SOAS University of London

SOAS Library

Collection Development Policy - Religions

  • Context
  • Collection
  • Coverage
  • E-Rsources
  • Future

Context

1. The Department of the Study of Religions

The study of religions has been a major part of teaching and research at SOAS since the School was founded. Students can explore a wide range of religious traditions from across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and study comparative religions and contemporary faiths.

The department offers undergraduate, MA and MPhil / PhD programmes.

The department has 13.85 FTE academic staff, 145.3 FTE students, including 101.8 undergraduates, 23.5 taught postgraduates and 20 research students.

For more information see:

2. Centres

2.1 Centre for Jewish Studies
  • The Centre aims to promote Jewish and Israeli Studies through scholarship, teaching, book launches, workshops, public events, conferences and symposia, debate and discussion
  • It seeks to research and communicate the Jewish experience and raise the profile of Jewish and Israeli studies at SOAS
  • For more information see Centre for Jewish Studies
2.2 Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions
  • The Centre aims to promote the academic study of Japanese religions past and present.
  • It hosts a regular seminar series and a post-graduate discussion group, the Japanese Religions Forum, as well as international workshops and conferences.
  • For more information see Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions (CSJR)
2.3 Centre of Buddhist Studies
  • The Centre aims to encourage and promote academic research and publication in the field of Buddhist Studies and to expand postgraduate research in the topic
  • It holds regular seminar series, and internal, national and international workshops relating to Buddhism
  • For more information see Centre of Buddhist Studies
2.4 Centre of Eastern and Orthodox Christianity
  • The Centre focuses  principally on the study the Diophysite Church of the East as well as the Miaphysite churches (Syrian Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church, Coptic Orthodox Church and Ethiopian Orhtodox Church) and on the promotion of teaching, research and study of these churches for the staff and students of SOAS and scholars from other institutions
  • For more information see Centre of Eastern and Orthodox Christianity
2.5 Centre of Gender and Religions Research
  • The Centre hosts a bi-monthly research seminar, runs special-interest and reading groups, offers courses in the area of gender theory and the study of religions, organises conferences, and undertakes research projects.
  • For more information see Centre for Gender and Religion Research
2.6 Centre of Islamic Studies
  • The Centre aims to promote scholarship and research in all areas of Islamic Studies, past and present.
  • Core activities include the study of the Qur’an and Hadith from the Arabic texts, and the analysis and translation of Islamic texts from Arabic into English
  • The Centre also deals with Islamic thought in European, African and Asian languages and promotes the study of Islamic culture and relations between Muslims and the wider world.
  • For more information see Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS)
2.7 Centre of Jaina Studies
  • The Centre aims to  promote the study of Jaina religion and culture by providing an interdisciplinary platform for academic research, teaching and publication in the field of Jaina Studies.
  • For more information see Centre of Jaina Studies

Collection

3. History

  • The study of religion has been of a major importance at SOAS since the foundation of the School
  • The Library has actively built up collections on the Study of Religions relating to Asia, Africa and the Middle East within its regional collections
  • The Library has supported course reading lists and selectively purchased material on general, regional or global aspects, and on the discipline of the Study of Religions

4. Languages  

  • Some European languages, especially English, for general, cross-regional or global aspects of the discipline
  • Some European languages, especially English, for material on the study of religions in specific countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East
  • Also the languages of Asia, Africa and the Middle East for material on the study of religions in countries in these regions
  • See General Collection Development Policy

5. Classification

Print material on general, cross-regional or global aspects and on the discipline of the Study of Religions is classified using the Dewey Decimal Classification.

All books are prefixed using the following:

  • All main books are prefixed “A”
  • Large books are prefixed "LA"
  • Reference books are prefixed "Ref A"
  • Large reference books are prefixed "L Ref A"
  • Print material relating to Asia, Africa and the Middle East is mostly classified using the Dewey Decimal Classification (with various letter prefixes), but in some regional collections alternative classification schemes are in use [see specific regions for details]. The exceptions are Islam and Muslims (classmark N) and Judaism (classmark QO296).
  • For religious art, see the Art and Archaeology subject statement

6. Special Collections

The Archives and Special Collections at SOAS holds a great many collections of documents, manuscripts and historic archives that are highly relevant to the study of religions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

For more information see Archives

Other special collections in the Library include:

  • Vernacular language material, including sacred texts, both in original languages and in translation.
  • Islamic Law collection
  • Collections on traditional and customary law

Coverage

Within the School, the Library supports the teaching and research needs of:

Teaching

The Library aims to collect material to a teaching level for all courses taught within the Department of the Study of Religions and the Regional and Departmental Centres

Research

The collection aims to collect material to a research level for all the subject areas detailed in section 8 below:

8. Detailed Structure

The main thematic/regional subject areas of collecting for the Politics and International Studies Department are detailed below (based on the Conspectus Level). For details on the Conspectus Level see Collection Development Policy

8.1 Thematic and Interdisciplinary Subjects 
  • Anthropology of religion
  • Comparative religions
  • Death (anthropological, sociological and theological aspects)
  • History of religions
  • Missions and missionaries (including their work in Africa, China and the South Pacific)
  • Mysticism
  • "New Age" religion and cults
  • Non-violence
  • Philosophy and theory of religions (including critical theory, and Gramsci's philosophy)
  • Religious art and iconography (including Buddhist, East Asian and Jewish traditions)
  • Religious mythology and mythography
  • Ritual studies (including African, Buddhist and Japanese traditions)
  • Sociology of religion
    • Mind and body
    • Oral history
    • Religion and health
    • Religious and spiritual autobiography
    • Religious topography
    • Representations of the Holocaust
  • Colonialism and religion
  • Monasticism (Buddhist and Eastern Christian)
  • Pentecostalism (as a global religion)
  • Yoga and yogic traditions
8.2 Africa
  • Africa (whole region)
  • Christianity
  • Indigenous tribal religion
  • Judaism
  • Maghreb region
  • Missions and missionaries
  • Christianity (including Pentecostalism and Charismatic churches)
  • Religious art
    • Christian (Byzantine)
    • Indigeneous art forms
8.3 Ancient Near East
  • Cultic topography
  • Mythologies (including gods and goddesses)
  • Rites and rituals
  • Sacred texts
  • Witchcraft (and associated rituals)
8.4 Buddhism
  • China
  • Central Asia
  • Doctrines
  • India
  • Pali texts
  • Sacred texts and writings
  • Shan (Burma / Thailand)
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Tibet
  • Tibetan Buddhist practices elsewhere
  • Women in Buddhism
  • Cosmology
  • Historiography
  • Monasticism
  • Buddhist philosophy
8.5 Central Asia
  • Central Asia
    • Buddhism
      • Tibetan Buddhist texts
    • Christianity
      • Syriac Christianity
    • Islam
      • Qur'an and religious education in Central Asia
    • Manichaeism
    • Shamanism
    • Sufism
  • Armenia
    • History and Patristics of the Armenian church
    • Armenian-Syriac, Armenian-Byzantine relations
    • Christianity (Orthodox)
      • Christians under Islamic rule
8.6 Christianity
  • Africa
    • Art [Byzantine]
  • Central Asia
  • China
  • India (South)
  • Iraq (especially in Turfan)
  • Islamic countries
8.7 Christianity (Eastern)
  • Aramaic-speaking Christian communities
  • Armenian Orthodox Church
    • Art [Byzantine]
  • Byzantine Church
  • Coptic Church
  • Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches
  • Syriac Church (especially in Turfan, Iraq)
  • Literatures of all the above
  • Monastic traditions of all the above
8.8 China & Inner Asia
  • Buddhism and Buddhist canons
  • Christianity
  • Confucianism
  • Islam
  • Daoism
  • Early Chinese religions
  • Ideological history
  • Manichaeism
  • Missions and missionaries
  • Mysticism
  • Narcotic practices
  • Popular religions
  • Religious art and iconography (Buddhist & Islamic)
  • Religious mythology and mythography
  • Ritual studies
  • Sacred texts
  • Shamanism (with special reference to Manchuria)
  • Sociology of religion
8.9 Islam
  • Islam and the Qur'an (translations and commentaries)
  • Islam and Islamic philosophy
  • Islam and Secularism
  • Secularism in Turkey
  • Islamic art
  • Islamic law
  • Islamic theology
  • Jihad
  • Kalam and Fiqh
  • Medieval Islamic theology
  • Modern Islamic scholarship, especially Tafsir and Fatwas
  • Messianic movements (Baba & Bah'ai)
  • Qur'anic studies
  • The Qur'an: language, style and translations in English
  • Relations between Islam and other religions
  • Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt
  • Muslims in Europe and other Western countries
  • Islam in Central Asia
  • Islam in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Java)
  • Sufism and mysticism
  • Sufism and secularism under the Ottomans
  • Sufi movements in Turkey
  • Comparisons between the Eastern Christian and Islamic tradition, esp. mystical
  • sources (Sufism) in 6th century Syriac and Arabic sources
8.10 Japan & Korea
  • Anthropology of religion
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
  • Comparative religions
  • Death (anthropological, sociological and theological aspects)
  • History of religions
  • "New Age" religion and cults
  • Philosophy and theory of religions
    • Popular religions
  • Religious art and iconography
  • Ritual studies
    • Shinto
  • Sociology of religion
8.11 Judaism
  • Ancient Judaism
  • Aramaic-speaking Jewish communities
  • Art
  • Judaizing movements (in India and Africa)
  • Music
  • Rabbinic anthropology
  • Rites and traditions
  • Sacred texts
  • Theology and ethics
  • Traditions and rites
  • Jewish philosophy
8.12 Non-Islamic faiths of the Middle East
  • Non-Chalcedonian churches (Iraq)
  • Mandaeans
  • Manichaeism
  • Zoroastrianism (and Mithraism)
8.13 Religious Art
  • Buddhist
  • Christian[Byzantine]
  • Hindu
  • Islamic
  • Jewish
  • Other indigenous religious art forms
8.14 South Asia
  • Anthropology of religion
  • Buddhism
    • Early Buddhism
    •  Mahayana
    • Yogavacara
    •  Buddhist sacred texts and scriptures
  • Christianity (especially in South India)
  • Hindu mythology
  • Islam (general)
  • Jainism (general)
  • Judaism
  • Parsis (Gujarat)
  • Religious art and iconography (Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic)
  • Ritual studies
  • Sanskrit texts, translations and commentaries
  • Sikhism
  • Sufism
  • Tamil Nadu (general)
  • Vedic texts and languages
  • Zoroastrianism
8.15 Southeast Asia
  • Animism
  • Anthropology of religion
  • Buddhism (including Shan)
  • Brunei (general)
  • Christianity
  • Confucianism
  • Folk beliefs
  • Gender and religion (island Southeast Asia)
  • Hinduism
  • Inter-faith relations
  • Islam (especially Indonesia and Java)
  • Islamic law (from a South East Asian perspective)
  • Malay and Indonesian manuscript cultures
  • Malaysia (general)
  • Missions and missionaries (especially Pacific Islands)
  • Religions and politics
  • Religious art and iconography (Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic)
  • Singapore (general)
  • Sociology of religion
  • Thailand (general)
8.16 Tibet
  • Buddhism
  • Other religions

For details on the following subject areas, see the relevant subject statements

E-Rsources

9. Major Databases

General Databases
  • Academic Search Premier (EBSCOHost)
  • Cambridge Books Online (e-books)
  • Cambridge Journals Online
  • Dawsonera (e-books)
  • EBSCOHost
  • Index to Theses  
  • InformaWorld
  • IngentaConnect
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS)
  • ISI Web of Science / Knowledge  
  • JSTOR
  • Oxford Journals Online
  • Oxford Reference Online
  • Periodicals Archive Online
  • Project MUSE
  • Sage Journals Online
  • Wiley Online Library
  • WorldCat
  • Zetoc
Regional / Faith related Databases
  • Africa Wide Information
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies
  • Brill Online  
  • Gale Online Reference Library (Encyclopedia of Religion and Encyclopedia of Buddhism)  
  • Index Islamicus (via EBSCOHost)
  • Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies (MECAS) (via EBSCOHost)
  • Oxford Bibliographies Online (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam)  
  • Oxford Islamic Studies

10. Online Subject Guide

For more information and online resources see Subject guide for Religions

For regional specific databases see Subject Statements

For other databases SOAS subscribes to see A-Z databases list

Future

11. Trends for the Future

Move towards more online full-text resources where possible and appropriate:

  • As the national collection for Asian, African and Middle Eastern studies the Library  seeks to retain one print copy of selected scholarly titles and also provide electronic access to these materials (e-journals, databases, e-books &c.), where available
  • For subjects of a theoretical, general or non-regional nature the electronic version (e-journals, databases, e-books &c.) is favoured