SOAS University of London

Timetable Office

SOAS Timetable Policy

The SOAS Timetable Policy is approved by TeLSOC and implemented by Registry. It sets out the principles and priorities used in timetabling teaching on SOAS programmes. These principles and priorities apply to scheduled teaching whether on campus or delivered remotely. The policy also includes sections on room allocation which apply only to on campus teaching.

  • SOAS will prioritise the delivery of programmes of study for which students have been
    enrolled. This is a requirement of compliance with CMA guidance on the rights of
    students and is set out in the Terms & Conditions to which students agree at
  • Curriculum information indicates that optional and elective modules are advertised as
    forming part of programmes on the basis that not every module will be compatible
    with the core and compulsory elements of the programme in terms of timetable.
    Where it is not possible (within the constraints of the SOAS estate and teaching week)
    to allow a particular elective module without creating a clash with core/compulsory
    elements of the student’s programme, that enrolment will not be permitted. In this
    case an alternative elective module will always be available, which may be in a related
    but not identical subject matter. Academic advisors will support students in choosing
    modules which fit with their timetable and programme ofstudy.
  • SOAS will remain mindful of its responsibilities to students and staff who may
    experience barriersto participation. This includes not only groups with characteristics
    protected in law, but those identified in our Access & Participation Plan and HR
    strategies as needing particular attention.
  • Academic staff have an individual responsibility to provide information on module
    activities and personal availability by the deadlines set, and to adhere to the latest
    version of the published timetable.
1. Teaching day and week
  • a. The core teaching day is from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Classes can also be
    scheduled at 5-7pm where teaching staff have indicated that they are available.
    Teaching is scheduled within the terms/semesters published by SOAS annually. SOAS
    is closed on UK Bank Holidays whether they fall inside or outside of term/semesters,
    and teaching does not take place.
  • b. Wednesday afternoons will as far as possible be kept free fromundergraduate
  • c. Classes should start at 5 minutes past the hour and finish promptly at 5 minutes to
    the hour.
  • d. In accordance with the block system, which seeks to reduce clashes, two-hourclasses
    can only start at the following times: 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm,5pm.
2. Constraints on teaching availability
  • a. There are many reasons as to why staff may not be available to teach – such as other
    work-related tasks; a part-time contract; caring responsibilities, or approved leave. In
    line with our legal responsibilities and HR policies, priority will of course be given to
    non-availability which is related to contractual part-time or off-site working;
    reasonable adjustmentsfor a disability; or to caring responsibilities. The complexity of
    the SOAS curriculum and limitations of our estate mean that preferences for teaching
    hours which are for reasons other than these cannot usually beaccommodated.
  • b. All full-time academic staff can reasonably expect one day a week free from
    timetabled teaching activities. It is not usually possible to guarantee that thisfalls on a
    particular day, unless there is a contractual agreement for part-time or off-site
  • c. Information collected through ‘Staff Availability’ forms will be seen by Registry staff
    and by Departmental management teams. It will not be shared with other
    departments or used for purposes other than timetabling.
  • d. Departmental management teams will be asked to confirm information given on
    availability. Changes and new information on availability provided later than 1st
    September each year will also require permission from the Pro-Director Learning &
    Teaching before changes can be made to the timetable.
  • e. Teaching will not be scheduled at the same time as regular internal seminars or
    departmental events which individual academic staff are expected to attend whenthe
    dates of these are known at the time oftimetabling.
3. Timetable Construction
  • a. Lectures and seminars will be scheduled first, and given priority when allocating
    rooms. Tutorials will be fitted in around these lectures, in keeping with staff
    availability as detailed above.
  • b. Care will be taken to avoid clashes between core/compulsory modules, and with
    optional modules where this is possible. Elective modules (also known as ‘open
    options’ from the ‘central options bank’) can be selected by students on the
    understanding that if they clash with core/compulsory/guided options, an alternative
    will have to be chosen. Students may not remain enrolled on modules for which the
    teaching overlaps.
  • c. A draft timetable will be shared with departments, usually in May each year, and a
    provisional timetable published for access by all staff and students, usually by theend
    of June. Changes will be made in light of change requests and new enrolments until
    teaching begins. After the first day of teaching changes will only be made if the
    reasons given are compelling and unforeseen
4. Those attending classes must be enrolled on the module

Everyone attending a class should be officially enrolled on UNITe, either as a student or
auditor (auditors attend lectures but not tutorials), and rooms will be allocated based on
enrolment numbers. It is recognised that occasionally others (e.g. staff) may have good
reason to attend a class, but rooms cannot be changed to accommodate non-enrolled

5. Teaching rooms
  • a. Where teaching is scheduled on campus, rooms are allocated on a best-fit basis,
    based on information provided at module approval/amendment.
  • b. Activities involving staff or students with particular accessrequirements will be
    appropriately timetabled.
  • c. There is no distinction to be made between the School’s various buildings (College
    Buildings, Brunei Gallery, Paul Webley Wing, etc) except for reasons of accessibility:
  • d. No distinction is to be made between buildings which constitute the SOAS campus
    and those made available for teaching by arrangement with neighbouringinstitutions
    (e.g. Birkbeck).
6. Tutorial group sizes

Where a module includes a tutorial session, multiple sessions will be scheduled if enrolment
numbers exceed 15, unless a department has requested a larger group size. Modules of 15
students and under will be scheduled with a single weekly tutorial session.

7. Requests for timetable changes

Please make all requests for changes to the timetable via the designated online form. Where
possible, priority will be given to requests relating to [this list is not in order of priority]:

  • Accessibility requirements
  • Staff not available for contractualreasons
  • Staff not available for reasons previously notified
  • Staff not available for unforeseen and unavoidable reasons
  • Staff clashes
  • Student clashes (between core/compulsory modules)
  • Enrolment numbers larger than room capacity
  • Rooms unsuitable for purpose

Please also use the form to let us knowabout:

  • Enrolment numbers which are significantly lower and higher than theroom
  • Time slots no longer required (e.g. sessions cancelled)

Inappropriate layouts and equipment, along with equipment/furniture which is missing or damaged, should be reported to Estates on

For room usage and bookings which are not part of the approved teaching pattern of a SOAS
module (e.g. one off events, or evening and weekend sessions) please see or contact the Conference Office on

Version Date from
which effective
Brief summary of changes Approved
1 2014/15 LTQC
2 2020/21
  • To reflect move of Timetabling function to Registry;
  • clarification around prioritisation for drafting and amending timetable;
  • clarification around legal and regulatory responsibilities