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1. The Department of History

The Department of History at SOAS is devoted to the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and can therefore offer students an unrivalled breadth of courses.

It naturally has strong links to the other Departments and Centres within the Arts and Humanities Faculty and courses are often taught thematically across regions and disciplines.

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

The department has 23 FTE academic members of staff and 329.8 FTE students, including 264 undergraduate students, 30.8 postgraduate students and 35 research students

For more information see:


3. History

  • The Library has actively built up collections on all aspects of History (ancient and modern) 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, cross-regional or global aspects and on the discipline of History

4. Languages

  • Some European languages, especially English, for general, cross-regional or global aspects of the discipline
  • Some European languages, especially English, for histories of specific countries and regions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • Also the languages of Asia, Africa and the Middle East for material on the histories of 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 History 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 the histories of 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].

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 history of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
  • For more information see Archives


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

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


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 subject areas of collecting for the Department of History are detailed below (based on the Conspectus Level). For details on the Conspectus Level see Collection Development Policy

8.1 Thematic and Interdisciplinary Subject Areas
  • Ancient history (to 499 AD) [includes "Western Indian Ocean world" for this period]
  • Cities and urban spaces
  • Colonization [including the East India Company]
  • The Crusades
  • Cultural history [including "history of ideas", and "north-south" exchange of ideas]
  • Deccan Sultanates (16th-17th century), and the appropriate links to the Marathas
  • Early modernity and empire within Asian, Indian Ocean, and global contexts
  • Environmental history [including Pan-Asian themes and urban and coastal areas]
  • Film and history
  • Historiography
  • History of the book, education, literacy and reading
  • History of religions
  • Medieval history (500-1499)
  • Modern history (1500-1899)
  • Museology [including design museums]
  • Nationalism [including Pan-Asian themes, and ethnic identities]
  • Partitions and reunifications
  • Post-colonial theory
  • Precolonial South India (Vijayanagar, Nayaka states
  • Sexual history
  • Slavery and emancipation
  • The Bahmani state
  • The Deccan up to independence
  • The Mughal Empire
  • Trade in commodities
  • Warfare

The main regional histories collected for the Department of History are detailed below:

8.2 Africa
  • 20th century history
  • 21st century history
  • Aristocracy and elites
    • West Africa
  • Colonization
    • Algeria (French)
    • Southern Africa
  • Cultural history
    • Radio and media
    • Southern Africa
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Decolonization
    • French Empire
  • Economic history
    • South Africa
  • Imperialism
    • Algeria
    • Cape Colony
    • Southern Africa
  • Medieval history
    • pre-colonization
    • sub-Saharan Africa
    • Uganda
  • Modern history
  • Philosophy and theory of history
    • East Africa
  • Post-colonialism
    • Cape Colony
    • South Africa
    • West Africa
  • Social class
    • Southern Africa
    • Uganda
  • Social history
    • East Africa
    • Dar-es-Salaam
    • Sahara region
    • Urban history
  • Madagascar
  • Réunion
8.3 Ancient Near East, Semitics and Judaica

See Ancient Near East, Semitics and Judaica Subject Statement

8.4 Central Asia
  • History of Religions (includes Christianity)
  • Medieval history (500-1499)
  • Silk Road cultures
8.5 China & Inner Asia
  • Cultural history
    • opium use
    • press and communication
    • theatre
    • toys
  • History of the book / reading
  • History of religions
    • Christianity and Christian missionaries
    • Confucianism
    • Daoism
    • Islam
    • popular religions
  • Medieval, modern and 20th century history
    • Manchu dynasty
    • Qing dynasty
    • T'ang dynasty
8.6 Japan & Korea
  • Biographies
  • Cultural history
  • Economic history
  • Gender
  • Historical geography
  • Historiography
  • History of all periods
  • History of religions
  • Museology
  • Social anthropology
  • Social class
  • Social history
8.7 Middle East
  • Ancient history
  • Cultural history
    • Medieval Arab philosophy and science
    • “private life”
    • Ottoman biography and history of “private life”
  • Decolonization
  • History of religions
    • Ancient Near Eastern faiths
    • Eastern Christianity
    • Islam and Islamic theology (Kalam especially)
    • Minority religions
    • Shi'ism
    • Sufism
    • Historiography
      • Arab historiography
      • Armenia
      • diaries, memoirs etc.
    • Medieval history
    • Crusades
    • Egypt
    • Iran / Persia
    • Jerusalem
    • Kurdistan
    • Ottoman Empire
    • Mongols
    • Silk Road
  • History of the book / reading
    • School textbooks on history
    • History of reading
    • Arab codicology
  • Historiography
    • Armenia
    • diaries, memoirs etc.
  • Medieval history
    • Ayyubids
    • Crusades
    • Egypt
    • Iran / Persia
    • Jerusalem
    • Kurdistan
    • Mamluks
    • Mongols
    • Ottoman Empire
    • Silk Road
    • Syria
  • Modern history
    • Egypt
    • Jerusalem
    • Kurdistan
    • Ottoman Empire
    • Palestine
    • Iran ([16th – 20th century, links to Germany and India during WW1)
  • Pre-Islamic history
    • Pre-Islamic Iran / Persia
  • Slavery and emancipation
  • Social class
    • Medieval period
    • outcasts
  • Social history
    • cities and urban spaces
    • cities in Iran
  • 20th century history
    • Balkan countries (formerly Ottoman)
    • Jerusalem
    • Kurdistan
    • Near East region in World War 1
    • Ottoman Empire
    • Palestine (history of Israel-Palestine conflict)
    • Turkey (history of social change, literacy, leading up to Turkish Republic and
      history of early Turkish Republic)
  • 21st century history
  • Jerusalem
8.8 South Asia
  • Cultural history
    • Ancient and Medieval India
    • Bengal
    • film and history
  • Gender
  • Islam
  • History of religions
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity and Islam
    • Hinduism
    • Islamization of Pakistan
  • History (all periods) (including specifically Tamil Nadu, the Deccan Sutanates (Bahmani, Vijayanagar and Nayaka) & Deccan to Independence)
  • Medieval history (pre-Mughal) (especially North India & South India)
  • Modern history (Mughal, to c.1800) (especially North India)
  • Imperialism within the context of Asia, the Indian Ocean and beyond
  • Post-colonialism
  • Social class
    • Dalits
  • Social history (Ancient and Medieval India)

8.9 South East Asia
  • Anti-colonial and independence struggles
  • Aristocracy and elites
    • kingship and lineage
  • Constitutional and diplomatic history
  • Cultural history
    • oral literature
    • photography and ethnicity
    • Shan states
  • Economic and social histories
  • Ethno-history
  • Gender
    • gendered economics
  • Historical anthropology
  • History of medicine
    • 19th century
    • Philippines
  • Histories of diasporas (particularly the overseas Chinese (Nanyang) in South East
  • History of religions
  • Imperialism, colonialism, nationalism and subaltern studies
  • Local histories
  • Migration
  • International relations
    • trade in the Southeast Asian region
  • Nationalism
    • nationalism and ethnic identity
    • nationalism and photography
  • Modern history
    • Burma
    • transport
  • Social history
    • Burma (crime)
    • kinship
    • Philippines (crime)
    • Shan states
    • technology and transport in the colonial era
  • Slavery

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


9. Major Databases

General Databases
  • Academic Search Premier (EBSCOHost)
  • Cambridge Books Online (e-books)
  • Cambridge Journals Online
  • Dawsonera (e-books)
  • Index to Theses
  • InformaWorld
  • IngentaConnect
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS)
  • ISI Web of Science / Knowledge
  • Oxford Journals Online
  • Oxford Reference Online
  • Periodicals Archive Online
  • Project MUSE
  • Sage Journals Online
  • Wiley Online Library
  • WorldCat
  • Zetoc
Regional Databases
  • 19th century British Library newspapers
  • AfricaWide Information (EBSCOHost)
  • Aluka
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies
  • Brill Online
  • China: trade, politics and culture 1793-1980
  • Gale Online Reference Library (Encyclopedia of Religion and Encyclopedia of
  • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (1715 onwards)
  • Index Islamicus (EBSCOHost)
  • MECAS (Middle East and Central Asian Studies) (EBSCOHost)
  • Oxford Bibliographies Online (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam)
  • Oxford Islamic Studies

10. Online Subject Guide

For more information and online resources see the Subject Guide for History

For regional specific databases see Subject Statements

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


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