SOAS University of London

SOAS’ Faculty of Languages and Cultures in UK top ten for research environment

18 December 2014

The vitality of the research environment in SOAS’ Faculty of Languages and Cultures puts it in the UK top ten in the 2014 Research Assessment Framework.  In addition, the Department of Linguistics is ranked 7th nationally for its world-leading research output, while Area Studies is one place outside the top 10 on the same metric.  Areas Studies is ranked 9th for research impact, with 80% of its work judged to have ‘outstanding’ and ‘very considerable’ impact.

The REF 2014 is carried out every six or seven years by the UK Government to assess the quality of research carried out in UK Higher Education Institutions. Today, 18 December 2014, Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) published the results of the submissions made by SOAS to 10 subject panels.

SOAS research was assessed through the submission of around 1,000 items of publication across the School, as well as over thirty case studies demonstrating how the School’s research has achieved impact beyond academia, both in the UK and in the School’s specialist regions - Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  Through subjects as diverse as Somali poetry, the resettlement of Nepali refugees and interfaith collaboration, the work of our researchers has established SOAS as a major hub for engaging with multi-cultural London.  SOAS is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in the languages, cultures and societies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

For example, the pioneering analysis and sensitive translation into English of classical and contemporary Somali poems, by Dr Martin Orwin, Senior Lecturer in Somali and Amharic has contributed to a more positive understanding of Somali culture and its place in world literature. He has brought Somali poetry to the attention of Anglophone audiences, participating in web-accessible poetry projects and prominent events such as ‘Sonnet Sunday’ and ‘Poetry Parnassus’. Working with Somali poets and cultural organisations, Dr Orwin’s work has contributed to a more positive understanding of Somali culture and its place in world literature. Sarah Maguire of the Poetry Translation Centre said: “Few other academics working in the humanities can have had such a broad-reaching, decisive impact on communities beyond the academy.”

Professor Anne Pauwels, Dean of the Faculty of Languages and Cultures, said: ‘Following the outstanding result in RAE 2008 where SOAS Asian Studies was ranked first in the UK, it was always going to be tough to maintain the School's leading position in a field that now also includes other regional areas. We are, of course, disappointed with the outcome but are nevertheless pleased to see our research quality and stimulating research environment recognised.”