The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

2016 League Table Ranking 43
2016 Overall Score 713
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Entry Standards 407 Help
Entry Standards
The average UCAS tariff score of new students entering the University.

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Student-Staff Ratio 10.9 Help
Student-Staff Ratio
The average staffing levels at the University.

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Research Quality 2.82 Help
Research Quality
A measure of the quality of the research undertaken in the University.

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Academic Services Spend 1,774 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 3.97 Help
Student Satisfaction
A guide to how satisfied students are with the quality of teaching they receive.

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Facilities Spend 250 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 62.6 Help
Graduate Prospects
A guide to the employability of graduates on completion of their courses at the University.

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Degree Completion 80.7 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 82.9 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 49.6 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.
  • Founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies, SOAS will celebrate it's centenary next June with a year of events and activities to mark our achievements of the last hundred years and to chart our future course as a scholarly resource of global relevance for the 21st century.
  • 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 the British Museum, the British Library and Student Central (formerly University of London Union).

Entry Standards

  • SOAS welcomes applications from students with a variety of qualifications and experience reflecting our commitment to recruiting a diverse student community.
  • 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.
  • Admissions tutors will consider the whole application, including the student's personal statement. Considerable weight is also given to the academic references.

Student Mix

The 5,415 students enrolled in the academic year 2013/14 comprise:

Level of study
Mode of study
Full Time
Part Time
Student gender

Course Flexibility

  • Students can choose from more than 350 undergraduate degree combinations and from almost 200 postgraduate programmes (taught and distance learning) in the social sciences, humanities and languages with a distinctive regional focus and global relevance, taught by world-renowned teachers in specialist faculties.
  • Our course structure allows you to tailor your degree to your interests and select electives from our wide range of programmes as part of a single-honours or combined degree.
  • We also offer the opportunity to study abroad in over 40% of our undergraduate degree programmes.

Teaching Standards

  • SOAS is consistently ranked among the top higher education institutions in the UK and the world.
  • SOAS is above the national average for student satisfaction with Teaching at 89% (National Student Survey 2014).
  • In 2014, SOAS was rated ninth in Europe and 26th in the world for Arts and Humanities by Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  • QS World University Rankings 2014 places SOAS’ teaching of Modern Languages sixth in the UK and 32nd internationally.
  • 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.

Research Standards

  • With more than 300 academics dedicated to research and teaching, SOAS has become one of the world's leading institutions of its kind. In the 2014 REF, SOAS was ranked top in the UK for research quality in music and performed particularly well in law, linguistics, finance and management, anthropology, history of art, politics and the study of religions.
  • The SOAS Library is one of only five National Research Libraries in the UK and one of the world’s most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It attracts scholars from all over the world.
  • SOAS publishes prestigious international academic journals such as The Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, The China Quarterly, The Journal of African Law and South East Asia Research. The research output of its academics is disseminated through publications, books, working papers, films and newsletters.

Academic Strengths

  • SOAS’ specialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East offers students the chance to study over 50 non-European languages or regionally focused courses within our traditional academic disciplines.
  • All of our courses provide students with an understanding of complex global issues and knowledge of non-Western theories.
  • Many of our languages can be studied at beginner or higher level.
  • Each year around 44% of undergraduates take a language course as part of their degree.

Student Facilities

  • SOAS has begun its move into Senate House North Block. Moving into the Senate House North Block will bring many benefits to our students and staff, including new state-of-the-art research, teaching and student facilities, all in one precinct. This move, which will be finalised in 2016, will create a state of the art, single-site campus in the heart of Bloomsbury.
  • 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 holds exhibitions and events relating to the cultures of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
  • 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 are 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 (Events and Activities, Welfare and Campaigns, Democracy and Education) who work full-time to represent students.
  • There are many ways to get involved with the SU – there is a huge range of clubs and societies (160+), covering sport, debate, cultural, religious and political interests; and everything in between! Some interesting examples include the beekeeping and the hummus societies.
  • SOAS has one of the best Class Representative schemes in the country (the model for a number of other Universities). Each class has a representative who attends departmental meetings and is a vital part of decision making processes on the lowest level.


  • 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 has begun its move into Senate House North Block.
  • Moving into the Senate House North Block will bring many benefits to our students and staff, including new state-of-the-art research, teaching and student facilities, all in one precinct.
  • This move, which will be finalised in 2016, will create a state of the art, single-site campus in the heart of Bloomsbury.
  • Our Library recently underwent a £6.5-million transformation project which provides a modern 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 JobOnline vacancy service advertises internships, work experience, voluntary work and graduate training schemes.
  • There is also a Job Alert service.

Careers Guidance

  • The SOAS Careers Service is the dedicated provider of careers advice, events and information services for current SOAS students and alumni.
  • Our careers service will support you in your search for part-time work, internships or full-time jobs after you graduate.
They offer:
  • Confidential, one-to-one careers advice, including practice interviews.
  • Advice and resources on how to decide on a career path.
  • Provide information on internships, full-time jobs, part-time jobs, recruitment agencies and volunteering.
  • Provide advice on the application process, including CVs, interviews and assessment centres.
  • Give resources on starting your own business and student enterprise.

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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