SOAS University of London

SOAS Spring Term - Covid-19 update - 5 January 2021

5 January 2021

The below update was emailed to all students on 5 January and contains the latest Government advice issued at that time.

Please note, that in the current cirumstances SOAS advice may change. We will continue to update students directly as the situation changes.

The UK government have last night (4 Jan) announced a wide range of new national restrictions across the UK.

This update reflects that position. We are still actively reviewing the detail of the 4 January announcement and can expect further updates from government in relation to the detail of university provision.

Start of spring term: 11 January 2021

First, we want to repeat again that online teaching and the spring term will start on Monday 11 January, with teaching and support provided remotely as planned. It is important that all our students are supported by our academic and professional support staff to engage effectively with the teaching and resources available to them.

Assessment deadlines

Students will have received a email setting out in detail the range of mitigation and support available specifically to respond to these circumstances.

Face-to-face activities in the spring term

We are not planning for any face-to -face activities to start now until Monday 22 February at the earliest (i.e the week following reading week). This is in line with government guidance that such activities should not resume at universities until mid-February at the earliest.

We will keep this position on any face-to-face activities under review and by Monday 1 February at the latest we will provide an update on these plans.

What this means for students - travel

We have already shared with students the government advice last week that international students should delay returns to the UK if they can do so. This is reinforced now by the updated rules outlined on 4 Jan.

In line with latest government guidance, we are now advising our students who have returned to family addresses over Christmas, not to travel back to their term-time addresses at SOAS until any face-to-face activities resume in mid-February at the earliest.

The government has also explicitly said yesterday that if you live at university, you should not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time 

SOAS facilities

Some physical access to study space and library facilities needs to remain in place for the students remaining in London who need such access to support their learning. This continues to be required under the new restrictions. We are of course keen to ensure that we provide the right level of access to study space and library for students who need to access it, whilst ensuring that movement of staff and students is kept to the minimum necessary.

Library study spaces will continue to operate from 9.30am-5pm for students who need access. The PWW study spaces will remain open but restricted to the ground floor areas only, along with the bookable printer/scanner stations in the cloisters. 

Instructions for booking can be found on MySOAS.

Click and Collect services which allow students to order library books to borrow or to read in the library will continue to operate and more information about the service can be found on MySOAS or by contacting

We will keep provision under review to ensure access remains safe and appropriate, and provide updates if these change.

Asymptomatic testing 

Asymptonatic testing will continue to be available at Student Central from Tuesday 5 January in partnership with the University of London. Students who are in London already or who return during January are being strongly advised to take two tests before accessing any university facilities in person. These tests are also available for staff who need to come on to campus.   

Tests can be booked at the University of London website.

Please note, the system now allows bookings to made up to five days in advance only, but also within an hour of the appointment. This is to ensure adequate spaces are available so that appointments pre-booked students not now returning are removed. If you have booked further ahead and do need the test please cancel and re-book.

Resumption of any face to face teaching

We want to affirm now that as and when any return to face-to-face teaching is planned, the approach will be done in a staged manner, and any such return would be contingent on three principles:

  • How we protect the SOAS staff and student community including those most vulnerable
  • How our students get the best possible education and experience under the circumstance
  • How we support the wider community and actions by the UK government to manage infection rates

The intranet MySOAS for students and staff, and our Moodle/BLE, provides the most up to date COVID-19 information for our SOAS community.