Good University Guide 2023

SOAS University of London

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
SOAS University of London

Contact details


10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London , WC1H 0XG,

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A small university of less than 6,000 students, Soas has a global reputation for its focus on Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East, and is seeking to showcase its appeal with the launch of a new website in June 2022.

Soaring success in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) has given Soas even more to boast about. Law, anthropology and music did especiallly well and, overall, 87 per cent of the research submitted was ranked world-leading or internationally excellent, the top two categories. The REF 2021 outcomes have sent Soas ten places up our research quality index to 36th place. The university also ranks second in the world for development studies in the 2022 QS World University Rankings, up from fifth in 2021. 

The school moved into the five-storey north block of Senate House, the imposing Bloomsbury headquarters of the University of London, in its 2016 centenary year — consolidating facilities around Russell Square for the first time in many years. The campus includes a student hub, with services such as accommodation, counselling, student finance and careers, and a plaza under a glass canopy.

Undergraduates can select from wide range of degree combinations across law, politics, economics, finance, business, management, the arts, humanities and languages — all with the specialist international focus for which Soas is renowned. More than 40 per cent of undergraduate programmes offer the opportunity to spend a year studying in another country, experiencing a different culture first-hand. All students have the option to study a language alongside their degree programme, choosing from an unparalleled range of non-European languages available from beginner level. 

The university gained a silver award in the Teaching Excellence Framework, upgraded from bronze after an appeal process. The panel praised a strong institutional emphasis on personalised learning and small-group teaching, as well as a comprehensive student engagement system and outreach initiatives to widen participation.

Outcomes of the latest National Student Survey (NSS), published in summer 2022, paint a less positive picture from the perspective of Soas undergraduates. Having fared better than most in the pandemic-hit NSS of 2021, the university drops to 125th place (from 102=) for student satisfaction with teaching quality. It has fallen from 101= to 127th for how students assess their wider experience. 

Blended online and in-person learning is the prevalent model for 2022-23. “Students have a good mix and a varied experience, including plenty of time on campus, whilst also experiencing a timetable that is effective, efficient and designed to promote student success,” the university said. 

A third consecutive rise in the number of new students starting courses in 2021 brought enrolments to a new high, although applications dipped a little for the third year running. Almost three in ten (28.7 per cent) first-years gained their places via clearing in the same admissions round. A combined degree entitled Africa and Black Diaspora and . . . welcomed its first students in September 2022. 

Drawing more than eight in ten (81.7 per cent) of students from ethnic minority backgrounds, Soas has one of the most ethnically diverse undergraduate populations in the country, the highest percentage in London and behind only Bradford and Aston universities on this measure of social inclusion. 

Soas has pioneered moves to decolonise the curriculum and committed itself to challenging Eurocentrism. The university has developed a toolkit for making teaching more inclusive and redressing disadvantage through racism and colonialism. There has been a student working group on the subject since 2016, prompted in part by Soas’s colonial origins.

Soas moves into the upper half of universities in the country for graduate prospects (57=) after strong results in the national Graduate Outcomes survey, which tracks graduates 15 months after finishing their degrees and records the proportion in highly skilled jobs or postgraduate study. The university fosters relationships with organisations from the public sector, charities, NGOs, law firms, consultancies and the cultural and creative industries — and counts PwC, HM Treasury, Sotheby’s and Linklaters among its industry partners. A paid internship programme launched in 2022 is co-funded by Soas, SMEs and charities.  

The university offers a free week-long bridging course to prepare applicants who are the first in their family to go to university, or are over 21, or from a low-participation neighbourhood. Contextual offers are typically one or two grades below the standard requirement for eligible students. Those with household incomes below £25,000 receive a cash bursary of £4,500 over the duration of their degree. 

Students have their own bar, social space and catering facilities. The former University of London Union, now a student centre, is close at hand. The students’ union hosts sports clubs and teams such as basketball, baseball, aikido and table tennis, and new students are welcome to set up their own. While the university does not own its sports facilities, it is well placed for plenty of University of London and public amenities.  

All new students are required to take part in Enough is Enough, an SU initiative that aims to tackle potential gender-based violence on campus through consent training workshops, events and online campaigns. 

There are 1,002 residential places available, enough to guarantee a space for all first-years in 2021-22.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 37 (33)
Teaching quality 68.5 125th
Student experience 62.7 127th
Research quality 51.9 36th
Ucas entry points 145 38th=
Graduate prospects 74.6 57th=
Firsts and 2:1s 84 30th
Completion rate 84.9 71st=
Student-staff ratio 14.6 31st=
World ranking - 443= (391=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 5,300/1,395
Applications/places ratio 3.8:1
Overall offer rate 89.1%


Places in accommodation 1,002
Accommodation costs £156 - £290
Catered costs £166 - £302
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (overseas year) £1,385
Fees (international) £10,175 - £20,350
Finance website
Graduate salaries £25,000


Sport points/rank 24, 126th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 64
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 86.1%
Grammar school admissions 4.8%
Independent school admissions 9.1%
Ethnic minority students (all) 81.7%
Black achievement gap -10.7%
White working class males 1.8%
First generation students 47.2%
Low participation areas 2%
Working class dropout gap n/a
Mature 13.7%
EU students 11.9%
Other overseas students 18%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Anthropology 79.3%
Middle Eastern and African studies 79.2%
History 77.7%
Politics 74.7%
Geography and environmental science 73.4%
East and South Asian studies 68.3%
Business, management and marketing 62.9%
Economics 61.2%
Law 60.6%
Accounting and finance 49.3%