SOAS, University of London

  • 4700 Students (2300 int'l)
  • Public University
London, United Kingdom
SOAS, University of London is a college of the University of London and the only Higher Education institution in the UK specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

About SOAS, University of London

SOAS, University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) is the only Higher Education institution in the UK specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

SOAS is a remarkable institution. Uniquely combining language scholarship, disciplinary expertise and regional focus, it has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Africa, Asia 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.

This makes SOAS synonymous with intellectual enquiry and achievement. It is a global academic base and a crucial resource for London. We live in a world of shrinking borders and of economic and technological simultaneity. Yet it is also a world in which difference and regionalism present themselves acutely. It is a world that SOAS is distinctively positioned to analyse, understand and explain.

Our academic focus on the languages, cultures and societies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East makes us an indispensable interpreter in a complex world.

The SOAS Library, designed by renowed 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 and attracts scholars from around the world. It has undergone a £12 million Library Transformation Project which will provide a more modern environment as the School approaches its centenary in 2016. March 2011 saw the opening of the new Library Entrance, marking a watershed in the Project.

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.


SOAS is perfectly placed Situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, SOAS is well-placed to involve Londoners in a wide range of activities associated with Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The School serves and supports Londons diverse, multi-lingual and multicultural communities.

The Brunei Gallery houses frequent exhibitions in different media of art from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

SOAS mounts various events and programmes for high schools in London in order to interest their pupils in the regions which SOAS studies and teaches.

The SOAS Language Centre provides courses at Introductory, Intermediary and Advanced levels in over fifty languages.

The main campus is just off Russell Square and in 2002 the School opened a second campus at Vernon Square in Islington.


For a relatively small higher education institution, SOAS is fortunate to have outstanding facilities, both scholarly and practical.

  • The Brunei Gallery, opened in 1995, provides a 40-room conference venue at a convenient, central London location: further conference facilities are also available at the Vernon Square site. These facilities are run by the SOAS Conference Office.
  • The SOAS Library - recognised as a collection of national importance - houses over 1.2 million volumes in more than 400 languages. It has significant archival holdings and a growing network of electronic resources.
  • SOAS has ranked in the top 5 universities nationally in terms of Library and IT expenditure per student.
  • There are eight Regional Centres that coordinate regional expertise and run programmes of seminars, workshops and conferences to provide up-to-date and in-depth knowledge.

Student Services

SOAS Student Services are focused on helping any student who is studying here to complete their course successfully through the specialist, professional services we offer: international student advice; welfare and financial advice, support for students with disabilities and student counselling.

Alongside your academic life with your classes, assignments and related study, you will be juggling day to day life, including money and budgets, friends and relationships, perhaps part-time work or other commitments. Some of you will be adjusting to a city which is vast, fast and can appear impersonal. Others will have specific requirements that need specialist advice, for instance international students and disabled students.

Being a student can be stressful as well as challenging and rewarding. In order to study effectively, it is helpful if the rest of your life is running smoothly, that you feel involved in the course and student life and that you feel sufficiently confident to meet the demands the course makes.

We hope that if you find your life is not running as smoothly as you would like, whether or not this is directly affecting your studies, you will contact Student Services to see if we can help.

The services are based on the third floor of the Vernon Square building, with the main reception area in room V302.

Student life at SOAS, University of London

Several universities boast a diverse and multicultural environment but only at SOAS can you truly experience that diversity. Many of the courses cater for regional study, attracting students from around the world who wish to specialise in their degree and giving rise to a rich and welcoming environment for all. Studying at SOAS gives its students the opportunity to be educated at a distinguished British institution while exploring the many fascinating cultures that exist elsewhere.

Throughout the year there are various extra-curricular events to keep us occupied. Whether its the Palestinian photographic exhibition or a display of African music you will find ample opportunities to both pursue your interests and to expand your knowledge of the world and the splendours it has to offer. Some of these events are organised by the many societies we have at SOAS, each representing the different areas of students interests. Students run all societies and whether your interests are cultural, religious, political or simply leisure-orientated, there is guaranteed to be something to suit you. The Students' Union has been recently refurbished, providing students with a new bar, social space and catering facilities. The School 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 is situated in a quiet corner of Londons West-end and two minutes away from the British Museum. London is a busy and vibrant area and if this is your first time living here you will soon discover an exciting new world with an endless possibility of things to do and see. In the evenings you'll find clubs playing all types of music and thousands of cafes and restaurants to choose from. Of course, the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan city can be daunting to many newcomers but rest assured, if you are missing the peace and tranquillity of home, a park could always be found nearby in which to escape the mad city rush. The Key word when describing London is Choice. The possibilities are infinite.

Short Courses at SOAS, University of London

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