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SOAS University of London (; the School of Oriental and African Studies) is a
public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth Engli ...
research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in v ...
in
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
, and a
constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in ...
of the federal
University of London The University of London (UoL; abbreviated as Lond or more rarely Londin in post-nominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply post-nominals, are letters placed after a p ...
. Founded in 1916, SOAS is located in the
Bloomsbury Bloomsbury is a district in the West End of London The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) is a district of Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital ...

Bloomsbury
area of central London. SOAS is one of the world's leading institutions for the study of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Its library is one of the five national research libraries in the UK. SOAS also houses the Brunei Gallery, which hosts a programme of changing contemporary and historical exhibitions from Asia, Africa and the Middle East with the aim to present and promote cultures from these regions. SOAS is divided into three faculties: Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Languages and Cultures and Faculty of Law and Social Sciences. It is home to the
SOAS School of Law The SOAS School of Law is a law school of the University of London. It is based in the Paul Webley wing of the Senate House in Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom. The SOAS University of London, SOAS School of Law has an emphasis on the legal sys ...
which is one of leading law schools in the UK. The university offers around 350
bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
combinations, more than 100 one-year master's degrees and PhD programmes in nearly every department. The university has a student-staff ratio of 11:1, one of the best in the UK. The university has produced several
heads of states A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international persona." in its unity and leg ...
,
government ministers A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assemb ...
,
diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
s,
central bankers A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages the currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money ...
,
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...

Supreme Court
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
s, a
Nobel Peace Prize The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel Alfred Bernhard Nobel ( , ; 21 October 1833 – 10 Decemb ...
Laureate and many other notable leaders around the world. SOAS is a member of
Association of Commonwealth Universities The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) was established in 1913, and has over 500 member institutions in over 50 countries across the Commonwealth. It is the world’s oldest international network of universities and its mission is ...
.


History


Origins

The School of Oriental Studies was founded in 1916 at 2
Finsbury Circus Finsbury Circus is a park in the Coleman Street Ward Coleman Street is one of the 25 ancient wards of the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county ...

Finsbury Circus
, London, the then premises of the
London Institution The London Institution was an educational institution founded in London in 1806 (not to be confused with the British Institution The British Institution (in full, the British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom; foun ...
. The school received its
royal charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or ...

royal charter
on 5 June 1916 and admitted its first students on 18 January 1917. The school was formally inaugurated a month later on 23 February 1917 by
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother ...

George V
. Among those in attendance were Earl Curzon of Kedleston, formerly
Viceroy of India The Governor-General of India (1773–1950, from 1858 to 1947 the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, commonly shortened to Viceroy of India) was the representative of the Monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kin ...
, and other cabinet officials. The School of Oriental Studies was founded by the British state as an instrument to strengthen Britain's political, commercial and military presence in Asia and Africa. It would do so by providing instruction to colonial administrators (
Colonial ServiceThe Colonial Service, also known as His/Her Majesty's Colonial Service and replaced in 1954 by Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service (HMOCS), was the British government service which administered most of British Empire, Britain's overseas possessions, ...
and
Imperial Civil Service The Indian Civil Service (ICS), officially known as the Imperial Civil Service, was the elite higher civil service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional m ...
), commercial managers and military officers, but also to missionaries, doctors and teachers, in the language of that part of Asia or Africa to which each was being posted, together with an authoritative introduction to the customs, religion, laws and history of the people whom they were to govern or among whom they would be working. The school's founding mission was to advance British scholarship, science and commerce in Africa and Asia and to provide London University with a rival to the Oriental schools of
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...
,
Petrograd Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), ...
and
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...
. The school immediately became integral in training British administrators, colonial officials and spies for overseas postings across the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. Africa was added to the school's name in 1938.


Second World War

For a period in the mid-1930s, prior to moving to its current location at Thornhaugh Street,
Bloomsbury Bloomsbury is a district in the West End of London The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) is a district of Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital ...

Bloomsbury
, the school was located at Vandon House, Vandon Street, London SW1, with the library located at
Clarence House Clarence House is a List of British royal residences, British royal residence on The Mall, London, The Mall in the City of Westminster, London. It was built in 1825–1827, adjacent to St James's Palace, for the Duke of Clarence, the future king ...

Clarence House
. Its move to new premises in Bloomsbury was held up by delays in construction and the half-completed building took a hit during the
Blitz Blitz, German for "lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden flow of electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and m ...
in September 1940. With the onset of the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, many University of London colleges were evacuated from London in 1939 and billeted on universities in the rest of the country. The School was, on the Government's advice, transferred to
Christ's College, Cambridge Christ's College is a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education ...
. In 1940, when it became apparent that a return to London was possible, the school returned to the city and was housed for some months in eleven rooms at Broadway Court, 8
Broadway, London Broadway is a street in the City of Westminster City of Westminster is an Inner London, inner London City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough. It has been the capital city, ''de facto'', of multiple British governm ...
SW1. In 1942, the
War Office The War Office This article contains text from this source, which is available under th Open Government Licence v3.0 © Crown copyright was a Departments of the British Government, Department of the British Government responsible for the adminis ...
joined with the School to create a scheme for State Scholarships to be offered to select grammar and public school boys with linguistic ability to train as military translators and interpreters in Chinese, Japanese, Farsi and Turkish. Lodged at
Dulwich College Dulwich College is a 2–19 Independent school (United Kingdom), independent, Day school, day and boarding school for Single-sex education, boys in Dulwich, London, England. As a Public school (United Kingdom), public school, it began as the Col ...
in south London, the students became affectionately known as ''the Dulwich boys''. One of these students was Charles Dunn, who became a prominent japanologist on the faculty of the SOAS and a recipient of the
Order of the Rising Sun The is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji also called or was the 122nd emperor of Japan The Emperor of Japan is the monarch and the head of the Imperial House of Japan, Imperial Family of Japan. Under the Const ...

Order of the Rising Sun
. Others included Sir Peter Parker and Professor Ronald Dore. Subsequently, the School ran a series of courses in Japanese, both for translators and for interpreters.


1945 to present

In recognition of SOAS's role during the war, the 1946 Scarborough Commission (officially the "Commission of Enquiry into the Facilities for Oriental, Slavonic, East European and African Studies") report recommended a major expansion in provision for the study of Asia and the school benefited greatly from the subsequent largesse. The
SOAS School of Law The SOAS School of Law is a law school of the University of London. It is based in the Paul Webley wing of the Senate House in Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom. The SOAS University of London, SOAS School of Law has an emphasis on the legal sys ...
was established in 1947 with Professor Vesey-Fitzgerald as its first head. Growth however was curtailed by following years of economic austerity, and upon Sir
Cyril PhilipsSir Cyril Henry Philips, FRAS (27 December 1912, Worcester – 29 December 2005, Swanage Swanage () is a coastal town and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territ ...
assuming the directorship in 1956, the school was in a vulnerable state. Over his 20-year stewardship, Phillips transformed the school, raising funds and broadening the school's remit. A college of the University of London, the School's fields include
Law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
,
Social Sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

Social Sciences
,
Humanities Humanities are academic disciplines An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

Humanities
, and
Languages A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communicatio ...

Languages
with special reference to Asia and Africa. The SOAS Library, located in the Philips Building, is the UK's national resource for materials relating to Asia and Africa and is the largest of its kind in the world. The school has grown considerably over the past 30 years, from fewer than 1,000 students in the 1970s to more than 6,000 students today, nearly half of them postgraduates. SOAS is partnered with the
Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (Inalco) (English: National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations, also known as the University of Languages and Civilizations) is a French research institution teaching lang ...
(INALCO) in
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
which is often considered the French equivalent of SOAS. In 2011, the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
approved changes to the school's charter allowing it to award degrees in its own name, following the trend set by fellow colleges the
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...
,
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
and
King's College London King's College London (informally King's or KCL) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or ...
. All new students registered from September 2013 will qualify for a SOAS, University of London, award. In 2012, a new visual identity for SOAS was launched to be used in print, digital media and around the campus. The SOAS tree symbol, first implemented in 1989, was redrawn and recoloured in gold, with the new symbol incorporating the leaves of ten trees, including the
English Oak ''Quercus robur'', commonly known as common oak, pedunculate oak, European oak or English oak, is a species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, ...

English Oak
representing England; the
Bodhi The English term enlightenment is the Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a loca ...

Bodhi
, ,
Teak Teak (''Tectona grandis'') is a tropical hardwood is a popular hardwood Hardwood is wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the Plant stem, stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic mat ...

Teak
representing Asia; the , African Pear, Lasiodiscus representing Africa; and the
Date Palm ''Phoenix dactylifera'', commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae The Arecaceae is a family (biology), family of Perennial plant, perennial flowering plants in the Monocotyledon, monoco ...

Date Palm
,
Pomegranate The pomegranate (''Punica granatum'') is a fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who spec ...

Pomegranate
and Ghaf representing the Middle East.


Controversies on campus


Antisemitism

Dating back to at least 2005, SOAS has faced a number of accusations of systemic
antisemitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. A ...
and
anti-Israel Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionism was the founder of the Modern Zionist movement. In his 1896 pamphlet ''Der Judenstaat'', he envisioned the founding of a future independent Jewish state during the 20th century. Zionism ( he, צִיּ ...

anti-Israel
rhetoric by its Student Union and members of its faculty, and for failing to adequately address antisemitism on campus. A report in the ''Jewish Tribune'' titled SOAS as "the School Of Anti-Semitism." In 2015, the SOAS Student Union held a referendum in which its members voted to adopt the
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is a Palestinian The Palestinian people ( ar, الشعب الفلسطيني, ''ash-sha‘b al-Filasṭīnī''), also referred to as Palestinians ( ar, الفلسطينيون, links=no, ...
agenda and boycott Israel. In a motion for a "Jewish Equality Act" passed in 2017, the Student Union voted to remove a line stating, "Jewish students should be given the right to self-determination and be able to define what constitutes hatred against their group like all other minority groups." Jewish students at SOAS have reported feeling unable to express themselves in a Jewish way, and fear hate and retribution if they wear Jewish symbols or speak Hebrew on campus. In their annual "University Extreme Speakers" report, the
Henry Jackson Society The Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is a Atlanticism, trans-Atlantic foreign policy and national security think tank, based in the United Kingdom. While its outlook is sometimes described as Neoconservatism, neoconservative the society itself ident ...
claims that SOAS has been responsible for hosting 70 (16%) of the 435 events that featured extremist speakers over the past three years, putting up 43 speakers who have previously made pro-jihadi or antisemitic remarks over the past year. In December 2020 ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' reported that SOAS refunded a student £15,000 in fees after he chose to abandon his studies as a result of the "toxic antisemitic environment" he felt had been allowed to develop on campus.


Campus

The campus is located in the
Bloomsbury Bloomsbury is a district in the West End of London The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) is a district of Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital ...

Bloomsbury
area of central London, close to
Russell Square Russell Square is a large garden square A garden square is a type of communal garden Image:Berkeley Square evening December 2005.jpg, 200px, Communal gardens in the centre of Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London A communal garden (often used in ...

Russell Square
. It includes College Buildings (the Philips Building and the Old Building), Brunei Gallery building, 53 Gordon Square (which houses the Doctoral School) and, since 2016, the Paul Webley Wing (the North Block of Senate House). The SOAS library designed by
Sir Denys Lasdun Sir Denys Louis Lasdun, Order of the Companions of Honour, CH, Order of the British Empire, CBE, Royal Academy of Arts, RA (8 September 1914, Kensington, London – 11 January 2001, Fulham, London) was an eminent English architect, the son of Nath ...
in 1973 is located in the Philips Building. The nearest
Underground Underground most commonly refers to: * Subterranea (geography), the regions beneath the surface of the Earth Underground may also refer to: Places * The Underground (Boston), a music club in the Allston neighborhood of Boston * The Underground (S ...

Underground
station is
Russell Square Russell Square is a large garden square A garden square is a type of communal garden Image:Berkeley Square evening December 2005.jpg, 200px, Communal gardens in the centre of Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London A communal garden (often used in ...

Russell Square
. The school houses the Brunei Gallery, built from an endowment from the , the leader of a country whose human rights abuses are ongoing, and inaugurated by the
Princess Royal Princess Royal is a style Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically ...

Princess Royal
, as Chancellor of the University of London, on 22 November 1995. Its facilities include exhibition space on three floors, a book shop, a lecture theatre, and conference and teaching facilities. The Brunei Gallery hosts a programme of changing contemporary and historical exhibitions from Asia, Africa and the Middle East with the aim to present and promote cultures from these regions. The Japanese-style roof garden on top of the Brunei Gallery was built during the Japan 2001 celebrations and was opened by the sponsor,
Haruhisa Handa is a Japanese religious leader and a businessman. Handa is the Chairman and spiritual leader of the Shinto-based religion World Mate. He is also known by the name Toshu Fukami in his artistic career, as well as the pen name Toto Ami . He also us ...
, an Honorary Fellow of the School, on 13 November 2001. The school hosted the
Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art The Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art (abbreviated as the PDF) holds a collection of Chinese ceramics (art), ceramics and related items assembled by Percival David that are on permanent display in a dedicated gallery in Room 95 at the Br ...
, one of the foremost collections of Chinese ceramics in Europe. The collection has been loaned to the
British Museum The British Museum, in the Bloomsbury Bloomsbury is a district in the West End of London The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) is a district of Central London Central London is the innermost part of Lond ...

British Museum
, where it is now on permanent display in Room 95. The SOAS Centenary Masterplan conceived the development of two new buildings and a substantial remodelling of existing space to realign and develop the entrance and two areas within the Old Building. The cost estimates for the Centenary Masterplan settle at around £73m for the total project. The full implementation of the School's Centenary Masterplan would deliver approximately 30% additional space, approximately 1,000 sq metres.


Organisation and administration


Governance


Presidents


Directors

Since its foundation, the school has had nine directors. The inaugural director was the celebrated linguist Sir
Edward Denison Ross Sir Edward Denison Ross (6 June 1871 – 20 September 1940) was an oriental studies, orientalist and linguist, specializing in languages of the Far East. He was the first director of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studie ...

Edward Denison Ross
. Under the stewardship of Sir
Cyril PhilipsSir Cyril Henry Philips, FRAS (27 December 1912, Worcester – 29 December 2005, Swanage Swanage () is a coastal town and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territ ...
, the school saw considerable growth and modernisation. Under Colin Bundy in the 2000s, the school became one of the top ranked universities both domestically and internationally. In January 2021 Professor
Adam Habib Adam Mahomed Habib (born 1965) is a South African academic administrator Academic administration is a branch of university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or ...
became director of SOAS in place of Baroness Valerie Amos, who had taken up the position of Master at
University College, Oxford University College (in full The College of the Great Hall of the University of Oxford, colloquially referred to as "Univ") is a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an ed ...
.


Faculties and departments

SOAS, University of London is divided into three faculties. These are further divided into academic departments. SOAS has many Centres and Institutes, each of which is affiliated to a particular faculty.


Faculty of Arts and Humanities

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities houses the departments of Anthropology & Sociology, History of Art & Archaeology, History, Music, Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Centre for Media Studies. It offers courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, with an emphasis on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. A gift from the Alphawood Foundation in 2013 created the Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian art, the
David Snellgrove David Llewellyn Snellgrove (29 June 192025 March 2016) was a British Tibetology, Tibetologist noted for his pioneering work on Buddhism in Tibet as well as his many travelogues. Biography Snellgrove was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, and educa ...
Senior Lectureship in Tibetan and Buddhist art, and a Senior Lectureship in Curating and Museology of Asian Art, as well as a number of scholarships for students, making the Department of Art & Archaeology a key institution at a global level in the study of
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. The university is also a member of the
Screen Studies Group, London The University of London Screen Studies Group (SSG) is a research consortium A consortium (plural: consortia) is an Voluntary association, association of two or more individuals, companies, organizations or governments (or any combination of t ...
.


Faculty of Languages and Cultures


=Department of Linguistics

= The SOAS Department of Linguistics was the first ever linguistics department in the United Kingdom, founded in 1932 as a centre for research and study in Oriental and African languages. J. R. Firth, known internationally for his work in phonology and semantics, was Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor of General Linguistics at the school between 1938 and 1956.


Faculty of Law and Social Sciences

The Faculty of Law and Social Sciences houses the departments of Development Studies, Economics, Financial and Management Studies, Politics and International Studies and the School of Law, as well as the London Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Science, the Centre for Gender Studies, the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, the Centre of Taiwan Studies and a number of department-specific centres. It offers courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, many with an emphasis on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.


=SOAS School of Law

= One of the largest individual departments, the SOAS School of Law is one of Britain's leading law schools and the sole law school in the world focusing on the study of Asian, African and Middle Eastern legal systems. The School of Law has more than 400 students. It offers programmes at the
LL.B. Bachelor of Laws ( la, Legum Baccalaureus; LL.B.) is an undergraduate law degree in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guard ...
,
LL.M. A Master of Laws (M.L. or LL.M.; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to shar ...
and
MPhil The Master of Philosophy (MPhil; Latin ' or ') is a postgraduate Academic degree, degree. An MPhil typically includes a taught portion and a significant research portion, during which a thesis project is conducted under supervision. An MPhil may be ...
/
PhD A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known a ...
levels.
International students International students, or foreign students, are students who chose to undertake all or part of their tertiary education in a country other than their own and move to that country for the purpose of studying. In 2019, there were over 6 million ...

International students
have been a majority at all levels for many years. The SOAS School of Law has an unrivaled concentration of expertise in the laws of Asian and African countries,
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
, transnational
commercial law Commercial law, also known as mercantile law or trade law, is the body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of Legal person, persons and business engaged in commerce, merchandising, trade, and sales. It is often considered ...
,
environmental law Environmental law is a collective term encompassing aspects of the law that provide protection to the environment. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental Legal doctrine, legal principles, focus ...
, and
comparative law Comparative law is the study of differences and similarities between the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A s ...
. The SOAS School of Law was ranked 15th out of all 98 British law schools by ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' League Table in 2016. Although many modules at SOAS embody a substantial element of English
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
, all modules are taught (as much as possible) in a comparative or international manner with an emphasis on the way in which law functions in society. Thus, law studies at SOAS are broad and comparative in their orientation. All students study a significant amount of non-English law, starting in the first year of the LL.B. course, where "Legal Systems of Asia and Africa" is compulsory. Specialised modules in the laws and legal systems of particular countries and regions are also encouraged, and faculty experts conduct modules in these subjects every year.


Academic profile

SOAS is a centre for the study of subjects concerned with Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It trains
government officials An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with it) in an organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an ...
on
secondment Secondment is the assignment of a member of one organisation to another organisation for a temporary period. Job rotation The employee typically retains their salary and other employment rights from their primary organization but they work closely ...
from around the world in Asian, African and Middle Eastern languages and area studies, particularly in
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
& Islamic Studies – which combined with
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
formed the major bulk of classical
Oriental Studies Oriental studies is the academic field that studies Near Eastern and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, peoples, history and archaeology; in recent years the subject has often been turned into the newer terms of Middle Eastern studies ...
in Europe – and
Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more ...
. It also acts as a consultant to government departments and to companies such as
Accenture Accenture plc is an Irish multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, a ...

Accenture
and
Deloitte Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (), commonly referred to as Deloitte, is a multinational corporation, multinational professional services network with offices in over 150 countries and territories around the world. Deloitte is one of the Big ...

Deloitte
– when they seek to gain specialist knowledge of the matters concerning Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The school is made up of nineteen departments across three faculties: Arts and Humanities, Languages and Cultures, and Law and Social Sciences. The school focuses on small group teaching with a student-staff ratio of 11:1, one of the lowest in the UK.


Library

The SOAS library is a library for Asian, African and Middle Eastern studies. It houses more than 1.2 million volumes and electronic resources for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and attracts scholars from all over the world. The library was designated by
HEFCE The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) was a non-departmental public body In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mi ...
in 2011 as one of the UK's five National Research Libraries. The library is housed in the Philips Building on the
Russell Square Russell Square is a large garden square A garden square is a type of communal garden Image:Berkeley Square evening December 2005.jpg, 200px, Communal gardens in the centre of Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London A communal garden (often used in ...

Russell Square
campus and was built in 1973. It was designed by architect
Sir Denys Lasdun Sir Denys Louis Lasdun, Order of the Companions of Honour, CH, Order of the British Empire, CBE, Royal Academy of Arts, RA (8 September 1914, Kensington, London – 11 January 2001, Fulham, London) was an eminent English architect, the son of Nath ...
, who also designed some of Britain's most famous
brutalist Brutalist architecture, also called New Brutalism, is an architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. It is a sub-class of ...
buildings such as the
National TheatreNational Theatre or National Theater may refer to: Africa *National Arts Theatre, Lagos, Nigeria *Ethiopian National Theatre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia *National Theatre of Ghana, Accra, Ghana *Kenya National Theatre, Nairobi, Kenya *National Theatre of ...

National Theatre
and the
Institute of Education The UCL Institute of Education (IOE) is the education school of University College London , mottoeng = Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward , established = , type = Public university, Public research university , endowment ...
. In 2010/11 the library underwent a £12 million modernisation programme, known as "the Library Transformation Project". The work refurbished the ground floor of the library and created new reception and entrance areas, new music practice rooms, group study rooms and a gallery exhibition space. SOAS being a constituent college of the University of London, its students also have access to
Senate House Library The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
, shared by other colleges such as
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...
and
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
, which is located just a short walk from the Russell Square campus. The library was used as a filming location for some scenes in the 2016 film ''
Criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...
''.


Rankings

The 2020
QS World University Rankings ''QS World University Rankings'' is an annual publication of university rankings College and university rankings are rankings of institutions in higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. H ...
placed SOAS 13th in the world for Anthropology and 18th for Politics. The 2021 rankings placed it 5th globally for Development Studies and 44th for Arts & Humanities. SOAS ranked 21 globally for International Students and 48 for International Faculty in the 2021 QS World University Rankings. It is ranked 391 in QS Global World Rankings 2022. SOAS's Department of Financial and Management Studies (DeFiMS) is ranked in the top-ten for Business Studies in the 2013
Complete University Guide Complete may refer to: Logic * Completeness (logic) * Completeness of a theory, the property of a theory that every formula in the theory's language or its negation is provable Mathematics * The completeness of the real numbers, which implies ...
's League Table. The research strength of the department has been previously recognised by the 2008
Research Assessment Exercise The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) was an exercise undertaken approximately every five years on behalf of the four UK higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also ca ...
(RAE) where 90 per cent was rated as internationally recognised, internationally excellent or world leading quality. The results of the 2008 United Kingdom RAE took the form of profiles spread across four grade levels. Hence, there are different ways to present them and to rank the departments. In their published tables, the Times Higher and The Guardian Education chose to use an average of the profile or GPA (Grade Point Average); both rankings placed the SOAS Department of Anthropology equal second, ranking just behind Cambridge with LSE. According to the 2008 United Kingdom Research Assessment Exercise, SOAS is the national leader in the study of Asia.


Scholarships, bursaries and awards

A range of scholarships and awards support SOAS degree programmes, with an application process based either on academic merit or with a focus on supporting students from specific countries or connected with particular areas of study, as well as some bursaries addressing students' financial needs.


Student life

In , there were undergraduate students In 2012, 41% of students were over 21 and 60% were female. According to the QS World University Rankings, SOAS hosts international students from 140 countries. SOAS is renowned for its political scene and radical socialist politics, and was voted the most politically active university in the in the Which?University 2012. Recent campaigns include students for social change, women's liberty and justice for cleaners. The SOAS Marxist Society holds frequent events and encourages student voter registration. Located in the heart of Bloomsbury, many University of London schools and institutes are close by, including , the
Institute of Education The UCL Institute of Education (IOE) is the education school of University College London , mottoeng = Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward , established = , type = Public university, Public research university , endowment ...
,
London Business School London Business School (LBS) is a business school A business school is a university-level institution that confers degrees in business administration or management. A business school may also be referred to as school of management, management ...

London Business School
, the
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is a public university, public research university in Bloomsbury, central London, and a constituent college of the University of London that specialises in public health and tropical medic ...
, the
Royal Veterinary College , mottoeng = Confront disease at onset , established = (became a constituent part of University of London in 1949) , type = public university, Public veterinary school , chancellor = Anne, Princess Royal, The Princess Royal (Univer ...

Royal Veterinary College
, the
School of Advanced Study The School of Advanced Study, a postgraduate institution of the University of London The University of London (abbreviated as Lond or more rarely Londin in post-nominals) is a collegiate university, federal Public university, public research ...
,
Senate House Library The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
and
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
.


Sports

SOAS has multiple smaller sports teams competing in a variety of local and national leagues, as well as occasional international tournaments. SOAS clubs compete in inter-university fixtures in the
British Universities and Colleges Sport British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the governing body for higher education sport in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is m ...
(BUCS) competition in a range of sports, including basketball, football, hockey, netball, rugby union and tennis. SOAS also participates in an annual North London Varsity tournament against
London Metropolitan University London Metropolitan University, commonly known as London Met, is a public research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, ...
.


Student housing

SOAS operates two halls of residence in central London, both owned by Sanctuary Student Housing. The primary accommodation for undergraduates is Dinwiddy House, which is located on
Pentonville Road Pentonville Road is a road in Central London Central London (also known less commonly as London city centre) is the innermost part of London, in England, spanning several London borough, boroughs. Over time, a number of definitions have been ...
. This contains 510 single en-suite rooms arranged in small cluster flats of around six rooms each. The halls are located within minutes of King's Cross St. Pancras tube station and the Vernon Square campus. A few minutes walk from Dinwiddy House and also on the Pentonville Road is Paul Robeson House, the second hall of residence. This was opened in 1998, and is named after the African-American musician
Paul Robeson Paul Leroy Robeson ( ; April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was an American bass (voice type), bass baritone concert artist, stage and film actor, athlete, and activist who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his pol ...
who studied at SOAS in the 1930s. This accommodation is occupied by postgraduate students, and those attending the international SOAS Summer schools. SOAS students are eligible to apply for places in the University of London intercollegiate halls of residence. The majority of these are based in Bloomsbury such as Canterbury Hall, Commonwealth Hall, College Hall, Connaught Hall, Hughes Parry Hall, International Hall and International Students House, London, International Students House, while further afield are Nutford House, London, Nutford House in Marble Arch and Lillian Penson Hall in Paddington. A number of SOAS postgraduate students also apply for student accommodation at Goodenough College.


Notable people


Notable alumni

File:Achim Steiner-IMG 0837.jpg, Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP File:Inger Andersen (environmentalist, 2010, cropped).jpg, Inger Andersen (environmentalist), Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP File:Martin Griffiths.jpg, Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, UN Special Envoy for Yemen File:Mette-Marit av Norge.jpg, Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway File:Aung San Suu Kyi 2016.jpg, Aung San Suu Kyi, 1st State Counsellor of Myanmar File:Paul Robeson 1938.jpg,
Paul Robeson Paul Leroy Robeson ( ; April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was an American bass (voice type), bass baritone concert artist, stage and film actor, athlete, and activist who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his pol ...
, American singer File:Official portrait of Rt Hon David Lammy MP crop 2.jpg, David Lammy, UK politician File:Zeinab Badawi crop UNISDR.jpg, Zeinab Badawi, TV presenter File:John Atta Mills.jpg, John Atta Mills, former President of Ghana File:Bülent Ecevit-Davos 2000.jpg, Bülent Ecevit, former Prime Minister of Turkey File:Luisa Dias Diogo - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009 crop.jpg, Luisa Dias Diogo, former Prime Minister of Mozambique File:Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.jpg, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, Bhutanese lama and filmmaker File:Grafica pc 3.jpg, Guillaume Long, former Foreign Minister of Ecuador File:Bisher Al-Khasawneh (cropped).jpg, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, Prime Minister of Jordan
SOAS alumni have made significant contributions in the fields of government and politics. These include Salahuddin of Malaysia, Sultan Salahuddin, King of Malaysia (1999–2001), Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway, Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway, Princess Ayşe Gülnev Sultan, descendant of Mehmed V Reşâd, 35th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, John Atta Mills, former President of Ghana, Luisa Diogo, former Prime Minister of Mozambique, Bülent Ecevit, former Prime Minister of Turkey. Around the world, several national leaders and political figures are alumni: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and First and incumbent State Counsellor of Myanmar, Zairil Khir Johari, Member of the Malaysian Parliament, Amal Pepple, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development in Nigeria, Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament and former Minister of Communication in Ghana, Hüseyin Çelik, Turkish Minister of Education, Femi Fani-Kayode, former Nigerian Minister of Culture and Tourism and former Minister of Aviation, Kraisak Choonhavan, Former Senator in Thailand, Samia Nkrumah, Hammad Azhar, Former Pakistan Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister for Industries and Production, Ghanaian Member of Parliament and Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, 4th Vice President of the Maldives. In British politics, several current and former Members of Parliament are alumni: David Lammy, Catherine West, Tim Yeo, Ivor Stanbrook, Ray Whitney (politician), Sir Ray Whitney, Enoch Powell. * In government, alumni include Dharma Vira, who served as 8th Cabinet Secretary of India, Johnnie Carson, former US Ambassador to Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda, Hassan Taqizadeh, Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Shridath Ramphal, Sir Shridath Ramphal, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Leslie Fielding, Sir Leslie Fielding, British diplomat and former European Commission Ambassador to Tokyo, David Warren (diplomat), Sir David Warren, former UK Ambassador to Japan, Quinton Quayle, UK Ambassador to Thailand and Lao, Robin McLaren, Sir Robin McLaren, UK Ambassador to China and the Philippines, Michael Scott Weir, Sir Michael Weir, UK Ambassador to Egypt, Jemima Khan, UK Ambassador to UNICEF, Hugh Carless, UK Ambassador to Venezuela, Francis K. Butagira, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Mission of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations, Gunapala Piyasena Malalasekera, Gunapala Malalasekera, Sri Lankan Ambassador to UK, Canada and Soviet Union, Michael C Williams, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Guillaume Long, former Foreign Minister of Ecuador, Haifa al-Mogrin - Saudi Arabia's delegate to UNESCO. * In justice, Idris Kutigi, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Sylvester Umaru Onu, Judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Herbert Chitepo, first Black Rhodesian Barrister, John Vinelott, lawyer and judge. * Prominent journalists and broadcasters such as, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper in London, Zeinab Badawi, presenter of BBC ''World News Today'', Martin Bright, political editor of the ''Jewish Chronicle'', Jung Chang, who is best known for her family autobiography ''Wild Swans'', Hossein Derakhshan, Iranian blogger credited with starting the blogging revolution in Iran, Jamal Elshayyal, news producer at Al Jazeera English, Ghida Fakhry, news anchor at Al Jazeera English, James Harding (journalist), James Harding, head of BBC News and former editor of ''The Times'', Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News correspondent and columnist for the ''New Statesman'', Swapan Dasgupta, Indian journalist and public intellectual, Dom Joly, television comedian and journalist, Elan Journo, Fellow and Director of Policy Research at the Ayn Rand Institute, Clive King, author of ''Stig of the Dump'', Freya Stark, travel writer, James Longman, former BBC journalist, now ABC News foreign correspondent and Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC's Tokyo correspondent. * In academia, SOAS alumni include: Edith Penrose, economics scholar, Simon Digby (oriental scholar), Simon Digby, oriental scholar, Kusuma Karunaratne, Sri Lankan academic, university administrator, Professor and scholar of Sinhalese language and literature, Wang Gungwu, Australian historian of Asia, Martin Harris (academic), Sir Martin Harris, educationalist, Gregory B. Lee, sinologist, Bernard Lewis, Orientalist, Duncan McCargo, political scientist, Robert L. McKenzie, scholar-cum-public commentator on forced migration and refugees, Than Tun, historian of Burma, Ivan van Sertima, historian and anthropologist, Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera, contemporary Muslim jurist and scholar, William Montgomery Watt, Islamic scholar, Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, a contemporary Muslim philosopher, and A. K. Narain, Professor and scholar of Indo-Greeks studies, Archeology, Ancient Indian History. * Noted writers include M. K. Asante author of ''Buck: A Memoir, Buck'', filmmaker and professor, Raman Mundair, British poet and playwright. Olu Oguibe, a conceptual artist and academic, Gold Panda, Derwin Panda, an electronic musician and producer,
Paul Robeson Paul Leroy Robeson ( ; April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was an American bass (voice type), bass baritone concert artist, stage and film actor, athlete, and activist who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his pol ...
, an American singer who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, Himanshu Suri aka "Heems", rapper and member of Das Racist, and Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, a Bhutanese lama and filmmaker are all alumni of the school. * In business, alumni include: Fred Eychaner, American businessman and philanthropist, Abdulsalam Haykal, Syrian media entrepreneur, Sir Peter Parker, chairman of the British Railways Board, Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank and Dermot de Trafford, Sir Dermot de Trafford, British banker and baronet.


Notable faculty and staff


Notes


References


Further reading

* *


External links

* *Game, Joh
"The origins of SOAS as a colonial institution, training district"SOAS Student Union websiteSOAS graduates list
{{DEFAULTSORT:SOAS, University of London SOAS University of London, Musical instrument museums Educational institutions established in 1916 Charles Holden buildings 1916 establishments in England Asian studies African studies Universities UK