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Iranian Studies Programs at SOAS

Publish Date: Dec 28, 2020

SOAS has a long history of Iranian studies and remains the primary centre in the world in this field. Such notable scholars in Iranian studies as Harold Walter Bailey, Mary Boyce, Walter B. Henning, Vladimir Minorsky have worked and produced prolific research in Iranian Studies at SOAS.


SOAS was founded in 1916. Since when exactly Persian is a part of SOAS or when the centre of Iranian Studies was established here? As soon as such data is available, we will add those details in this post.


In 1929 Harold W. Bailey was appointed as Parsee Community Lecturer at SOAS, later succeeded by W.B. Henning. Henning became the Head of the Department of Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East at SOAS in 1958. He left the position in 1961 after being appointed as a Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.


In 1961 Mary Boyce, a prominent scholar of Zoroastrian studies, was awarded the SOAS professorship in Iranian Studies following Henning’s transfer to Berkeley.


Thus presumably Iranian Studies in the very classical sense was present at SOAS since 1929 and the traditions of studying ancient Iranian religions and languages at this institute of higher learning have been passed till our days.


Arthur Arbery and Ann Lambton held a professorship of Persian at SOAS.


Under the umbrella of SOAS, the Centre for Iranian Studies was established in 2010, and Ms Narguess Farzad is the Chair of this Center.


In 2018 Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies (SSPIZS) was launched at SOAS by the donation from a Parsi benefactor, Mr Shapoor Mistry, in the name of his grandfather, Mr Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry.


Currently, several programs and courses are offered by the Zoroastrian Studies Center.


SOAS also offers an MA in Iranian Studies.


It seems important to note that the separate BA Persian has been taken out of the programme and applications are no longer accepted since 2019. As it says on their webpage: “Prospective students may be interested in our BA Persian ... combined degree programmes or BA Middle Eastern Studies (single honours) and BA Middle Eastern Studies and ... (combined honours).”


The SOAS BA program 2018 details may still be useful for prospective students. 


SOAS Kamran Djam Scholarships are available for prospective students in Persian Language, Persian Literature, Iranian History

Similar Opportunities


Iranian Studies

Eligible Countries


Host Countries

United Kingdom