Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate in Asian Art


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

This postgraduate programme offers a unique opportunity to study the arts of Asia and the Islamic world with lectures by leading scholars in the field.

The course will provide an object-based learning experience through direct access to the reserved collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and the British Museum.

The lecture programme is supported by field trips to museums, galleries and private collections. The course is designed to train museum curators or serious collectors. It will also prepare students for work in a variety of professions in the art and the museum world and provides a pathway to the master’s degree for those with no background in the subject.

Museums and curators in Asia, and museums specialising in non-Western collections elsewhere, will find it an attractive, object-focused training opportunity for enhancing curatorial skills in the study, display and cataloguing of art objects in a fully-resourced academic environment.

Students can choose one or more in a combination of the three-month modules on offer annually, which are listed below. Those who successfully complete a single module will be awarded a certificate. Students successfully completing any three of the modules below will be awarded a SOAS (University of London) accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art.

The modules offered are:

  • Indian Art Module ONLINE (runs annually)
  • Chinese Art Module (runs annually)
  • Japanese & Korean Art Module
  • Buddhist Art Module
  • Indian Art Module (runs annually)
  • Chinese Art Module (runs annually)
  • Islamic Art Module
  • Southeast Asian Art Module


  • To develop a sound visual method for analysing and documenting works of art;
  • To develop visual skills through the direct examination of objects;
  • To develop research skills using primary and secondary sources;
  • To develop writing and communication skills: to formulate and structure an academic viewpoint and to use visual analysis to support and document this argument;
  • To develop in students an understanding of certain museum skills such as the cataloguing of objects; the selection of objects for an exhibition, and putting material objects in their cultural context.


Issues and themes dealt with in weekly lectures are developed further through frequent visits to museum collections, revision sessions and seminars. Lectures are given by museum curators, university lecturers and international experts and are (generally from 10:00 to 15:30) on three and a half days a week. The weekly review sessions with course tutors involve revision, slide tests and seminars. Students have regular access to the study of objects in the reserve collections at the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and guided visits to other museums. Field trips and formal and informal tutorials are also part of the programme.

Career and Further Opportunities

The Postgraduate Diploma is a pathway to further study or a career in Museums and the art world. Many students, some with no formal background in art, go on to complete a master’s in the History of Art & Archaeology Department at SOAS or other institutions. A number continue to PhD level. Alumni from the course are currently working in the UK and international Museums, auctions houses and galleries including British Museum, V&A, Sotheby’s, Christie's, Bonhams (New York and London) the Asian Civilisation Museum Singapore, Simon Ray Gallery and many more.

Admissions and Applications

Application Procedures

The following should be included with candidates’ applications:

  • One application form and a statement of personal interests.
  • Two academic or professional references to be emailed directly to
  • Mature students are expected to provide at least one professional reference.
  • A validated copy of school and/or university transcripts.
  • Documentation of English language ability, if English is not the applicant’s first language.

Early application is advisable for all courses.


Applicants may be invited to attend an interview with the Course Director, who will assess the candidate’s commitment and aptitude. Interviews can be arranged throughout the year. No special preparation for this interview is necessary. Enthusiasm and motivation are essential. Telephone interviews can be arranged if required.

Minimum Entry Requirements

Normally BA degree or equivalent. Other qualifications (e.g., published work, relevant professional experience) may be acceptable. Non-standard applications are considered on their merits, and applicants may be asked to submit written work for appraisal and/or attend an interview. No knowledge of the arts of Asia necessary, but serious interest in the area desirable.

Language Requirements

Fluent, written and spoken English to British Council IELTS Level 6.5 is required. Details of preparatory English courses can be obtained from International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies (IFCELS) at SOAS.

Last updated Dec 2020

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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