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Russell Square campus.
The School of Oriental and African Studies (commonly abbreviated to "SOAS", pronounced ['səuæs] (so as) or ['səuæz] (so az)) is a constituent college of the University of London, specialising in languages, humanities, economics, law and politics concerning Asia, Africa and the Middle East. SOAS currently offers over 300 undergraduate Bachelor's degree combinations, and over 70 one-year intensively taught Master's degrees. MPhil and PhD degrees are also available in every academic department.

Founded in 1916, SOAS has produced several heads of state, government ministers, ambassadors, Supreme Court judges, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and many other notable leaders in emerging markets, future superpowers and in the Next Eleven. Located in central Londonmarker, SOAS describes itself as the "world's leading centre for the study of a highly diverse range of subjects concerned with Asia, Africa and the Middle East", and is usually ranked amongst the top universities in the UK.[18164][18165]

Background

The institution was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies at 2 Finsbury Circus, Londonmarker, Englandmarker, the then premises of the London Institution. The School received its Royal Charter on 5 June 1916; admitted its first batch of students on 18 January; and was formally inaugurated by King George V in the presence of the Earl Curzon of Kedleston among other cabinet officials just a month later on 23 February 1917. Africa was added to the school's name and remit in 1938 and the school permanently shifted to Thornhaugh Street, which runs between Malet Street and Russell Squaremarker.

For sometime in the mid-1930s, the School was located at Vandon House, Vandon Street, London SW1. However, its move was held up by delays in construction and the half-completed building took a hit during the Blitz in September 1940. The School was, on Government's advice, evacuated to Cambridgemarker and returned to London to resume work in July 1940. Most colleges of the University of London were evacuated from London in 1939 and billeted on universities all over the provinces. SOAS was transferred, but without its library, to Christ's Collegemarker, Cambridge. When it became apparent that a return to London was possible, the School returned to the city and was temporarily housed for some months in 1940-41 in eleven rooms at Broadway Court, 8 Broadwaymarker, London SW1.

The institution's founding mission was primarily to train British administrators for overseas postings across the empire. Since then the school has grown into one of the world's most notable centres for the exclusive study of Asia and Africa. A college of the University of London, SOAS fields include Law, Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages with special reference to Asia and Africa. SOAS consistently ranks among the top twenty universities in the UK league tables and in 2004 was ranked 44th in the world, 7th in the UK and 11th overall in Europe according to The Times Higher Education Supplement. The SOAS Library, housed in Philips Building (designed at the beginning of the 1970s by Sir Denys Lasdun, and named after the then SOAS Director), is the UK's national resource for materials relating to Asia and Africa and is the largest of its kind in Europe.

The School has grown considerably over the past thirty years, from fewer than 1,000 students in the 1970s to more than 4,500 students today, nearly half of them postgraduates. SOAS is partnered with the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) of Parismarker. INALCO is often considered the French equivalent of SOAS.

Campuses

SOAS is currently split into two campuses within 20 minutes walk of each other. The Russell Square campus is located in Bloomsburymarker, an area at the corner of the West End known to many tourists for its shops, theaters and nightlife. The main campus was moved there in 1938, and has much expanded since then. The closest Underground station is Russell Square tube stationmarker.

The Vernon Square campus in Islington was opened in 2001 is close to Kings Cross Station and is only a few hundred yards from Dinwiddy House and Paul Robeson House which are exclusive for SOAS students and are owned by Shaftesbury Student Housing.

The school also houses the Brunei Gallery, completed in 1995, which stages temporary exhibitions of both historical and contemporary materials which reflect subjects and regions studied at SOAS. The school also hosted the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Artmarker, one of the foremost collections of Chinese ceramics in Europe, however, as of April 2009 the collection has been loaned to and is now on public display in Room 95 of the British Museummarker. The present library building (by Sir Denys Lasdun) was added in 1973, the Brunei Gallery in 1995, and an extension to the library building opened in 2004 (the second phase of this expansion was completed in 2006).

The Centenary Masterplan conceives of the development of two new buildings, and asubstantial remodelling of existing space to realign and develop the entrance and two areaswithin the Old Building. The cost estimates for the Centenary Masterplan settle at around£73m for the total project. The full implementation of the School’s Centenary Masterplan will deliver approximately 30%additional space, approximately 1000 sq metres.

Reputation

In 2006, SOAS placed 5th among United Kingdom universities in a Guardian poll. In the subject tables of this poll, SOAS was placed 3rd for Anthropology, 4th for Economics, 3rd for History and History of Art, 6th for Law, 5th for Music, 3rd for Politics, and 3rd for Theology and Religious Studies. The History Department obtained a rare 6 research rating in the last government assessment, placing it as only one of three departments in the country to achieve such a status.

The Times Higher Education world rankings place SOAS 44th in the world, 7th in the United Kingdom, and 11th in Europe. SOAS is also regarded for its focus on small group teaching with a student-staff ratio of only 11:1 and some departments 6:1 (although postgraduate students have at times been used to fill in for academic staff). SOAS currently features in the world's top 50 Universities for Arts & Humanities, according to the QS World University Rankings.

SOAS trains government officials on secondment from around the world in; Asian, African and Middle Eastern languages, especially in Arabic and Mandarin Chinese. It also acts as a consultant to several government departments and to companies such as Accenture and Deloitte - when they seek to gain specialist knowledge of the matters concerning Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

SOAS has also has a reputation for attracting left-wing students and academics, although there is some debate over whether this is completely deserved.

UK University Rankings]]
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
Times Good University Guide 33rd 24th 18th 18th 15th 19th 22nd 27th 23rd= 14th 14th 6th
Guardian University Guide 12th 8th 11th 6th 6th 4th 4th 4th
Sunday Times University Guide 33rd 24th 21st 21st 18th 29th 14th 38th 25th 13th 11th
Daily Telegraph 24th 10th= 12th
FT 17th 13th 6th 13th 6th
Independent / Complete 15th 9th 24th 15th


Management

2006 - presentPaul Webley is the current Director and Principal of SOAS. He was previously Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor and Professor of Economic Psychology at the University of Exetermarker.

2001-2006Colin Bundy spent five years as Director and Principal of SOAS (and three years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of London). In 2006, he accepted appointment as Warden of Green College, Oxfordmarker.

1996-2000Professor Bundy's immediate predecessor was Sir Tim Lankester KCB, was Director and Principal 1996-2000 and left the School to become President of Corpus Christi College, Oxfordmarker.

Department of Linguistics

The SOAS Department of Linguistics was the first ever linguistics department in United Kingdom, founded in 1932 as a centre for research and study in Oriental and African languages. J. R. Firth, known internationally for his original work in phonology and semantics, was Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor of General Linguistics at the school between 1938 and 1956.

Faculties at SOAS

Faculty of Law and Social Sciences

The Faculty of Law and Social Sciences consists of five academic departments, one faculty centre and eight departmental centres:

Departments
  • Department of Development Studies
  • Department of Economics
  • Department of Financial & Management Studies (DeFiMS)
  • School of Law
  • Department of Politics and International Studies


Faculty Centres
  • Centre of Taiwan Studies


Departmental Centres
  • Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP) - distance learning
  • Centre for Development Policy and Research (CDPR)
  • Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies
  • Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS) - distance learning
  • Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy
  • Centre for Law & Conflict
  • Centre of East Asian Law
  • Centre of International Law and Colonialism
  • Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law
  • Law, Environment and Development Centre


The Faculty of Arts and Humanities

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities contains five Departments, one faculty centre and nine departmental centres:

Departments
  • Department of Art and Archaeology
  • Department of Music
  • Department of History
  • Department of the Study of Religions (also administers the Centre for Media and Film Studies and MA in Gender Studies)
  • Department of Anthropology and Sociology


Faculty Centres
  • Centre for Media and Film Studies


Departmental Centres
  • Centre of Buddhist Studies
  • Centre of Eastern and Orthodox Christianity
  • SOAS Food Studies Centre
  • Centre for Gender and Religions Research
  • Centre of Jaina Studies
  • Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies
  • Centre for Music and Dance Performance Research
  • Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions
  • Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures


Faculty of Languages and Cultures

The Faculty of Languages and Cultures consists of a Language Centre, seven academic departments, two faculty centres and four departmental centres:

Departments
  • Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
  • Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
  • Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea
  • Department of Linguistics
  • Department of the Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East
  • Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia
  • Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia
  • Language Centre


Faculty Centres
  • Centre for Gender Studies
  • Centre for Translation Studies


Departmental Centres
  • Centre of Excellence in the Teaching and Learning of Languages of the Wider World
  • Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS)
  • Centre for Jewish Studies
  • London Confucius Institute


Note: At present, where The Language Centre employs its own staff and administers language only courses, the respective departments manage language acquisition in their courses.

IFCELS

IFCELS (International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies), lies outside the university's faculty structure and runs a number of foundation courses for students wishing to enter higher education in the UK.

Located in the Faber building, this department is one of the largest departments in the school with currently over 250 foundation students as well as a large number of pre-sessional and in-sessional students.

Regional and interdisciplinary centres

SOAS also includes six regional and 28 interdisciplinary centres apart from its faculties and academic departments. These are responsible for many vigorous programmes of activities such as conferences, colloquia, seminars and publications.

Regional centres

  • Centre of African Studies (CAS)
  • Centre of Chinese Studies (CCS)
  • Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & the Caucasus (CCCAC)
  • Centre of Korean Studies (CKS)
  • Centre of South Asian Studies (CSAS)
  • Centre of South East Asian Studies (CSEAS)
  • Japan Research Centre (JRC)
  • London Middle East Institute (LMEI)


Departmental and other centres

  • Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)
  • Centre for Development Policy and Research (CDPR)
  • Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies (CEMS)
  • Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS)
  • Centre for Gender and Religions Research (GRR)
  • Centre for Gender Studies
  • Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD)
  • Centre for Jewish Studies (CJS)
  • Centre for Law and Conflict
  • Centre for Media and Film Studies
  • Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies
  • Centre for Music and Dance Performance Research
  • Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions (CSJR)
  • Centre of Buddhist Studies
  • Centre of East Asian Law (CEAL)
  • Centre of Eastern and Orthodox Christianity
  • Centre of International Law and Colonialism (CILC)
  • Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (CIMEL)
  • Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS)
  • Centre of Jaina Studies (CoJS)
  • Centre of Taiwan Studies
  • Contemporary China Institute
  • International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies (IFCELS)
  • Languages of the Wider World CETL (LWW-CETL)
  • Law, Environment and Development Centre (LEDC)
  • London Confucius Institute
  • Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Art
  • SOAS Food Studies Centre


Students' accommodation

Many SOAS students are accommodated in the college's own halls of residence: Dinwiddy House (located on Pentonville Road in Kings Crossmarker) and Paul Robeson House, a block away from Dinwiddy House, on Penton Rise; SOAS students are also eligible to apply for places in the University of London intercollegiate halls of residence, such as Connaught Hallmarker.

Most students in college or university accommodation are first-year undergraduates. The majority of second, third and fourth-year students and postgraduates live out.

A UNITE accommodation, named Elisabeth Croll House, is currently being built on the Vernon Square Campus, due to be completed in late 2009, availlable for students from September 2009.

Students' Union

SOAS has an active Students' Union, which is seen among the students' movement to be radically left-wing. In recent years the Students' Union has been particularly vocal in anti-war protests, and been active in reducing its carbon footprint. Recent campaigns by the union have involved campaigning for extended library opening hours, against closure of the Hindi, and for higher pay for the SOAS cleaners and staff, to prevent further walk out strike action like the walk out in 2005. It has also gone through an environmental audit and has started to actively tackle environmental issues within its student union and in the university. Adopted motions are decided upon by vote at a UGM, usually held at least twice a term.

The union elects three full-time co-presidents a year, who have separate responsibilities; and there are many part-time officers working with them who have specific briefs. Since a revision of the Union's constitution it has been possible for a Union General Meeting to elect an honorary president to serve a one-year term. The post has previously been held by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone whilst the current Hon. President is Burmese political activist and SOAS alumna Aung San Suu Kyi.

OpenAir Radio

SOAS runs its own radio station, OpenAir Radio, based on the 5th floor of the Russell Square Building. The initial Restricted Service Licence ran from November until 16 December 2005, and broadcast on 101.4FM over a three mile radius in the Camden/Central London area. The remit of the station is world music, culture and current affairs, with programmes focusing on Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. OpenAir programmes include everything from local news to international media analysis, and cookery programmes to DJ sets.

OpenAir is currently broadcasting over the internet and also providing shows as podcasts at [18166].

Notable students and alumni

Royalty



Government and politics



Media/writers



Academia



Music and the arts



Business and finance



Religion



Notable academics

Principals

Faculty of Law and Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Faculty of Languages and Cultures

References

  1. http://www.soas.ac.uk/library/about/
  2. http://www.minoritystudents.co.uk/node/858
  3. http://www.eai.nus.edu.sg/Current_Staff_Chairman.htm
  4. http://www.britac.ac.uk/fellowship/elections/furniss.cfm
  5. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2006/feb/02/guardianobituaries.highereducation


External links




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