SOAS University of London

Facts and figures

rank in London in the Complete University Guide 2021 for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and 6th in the UK
rank in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2021 for South Asian Studies


  • Excellent staff/student ratio and small class sizes
  • UK Top 10 for Modern Languages (QS World University Rankings 2021)
  • 1st in London and 6th in the UK for Middle Eastern and African Studies in the Complete University Guide 2021
  • ranked 1st in London and 6th in the UK (Complete University Guide 2021)
  • SOAS is the only university in the UK where you can learn a major sub-Saharan language (eg Swahili), combined with more general (African) culture/language studies as part of a BA degree
  • 94% Teaching 94% Overall Satisfaction 88% Learning Resources - NSS 2016
Middle East
  • ranked 1st in London and 6th in the UK (Complete University Guide 2021)
  • 94% satisfaction for teaching (NSS 2016); 94% overall student satisfaction (NSS 2016). 
South Asia
  • ranked 7th in the UK (Complete University Guide 2021)
  • 86% satisfaction for teaching and 86% for learning resources in the NSS 2016.
South East Asia
  • UG Applicant/Place Ratio 5:1
  • 86% satisfaction for teaching and 86% for learning resources - NSS 2016
  • UK Top 10 (QS World University Rankings 2021) 
  • 93% for quality of learning resources (NSS 2016)


  • Our research draws heavily upon the resources of SOAS’ world-renowned Library and its extensive Africa, Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia collections, as well as all the institutions, galleries and resources on our doorstep throughout London. Members of the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics are engaged in world leading research funded by a range of prestigious funding agencies.

  • Modern Languages and Linguistics at SOAS has been ranked 10th in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.
  • Linguistics:  8th nationally for our research output of world-leading quality and ranked 4th for the vitality of our research environment (REF 2021).
    Current major research projects include the Leverhulme Trust funded project Morphosyntactic variation in Bantu: Typology, contact and change led by Professor Lutz Marten;  Engaged humanities in Europe (ENGHUM), a collaborative capacity building project for participatory research in linguistic-cultural heritage funded by EU Horizon2020 Twinning initiative and led at SOAS by Dr. Julia Sallabank; and Prominent Possessors, a project on linguistic typology funded by AHRC and led by Professor Irina Nikolaeva.

  • Africa: Professor Friederike Lupke leads the Crossroads Project, a Leverhulme Trust funded project which investigates multilingualism and language contact between three languages spoken in the Casamance area of Senegal.

  • Middle East:  Members of staff have been awarded major grants by funding bodies such as the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust.

  • South Asia – Recent large grants include Dr James Mallinson’s European Research Council grant for the Hatha Yoga Project, which will map the history of physical yoga practices using philology and ethnography, and an AHRC funded project led by Professor Mike Hutt to explore the impact of the 2016 Nepal earthquakes on Nepali Society.

  • South East Asia: Rachel Harrison has recently been awarded a grant of £200,000 from the AHRC in conjunction with the MRC to conduct research on the Cultural Contexts of Disease Prevention: The Case of Cholangiocarcinoma in Mainland Southeast Asia. The 18-month project includes Co-Is from the medical faculty of Khon Kaen University in Thailand, together with Imperial College London and the National University of Singapore.

  • CCLPS – Professor Francesca Orsini currently leads a European research Council funded project (€2.5 million) to study world literature from the perspectives of multilingual societies.

Alumni and student stories

  • "To be here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can develop my academic skills and grow personally. My studies have been exciting and rewarding."

    Previously I just dreamed about SOAS. I had some lectures on Africa while studying Social Anthropology in Hungary, and I discovered that my professor had studied at SOAS. This made me work hard to join SOAS.

  • "SOAS provides students with plenty of flexibility to explore their talents and discover new ones"

    Being at SOAS is a privilege I have greatly appreciated academically as well as socially. It really is a gem that surfaces unheard voices and unseen faces

  • "There are numerous academic resources if you need support and even more social events. It seems every country in the world is represented in the UK, so it is a true global experience!"

    The exposure to different perspectives was more than I could have ever imagined in another developed, English speaking country. The progressive students and faculty at SOAS challenged assumptions I have developed from my experience.

  • "SOAS is a great school to have on your resumé. There is so much to see and experience in a multicultural city like London, you might not even want to leave. "

    One of the things I enjoyed the most was the size of the classes, as they are smaller than in Norway, and also the interaction between the students, and especially the interaction between professors and students.

  • "The Travelling Africa course took me on a journey across the African continent from Cape Town to Cairo, via Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and everywhere in between."

    The Travelling Africa course took me on a journey across the African continent from Cape Town to Cairo, via Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and everywhere in between.

  • "I knew as soon as I visited SOAS that it was the place for me."

    I’ve loved the central location of SOAS. Being able to stroll down to Soho for a coffee between lectures is amazing, and it makes you feel as though you are right in the middle of everything.

  • "My tutors approach their subjects from unconventional perspectives, always searching for the truth."

    Following my MA, I am looking forward to broadening my management consultancy work to Africa-related projects as well as speaking to empower young people in the areas of business and career.

  • "My main reason for coming to SOAS was that this was the only place where there was a specialist who could supervise my thesis."

    I enjoy the student atmosphere here. The Students’ Union bar and café is cozy and friendly and I’ve enjoyed getting involved in the knitting for peace club. Also I have been impressed by the array of specialists in the department of Linguistics.

  • "Studying linguistics at SOAS has opened my eyes to a whole world of languages which can sometimes be overlooked in a Western education"

    I think the variety at SOAS is one of its strongest aspects – simply being a student at SOAS has taught me a lot about cultures and has given me the opportunity to meet so many great people.

  • "I am extremely thankful that SOAS has given me the opportunity to learn about my heritage"

    It is a quirky university making it stand out from all the rest, being extremely culturally diverse and welcoming towards students from all backgrounds.

  • "London is city that offers a thing to everyone. Luckily, most of these “things” are available for free or at a low price if booked in advance. "

    My primary destination has always been SOAS, not London. But I somehow got attached to the crowded, and yet cosy, streets of London, with its tiny cafes and shops that take you on multicultural tours around the world.

  • "Being small and tight-knit, SOAS made further education seem less daunting and overwhelming."

    Not only did my professor’s passion for his subject really shine through but his class was brilliant enough for me to run between campuses so as not to miss a word.

  • "The SOAS course has provided me with the practical foundation to help me excel as a translator. "

    It was while working at the law firm that I first considered pursuing a career as a translator. I was drawn to the position because it allowed me to combine my interests in law and language.

  • "The insight provided, knowledge delivered and understanding transmitted during lectures, seminars and conferences at SOAS is impressive and requires real personal involvement in the topics."

    The insight provided, knowledge delivered and understanding transmitted during lectures, seminars and conferences at SOAS is impressive and requires real personal involvement in the topics.

  • "SOAS is a truly great institution that provides a stimulating learning environment with extensive resources and outstanding teaching staff."

    SOAS is a remarkable institution and I am happy to have chosen to study here. Students of the Middle East can really excel in their chosen fields and this year I have had the chance to study courses in the Politics and Media Studies Departments.

  • "I happily give to SOAS, my two courses and my lecturers my warmest recommendation."

    My training as a specialist in the Middle East and Subcontinent would be rather incomplete without these languages or a stay at SOAS!

  • "SOAS seemed the natural place to come, not only because of its fantastic location in the heart of London, but also because of its specialist focus and its diverse student body."

    I found my courses always challenging and intellectually stimulating, the lecturers first-rate and unceasing in their willingness to give their time and assistance, a library with a wonderful collection covering my research area.

  • "SOAS is truly a microcosm in the heart of London."

    Living and breathing SOAS ensures you not only see and understand the complexities of our global world, but that you actually feel it, realising that you and I are inextricably linked in every way. This organic awakening to holistically see infinitely complex global situations is something found nowhere else than SOAS.

  • "SOAS is situated in the heart of London, which as a global capital can offer you, if you try hard, anything you wish or fancy"

    What SOAS offers is the lectures with world-class academics, who give you not only a thorough knowledge on the subject, but also stimulate you for individual thinking and make you enjoy the course.

  • "The atmosphere at SOAS is incredibly stimulating, and learning in an environment with such a diverse group of engaged students has really made for a very unique learning experience."

    I had studied in an international school in India that focused a lot on extracurricular activities, and going to SOAS seemed like a natural continuation of my studies.

  • "SOAS is unlike most other places in the UK. It definitely has a unique feeling to it, being a relatively small university, and has a much friendlier atmosphere than larger more impersonal universities"

    One of the highlights of my course has been having the opportunity to study for one year at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. It was really daunting at first but there is no better way to learn a language than to totally immerse yourself in it and you learn all about the society and culture that you’re living in.

  • "To describe SOAS in one word: enriching!"

    The name says it all – it specialises in areas you wouldn’t normally be able to study elsewhere, and is truly an outstanding academic institution.

  • "University experience in SOAS is truly a colourful and unique experience. No other University comes close."

    Nothing can truly describe your own personal SOAS experience, but one thing I can say is that it will be something you will remember for a lifetime and learn from not only your classes, but through life experience while being here.

  • "From the moment I first stepped into the SOAS gates, I thought ‘wow this place is different’, with a big gulp in my throat."

    It’s a global experience and, thankfully, everyone is included, no matter what their colour, religion, or ‘class’.

  • "London is a phenomenal city to live in. On any given day there are plenty of things (free or cheap as well!) to do"

    I attended as many SOAS events as possible because it is the best way to meet non-study abroad students and interact with the community

  • "London is definitely an ideal place for a university student and I believe that the city prides itself on that"

    I personally never even had time to stay in my room. Whether it was spending time with the clubs I joined, going to Covent Garden and watching the street shows, or travelling around the rest of Europe, there was always something to do. It’s amazing how diverse the city is

  • "Despite the size of the city it’s also one that you can easily come to know and feel comfortable in."

    Academically studying at SOAS has been incredible.  At first I thought that getting to meet the big-name professors from my field would be the most enjoyable part of my experience but now I actually think it has been the other students.

  • "If you ever have this opportunity, don’t think twice!"

    I also really appreciated the contact between professors and students and the exchange of knowledge that is established. I loved the way professors made us understand that even them, had something to learn from us students.

  • "I met so many people from different countries, which was an unbelievable experience. Here you can find friends for a lifetime from all over the world and it definitely broadens your horizon."

    Here you have the possibility not only to read about other cultures, you can experience them.  Besides that, SOAS offers such a wide choice of exciting courses with interesting teachers, you will find nowhere else in the world and all that in the heart of London.

  • "Taking an MA in Turkish Studies at SOAS has been an incredibly rewarding experience. "

    Taking an MA in Turkish Studies at SOAS has been an incredibly rewarding experience. The programme offers a unique opportunity to study various aspects of Turkey, the Middle East and the wider Turkic world including Central Asia and the Caucasus. With areas as diverse as contemporary geopolitics, Ottoman and Turkish history as well as outstanding language learning opportunities available for study, nowhere else offers a more comprehensive course.

  • "The interdisciplinary approach of courses at SOAS made a huge impact on me. "

    SOAS is an institution that makes one not only think outside the box but also to question the box itself.

  • "SOAS was the obvious choice of place to study and the MA in Palestine Studies, taught by Palestinian, Israeli and British academics, fitted the bill."

    I have enjoyed the combination of lectures and seminars as well as the challenge of researching and writing half a dozen essays over the course of the year.

  • "The insight provided, knowledge delivered and understanding transmitted during lectures, seminars and conferences at SOAS is impressive and requires real personal involvement in the topics."

    The insight provided, knowledge delivered and understanding transmitted during lectures, seminars and conferences at SOAS is impressive and requires real personal involvement in the topics.

  • "The most lucrative resource has been the SOAS library which has an excellent South Asia collection"

    The most lucrative resource has been the SOAS library which has an excellent South Asia collection. Also, the central London location of SOAS means I never really go far for anything!

  • "My choice to study at SOAS was the best decision I ever made; being a student here is an exciting and unique experience."

    I have had the chance to read the most up to date, often controversial and revealing perspectives on South Asia, presented by leading academics who will often actually be members of the South Asia Department Faculty itself. My choice to study at SOAS was the best decision I ever made; being a student here is an exciting and unique experience.

  • "SOAS is the only institution in the UK to offer Nepali as a BA, and the opportunities to study the history of South Asia are unparalleled anywhere else"

    People come here to pursue things they’re passionate about and the sheer diversity of the student body is also another reason why school life is so fascinating

  • "I have always had an interest in the history, culture and religions of South Asia and having experienced Sanskrit as a language before it was a logical choice to pursue it as a degree at SOAS"

    I feel that the thorough and systematic teaching provided by SOAS has given me not only a good knowledge of Sanskrit but also skills in critical thought, linguistic and socio-political analysis and communication that will give me something unique to offer to a graduate employer.

  • "For the first time in my college career, I felt like I belonged to an intellectual community"

    At SOAS, my area of study is nothing unique, it’s quite normal, and I like being among people who know what I’m talking about and appreciate what I’m doing.

  • "I really enjoyed the language course. The teachers are amazing and give every student the attention they need. "

    I chose SOAS because of the reputation of the language courses. The South Asian languages that are offered at SOAS are the best option if you’re not able to go to the region. For the first time I was able to study Asia from an Asian perspective through Asian literature.

  • "The people are nice, the academics are inspiring, and the city is marvellous! Why would anyone not want to come?!"

    I liked how small my classes were, so that I was actually able to discuss things in small settings. I was humbled by how willing the professors were to talk to me about ideas and how eager they were to help in any way possible. The dedication they have to their students is inspiring.

  • "I will remember great and long-lasting discussions, helpful and open-minded people and teachers who have time for their students."

    I will remember great and long-lasting discussions, helpful and open-minded people and teachers who have time for their students.

  • "SEA is one of not many departments in the world where Thai cinema has been intensively taught and studied."

    The South East Asia (SEA) Department therefore becomes an ideal place to explore this particular topic as the department provides interesting courses in Thai cinema conducted by internationally prominent lecturers.

  • "SOAS encourages and motivates its student to believe in themselves, and that is exactly what I have done."

    Not only does SOAS offer a first class education with top scholars in the field, it also offers a great professional and social network. Upon graduation, my professional career path was wide opened. The SOAS experience has taught me to be a specialist in different fields, not only politics, but also development, gender and migration, and good governance.

  • "SOAS is surely the only place in Europe, if not the world, where students can build their own personalised degrees from such a diverse range of fields."

    I have enjoyed being on this programme because we have excellent staff who make it possible for students to pursue a broad range of interests in South East Asia.

  • "I am constantly impressed by the commitment of my fellow students at SOAS."

    I always maintained my early interest in South East Asia and hoped to return to SOAS one day, in order to complete my studies. The opportunity to do this occurred when I retired. I am now studying for an MA in South East Asian Studies.

  • "I was drawn to SOAS by its international outlook and its non-Eurocentric viewpoint."

    At SOAS there is a great breadth of events, lectures and film festivals to attend.

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