SOAS University of London

SOAS Centenary

100 years of SOAS

SOAS University of London celebrates its centenary in 2016-17.Our key anniversary dates are:

  • 5 June 1916 - the School (of Oriental Studies) receives its Royal Charter
  • 18 January 1917 - the first students are admitted
  • 23 February 1917 - the School is formally opened by the King Emperor George V

The SOAS story

SOAS was founded as the School of Oriental Studies. Over the last century we have built a strong academic reputation throughout the world and especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. To find out about the people and events that have made the School what it is today, explore the Centenary Timeline and the Centenary Blog and visit our alumni profiles

Planning our future

SOAS's centenary goal is to deepen our impact on Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Phenomenal economic growth in China and India, political upheaval in the Middle East, the burgeoning middle classes of Africa – our world class scholars are well-placed to provide the analysis and understanding of our rapidly changing world. Our new courses, such as BA International Relations and BA English are examples of the constant innovation we bring to our teaching programmes in order to equip and inform today’s and tomorrow’s global citizens and institutions.

Paul Webley Wing, Senate House

The entrance to Paul Webley Wing,  Senate House

As SOAS embarks on its second century, it will offer state of the art research, teaching and student provision, all in one precinct. It will ensure the future of SOAS as a top university which offers a unique resource for a complex world, and an institution of which our alumni can remain truly proud. 

Centenary research themes

A displaced man in Somaliland

Our five centenary research themes frame the School’s key aspirations for its future research.

  • Global voices
  • Heritage of humanity
  • Global interactions
  • Sharing a small planet
  • Global diplomacy and governance

Read more about our centenary research themes...

Shunga - a major exhibition of Japanese Art at the British Museum

Marking our centenary

Our centenary year runs from June 2016 to July 2017. A year of exciting events and activities with our world-wide community will mark our achievements of the last hundred years and chart our future course as a scholarly resource of global relevance, guardian of specialist knowledge and champion of the issues that matter in the regions that matter in the 21st century. 

Get involved

Be a part of the SOAS centenary celebrations

A chance to reflect

'I hope that all who support SOAS - and those who, as yet, don’t - will realise how fortunate we are to have such an institution in our midst. Understanding the world is just as worthy of our resources as defending ourselves against enemies – enemies we might not have made if we’d had a little more understanding in the first place.' Michael Palin, Honorary Fellow

Contact the Centenary team

SOAS Centenary Blog