School of Oriental and African Studies
Learn more about School of Oriental and African Studies
|Motto||Knowledge is Power|
|Endowment||£20 million |
|President||The Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC|
|Principal||Professor Paul Webley|
|Pro-Director||Professor Peter Robb|
|Location||London, United Kingdom|
|UK University Ranking 2006||6th (Guardian); =18th (Times); 11th (Daily Telegraph); 10th (THES)|
|Affiliations||University of London, ACU, 1994 Group|
The School of Oriental and African Studies (commonly abbreviated to SOAS) is a College of the University of London.
SOAS was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies at 2, Finsbury Circus, London, England, the then premises of the London Institution. Africa was added to the school's name and remit in 1938 and the school shifted to Thornhaugh Street, which runs between Malet Street and Russell Square, in 1941. The institution's founding mission was primarily to train British administrators for overseas postings across the empire. Since then the school has grown into the world's foremost centre for the exclusive study of Asia and Africa. A college of the University of London, SOAS fields include Law, Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages with special reference to Asia and Africa. SOAS today is a source of some of the most influential and innovative thinking in many fields of the social sciences and humanities, principally, but not exclusively in relation to Asia and Africa. SOAS consistently ranks among the top ten universities in the UK league tables and was ranked 44th in the world according the Times Higher Education Supplement. The SOAS Library, housed in a building designed at the beginning of the 1970s by Sir Denys Lasdun, is the UK's national resource for materials relating to Asia and Africa and is the largest of its kind in Europe.
The school has grown considerably over the past thirty years, from under 1,000 students in the 1970s to nearly 4,000 students today, approximately half of them postgraduates.
The school also houses two galleries: the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, one of the foremost collections of Chinese ceramics in Europe, and the Brunei Gallery, completed in 1995, which stages temporary exhibitions of both historical and contemporary materials which reflect subjects and regions studied at SOAS.
The main campus was moved to a new, purpose-built home, just off Russell Square in Bloomsbury in 1938, and has much expanded since then. The present library building was added in 1973, the Brunei Gallery in 1995, and an extension to the library building opened in 2004 (the second phase of this expansion is due to be completed in 2006).
A new campus at Vernon Square in Islington was opened in 2001.
In 2003 The Daily Telegraph produced a "table of tables" showing the average position attained by universities in the different newspaper and employer rankings. SOAS was placed in 11th position, putting the School at the top of what the newspaper called the "First division". Thus SOAS was outstripped by Oxbridge, London rivals Imperial, LSE, and UCL, and the Universities of Warwick, Nottingham, York, Bristol, and Manchester. On the other hand, SOAS fared better than the other 85 universities in the table, including King's College London, Durham, St Andrews, and Edinburgh.<ref name = "Who really is top of the league?">Template:Cite web </ref>
In 2004 and 2005, SOAS was rated fourth in the United Kingdom in the Guardian universities league table.<ref name = "SOAS Ranked 4th the Guardian University League Table">Template:Cite web </ref> In the 2006 table, SOAS is in sixth place with 76.47 percent, narrowly beaten by UCL and Imperial, who scored 77.46 percent and 77.03 percent respectively.<ref name = "Guardian Unlimited Education">Template:Cite web </ref> In the Guardian 2006 subject tables, SOAS was placed 3rd for Anthropology, 4th for Economics, 3rd for History and History of Art, 6th for Law, 5th for Music, 3rd for Politics, and 3rd for Theology and Religious Studies.
In The Times table, SOAS has done less well, in 2006 sharing 18th place with Leicester and St Andrews.<ref name = "Times Good University Guide 2006">Template:Cite web </ref> In the subject tables SOAS was placed 11th for Anthropology, 12th for History, 13th for Politics, and 18th for History of Art and for Law. More disappointingly, perhaps, SOAS was placed fourth for East and South Asian Studies, after Cambridge, Oxford, and Nottingham, and fifth for Middle Eastern and African Studies, after Oxford, Durham, Birmingham, and Exeter.<ref name = "Times Good University Guide Subject Tables">Template:Cite web </ref>
The latest Times Higher Education Supplement world rankings (2006) place SOAS joint 70th in the world, 20th in Europe and 10th in the UK. In 2004 SOAS was ranked 44th in the world, placing it seventh in the United Kingdom, and 11th in Europe. In 2005 SOAS shared 103rd position in the same table, and was thus 15th in the United Kingdom, and 38th in Europe.
After only five years as Director and Principal of SOAS (and three years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of London), Colin Bundy has accepted appointment as Warden of Green College, Oxford.<ref name = "Oxford Blueprint">Template:Cite web </ref> Professor Bundy's immediate predecessor, Sir Tim Lankester KCB, was Director and Principal 1996-2000 and left the School to become President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.<ref name = "About SOAS: Sir Tim Lankester KCB">Template:Cite web </ref> His successor, Paul Webley, was Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor and Professor of Economic Psychology in the University of Exeter.
 Department of Linguistics
The SOAS Department of Linguistics was the first ever linguistics department in United Kingdom, founded in 1932 as a centre for research and study in Oriental and African languages. J R Firth, known internationally for his original work in phonology and semantics, was Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor of General Linguistics at the school between 1938 and 1956.
 Faculties at SOAS
 Faculty of Law and Social Sciences
The Faculty of Law and Social Sciences consists of five academic departments
- Department of Economics
- Department of Development Studies
- Department for Financial & Management Studies (Called CeFiMS also offers distance learning courses)
- Department of Politics and International Studies
- The School of Law
 The Faculty of Arts and Humanities
The Faculty of Arts and Humanities contains five Departments
- Anthropology and Sociology
- Art and Archaeology
- Study of Religions
The Faculty also administers the Centre for Media and Film Studies and MA in Gender Studies
 Faculty of Languages and Cultures
The Faculty of Languages and Cultures consists of seven academic departments:
- Department of Linguistics
- Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
- Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
- Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea
- Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East
- Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia
- Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia and the Islands
- The Language Centre
Note: At present, where The Language Centre employs its own staff and administers language only courses, the respective departments manage language acquisition in their courses. In the near future (the date is TBC), all language acquisition will be brought under the remit of the new School of Languages.
IFCELS (International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies), lies outside the university's faculty structure and runs a number of foundation courses for students wishing to enter higher education in the UK.
Located in the Faber building, this department is one of the largest departments in the school with currently over 250 students.
 Students' accommodation
Many SOAS students are accommodated in the college's own halls of residence: Dinwiddy House (located on Pentonville Road in Kings Cross) and Paul Robeson House, a block away from Dinwiddy House, on Penton Rise; SOAS students are also eligible to apply for places in the University of London intercollegiate halls of residence, such as Connaught Hall.
Most students in college or university accommodation are first-year undergraduates. The majority of second and third-year students and postgraduates find their own accommodation in the private sector.
 OpenAir Radio
SOAS runs its own radio station, OpenAir Radio, based on the 5th floor of the Russell Square Building. The initial Restricted Service Licence ran from November until 16th December 2005, and broadcast on 101.4FM over a three mile radius in the Camden/Central London area. The remit of the station is world music, culture and current affairs, with programmes focusing on Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. OpenAir programmes include everything from local news to international media analysis, and cookery programmes to DJ sets.
OpenAir Radio is currently not broadcasting, however the website can be accessed online at www.openair.org.uk.
 Global Partnership
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), the renowned and the largest professional accountancy body that offers Chartered Certified Accountant qualification worldwide, have signed a global partnership agreement to enable ACCA’s members and affliates worldwide to take the SOAS's Postgraduate Diploma in Public Financial Management. (Please click: )
 Students' Union
SOAS Students' Union is known for its political activism. It is often very outspoken about the Middle East, primarily taking the pro-Arab position, and is known among the students' union movement as being a very radical union.
 Notable alumni
- Aaron Mike Oquaye - Minister of Communications Ghana
- Akbar S. Ahmed, anthropologist, former Pakistani High Commissioner
- Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, Prominent Islamic thinker
- Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and dissident Burmese opposition leader.
- Zeinab Badawi, BBC newsreader
- Luisa Diogo, current Prime Minister of Mozambique
- Bulent Ecevit, five time Prime Minister of Turkey
- Anthony Flew, renowned British philosopher and deist thinker
- Andrew Hall, current British Ambassador to Nepal
- Fred Halliday, Middle East expert at the LSE
- Robert Graham Irwin, historian, novelist, and writer on Arabic literature.
- The Lord Jay of Ewelme, Former Permanent Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, formerly British Ambassador to France.
- Dom Joly, comedian.
- Jemima Khan, society figure and campaigner, daughter of Sir James Goldsmith and former wife of Imran Khan.
- David Lammy, the 'black Blair', now MP for Tottenham and Minister for Culture
- Bernard Lewis, "The neo-cons' favourite historian", recently chosen by Time magazine as the world's most influential academic.
- Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway
- Khyentse Norbu, Bhutanese film-maker and prominent Tibetan Buddhist lama
- Enoch Powell, British politician, studied Urdu
- Paul Robeson, Musician, writer and civil rights activist.
- Walter Rodney, Guyanese historian and political activist.
- Sultan Salahuddin, Sultan of Selangor and King of Malaysia
- Natsume Soseki, foremost Japanese novelist of the Meiji Era.
- Saira Shah, journalist and film maker
- Romila Thapar, historian of India
- Thomas Trautmann, historian of India
- Than Tun, historian of Burma
- Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, Governor of Hong Kong
- William Montgomery Watt, "a legendary figure among Islamic scholars" (GUARDIAN OBITUARIES PAGES; Pg. 39)
- Fatima Bhutto, Pakistani author and Grand-daughter of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
 Notable members of staff
- Arthur Llewellyn Basham
- Mary Boyce
- Colin Bundy
- Patricia Crone
- Wendy Doniger
- J. R. Firth
- Gerald Hawting
- Alfred Guillaume
- Reginald Johnston
- Ann Lambton
- David Marshall Lang
- Bernard Lewis
- Vladimir Minorsky
- Roland Oliver
- Xiao Qian
- William Radice
- Ralph Russell
- Lao She
- Charles R. H. Tripp
- A. S. Tritton
- Edward Ullendorff
- Arthur Waley
- John Wansbrough
- Richard O. Winstedt
 External links
- School of Oriental and African Studies website
- Guardian 2005 League Table
- "The origins of SOAS as a colonial institution, training district" by John Game
- SOAS Student Union website
|Recognized bodies of the University of London|
Birkbeck | Courtauld Institute of Art | Central School of Speech and Drama | Goldsmiths | Heythrop | Imperial | Institute of Cancer Research | Institute of Education | King's | London Business School | LSE | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Queen Mary | Royal Academy of Music | Royal Holloway | Royal Veterinary College | St George's | SOAS | School of Pharmacy | UCL
|The 1994 Group (of smaller British research universities)|
| Bath | Birkbeck | Durham | East Anglia | Essex | Exeter | Goldsmiths College | Lancaster | Leicester | Loughborough | Queen Mary | Reading | Royal Holloway ||
School of Oriental and African Studies | St Andrews | Surrey | Sussex | Warwick* | York
|* Also a member of the Russell Group|