SOAS University of London

Facts and figures

satisfaction for teaching and 94% satisfaction overall (NSS 2016) from our History undergraduates
satisfaction for teaching (NSS 2016) and 90% in the Guardian University Guide 2018 from our Religions and Philosophies undergraduates


  • Has a rich research environment and is the only UK history department devoted to Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Religions and Philosophies
  • MPhil/PhD enrolment amongst the strongest in the country, research community of close to 50 doctoral students
  • Ranked 3rd nationally for research outputs (REF 2021)
  • Ranked 7th nationally in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, with 85% of work submitted to the panel graded 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
  • Top 15 for research impact (REF 2021)
  • Research Centres: Buddhist StudiesWorld ChristianityJaina StudiesStudy of Japanese Religions 


  • 35th in the world and 8th in the UK (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018)
  • 8th for staff-student ratio (Complete University Guide 2018)
  • 14th overall in the UK (Guardian Good University Guide 2018)
  • UK Applicant/Place Ratio 3:1
  • Number of Staff: 19 academic, 1 teaching and scholarship, 24 teaching and scholarship (fractional)
Religions and Philosophies
  • Small class sizes: currently 120 undergraduate students, 30-40 new Masters students per year
  • Ranked 17th in UK (Guardian University Guide 2018)
  • 19th in the world and 5th in the UK (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018)

Alumni and student stories

  • "SOAS is more than a university, it is a lifestyle. Every moment I spent at SOAS was a memory and every memory at SOAS was unforgettable."

    Through my SOAS experience, I have realised that as long as I am eager to learn, I don’t have any limits.

  • "At SOAS, I have learnt how to read a variety of texts critically and analytically and then to write about them in engaging ways."

    I have chosen this University as my first choice because of valuable scholarly resources and well-known reputation of the highly qualified education. Its library is incomparable and literally attracting scholars from all around the globe.

  • "The passion of the staff and the students is almost palpable."

    Like a jigsaw puzzle, everyone has a place here at SOAS; fitting together to make this wonderful university wonderful.

  • "It’s important to remember that your time here is limited and that you should take advantage of all of the opportunities that this experience has to offer, whether it’s meeting new people, wandering the streets, visiting a museum, or travelling to new countries."

    The best advice I can give is to just dive into the experience without any hesitation. Going into my study abroad experience, I didn’t expect to travel to Morocco and have the opportunity to see Roman ruins or eat chip butties (chips on a bun with sauce), but I did.

  • "The teaching has been passionate and engaging with a level of expertise hard to find elsewhere."

    Studying history at SOAS has been an immersive experience unlike any other. The teaching has been passionate and engaging with a level of expertise hard to find elsewhere. It has encouraged us to constantly challenge the dominant narratives and developed our critical faculties. The student body is diverse and this adds to the discussions and perspectives in the classroom, enriching the learning environment.

  • "I came to study at SOAS because of its good reputation in Mandarin Chinese."

    If I were to describe SOAS in one sentence it would say that you will hear at least six different languages on the same day while you casually walk through the corridors of the university.

  • "Studying history at SOAS has been a life-changing experience."

    SOAS is unique but incredibly inclusive. Everyone fits in somewhere, and your perspective is valued by fellow students and lecturers, who are all eager to absorb what you have to say.

  • "The unparalleled opportunity to focus on the history of certain world regions instantly made SOAS my first university choice."

    SOAS's history department also attracted me because of their continued recognition for staff-student ratio and the high quality research that is carried out in the department.

  • "The academics teaching my history course have been fantastic."

    One of the biggest privileges I have found studying in the UK is the freedom to research the topics I choose; a situation, which is not always a guaranteed right in other countries.

  • "The degree program is quite challenging and stimulating and makes me constantly reassess my preconceptions and look at issues from points of view that I had never considered before and I’m developing my skills."

    The courses at SOAS are highly specialised which makes it a unique institution in the world and it’s a privilege to be studying here. SOAS has been an experience that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

  • "My experience here of studying Buddhism and Taoism was highly inspiring"

    You might not be able to find a department dedicated to your major... However, because SOAS has many courses that are interdisciplinary, you also might be able to find courses of your interests. For example, for SOAS does not have a dedicated philosophy department, I, a philosophy major, looked for courses in other departments that cover philosophical discourses. My experience here of studying Buddhism and Taoism was highly inspiring.

  • "Studying Buddhism at SOAS is certainly an enjoyable journey full of enlightenment and encouragement."

    From Indian Buddhism to Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, the diversity of the courses perfectly fitted my interests in Buddhism.

  • "SOAS is all about the people! If ever I get frustrated with my studies I remember that I have met some of the most brilliant, funny and inspiring people through being here."

    I chose SOAS over any other university because of the languages available to be studied here. At the time I was in Sri Lanka learning Sinhala and I had to make a decision about where I wanted to go. SOAS was the only place in the UK where I could continue learning such an obscure language!

  • "The Study of Religions department offers the perfect combination of unparalleled breadth of modules with excellent teaching by leading academics. "

    I wanted to be able to study in detail several diverse religious traditions side-by-side, from sociological and historical perspectives as well as theological. The SOAS course has proved ideal in this.

  • "Thanks to my studies at SOAS I attended the Parliament of World Religions and was very involved in organising the G20 Interfaith Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2015."

    Thanks to my studies at SOAS I attended the Parliament of World Religions and was very involved in organising the G20 Interfaith Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2015.

  • "I would describe my time at SOAS as some of the happiest years of my life. "

    The Department of the Study of Religions is the perfect place to do my PhD which traces ideas about asceticism in one of the early Buddhist schools in Ancient India. Backed up by contact with people from Languages and Cultures, I couldn't ask for a more supportive environment.

  • "Above all, what really makes the whole experience of studying in the program so enriching is the quality teaching. It is the people that make SOAS a world-class academic institution."

    SOAS is both very established and prestigious but also always current and fresh. Its regional focus builds on itself through the years of surveying and engaging in the cultural, economic and social landscape as our world becomes increasingly interwoven and intimate.

  • "The multilingual culture and great diversity at SOAS makes it a unique place to study. "

    The MA programme Religions of Asia and Africa (Buddhism pathway) has offered me a good opportunity to explore the Buddhist traditions in various forms and contexts. In this course, I have been able develop an in-depth understanding of the subject and necessary research methodologies.

  • "The course has been beautifully structured so that all the modules interlink and complement each other."

    I've also loved being part of the lively community that is SOAS; there's a buzz you can feel as soon as you walk through the doors. I've enjoyed the free world music concerts in the Brunei Gallery lecture theatre, or just sitting in the JCR with a cup of tea, hearing snatches of debate in many languages, and reading the posters and pamphlets for every possible political cause. SOAS is a stimulating place to be, both inside and outside the classroom, and I'm happy that I now have a lifelong connection to this unique institution.

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