|Famous Courses||African, Asian & Middle East Studies|
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is a constituent of the University of London specialising in the arts, humanities, languages, cultures, law and social sciences concerning Asia, Africa, the Near East and the Middle East. It was founded in 1916 and currently has just over 5,000 students enrolled from over 130 countries. It is notable for having not only a roughly equal number of undergraduates and postgraduates, but also one of the highest proportions of international students in the world.
Following the last National Student Survey, 89% of SOAS students were happy with the University, well above the national average. 71% of SOAS degrees earn first or uppersecond class passes, a performance that has seen the School rank in the top ten nationally for the past five years. SOAS offers over 350 undergraduate Bachelors degree combinations, close to 200 one-year intensively taught Master's degrees, and MPhil/PhD research degree programmes are available in every academic department.
SOAS's founding mission was primarily to train British administrators for overseas postings across the empire. Now, it counts numerous heads of state, government ministers, Supreme Court judges and a Nobel Prize laureate amongst its alumni. Over 40% of courses allow a year abroad in one of SOAS’s numerous partner universities across Africa and Asia, and around 45% of undergraduates take lessons in a second language. The world-famous library is one of five National Research Libraries in the UK, with 1.5 million books, journals and study materials in 400 different languages.
International students have free membership to International Students House, which provides a meeting place, events and activities for students of different cultural backgrounds. A welcome day takes place at the beginning of the autumn term, and support continues from your arrival. The Student’s Union has a dedicated International Officer to provide personal support, outside of that offered by Student Advice and Wellbeing. SOAS also offers pre-sessional English for Academic Purpose courses and in-sessional English language support.
Despite being a highly specialised institution compared to many other universities, SOAS ranks highly in UK league tables. Following the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, Music, which was already ranked highly, has risen to 5th in the UK, while History of Art and Archaeology has seen a dramatic rise up the league tables, from 17th to 8th (out of 25), coming in the top five nationally.
SOAS has two exclusive halls of residence, 20 minutes walk from the main campus. Dinwiddy House is designed for undergraduates and has 510 en suite rooms, while Paul Robeson House is exclusively for postgraduates and has 259 en suite rooms. SOAS students can also take up residence in University of London intercollegiate halls, where the school has 170 rooms reserved. London is a large city with a myriad of private accommodation and halls of residence available. Homestays with families and local residents are also available.
The main campus (Russell Square) is located in Bloomsbury, an area of central London developed by the Russell family in the 17th and 18th centuries into a fashionable residential area. It is known for its array of gardened squares and as such is one of the most picturesque areas of central London, while also being famed for its literary connections, such as the Bloomsbury Group, and its numerous hospitals and academic institutions. The second Vernon Square campus is in Islington.
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