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  • School of Oriental and African Studies

TSR Wiki > University > Choosing a University > University Guides > soas, university of london

The School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS as it's better known, is the leading institution on Asian and African Studies in the UK. As well as some arts, humanities and social science subjects, it offers an unrivalled range of non-European languages from Arabic to Vietnamese.


There are numerous lecture halls located at both the Russell Square campus and the Vernon Square campus. Within the Russell Square campus there are 3 main halls used to host lectures e.g. the 'Lucas' Lecture Theatre, Khalili Lecture Theatre, and the Brunei Lecture Theatre (located on the lower floor of the Brunei Gallery). Whilst at the Kings Cross Campus there are 2 main lecture halls located on the first and second floors.


SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, which attracts scholars from all over the world to conduct research. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes at the SOAS campus at Russell Square in central London, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources. Also, because of the location of the university, SOAS students can take advantage of having the British Library and several other libraries on their doorstep.

IT and Computing

There are three computer rooms in the main building, all of them on the Lower Ground Floor, the biggest one is L53, followed by L62 and then RB01. There is also a computer room in Vernon Square on the first floor which tends to be less crowded and more relaxed!

Language Centre

The Language Centre offers courses in more than 50 African, Asian and Middle Eastern languages, for people at three different levels; beginner / intermediate / advanced. The teaching staff consists of more than 100 highly trained native speakers. The centre also offers full-time certificates and diplomas in Modern Chinese / Japanese / Standard Arabic.


Many different sporting societies exist within SOAS. Most of these sporting groups participate University leagues e.g. both the basketball and football team are in their own respective leagues such as the ULU league.


The Student Welfare Office is located at on the Vernon Square campus and provides confidential advice on issues ranging from finance to childcare to special needs and personal issues.

There are opportunities for prayer and worship, as the university has three single-sex prayer rooms, available for private use.

General Information
London, UK
University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
SU/Guild website:]
UCAS Code:

Total students:
Typical offers:
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Health provision is available at the Gower Street Practice.


Bloomsbury, the area in which SOAS is located, is the height of stylishness and boasts the newly opened 'The Brunswick' which in addition to the great variety of eateries also houses leading high street brands such as Gap and FCUK.


You're never too far away from a good place to eat; if you're into Italian, Strada is your place; if you're more oriental liking, then there's Hare and Tortoise; and of course who doesn't like Nando's? If you're looking for something a little less upmarket, then the Chicken Cottage on High Holborn (and the Old Dutch Pancake House right next to it) will be right up your street. In the near by Charlotte and Goodge Street area, there a lot of restaurants to chose from. An especially good and cheap pizza restraunt is called Icco's on Goodge Street. 15 minute walk away is Soho and China Town, here you can find many East Asian restaurants; I would recommend China Experience and the Tokyo Diner. And everyone has a favourite restaurant on Edgeware Road.


There's a HSBC right opposite Russell Square, and there's a Halifax in the Brunswick. The Tesco Express, open 24 hours, 7 days a week, right opposite the tube, also has a free withdrawal cash machine. (There is a cash machine in the JCR, but it does tend to be temperamental).


I've yet to find a place (let alone a university) as well connected as SOAS. On my last count, there are six tube stations that are less than a ten minute walk from the Russell Square campus - Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street, Holborn, Warren Street and Euston - while Vernon Square campus is close to both Kings Cross and Angel.

Careers service

The Careers service is run in conjunction with the 'Careers Group - University of London'. Most of the careers services are sent to the students SOAS email address. There are also drop-in times for students in need of assistance.

Part-time jobs

There are numerous part time jobs available to students at SOAS, these range from helping the SOAS Alumni Fund with their phone up fundraisers to being a SOAS student ambassador.

Religous facilities

There are Muslim and Christian prayer facilities in the main campus at Russell Square, and there is a multifaith prayer room in v220 of the Vernon Square campus.

SOAS Discussions

Latest relevant discussions Last post/replies
Anyone else still waiting for SOAS offers ? 18 hours ago Replies: 16
Anyone doing Korean and/or international relations? 18 hours ago Replies: 2
What do SOAS students think about their university? 2 days ago Replies: 5
SOAS Year in Korea 3 days ago Replies: 3
Do I stand a chance at SOAS postgraduate 5 days ago Replies: 1
Postgraduate application for SOAS 1 week ago Replies: 11
Go to SOAS forum Post new thread


Bars, Pubs and clubs

The SOAS bar; is a bar of legendary status. It has a great atmosphere and is often rammed. During the day there are people studying there, sometimes playing backgammon. It has a newly opened smoking area which saves you a journey up and out of SOAS. To eat you can grab a samosa and some free chilli sauce. Guinness costs £2.60, which is pretty good for London. It has a working jukebox, which plays a very interesting selection during the day. You would not be surprised to hear opera, followed by Yusuf Islam, and then some Star Wars theme. Upstairs in the JCR, there is often live music too.

Near by bars include the bars at other universities. Close ones include UCL, which has a more typical university feel than SOAS. 2 floors of bars are located in their Gordon Street building. Likewise the ULU bar has a similar feel and is a good location if you fancy watching some sport, they also offer good drinks deals on different nights. The Birkbeck bar is pretty cool. It is situated on one of the top floors of Birkbeck and you can enjoy somewhat of a view, mainly of the SOAS library, it has quite a modern bar chic feel going on. The Institute of Education bar is a popular location for SOAS students, and is also in SOAS’s immediate proximity. It’s a lot larger and has a pretty cool atmosphere. For something a bit different you could check out the bar at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which feels a bit like a doctor’s surgery waiting room but with a bar added in, it has to be done at least once.

Bloomsbury is served by A LOT of pubs. A great pub near by is the Marquis of Cornwallis, cool bourgeois pub with a classy interior and friendly staff, prices a bit steep, serves good quality but fairly pricey food as well. It’s sometimes cool to get a seat upstairs on a sofa near the fireplace on a cold day. The College Arms is not too far away, and is of OK value. Near to SOAS halls there’s a bar called the Big Chill House. It’s once again really cool inside but a little pricey. They have a sort of dance floor some nights of the week and serve good mojitos. Quite a few bars along Pentonville and Euston Road, including an O’Neils (I’ve never been but I imagine it might be a bit cheaper than others). There’s also some Weatherspoons dotted about in Islington and Holborn, which could once again offer a cheaper option. Towards Islington (which is about a 10 minute walk from Dinwiddy) there’s a cool cocktail bar, forgot what it’s called, but it’s on the left hand Side of Pentonville Road. Inside Islington there are quite a few bars and pubs, might be worth checking it out. Or you could get a bus to Camden and check out some of the famous pubs and bars there such as the Hawley Arms. One pub I especially like is the Constitution, which has a large beer garden on the canal; it’s a bit out of the way. The Prince Albert is another cool pub on the way to the Constitution. Hampstead and Highgate areas have a lot of really cool pubs, good for a Sunday afternoon, although a bit pricey also.

Club wise London has one or two choices, as you could imagine. There are the big names such as Ministry and Fabric. Then there are a lot of posh clubs where you can spend a lot of money and receive very little such as Amika and Funky Buddha. Indie clubs such as KOKO and Notting Hill Arts Club. Universities such as KCL, UCL and LSE offer popular club nights. For an interesting experience I recommend Cheapskates. Its like 80pence for a shot of “vodka”, you get a terrible hangover and your liver aches, even if you haven’t drunk that much of the “vodka”. Elbow Rooms in Islington is kind of like a bar-club thing. It’s also an interesting night. Nowhere else in London have I seen so many Chavs in one place and it has pool tables – quite fun. Shunt is also a cool club which you should check out, Thursday nights are best to avoid LONG ques.


Events are normally hosted by the numerous societes within SOAS. Particular rooms are used to host these events most notably the JCR, Lucas Lecture Theatre and the Brunei Suite/Lecture Theatre.

Clubs and societies

There are numerous societies located in SOAS. Most societies are organised and created by the students themselves. Many of the events in SOAS are led by the societies/clubs.


There are two self-catering houses solely for students at SOAS, Dinwiddy House and Paul Robeson House. They are both located on Pentonville Road; the nearest train and tube station is King's Cross. Each house is grouped into flats of 5-7 en-suite rooms which cost, as of 2011/12, £130.01 per week.

Dinwiddy House is the undergraduate accommodation and has 510 single en-suite rooms. Paul Robeson House is the postgraduate accommodation and has 252 single rooms. There are also 7 double en-suite rooms in Paul Robeson House for undergraduate and postgraduate couples.

SOAS students are also able to live in the University of London's Intercollegiate Halls, which is the only option for people wanting catered accommodation.

Student union

The Student Union is very active in SOAS. They help to organise events for different societies as well as assure the welfare of SOAS students. The three main sabbatical posts held in the Student Union are the Co-President Welfare & Education, Co-President Finance & Communications and the Co-President Sports & Societies. There are also other various posts in the University ranging from Academic Affairs officer to the Black Officer.


SOAS boasts a prestigious range of Alumni:

John Atta Mills - Current President of Ghana Jemima Khan - UK Ambassador to UNICEF David Lammy - MP for Tottenham Fatima Bhutto - Author and Journalist Hossein Derakhshan - Iranian Blogger credited with starting the blogging revolution in Iran, now a political prisoner David Warren - UK Ambassador to Japan Paul Robeson - Musician, writer and civil rights activist Samia Nkrumah - Ghanian Member of Parliament Herbert Chitepo - First Black Rhodesian Barrister

Just to name a few...

Local area

SOAS is located in the heart of London, and thus gives you access to all things that the capital has to offer.

The Russell Square campus is based in Bloomsbury, an historic area well known for its pretty parks and formal squares, eg. Bloomsbury Square and Bedford Square. It's an intellectual area, often associated with the arts, education and medicine. Famous buildings in this area include the British Library, the British Medical Association and University College Hospital. Within easy walking distance you can also reach the West End, Oxford Street and Covent Garden.

The Vernon Square campus is situated a bit further East, towards Islington with all it's restaurants and boutiques.

Teaching quality

Teaching and learning programmes at SOAS are distinctive, and students can pursue courses combining languages, disciplines and regional studies unavailable elsewhere.

SOAS continues to rely heavily, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, on small group teaching and the cultivation of independent, critical thought by its students.

It is consistently ranked amongst the top Universities in the UK, part of the prestigious University of London and ranked 26th in the World within its field of expertise.

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.

Students pursue courses in law and the social sciences (46%), in the humanities (36%) and in language, literature and linguistic studies (24%).

SOAS teaching has consistently been awarded high grades by the Quality Assessment Agency.

The QAA teaching assessments have consistently awarded high marks for the quality of the School's teaching and our student/staff ratio remains one of the best in the country (11:1).

SOAS offers over 300 undergraduate Bachelors degree combinations, over 70 one-year intensively taught Master's degrees, and MPhil/PhD research degree programmes are available in every academic department. As well as a wide range of non-degree programmes, including Foundation courses, Language courses, JYA, Exchange and Erasmus programmes.

Applying to SOAS

Thinking of applying to SOAS? Why not read some Personal Statements which were used for applying here?

Other SOAS Articles

Why not read these other London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Articles?


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