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The School of Oriental and African Studies
SOAS offers students the chance to study traditional disciplines with a special focus on geographical and geopolitical issues beyond the western world, such as democracy, development, human rights, identity, legal systems, poverty, religion and social change.
As a world-class institution for research and teaching, the University is currently ranked 6th in the UK for academic reputation (QS World University Rankings 2014), while 88% of students are satisfied with the quality of the course (National Student Survey 2014).
QS World Ranking
Complete University Guide
Guardian League Table
Teaching Excellence Framework
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SOAS is based in the heart of London, and the capital’s rich cultural and social life is literally on its doorstep. Its two campuses – Russell Square and Vernon Square – are just 20 minutes' walking distance from one another and very well served by all forms of public transport. The nearest underground stations, Russell Square and King’s Cross, offer a direct link to London Heathrow Airport and several of London's main railway stations are within easy reach.
The Russell Square campus is in historic Bloomsbury, an area of leafy squares well-known as a haven from the bustle of the city, and also an intellectual centre. The exhibition spaces of the Brunei Gallery and the Foyle Special Collections Gallery are both to be found in the Brunei Gallery Building opposite the main college building. Other colleges of the University of London, the British Museum and the British Library are just a few minutes away.
The Vernon Square campus – housed in an Edwardian building within the New River Conservation Area – is close to the transport links of King's Cross as well as Islington’s boutiques and restaurants. Adjacent to the two SOAS student residences (Dinwiddy House and Paul Robeson House), this campus offers state-of-the-art teaching and learning resources and an internet café alongside spacious social amenities.
Many of the social and sports activities offered by the School are either on site or provided by the University of London Union (ULU), two minutes from Russell Square. The West End’s shops, theatres and nightlife, and Oxford Street and Covent Garden are also all within easy walking distance.
The School was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies. It took its present title in 1928, by which time it had also established itself as a centre for African Studies, while it moved to its present site in 1941.
It expanded following the Scarbrough Report of 1946 which recommended that Asian and African studies should be developed in London which led to the new library opening in 1973.
SOAS continues to maintain its position as the major national centre for the study of programmes concerned with Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and in 2016 it is looking forward to celebrating its centenary year.
Departments & Schools
- Department of Languages & Cultures of Africa
- Department of Anthropolgy & Sociology
- The School of Arts
- Department of History of Art & Archaeology
- Centre for Media Studies
- Department of Music
- Department of the Languages & Cultures of China and Inner Asia
- Department of Development Studies
- Department of Economics
- Department of Financial & Management Studies
- Department of History
- Department of the Languages & Cultures of Japan and Korea
- School of Law
- Department of Linguistics
- Department of the Languages & Cultures of the Near and Middle East
- Deparment of Politics & International Studies
- Department of Religions & Philosophies
- Department of the Languages & Cultures of South Asia
- Department of the Languages & Cultures of South East Asia
SOAS is the only higher education institution in the UK specialising in the study of Asia, Africs and the Near and Middle East. With more than 300 academics dedicated to research and teaching in these areas, it has become one of the world's leading institutions of its kind.
To celebrate SOAS' centenary, the university has announced five research themes which frame the School's key aspirations for its future research. These are:
- Global voices
- Heritage of humanity
- Global interactions
- Sharing a small planet
- Global diplomacy and governance
International & Industrial Opportunities
More than forty percent of SOAS degree programmes offer the opportunity to spend a year studying a language in another country. The University has exchanges with 31 European countries via the Erasmus+ programme, including the opportunity to study in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Turkey.
Fees & Finance
There are a range of scholarships and bursaries depending on what you are studying. When applying, you will also automatically be considered for the SOAS Excellence Bursary of up to £7,500 over the duration of your degree which is offered to support students with financial need who demonstrate academic achievement and potential.
The SOAS Library is one of the world’s most important academic libraries for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, attracting scholars from around the globe. The Library holds in excesss of 1.5 million items from all over the world, subscribes to 4,000+ print periodicals, provides access to over 30,000 electronic journals and 70+ research databases, houses a collection of more than 4,000 items of music, poetry and drama, houses a collection of photographs and slides numbering close to 200,000 images, and has computers that support non-Roman script, and some have specialised language tools.
The University also has dedicated language laboratories and two open access language resource rooms available to language students, and a recording studio which provides facilities for the production of audio and video.
The Brunei Gallery at SOAS The Brunei Gallery hosts a changing programme of contemporary and historical exhibitions from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Its aims are to present and promote cultures from these regions, and to be a student resource and public facility. With permanent rotating displays of the School’s own collections in the Foyle Special Collections Gallery and the Japanese Roof Garden, the gallery is a stimulating space on Museum Mile in London.
The SOAS Language Centre offers a wide range of weekday (daytime and evening) and Saturday daytime courses in more than 30 African, Asian and Middle Eastern languages. SOAS Language Centre teaching staff are highly trained and experienced and are able to offer language tuition in a variety of formats: term-long group courses, intensive group courses, summer school, and bespoke one-to-one courses.
Nearly all SOAS degree programmes can include language learning as a credit-bearing part of the degree structure allowing you to complement your studies in other areas with an Asian or African language.
Every student is assigned a personal tutor to answer any academic related questions or concerns. The Learning and Teaching Unit (LTU) provides additional support to make sure you have the best opportunity for developing your writing and other aspects of your study. A series of talks and workshops cover subjects such as effective note-taking, reading for study, writing an academic essay, giving a presentation, managing your work and doing exams.
As part of the University of London, students can take advantage of energybase in Student Central, the University of London's student union, which houses a 53 station fitness suite; a 33m swimming pool; up to 50 classes per week; remedial treatments; a sports hall for basketball, badminton and indoor football; and a multi-purpose studio.
SOAS is known around both the University of London and the wider community in Bloomsbury as a social hub. The Junior Common Room is famous for its music scene, helped by the output of the much-acclaimed SOAS Radio, having played host to everyone from Manu Chao to Nirvana.
As a SOAS student, you’ll become a member of the Students’ Union (SU), an integral part of the School’s vibrant student community. The SU represents SOAS students’ interests, supports them in their studies and promotes their general welfare. The SOAS SU is one of the most politically active in the UK and has the largest proportional turnout in SU elections in the country. It is a member of the National Union of Students (NUS) and campaigns on local, national and international issues. The SU has approximately 150 clubs and societies covering sport, political debate and cultural issues.
As part of the University of London, SOAS students are also members of Student Central. Student Central gives you access to activities, sports, and societies spanning across the University of London community, made up of 18 self-governing Colleges and 10 other smaller specialist research Institutes.
Religion & Spirituality
SOAS is a multi-faith community of people where individuals are free to live out their faith in an open and encouraging environment. In this way, there are Buddhists Monks queuing for lunch in the Refectory, or hear Muslim or Christian students practicing their faith in one of the School's dedicated prayer rooms which are available at both campuses.
SOAS is servce by a team of chaplains who offer many services to students including: opportunities for prayer and worship, a confidential and sympathetic ear, a community of friendship and personal and spiritual support. The School also has three single-sex prayer rooms available for private use while students can also use the Multi-faith prayer room in the Institute of Education.
Health & Wellbeing
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor offers professional confidential one-off meetings or ongoing support to students who may be struggling to manage their wellbeing and liaises with both internal departments and external agencies depending upon need. Support meetings and workshops are also offered and in some instances a mentor can be provided for structured support. SOAS also offers professionally trained counsellors to provide confidential support to students facing problems of a personal or emotional nature.
SOAS’ Learning Advisors offer learning support and advice for students relating to specific learning differences, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, AD(H)D and dyscalculia. They also provide advice and support regarding other disabilities or issues that can impact on learning, such as depression, anxiety and procrastination.
The Disability Office negotiates individual adjustments for disabled students to make the School accessible to them. These can include: adjustments to exam arrangements and library services; arranging specialist support, such as learning support, mentoring and sessions with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor; offering loan equipment (such as digital recorders and laptops with specialist software); and creating a learning support agreement which specifies any recommended adjustments so that academic and teaching staff are aware of them. Almost all of the SOAS buildings are accessible for wheelchair users, and changes can be made to timetabling to ensure that all rooms are accessible where students are not able to use stepped access. The School has various forms of assistive technology for disabled students or students with specific learning difficulties, including some specialist software and workstations with additional facilities, including screen readers and ergonomically designed seats.
The SOAS Careers Service promotes vacancies for graduate jobs, internships, part-time work and volunteering. They also offer one-to-one advice for all students, CV checks and practice interviews. Other free resources for students include occupational profiles; information about job-hunting, funding, region or job-specific career options; information about postgraduate study and working abroad; online aptitude tests; careers DVDs; and student computers, for internet job-hunting or drafting your CV.
The SOAS graduate jobs fairs, international volunteering fairs, employer networking events or presentations, themed weeks, and workshops for early career researchers, take place throughout the year.
The SOAS Volunteering Unit promotes opportunities and resources to students with volunteers recognised at the annual Volunteering England Gold awards ceremony.
SOAS Ventures, SOAS’ Student Enterprise Society supports students who are interested in setting up their own venture, whatever it may be. They hold weekly appointments to discuss your ideas, identify sources of funding and point you in the direction of other sources of information and groups you may want to get involved with. The Student Enterprise Office also supports your aims, offering a range of workshops, events and competitions, signpost opportunities for funding and providing friendly advice to enable you to achieve your full potential.
Self-catered, catered in intercollegiate halls
Self-catered (per week)
SOAS undergraduate students have exclusive access to Dinwiddy House, located on Pentonville Road, a 20-minute walk from Russell Square. Dinwiddy House is managed by Sanctuary Management Services, which accommodates 510 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The residence offers purpose-built, self-catering accommodation comprising individual study bedrooms with ensuite facilities and a basic broadband service included in the accommodation fees. Between five and seven rooms are clustered around a shared kitchen/diner. Where possible, you will be offered a room in your first preference of either a single or mixed sex cluster flat.
SOAS students are also entitled to apply for a place in one of the seven Intercollegiate Halls owned and maintained by the University of London (approximately 170 places are allocated to SOAS students). University of London Halls give you the invaluable opportunity of mixing with students from other colleges of the university. All provide catering, offering breakfast and evening meals on weekdays and all meals at weekends.
English Language Requirements
SOAS requires high English language requirements so, depending on your test results, you may be offered compulsory in-sessional English classes. To be awarded a place with compulsory in-sessional English language classes, you must achieve at least:
|IELTS Academic module||Overall 7+ with at least 6.5 in all subscores|
|Pearson Test of English - Academic||Score of 70-74 with at least 65 in all subscores|
|TOEFL Internet-based test||100 overall with 25+ in writing and 22+ in other subscores or 105 overall with 22+ in other subscores|
Without having to take the compulsory in-sessional English language classes you must achieve:
|IELTS Academic module||Overall 7+ with at least 7 in all subscores|
|Pearson Test of English - Academic||Score of 75+ with at least 70 in all subscores|
|TOEFL Internet-based test||105 overall with 25+ in each subscore|
If you score lower than these requirements you may also need to take a four, eight or twelve week pre-sessional English course in our to raise your level of academic English prior to registration.
The International Student and Welfare Advisor provides impartial and confidential advice on non-academic issues such as student finance, visas and immigration, welfare benefits, student housing, childcare and general personal issues.