Collection Development Policy - Linguistics & Language Studies

SOAS Library
  • Context
  • Collection
  • Coverage
  • E-Resources
  • Future


1. Departments

1.1 Department of Linguistics

The Department of Linguistics at SOAS was founded in 1932 as the first department of general linguistics in Britain. The research carried out within the department has made a significant and lasting impact on the development of linguistic theory and in the areas of language documentation and description.

The department is a centre for linguistic study in an unparalleled range of languages, many of which are documented for the first time. The department has close academic ties to the rest of the faculty, the Departments of Africa, China and Inner Asia, Japan and Korea, Near and Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia, and the Language Centre, as well as various academic centres hosted or partnered by SOAS. The department participates in various academic activities with other linguistics departments in the south of England, and other University of London colleges.

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

The department has 21 academic staff and 342.3 FTE students, including 153.5 undergraduates, 102.8 taught postgraduates and 68 research students.

For more information see:

1.2 SOAS Language Centre

The SOAS Language Centre provides beginners, intermediate and advanced evening and daytime courses in a wide range of African and Asian languages. It caters for the needs of individuals, commerce, industry, government and public organisations.

The Language Centre offers undergraduate and Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma programmes.

The department has 11 academic staff and 115.8 FTE students, including 97.5 undergraduates, 18.3 taught postgraduates.

For more information see:

2. Centres

2.1 The Centre for Translation Studies (CTS)
2.2 The Centre for Language Pedagogy (CLP)
  • The Centre for Language Pedagogy (CLP) was established to promote the teaching and learning of Asian, African and Middle Eastern languages and the development of teaching materials and learning resources.
2.3 The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Languages of the Wider World (LWW CETL)
  • The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Languages of the Wider World (LWW CETL) is a HEFCE-funded collaboration between SOAS and UCL. Its aim is to promote and support excellence in the teaching and learning of languages that do not have a large presence in UK Higher Education, i.e. the languages of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Netherlands , Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Russia.


3. History

  • Throughout its history the Library has actively collected material on Linguistics and Languages Studies
  • The Library has important collections on the languages and linguistics of the regions and individual countries of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Islands of the Pacific, including works by, and about, noted linguists.
  • The Library holds general theoretical works, dictionaries and encyclopaedias on linguistics and language studies.

4. Languages

  • The Library collects material in:
  • Some European languages, especially English, for general, cross-regional or global aspects and for the discipline
  • All languages of the Orient/Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific and Indian Oceans.  This includes languages not traditionally represented in the SOAS Languages and Cultures departments , such as Austronesian and Papuan languages, and languages of Siberia.
  • As part of a a University of London commitment, the Library also collects a representative selection of Creole, Native American Indian, Finno-Ugrian (excluding Finnish and Hungarian), Romany and Basque languages.
  • Endangered languages and materials on their recording and preservation. This includes languages from all over the world e.g. research at SOAS on the endangered language of Guernsey.
  • For more details see the General Collection Development Policy

5. Classification

Material on general, cross-regional or global aspects on the discipline of Linguistics and Language Studies are classified using 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"

Material relating to Asia, Africa and the Middle East are 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].


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

The Library aims to collect materials to a teaching level for all courses taught by the Department of Linguistics. It will also collect teaching level material that falls within the discipline of language and linguistic studies to support other courses taught at SOAS.


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 Linguistics Department in Africa, China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East are detailed below (based on the Conspectus Level). For details on the Conspectus Level see Collection Development Policy .

  • Language (Interdisciplinary works on language and literature)
  • Philosophy & theory
    • Language and communication (including semiotics)
    • Psychological principles (including language acquisition)
  • Language education and research
  • Treatment of language with respect to kinds of persons and groups
  • Geographic sub-division of Language
  • Linguistics
    • History and description with respect to kinds of persons
  • Writing systems
  • Etymology
  • Phonology & phonetics
  • Grammar
    • Syntax
    • Stratificational linguistics
    • Systemic linguistics
    • Grammatical analysis
  • Style in Linguistics and language
  • Dialectology & historical (diachronic) linguistics
    • Pidgins and creoles
  • Standard usage & applied linguistics
    • Translation and interpretation
    • Applied linguistics in language teaching & Second language acquisition
    • Language disorders
    • Reading
  • Structured verbal languages other than spoken and written ( including Mathematical linguistics & Sign languages)

The Library has national responsibility to collect the following languages. They include:

  • Native American Indian languages
  • Finno-Ugrian languages (excluding Finnish and Hungarian)
  • Creole languages
  • Romany languages
  • Basque language

For details on the following subject areas see the relevant Subject Statements:


9. Major Databases

General Databases
  • Access World News
  • Anthrosource
  • Bibliography of Asian studies: linguistics
  • Cambridge Books Online (e-books)
  • Cambridge Journals Online
  • BBC Monitoring Library
  • Dawsonera (e-books)
  • EBSCOhost
  • Index Islamicus
  • InformaWorld
  • IngentaConnect
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences(IBSS)
  • ISI Web of Science/Knowledge
  • Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts (LLBA)
  • Linguistics proceedings directory
  • OCLC FirstSearch
  • Oxford Journals Online
  • Oxford Reference Online
  • Periodicals Archive Online
  • Project MUSE
  • ScienceDirect
  • Wiley InterScience
  • Zetoc
Regional Databases
  • Africa Wide
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies
  • Brill Online (Encyclopaedia of Islam etc.)
  • China Academic Journals
  • Chinese Studies Online
  • Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1974-1996
  • Indiastat
  • Korean-studies Information Service System
  • Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies
  • Nikkei Telecom 21
  • Oxford Islamic Studies
  • Taiwan Electronic Periodical Services

10. Online Subject Guide

For more information and online resources see the Linguistics and Languages Subject Guides

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

For regional specific databases see Subject Statements


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 retains one endeavours to 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