Academic Ranking of World Universities

SOAS, University of London
English Name: SOAS, University of London
Region: Northern Europe
Country/Region: UK
Found Year: 1916
Address: Russell Square

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is a college of the University of London and the only higher education institution in the UK specialising in the study and research of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  SOAS is unique in combining disciplinary expertise, language scholarship, and regional focus and has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  On the one hand, this means that SOAS remains a guardian of specialised knowledge in languages and periods and regions not available anywhere else in the UK. On the other hand, it means that SOAS scholars grapple with pressing issues - democracy, development, human rights, identity, legal systems, poverty, religion, social change - confronting two-thirds of humankind.

SOAS is a global academic base, a crucial resource for London and a seat for international political debate and interaction.  It is distinctively positioned to analyse, understand and explain the world in which we live and has become the first port of call for the world's media and other government departments. Over the last year several SOAS academics have received awards for their research and academic excellence in fields such as anthropology and economics as well as being appointed as Academicians of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) and independent experts at the UN.

SOAS offers more than 400 degree combinations and programmes in law and social sciences, languages and cultures and arts and humanities. Whether studying law or politics, history or economics, music or history of art, students have the opportunity to deepen their study by focusing on one or more of the regions taught at SOAS.

The School was also chosen to house a national teaching centre for languages and in 2010 was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the excellence, breadth and depth of its language teaching. This is the second time SOAS has been awarded this coveted prize. More recently SOAS established the Centre for Palestine Studies, under the umbrella of the London Middle East Institute at SOAS. Reflecting the complexity and central importance to the region, the academic study of Palestine and Palestinians generates a large and ever-growing body of knowledge across every disciplinary field.

The SOAS Library, designed by renowned architect Denys Lasdun, is one of just five National Research Libraries in the country which holds 1.5 million volumes, periodicals and audiovisual materials in 400 languages, attracts scholars from around the world. It is one of the world's most important academic libraries and has recently undergone a £6.5 million transformation project which provides a more modern environment as SOAS approaches its centenary in 2016.New facilities include a new reception area, group study rooms and increased seating for users.

SOAS is also home to the Brunei Gallery which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions that reflect subjects and regions studied at the School.  It is both a student resource and a public facility. In addition to the programme of visiting exhibitions and events, a permanent rotating display of its rich collections of manuscripts and artefacts is on show in the Foyle Special Collections Gallery.

The main campus, consisting of three teaching buildings and the Brunei Gallery is located in the heart of London close to many landmarks such as the British Museum and the British Library. SOAS also has a campus very close to two purpose-built student residences, just a 20 minute walk from Russell Square, which provides state-of-the-art teaching space, a Learning Resource Centre and an internet cafe.

With degree programmes in languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese, SOAS language graduates are in high demand by employers. The wide-ranging language skills of SOAS students attract government bodies such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and GCHQ. Commercial organisations including BNP Paribas, HSBC, Standard Bank and CRCC Asia are also keen to engage with SOAS language students.

The Students’ Union has been recently refurbished, providing students with a new bar, social space and catering facilities. SOAS has also introduced the Language Entitlement programme which offers all current undergraduate students the chance to take one term of a non-accredited SOAS Language Centre course free of charge.



SOAS was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies. It took its present title in 1938, by which time it had also established itself as a centre for African Studies. It moved to its present site in 1941.

The Scarbrough Report of 1946 recommended that the whole field of Asian and African studies should be developed in London in contrast to a restricted range of programmes in other universities, and there was a considerable expansion of the School’s activities. In addition, after the Hayter Report of 1961, increased attention was given to the development of the social sciences.

Its expanded library, designed by the architect Sir Denys Lasdun, was opened 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. New teaching posts have been established, student numbers have increased and the School’s status as a leading research institution has been enhanced.

Performance in Academic Ranking of World Universities
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Performance in Academic Ranking of World Universities by Broad Subject Fields
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Performance in Academic Ranking of World Universities by Subject Fields
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