Collection Development Policy - China and Inner Asia

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


1. The Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

The department aims through teaching and research to cover a wide spectrum of the culture of China, and to cover to a more limited extent the culture of Tibet.

The department offers undergraduate, MAm MPhil and PhD programmes. It has13 FTE academic staff, 222 FTE students, including 177.5 undergraduates, 34.5 taught postgraduates and 10 research students.

For more information see:

2. Centres

2. 1 Centre of Chinese Studies
  • The Centre of Chinese Studies aims to facilitate and develop, in the United Kingdom and Europe, interdisciplinary research, teaching, and other activities relating to China.
  • The Centre organises interdisciplinary research seminars and, together with the FCO, provides an annual workshop for the analysis of developments in contemporary China.
  • For more information see Centre of Chinese Studies
2.2 Centre of Taiwan Studies
  • The Centre of Taiwan Studies is one of the leading centres for Taiwan Studies in the world.
  • The Centre provides an unrivalled programme of advanced interdisciplinary courses on Taiwan's society, culture, politics, language and economics.
  • For more information see Centre of Taiwan Studies
2.3 Centre of East Asian Law (CEAL)
  • The East Asian Law Centre promotes the study and understanding of laws and legal traditions in East Asia, by fostering research, offering guest lectures and promoting academic and professional exchanges.
  • For more information see Centre of East Asian Law
2.4  London Confucius Institute
  • The London Confucius Institute aims to promote Chinese language learning and teaching and the understanding of the Chinese culture.
  • The Institute also endeavours to facilitate research activities in the above areas and cultural and education exchanges between Britain and China.
  • For more information see London Confucius Institute


3. History

  • The foundation of the China collection was formed by the books which were transferred from University College and King’s College to the School in 1917, when it was formed. The name of the School was School of Oriental Studies (SOS);  from 1938 School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) was adopted.
  • The China collection contains material on China, (including Hong Kong & Macao), Taiwan, Tibetan, Mongolia, Eastern Siberia and East Asia in general.
  • The collection is the largest collection of materials on modern and contemporary China in the UK and is one of the most important China libraries in Europe.
  • The Library has actively built up collections in the fields of China, (including Hong Kong & Macao), Taiwan, Tibetan, Mongolia, Eastern Siberia and East Asia.
  • The Library has supported course reading lists and selectively purchased material on China and Inner Asia for teaching and research purpose.

4. Languages

The Library collects material in:

  • Chinese (this constitutes the bulk of the collection)
  • European languages
  • Mongolian & Tibetan
  • Other minority languages: such as Manchu,
  • Note that Uighur language is held in the Middle East Collection
  • For more details see the General Collection Development Policy

5. Classification

  • The print publication divided by Western and Chinese vernacular collection.
  • The western collections acquired since 1973 are classified using a modification of the Dewey Decimal Classification (where the regions are classified first, followed by the subjects).
  • All books are prefixed using letter prefixes indicating country, region, and languages, i.e.:
    • CC - China
    • CCX - Taiwan
    • CE - Hong Kong
    • CF - East Asian
    • CG - Siberia
    • CI - Mongolia
    • CJC - Mongolian (Cyrillic script)
    • CJU - Mongolian (Uighur script)
    • CK - Manchu
    • CN - Tangut
    • CL - Tibet
    • CM - Tibetan
  • An in-house system of classification is used for all Chinese language materials, using the letter prefix 'c'.
  • Additional prefixes are used for:
    • Large books ("L")
    • Reference books ("Ref ")
    • Large reference books ("L Ref")

6. Special Collections

  • Morrison Collection: More than 800 titles of Chinese books, mainly 17th & 18th century blockprints, collected by the first missionary to China Dr Robert Morrison (1782-1834)
  • Johnston Collection: some 1,600 volumes books in English and Chinese, from the library of Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston (1874-1938), once the English tutor of the last Emperor of China and SOAS Professor of Chinese (1931-37). Includes gifts from the Emperor.
  • Some 4,000 volumes of Chinese ancient books and manuscripts, including Yong le da dian.
  • Yearbooks: some 400 titles of yearbooks and annual statistical compendia covering provinces, cities, economic zones and individual industries as well as other economic and social developments.
  • Hong Kong Collection: Some 800 volumes of western books and periodicals on Hong Kong and 228,000 pages of newspaper cuttings held on microfiche, given by the then Hong Kong Government Office in 1997.
  • Japanese Sinology: some 5,000 volumes of Japanese material on China  (shelfmarks:DBC).
  • Local Chinese newspapers of the 1950’s and 1960’s in microform, some kept up to date.


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

The collection aims to collect materials to a teaching level for all courses taught within the China and Inner Asia Department and Regional & 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 China and Inner Asia Department are detailed below (based on the Conspectus Level). For details on the Conspectus Level see Collection Development Policy

8.1 Anthropology and sociology
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology & anthropology (Interdisciplinary works on society)
  • Social interaction
  • Social Process
    • Social change (Including contact between cultures)
    • Conflict (Including terrorism)
  • Factors affecting social behaviour
  • Population (Including genocide)
  • Movement of people
  • Social groups
    • Age groups
    • Men and women
    • Social class
    • Religious groups
    • Language groups
    • Racial, ethnic, national groups
    • Occupational and miscellaneous groups
    • Culture & institutions
      • Subcultures
      • Political institutions
      • Economic institutions
      • Specific aspects of culture (not provided for elsewhere–education,language,medicine,art)
      • Religious institutions
      • Institutions pertaining to the sexes
      • Marriage and the family (Including kinship)
      • Institutions pertaining to death
    • Communities
      • Planning and development (Including community participation)
      • Movement of people to, from, within communities
      • Structure
      • Specific kinds of communities (Including rural & urban)
    • Social welfare
    • Customs, etiquette & folklore
      • Costume
      • Personal appearance (Including tattooing)
    • Customs of life cycle & domestic life
    • Death customs
    • General customs
      • Food and drink
    • Etiquette (Manners)
    • Folklore
    • Customs of war & diplomacy
8.2 Art and Archaeology
  • Art general and philosophy of arts
  • Archaeology general (theories, methods etc.)
  • Civilisation (arts)
  • Inscriptions and epigraphy
  • Architecture and gardens
    • Horticulture
  • Buddhist art
  • Islamic art
  • Other religious arts
  • Sculpture
  • Paintings and calligraphy (print making and prints)
    • Engraving
  • Ceramic arts
  • Art metalwork
    • Bronzes
  • Numismatics
  • Lacquer and art woodwork
  • Jewellery
  • Textile arts and costume
  • Other arts
    • Photography; Interactions between China, Japan and the West (1840–1949)
    • Decorative arts
  • General museum guides and handbooks
8.3 Business & Economics
  • Economic Situation and Conditions
  • Labour Economics
  • Money, Banking and Finance
  • Land and Property
  • Environmental economics, Natural Resources and Energy
  • Public Finance
  • Industry and Business
  • Rural Economics & Agriculture
  • Development and Growth
  • Distribution of Income and Growth
  • Trade
  • Political Economy
  • Comparative Economics
8.4 Development Studies
  • Aid
  • Environment/Natural Resources
  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Famine & Food Security
  • Globalisation
  • Health Issues
  • Industrialisation
  • Non-Governmental Organisations
  • Urbanization
  • Statistical Data
8.5 Diaspora, Migration & Ethnic Minority Studies
  • Migration, Social Science aspects
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Ethnic relations
  • Ethnic groups
  • Immigration & emigration - political aspects
  • Colonisation, Political aspects
  • Refugees
  • Slavery and emancipation
  • Migrant and casual workers
  • Law pertaining to migration
8.6 Finance & Management
  • International Finance and Financial Economics
  • Corporate Finance
  • Corporate Governance
  • International Management
  • Managerial EconomicsPublic Finance
  • Public Policy
  • Business, Finance and Management
  • Economic Development
  • Marketing
  • Financial Law
8.7 Gender Studies
  • Men and masculinity
  • Women and feminism
  • Prostitution
  • Sexual orientation, Homosexuality
  • Sexuality
8.8 History
  • Ancient history (to 499 AD)
  • Cities and urban spaces
  • Colonization
  • Environmental History
  • Cultural history
  • History of the book, education, literacy and reading
  • History of religions
  • Medieval history (500-1499)
  • Modern history (1500-1899)
  • Museology
  • Nationalism
  • Trade in commodities
  • Warfare
8.9 Law
  • Arbitration and Dispute Resolution
  • Civil Procedure
  • Civil and Human Rights law
  • Commercial & Company law
  • Competition law
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional and Administrative law
  • Contract law
  • Criminal law and Procedure
  • Discrimination and Equality
  • Employment and Labour law
  • Family law
  • Financial law
  • Gender
  • Immigration and Nationality
  • Information Technology law
  • Inheritance, Succession, Trusts
  • Intellectual Property law
  • Justice
  • Law and Development
  • Law Reform
  • Legal History
  • Legal Systems
  • Nationality and Citizenship
  • Philosophy and Theory of Law
  • Trade
  • The Library also has national responsibility to collect legal material (law reports, legislation, official gazettes) for specific regions. They include:
    • China
    • Hong Kong
    • Taiwan
8.10 Linguistics and Language Studies
  • 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)
8.11 Literatures and Literary Criticism
  • Literature (Belles-lettres) and rhetoric
  • Philosophy and theory
  • Rhetoric and collections
  • History, description, critical appraisal
  • Poetry, History and criticism
  • Drama, History and criticism
  • Fiction, History and criticism
  • History and criticism of essays, speech, letters, humour and satire
  • Literature for and by specific kinds of persons
  • Literature displaying specific features
  • Post-colonial literatures
8.12 Media and Film Studies
  • Journalism and press media
  • Sociology of Journalism (with cultural and political aspects)
    • Transnationalism
  • Mass media and communication
    • Print media
    • Television studies
    • Radio
  • Digital culture and development of technology
  • Global media
  • Photography
  • Film theory
  • Cinema
    • DVD
  • Drama
  • Animation
  • Stage theatre
  • Dance
8.13 Music
  • Musicology [ethnomusicology]
  • Philosophy and theory
    • History and description of music
  • Education and research
  • History of music
  • Dance music
  • Folk music
  • Popular music
  • Religious music [sacred music]
    • Services (liturgy and ritual)
  • Religious music : Buddhism
  • Religious music : Islam
  • Vocal Music
  • Songs
  • Dramatic music
  • Operas
    • Musical plays
  • Musical instruments
  • Instrumental music
  • Instrumental ensembles
  • Composers
8.14 Politics & International Relations
  • Systems of Governments and States
  • Political Situation  and Conditions
  • Relation of the State to Religious Organisations
  • Relation of the State to Labour Movements
  • Relation of the State to Business and Industry
  • Relation of the State to Political Action Groups
  • Relation of the State to Armed Forces
  • Civil and Political Rights
  • The Political Process
  • Political Parties
  • Election systems and Procedures
  • Migration
  • Colonization
  • International Relations
  • Slavery and Emancipation
  • Foreign Policy & Specific Topics in International Relations [e.g. foreign aid, international conflict, use of force]
  • Diplomacy
  • Political Economy
  • Political Violence
  • Energy Policy
8.15 Pure and Applied Sciences
  • The Library does not acquire material on the pure sciences, except works relating to the history of science.
  • The Library collects material on the applied sciences where such works are of an interdisciplinary nature and cover issues such as economic, social, political and development studies.
  • Works of an Interdisciplinary nature includes economic, political and social aspects relating to subjects such as:
    • Irrigation and water resources
    • Agriculture, forestry and land use
    • Medicine and public health but not scientific and technical aspects:
      • Linguistic works on flora and fauna
      • Works on traditional and indigenous medicine and medicinal plants
      • History of medicine
      • Medical anthropology
      • Social and political aspects of disease and public health
    • Environmental and ecological works that are related to development, politics and economics
    • Works on human ecology
    • Material on intermediate and sustainable technologies related to development issues
8.16 Religions & Study of Religions
  • History of religions
  • Missions and missionaries
  • Mysticism
  • Religious art and iconography -Buddhist
  • Religious mythology and mythography
  • Ritual studies
  • Sociology of religion
  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Confucianism
  • Daoism
  • Manichaeism
  • Sacred texts


9. Major Databases

General Databases
  • Bibliography of Asia Studies
  • Cambridge Books Online
  • Cambridge Journals Online
  • Dawsonera
  • EBSCOHost
  • Index to Theses
  • InformaWorld
  • IngentaConnect
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS)
  • ISI Web of Science / Knowledge (includes Arts and Humanities Citation Index, and Social Science Citation Index)
  • Oxford Journals Online
  • Oxford Reference Online
  • Periodicals Archive Online
  • Project MUSE
  • Sage Journals Online
  • Wiley Online Library
  • WorldCat
  • Zetoc
Databases in Chinese script
  • Apabi Digital Library 阿帕比数字资源库
  • Beida Lawinfochina 北大法律信息网:北大英文网
  • China Academic Journals (CAJ) 中国期刊全文数据库
  • China Data Online
  • China Maxx (中文集献)
  • Chinese Studies Online (COS) 万方数据
  • The China Times (中國時報)
  • Gujin tushi jicheng 古今圖書集成
  • iSinoLaw
  • NPM Online 故宮線上
  • Renmin ribao 人民日报
  • Oxford Language Dictionaries Online: Chinese-English; English-Chinese
  • Siku Quanshu (e-SKQS) 四庫全書
  • Taiwan Electronic Periodical Services (TEPS) 台灣電子期刊服務網

10. Online Subject Guide

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

For subject 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