m excited about SOAS!😊
Original post by umbrellala
No worries! Just going to caveat all my answers below with the fact that I only did IR modules so this may differ on the politics side, and that I was at SOAS 2018-22 so things might have changed a bit since then.

1) Yes and no. It's actually quite difficult to answer this question as what 'balanced' means is kind of relative... I'm taking 'Western/non-Western view' to mean theoretical views here. You are taught the classic Western models and theories so you're given a good foundational knowledge of them, and in my early 'intro to IR' modules, it was probably more skewed towards Western theories (probably because there are more of them and they're simpler to teach to newbies). In a lot of my modules, we'd be presented with a topic or event and we'd go through different ways you could interpret them based on different lenses, but critical theories would be more favoured generally by the class than classical ones. I would say the teaching is balanced in terms of how much time you spend on each view, but definitely more critical of Western theories and tends to err on the side of giving more airtime to non-Western perspectives. They know that in a lot of the mainstream reading you'll do, you'll be reading the Western perspective so there's not a huge benefit to reiterating that.

If you mean Western/non-Western in terms of topics or events, we very rarely touched on the West unless it was for a point of comparison. For example, we'd look at the Haitian Revolution in the context of the French Revolution, or the suffrage struggle among Maori populations in the context of British suffrage. We'd never learn the Western event as a stand-alone (although this may be more of an IR thing than a SOAS teaching thing).

2) Also yes and no haha I was there during a slightly different era where there were cuts and restructuring but they're now in a surplus and seem to have done a lot of nice work on the buildings (typically in summer after I left). But, the pol & IR department is always super well funded since it's one of the biggest, if not the biggest, department

3) Careers department is incredible! Could shout about them for days, they're genuinely amazing and always had good experiences with them. Students definitely don't use them enough.


I'm also going to study IR at SOAS and this has given me a LOT of information about it! thank you soooo much!
Original post by umbrellala
No worries! Just going to caveat all my answers below with the fact that I only did IR modules so this may differ on the politics side, and that I was at SOAS 2018-22 so things might have changed a bit since then.

1) Yes and no. It's actually quite difficult to answer this question as what 'balanced' means is kind of relative... I'm taking 'Western/non-Western view' to mean theoretical views here. You are taught the classic Western models and theories so you're given a good foundational knowledge of them, and in my early 'intro to IR' modules, it was probably more skewed towards Western theories (probably because there are more of them and they're simpler to teach to newbies). In a lot of my modules, we'd be presented with a topic or event and we'd go through different ways you could interpret them based on different lenses, but critical theories would be more favoured generally by the class than classical ones. I would say the teaching is balanced in terms of how much time you spend on each view, but definitely more critical of Western theories and tends to err on the side of giving more airtime to non-Western perspectives. They know that in a lot of the mainstream reading you'll do, you'll be reading the Western perspective so there's not a huge benefit to reiterating that.

If you mean Western/non-Western in terms of topics or events, we very rarely touched on the West unless it was for a point of comparison. For example, we'd look at the Haitian Revolution in the context of the French Revolution, or the suffrage struggle among Maori populations in the context of British suffrage. We'd never learn the Western event as a stand-alone (although this may be more of an IR thing than a SOAS teaching thing).

2) Also yes and no haha I was there during a slightly different era where there were cuts and restructuring but they're now in a surplus and seem to have done a lot of nice work on the buildings (typically in summer after I left). But, the pol & IR department is always super well funded since it's one of the biggest, if not the biggest, department

3) Careers department is incredible! Could shout about them for days, they're genuinely amazing and always had good experiences with them. Students definitely don't use them enough.


Hi! I've just thought of another question! - what type of case studies did you seem to study more about? case studies for human rights, or economy etc. i understand that it will vary depending on the optional modules but for the compulsory or the regional modules, what type of case studies would you say you were told to research?
Original post by fruitsandbarley
Hi! I've just thought of another question! - what type of case studies did you seem to study more about? case studies for human rights, or economy etc. i understand that it will vary depending on the optional modules but for the compulsory or the regional modules, what type of case studies would you say you were told to research?


I can only really speak for IR here and it's all the topics that would typically fall under international relations/related to war. Primarily it was human rights, civil rights, and international law. The law side of things was definitely heavier in the later years of the degree, not so much in the foundation modules.
Original post by sciencegcsesss
(At undergraduate level)

Hi, I'm a final year undergraduate studying Arabic and International Relations. I really enjoy IR because I was able to develop a global perspective on Asia, Africa and the Middle East and my professors are experts in their field, always providing their insights and knowledge of the subject outside our course content. My favourite modules since I started my degree have been Introduction to the political economy, Introduction to the Middle East and Conflicts/Rights and Justice. The majority of case study examples have been based on human rights where you can challenge mainstream Western perspectives. For every module each week there is 1 lecture (where the week's content is delivered in a large group setting) and 1 seminar (small group discussions where you can challenge and debate the lecture content and reading materials). Hope this helps!

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