SOAS University of London


SOAS Research Strategy

World-changing research that applies a global lens to the critical issues of our time.
Research Strategy Image

The world needs SOAS more than ever before. A global university in the heart of London’s vibrant university quarter, with a more diverse staff and student base than virtually any other in the UK, our scholarship spans the arts, humanities and social sciences. Our expertise is deeply and uniquely rooted in the political, social, economic, historical and cultural dynamics of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and their diasporas, which collectively account for over three-quarters of the world’s population.

We think about the world differently. Even as our world has become more interconnected through trade, travel and global communications, it also seems more fragmented. We make the connections that others cannot, helping to build bridges in a complex world and applying a global lens to the critical issues of our time. Our internationalism and our commitment to justice, diversity, equality and the highest ethical standards infuse all that we do.

Our key research themes - Global Voices, Heritage of Humanity, Global Interactions, Sharing a Small Planet, Global Diplomacy and Governance – bring together and build critical mass in areas where we are able to make a real difference to challenging inequality and injustice.

  • Mission

    Through our research and knowledge exchange activities we aim to:

    • advance knowledge and understanding of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and their diasporas;
    • promote a sense of global citizenship and mutual understanding, challenge limiting thinking about the regions in which the majority of the world’s citizens live;
    • demonstrate the interconnectedness and changing contours of the world in increasingly unequal and turbulent times, as fluent interpreters of diverse worldviews and perspectives;
    • put our skills and our knowledge to the pursuit of transforming inequalities, injustice, prejudice and discrimination, changing mindsets and discourses, as well as policies and practices;
    • decolonise all modes of knowledge acquisition and exchange, from research methodologies to writing and publishing practices;
    • build equitable partnerships with researchers, activists, practitioners, universities, networks, civil society organisations around the world;
    • and foster a new generation of researchers who can understand and engage with the world as global citizens.
  • Goals

    By 2025, we will have:

    • integrated impact and knowledge exchange into all that we do, equipping our researchers with the skills to become fluent interlocutors and influencers;
    • further consolidated relationships with research partners in our areas of regional specialism, building global networks with a critical mass of expertise in key areas;
    • established an open access showcase for our research, enhancing our visibility and presence in global debates on the critical issues of our times;
    • expanded our public engagement activities, building and consolidating relationships across London and beyond, so as to better serve London’s diaspora communities and facilitate stronger connections with Africa, Asia and the Middle East;
    • created a resource guide for decolonising research that builds on our ground-breaking work on decolonising the curriculum;
    • established a partnerships policy for SOAS research collaborations that places the principles of equity, transparency and inclusion at the heart of the formation of international research partnership;
    • and developed innovative approaches to doctoral education that enable broader and more flexible engagement, through online, blended and practice-based learning
  • Approach

    We will achieve this by:

    • transforming the way we do research, decolonising our research practice and further extending mutually beneficial, ethical, equitable, collaborative relationships;
    • targeting our research at the widest possible audience and the highest quality outlets, making it available open access wherever possible including through our own open access publications series;
    • building a holistic approach to collaboration, social and cultural innovation that extends throughout and beyond the research life-cycle, from inception to knowledge exchange;
    • bidding for research funding directed towards Global Goals, building on our unique regional and global research portfolio and strengths;
    • developing a new generation of academic leaders, establishing structures, systems and processes that better support researchers of all generations, and especially early career researchers;
    • expanding our national and international presence through creative communications and engagement with key influencers;
    • engaging with a diversity of external actors to achieve meaningful and lasting research impact;
    • and turning the outputs of our research into new processes, products and practices; meeting the requirements of the private, public, third (Charities) and fourth (Social Enterprise) sectors.
  • Success

    We will have succeeded when:

    • our research contributes – directly, by influencing policies and practices, or indirectly, by changing mindsets and discourses – towards efforts to create a more just and equal world for all and to the realisation of the sustainable development goals;
    • we gain greater visibility and recognition internationally, published in the best journals and open access venues, cited in international policy documents and featured in the global media;
    • we can celebrate a greater number of successful collaborative research relationships with individuals and institutions that are equitable and mutually enriching;
    • and we can discern the impact of our research in transforming the way UK publics and public and private sector actors represent and relate with people and institutions across the globe.