8 October 2020
SOAS is proud to be the leading institution in the UK for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. We retain extensive expertise in African studies and a very high concentration of scholars whose teaching and research focuses on Africa. SOAS teaches a range of African languages - many more than any other UK university - including a very strong programme in Swahili, and we believe that language study is essential for our academic success.
We’re in the process of developing an exciting new offer in Africa and its Diasporas which we’re hoping to launch next year, recognising the continuous dialogue between the continent and its multiple diasporas. This will allow us to reflect in our teaching the many contributions that African and African diaspora scholars have made to our understanding of the global issues of our times. In this, we are collaborating closely with African universities, promoting joint research and teaching, and developing new fundraising initiatives.
We have dozens of modules throughout our extensive portfolio that focus on Africa, including, Perspectives on African experience, Contemporary African literature, Ethnography of East Africa and many more. So unlike other institutions where Africa might still be taught as if it is a country rather than a continent, all of our students can pursue African Studies as part of their degrees, in all its geographical, linguistic and cultural diversity.
Over recent years we have found decreasing student numbers in our UG “area studies” degrees, not only in African Studies but also in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Middle Eastern Studies. As a response to this we have thought through quite thoroughly our offerings in this area and have designed the brand new UG programme BA Languages and Cultures.
We have very consciously not included a regional specification in the title of this new degree. This is a bold statement that studying an African or Asian language carries the same weight and value as studying a European languages - we wanted to break the dichotomy between 'language study' and 'world language study'.
Rather than 'othering' Africa and Asia, the degree claims centre stage, meaning that if you study Hindi or Swahili or Indonesian you're not studying some 'other', locally restricted Languages and Cultures degree, you're studying Languages and Cultures properly, like if you were doing European languages such as French and German.
Our new degree does offer named pathways within it including a specific African Studies pathway, - with specific language pathways being developed from this - there is lots of content related to Africa, and the new structure also allows us to put on modules like Decolonising Otherness which are relevant for all our students across different regional interests.
We want to continue to ensure our students’ succeed in their academic careers and have the best student experience at SOAS.