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University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

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 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.

SOAS at a glance:

  • SOAS is above the national average for student satisfaction at 85% (National Student Survey 2010)
  • SOAS has more than 5,000 students from 130+ countries, and 45% of them are from outside the UK
  • More than half our students are studying for undergraduate degrees, and 20% of them are aged 21 or over at the start of their course
  • More than 400 degree combinations are available in social sciences, arts, humanities and languages, all with a distinctive regional focus
  • SOAS offers an unparalleled range of non-European languages, all of which may be studied without prior knowledge
  • More than a quarter of our degree programmes offer the opportunity to spend a year studying in another country
  • 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
  • Small group teaching remains an important feature of study at SOAS – our student-staff ratio (11:1) is one of the best in the UK
  • SOAS has over 100 postgraduate programmes (taught and distance learning) in the social sciences, humanities and languages with a distinctive regional focus and global relevance
  • According to the latest Research Assessment Exercise, SOAS is the national leader in the study of Asia, and is in the top 10 in most other subjects
  • The SOAS Library is one of the UK's five National Research Libraries. It houses more than 1.5 million items and extensive electronic resources for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and attracts scholars from all over the world

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