The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

2015 League Table Ranking 35
2015 Overall Score 755
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Entry Standards 415 Help
Entry Standards
The average UCAS tariff score of new students entering the University.

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Student-Staff Ratio 11.6 Help
Student-Staff Ratio
The average staffing levels at the University.

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Research Assessment 2.60 Help
Research Assessment
The average quality of the research undertaken in the University.

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Academic Services Spend 1,648 Help
Academic Services Spend
A guide to how much the University spends on supporting services such as libraries and IT.

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Student Satisfaction 4.00 Help
Student Satisfaction
A guide to how satisfied students are with the quality of teaching they receive.

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Facilities Spend 235 Help
Facilities Spend
A guide to how much the University spends on supporting facilities such as the careers service, health and counselling services and sport facilities.

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Graduate Prospects 66.4 Help
Graduate Prospects
A guide to the employability of graduates on completion of their courses at the University.

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Degree Completion 85.6 Help
Degree Completion
The proportion of students expected to successfully complete their studies and gain a degree from the University.

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Good Honours 84.0 Help
Good Honours
The percentage of graduates achieving a first or upper second class honours degree – the class of degree achieved can impact a graduate’s employment prospects.

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Green Score 34.5 Help
Green Score
This environmental & ethical ranking of the University is provided courtesy of the People & Planet Green League - the only comprehensive and independent green ranking of every UK university. Choosing a greener university can reduce your carbon footprint and improve your job prospects in a global low-carbon economy.

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  • SOAS is the only higher education institution in the UK specialising in the study and research of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
  • The school was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies.
  • SOAS uniquely combines disciplinary expertise, language scholarship and regional focus.
  • SOAS has the largest concentration of specialist staff (350+ academics) concerned with the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East at any university in the world.
  • SOAS is a global academic base, a crucial resource for London and a seat for international political debate and interaction.

Location and Transport

  • SOAS is based in the heart of London. The capital's rich cultural, social and intellectual life is  on its doorstep.
  • SOAS is well served by all forms of public transport. It has excellent travel connections with bus, underground and train within easy access of the main campus at Russell Square.
  • The Russell Square campus is in historic Bloomsbury, well-known as the intellectual centre of the city while Vernon Square is close to many of Islington's boutiques and restaurants.
  • SOAS is also placed close to Senate House, Birkbeck College and UCL libraries.

Entry Standards

  • SOAS welcomes applications from students with a variety of qualifications and experience reflecting our commitment to recruiting a diverse student community.
  • Admissioon tutors will consider the whole application, including the student's personal statement. Considerable weight is also given to the academic references.
  • A level offers range from A*AA to BBB, depending on the subject. 
  • The entry requirements detailed in the course descriptions represent the minimum for each subject. Applicants must demonstrate that they are able to achieve the appropriate qualifications.

Student Mix

The 5415 students enrolled in the academic year 2013/14 comprise:

Level of Study
Mode of Study
Full Time
Part Time
Student Gender

Course Flexibility

  • The programmes provide many options to suit a student's interests, whether they have decided for a single subject or a two subject (combined) degree.
  • SOAS offers more than 400 degree combinations in social sciences, humanities, languages and the arts, all with a distinctive regional focus.

Teaching Standards

  • In 2009, the School was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the excellence, breadth and depth of its language teaching. This was the second time the School had won this prestigious prize.
  • Small group teaching remains an important feature of study at SOAS – its student-staff ratio (11:1) is one of the best in the UK.
  • SOAS is above the national average for student satisfaction with Teaching at 89% (National Student Survey 2012).

Research Standards

  • Over 50% of the staff submitted to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise rated world-leading or internationally excellent. SOAS was ranked top in the UK for Asian studies and did well in anthropology, politics, history and music.
  • The SOAS Library is one of the world’s most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and attracts scholars from all over the world to conduct research
  • SOAS produces a number of academic journals, books, working papers and newsletters alongside the research output of its academics.

Academic Strengths

  • Academic focus on the languages, cultures and societies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East makes SOAS an indispensable interpreter in a complex world.
  • The school offers an unparalleled range of over 30 non-European languages, many of which can be studied at beginner or higher level.
  • More than 24% of our degree programmes involve spending a year in another country and 44% of undergraduates take a language course.

Student Facilities

  • The Library is one of the world’s most important academic libraries for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East and attracts scholars from all over the world. It is just one of five National Research Libraries in the country.
  • The Library has more than 1.5 million volumes, periodicals and audiovisual materials in 400 languages.
  • It recently underwent a £6.5-million transformation project which provides a modern environment as the School approaches its centenary in 2016.
  • SOAS has its own exhibition and conference space, the Brunei Gallery, which presents (and promotes) events related to the cultures of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, to be a student resource and a public facility.
  • In addition to a changing programme of visiting exhibitions and events, a permanent rotating display of our own rich collections of manuscripts and artefacts is on show in the Foyle Special Collections Gallery.
  • The School has approximately 220 computers (Macs and PCs) available for student use, providing internet access and email facilities. A room with multimedia computers is available to students submitting work using non-traditional media, and a range of television and radio programmes is available from around the world in a variety of languages.
  • SOAS radio is an outlet for creative media and talent housed by the SOAS, University of London. Run by alumni, current students and staff at the School, including volunteers from like-minded communities, SOAS Radio is dedicated to varied and original programming on world music, culture and current affairs.

Disability Services

  • The SOAS Student Disability Office provides information, advice and support to disabled students, from when they first apply to when they graduate.
  • Telephone 020 7074 5018; email

Students' Union

  • SOAS Students' Union is a bustling and diverse environment which offers support and representation for all SOAS students.
  • The union's role is to make sure that all our students' voices are heard, be they international, home, part-time or full-time.
  • There are three sabbatical co-presidents (Finance & Communications, Welfare and Sports & Societies) who work full-time to represent students.


  • The Students’ Union offers a wide range of sports clubs and societies, which provide an excellent springboard into the social life of the university, and enhances both the educational and social sides of a student’s university life.
  • The sports teams have been more popular and successful in recent years, with mens and women’s tennis, football, basketball and rugby teams making themselves known on the university circuit. Squash and badminton have recently been added to a portfolio which is particularly strong on martial arts, ranging from Karate to Capoeira, with lessons held regularly in the basement dojo, and the hall in Vernon Square.

Recent/Prospective New Builds

  • SOAS is transforming its library into a 21st century learning environment with a new reception area, group study rooms and increased seating for users, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Availability of Part-Time Work

  • The JobShop vacancy service advertises part-time jobs with SOAS and outside employers.
  • The JobOnline vacancy service advertises internships, work experience, voluntary work and graduate training schemes.
  • There is also a Job Alert service.

Notable Alumni

  • Professor John Atta Mills (PhD Law 1970) – former President of Ghana (21 July 1944–24 July 2012).
  • Aung San Suu Kyi (Research student 1987–8) – Leader of the National League for Democracy, Burma, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, 1991.
  • Zeinab Badawi (MSc Near and Middle Eastern Studies 1989) – Television and radio reporter and news presenter.
  • Luisa Diogo (MSc Financial Economics 1992) – Former Prime Minister of Mozambique.
  • David Lammy MP (LLB 1993; member of the SOAS International Advisory Board) – MP for Tottenham, Minister of State for Higher Education.
  • Paul Robeson (African languages 1934) – American actor, singer, and civil rights activist (9 April 1898–23 January 1976).
  • Dame Freya Stark DBE (Arabic and Urdu language 1921–45) – British travel writer. One of the first Western women to travel through the Arabian deserts, often alone. Joined Ministry of Information during World War II and contributed to the creation of a propaganda network aimed at persuading Arabs to support the Allies or at least remain neutral (31 January 1893–9 May 1993).
  • Fatima Bhutto (MA South Asian Studies 2005) – Poet and writer. Fatima is the granddaughter of former Pakistani Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and the niece of the late Benazir Bhutto.
  • Jamie Drummond (MSc Development Studies 1992) – Executive Director of DATA (Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa), which he co-founded with U2's Bono, Bobby Shriver and other activists from the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign. He is also a co-ordinator of the Make Poverty History campaign.
  • Jemima Khan (MA Near & Middle East Studies 2007) – Writer, human rights campaigner and fundraiser for several national and international charities. She is the Associate Editor of New Statesman and the European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair.
  • James Harding (Japanese 1992) – Former editor of The Times newspaper.


For further information

  • +44 (0)20 7637 2388
  • School of Oriental and African Studies
    University of London
    Thornhaugh Street
    Russell Square
    WC1H 0XG
UCAS Code S09

Content was accurate at the time of compilation.

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