SOAS soars in latest rankings for research excellence

12 May 2022

More than half of disciplines at SOAS are now in the top ten for universities following the latest Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF) assessments and overall 87% of our research submitted in the REF was ranked world leading or internationally excellent.

The results show SOAS continues to rise up the rankings across Britain’s best universities particularly in research related to Law, Anthropology and Music.

This follows news of SOAS featuring in the Top 50 universities in the world for addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022, where Development Studies ranked 2nd in the world.

The REF is an audit of the research activity of universities in the UK higher education sector and assesses the strength of the research output, the economic and social impact of research carried out at that university and the quality of the research environment.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Law - 1st in the country for the publications produced by the department and 6th overall.
  • Anthropology - 2nd amongst Anthropology departments across the country and ranked 4th overall, combined with Development Studies.
  • Music - 1st research impact and department ranked 3rd
  • History of Art - 1st for research environment and 6th overall
  • Finance and Management - 2nd for research impact, Finance and Management has moved up 22 places from 24th in REF2014 to 2nd place in REF2021 and is now placed at the top of the 1st quartile
  • Religious Studies and Theology - 3rd for research outputs, 7th overall

Art and Design, Theology and Religious Studies, Area Studies, and Modern Languages and Linguistics all figured in the top 10; all demonstrated areas of assessment that showed SOAS research makes a difference in the world.

Politics and Communications, Cultural and Media Studies, and Library and Information Management all featured in the top 20.

Reacting to the news the Chair of the Board of Trustees Lord Michael Hastings said: “As a small specialist institution, SOAS continues to make a big impact and demonstrates the ways in which it continues to fulfill its important mission - to inform and shape current thinking about the economic, political, cultural, security and religious challenges of our world. My congratulations to all those who were involved.”

The Director of SOAS Professor Adam Habib added: “This overall performance is truly impressive. Our performance is substantially above our 2014 performance and even slightly above our 2008 performance. This is an excellent result and one which will continue to contribute towards our vision to build a research-intensive university which is world-class but also responsive to the marginalized communities of our world.”

The Pro Director of Research and Enterprise Professor Andrea Cornwall commented: "Today’s results are an affirmation of the huge collective effort that the REF represents. They’re fabulous. Our small Law department, with its specialist expertise in Africa, Asia and the Middle East topping the entire country for the quality of its outputs. Our Anthropology department soaring to 2nd with case studies of challenging caste discrimination and deepening democracy. Our Music department rated at first in the country for impact – as one colleague put it, ‘it proves that the impact that takes place working with small groups of marginalised people in other parts of the world can be judged as significant as a big concert in the Albert Hall’. And so much more to celebrate. It’s a wonderful testament to our world-changing SOAS research. Kudos SOASians, we’ve shown we can do it and that we rise again!”

You can read more about SOAS research and the difference it makes on the world on our website .