Guide to Studying East & South Asian Studies

What is East & South Asian Studies?

  • South East Asia is geographically identified as a pan-Equatorial set of islands and nations between China and Australasia. They include Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Phillipines as islands, and Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam on the mainland.
  • Studying in the area encompasses the geography, history and language of the area, as well as the religions (wide ranging and including Christianity, Islam and Buddhism) and also the study of modern culture.

Why study East & South Asian Studies?

  • Many UK courses offer tuition both to natives of these countries and also home students, meaning a multicultural work environment is guaranteed.
  • Offers a great insight into the nations of South East Asia, including business, economy, geography, history, language, law, politics, religion, media and culture.
  • In an area that is only reestablishing a culture and heritage in the past century after imperial rule, an understanding of the nation and language will prove very beneficial to those looking for a career in international business or politics, as the are establishes itself on the world stage.
  • Often taught as part of a dual degree, working well with politics, management, or another foreign language.
  • There are opportunities to study abroad, either as a single or dual degree, to study how these countries educate students and to learn the language.

Coursework, Assessment and Exams

  • Introductory and intermediate courses in a South East Asian language use a wide variety of learning experiences and techniques. Most other units are taught by formal lecture and with related tutorials. Assessment is by a combination of written examination and coursework.

What degree can I get? 

  • BA and MA South East Asian Studies
  • BA South East Asian Studies with a year abroad
  • BA International Management and South East Asian Studies
  • BA in a south east asian language (e.g Burmese, Indonesian, Thai etc.)

What qualifications do I need?

  • Entry Requirements vary for each university and course.
  • Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you are interested in.

Use our Course Chooser to search through East & South Asian Studies courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities

  • There is an exciting range of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level.
  • Examples include a straight MA in South East Asian Studies, as well as in Pacific Asian Studies, Chinese Business and the Asia Pacific, and MA in East Asian Regional Development.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • Asian Studies degrees teach students valuable transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication, as well as knowledge of a second language. 
  • Particular job areas include interpreting and translating, journalism, tourism, administration, international banking, marketing, business, law, and the civil and diplomatic services.
  • Often international governments will seek out students for roles which require in depth knowledge of the country.

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

  • Consultancy
  • Diplomacy
  • Finance and Banking
  • Journalism
  • Politics and International Relations
  • Tourism

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

  • Teaching and further academic study
  • Arts management
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • International Trade
  • Translation and Interpretation

Work Experience

All employers in all sectors value experience. Particularly relevant and valued experience includes work with natives and speakers of East & South Asian languages and countries, with both paid and unpaid positions available. Working in these countries is not necessary but can only help.

More specific roles would include working at consultancies, offices and even embassies which deal with South East Asian matters and affairs. Those looking to work in banking or journalism should seek experience at financial organisations, newspapers and so on. Remember that narrowing your expertise is useful when you know what career you want, but don't get too specific too soon - general experience is good when just starting out.

Where are the jobs?

Typical employers of East & South Asian Studies graduates include:

  • Schools teaching foreign students or languages
  • Human Resouces departments of major companies
  • International banks
  • Companies marketing to this region
  • Companies recruiting from this region
  • Tour managers and guides
  • Translation agencies

Skills for your CV

As well as understanding this culture in a personal and social context, such as history, religion and attitudes to other cultures, you will also learn general skills such as critical thinking, IT knowledge and writing skills. The ability to work either in a team alone, and to a deadline, will also be valued.

It is often useful to consider doing East & South Asian Studies as a dual degree, such as with history, geography, politics or another foreign language. This will increase your skill set, providing you with relevant knowledge that will eventually make you more employable.