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Department of Politics and International Studies

Key Facts

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Our Strengths

The Department’s academic staff are leading and highly-regarded scholars in their fields and most have knowledge of one or more languages of their regions of interest, in addition to their disciplinary specialism. 

Staff members conduct cutting-edge research on the politics of the Global South, with expertise in nationalism, urban politics, political violence, security, migration and diaspora mobilization, Islamic political and intellectual history, transitional justice, politics of multiculturalism, international relations theory, gender, comparative political economy, human rights, and the study of ideologies.

Our Publications

Award-winning books

Making Tea, Making Japan by Kristin Surak, Time in the Shadows by Laleh Khalili, Keepers of the Flame by Stephen Hopgood

Editorship of major book series

Cambridge Middle East Studies and The Global Middle East, a new Cambridge University Press book series co-edited by Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam and Professor Ali Mirsepassi, New York University.

Facts and Figures

  • Excellent staff/student ratio
  • 500 students studying for various degrees (BA, Certificate, MSc and MPhil/PhD) in the Department
  • National Student Survey 2014/15: 96% student satisfaction with the overall quality of teaching, 98% of Politics students agreed that lecturers are good at explaining things and 95% said their courses were ‘intellectually stimulating’ 
  • Ranked 4th for the UK in the 2015 QS World University Rankings
  • Ranked 35th in the World in the 2015 QS World University Rankings
  • The department is currently ranked 13th in the UK on the Guardian university league tables for 2016
  • An outstanding and exciting research environment, with research clusters on Transitional Justice, Migration and Diaspora Politics, Comparative Political Thought, Violence and Memory, the Politics of Energy Security, and the Politics of Space 
  • A thriving research culture, with Seminar Series, Annual MPhil Graduate Conference, Cluster Workshops, and PhD Seminars
  • In the 2014 REF, the Department ranked 9th for Research Impact and 18th for world-leading research
Research Centres:

Undergraduate Student Profile

Joe Buckley: BA Politics

I came to SOAS because I wanted to gain a detailed insight into the politics and political systems of the developing world, but I’ve got so much more than that

Joe Buckley, BA Politics
Read Joe's full profile

Contact Us


For Undergraduate queries: ugpolitics@soas.ac.uk

For Postgraduate queries: pgpolitics@soas.ac.uk



Our Head of Department says

Mark Laffey

Teaching and research in the Department is distinguished by a critical approach to the study of the politics of the Global South. SOAS Politics programmes are unique in their engagement with the developments and realities of African, Asian and Middle Eastern domestic and international politics, while also offering innovative and challenging perspectives for understanding these realities.   Our courses provide students with solid grounding in the discipline of Politics and International Relations combined with research-led teaching on different aspects of politics in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In the wide-range of courses taught on the Politics degrees, students pursue in-depth study of such timely and salient topics as the political economies of China, Japan, Korea, and India, the politics of the Arab Uprisings in Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia, and the politics of justice and reconciliation in Africa. One of the Department’s key strengths lies in fostering a supportive learning and teaching environment for its students.

Dr Mark Laffey, Senior Lecturer in International Politics

Advocating local justice systems after conflict

A gacaca community court hearing in Rwanda. Photo: Public Radio International
Through his research on post-conflict accountability and reconciliation Dr Phil Clark, Reader in Comparative and International Politics, challenges the suitability of international judicial processes in Central Africa. Controversially, he has questioned the practices of the International Criminal Court, human rights groups and UN agencies, championing instead local, community-based practices which hold both high- and lower-level actors accountable. His work promoting forgiveness and enabling communities to heal themselves has drawn attention from governments and international agencies alike. Read more...

Postgraduate Student Profile

Osman Diallo

SOAS is renowned worldwide for its academic excellence and friendly atmosphere, as well as its focus on Asia, Africa and Middle East. Given my passion for development in Africa and the regional focus of my studies, there was only one place that could offer me what I wanted – and that is SOAS.

Osman Diallo, MSc State, Society and Development
Read Osman's full profile


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