SOAS University of London

SOAS in world top three for supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal ‘Peace Justice and Strong Institutions’ in new THE rankings

3 April 2019

In the new 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings SOAS University of London has been ranked third in the world for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”.

Times Higher Education has developed the new University Impact Ranking to capture universities’ impact on society, based on institutions’ success in delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos CH, former Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the UN, said: “At SOAS we have always known that our research and scholarship has tremendous impact globally. But before now there hasn’t been a systemic way of recognising it. I am delighted that the depth and range of our impact is finally being recognised. We seek to ask and answer some of the challenging questions facing us as a world today.”

SOAS is also ranked joint 33rd in the world for the SDG “decent work and economic growth”, 66th for SDG “Reduced Inequalities”, joint 70th for SDG “Gender Equality” and 88th in the world in the overall impact ranking based on a range of SDGs.


Image: A gacaca community court hearing in Rwanda. Dr Phil Clark's research examines the model of community-based Rwandan conflict resolution, the ‘gacaca’ justice system. Photo: Public Radio International

The ranking considers research at SOAS including the Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme led by Professor Mushtaq Khan, Dr Phil Clark’s work on transitional justice and peace building, the Global Research Network on Parliaments and People led by Professor Emma Crewe, Professor Jonathan Goodhand's work addressing how war economies can be transformed into peace economies in regions experiencing, or recovering, from armed conflict, Dr Dan Plesch's work with the Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP) initiative which has helped the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs craft the plan on disarmament and Professor Philippe Cullet's work in drafting the National Water Framework bill for India. 

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are designed for research-intensive global universities and are dominated by indicators of research excellence. It provides a showcase for the impact of work being delivered by universities in communities, and it is an opportunity to shine a light on institutional activities and efforts not covered in other rankings. 

SOAS offers a range of degree programmes related to sustainable development:

The SOAS Department of Development Studies is distinguished by its critical and engaged approach to international development, understanding social and economic change, and the impact of such change on affected communities, development actors and governments. Scholars in the department research and teach a diverse range of issues including Fairtrade, the effects of drugs on war time economics and gender and the garment industry. Since 2000, the department has run one of the largest MSc programmes in the school, the globally pioneering MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development. It has also run the annual residential school on governance and development for 12 years, part of the Governance for Development in Africa programme in collaboration with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

The SOAS Department of Economics is a leading centre for economics research. Its vibrant research culture is driven by staff working on issues such as gender inequality, the economics of climate change and economics of sustainable business. The department specialises in the study of developing and emerging economies and the work covers an unparalleled range of regions from Sub-Saharan Africa to Japan and South Asia.

The Department of Politics and International Studies is distinguished by a critical approach to the study of the politics of the Global South. SOAS Politics programmes engage with developments in African, Asian and Middle Eastern domestic and international politics, and their relationship to countries in the West. Programmes include taught masters in the Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice and MSc State, Society and Development.

The Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy through varied degree programmes and course offerings, as well a range of extra-curricular activities has developed policy impact research programmes for the SDGs. These include work on a new paradigm for effective war crimes prosecutions, enabling women and girls' education, enhancing sport diplomacy for development, and energising the global disarmament agenda. CISD has also contributed to widening social and geographic participation in Higher Education through online Masters programmes. CISD has been decolonising the diplomatic history of feminism and forefronting powerful southern role models, notably the Brazilian Dr Bertha Lutz with CISD students giving TED talks and UN Library presentations on the subject. As part of the SCRAP project, CISD students and staff have also developed a global disarmament treaty with an expert advisory board that was introduced this February at the UN. 

The School of Law’s research influences public and policy debate, legal practice and public understanding of social and legal issues. The School’s wide thematic and regional expertise makes a significant impact on a non-academic bodies and individuals in the UK and in our specialist regions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The School’s work addresses justice, including International Criminal Law, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, transitional justice, institutional reform, law and development, climate change and the environment.