All About UsAllAboutCareers is a social careers information website for everyone who wants to find out more about graduate schemes, apprenticeships, internships and other job-related shenanigans.
The only higher education institution in the UK to focus on the cultures, languages and societies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is a unique institution. Established in 1916, SOAS was originally conceived as a training ground for diplomats and officials posted to various colonies in the British Empire. Now, as part of the University of London, it is widely regarded as a leading centre for the study of a diverse range of subjects, from Ethnography and Islamic Painting to courses in Tibetan and Armenian.
The school is divided into three core faculties: Arts & Humanities, Languages & Cultures and Law & Social Science. The school offers BA, BSc and LLB degrees to undergraduate students as single or combined honours degrees, with some degree programmes including a year abroad. A whopping 50% of the student population are international students.
The SOAS alumni list features a distinguished line-up. The college has taught royalty and many great political figures. Notable figures include: the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Michael Jay (former French ambassador and head of the Diplomatic Service), newsreader Zeinab Badawi, the editor of The Times James Harding, author Jung Chang and Jemima Khan. I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Here jungle veteran and comedian, Dom Joly, also attended SOAS.
The main campus, Russell Square, is in Bloomsbury and a second campus, Vernon Square, is based near King’s Cross in London. The Russell Square campus lies within the heart of the University of London’s campus facilities, situated near Senate House and Birkbeck College.
Bang opposite the main campus building is the Brunei Gallery, part and parcel of London’s Museum Mile (twelve prominent and popular galleries and museums between King’s Cross and the River Thames). So it’s the place to be if you’re a culture vulture, especially with the British Museum on its doorstep. Other campus attractions include the SOAS Library, stocked with over 1.2 million books across 400 languages and recognised as a collection of national importance.
Getting to the Russell Square campus won’t be too much of hassle either; there’s an abundance of tube stations nearby (Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street, Holborn, Warren Street and Euston)and it’s well served by buses. The surrounding area, Bloomsbury, has its fair share of shops, including the Brunswick Shopping Centre.
For those who are worried about the entertainment and nightlife quotient, remember, this is London, and the University of London’s Union (ULU) is right next door!
SOAS’s accommodation includes two exclusive halls of residence for SOAS students and around 190 rooms set aside for SOAS students in five intercollegiate halls of residence owned by the University of London. First-year students should apply for housing by 30th June, bearing in mind that accommodation is not guaranteed. Tenancy terms are offered for a period of 38 or 51 weeks.
Dinwiddy House and Paul Robeson House are two halls exclusively for SOAS students, the latter being reserved for postgraduate students. Intercollegiate halls of residence where SOAS students are accommodated include College Hall, Connaught Hall, The Garden Halls, International Hall, Lillian Penson Hall and Nutford House.
Individual housing consists of study bedrooms with en-suite facilities (shower, toilet and basin) and a shared kitchen area. There are also a limited number of double rooms and self-contained flats for students with families.
Elizabeth Croll House is the only residence situated in the Vernon Square campus. While all halls of residence for SOAS students are run by Sanctuary Management Services (SMS), this facility is managed by Unite. The tenancy period is 41 weeks and the facilities are pretty posh as compared to other halls of residence. The rates reflect this: an en-suite room costs around £240 per week and a studio flat costs around £314 per week.
Students starting in 2012/2013 will be expected to pay the maximum £9,000 tuition fees.
London is expensive, especially if you’re on a student budget. On-campus accommodation will cost you around £130 to £238 per week (from single rooms to self-contained flats); off-campus, private rented accommodation, consisting of shared flats, hostels or paying guest facilities, will set you back by around £95 to £120 per week.
Housing is mainly self-catered, which means you’ll have to splash out on food and groceries. London transport is as expensive as it is bountiful, but the average student can stay put, making use of entertainment and nightlife facilities put on by the SOAS and University of London students unions.
Off-campus, a pint of beer costs on average around £3.20 (£2.20 in the Union), while a glass of wine costs around £3.50 (£2.20 in the Union). You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants and cafes. One of the best things about London is that it has a staggering variety of cuisines on offer, which will satisfy even the most exotic palates.
For undergraduates, SOAS offers £860 as a study support bursary to students enrolled in a full-time degree programme. However, only UK students whose family income is less than £25,000 are eligible for this bursary. SOAS also has a bursary fund for Local Excellence. Ten bursaries of £4,000 for outstanding merit are up for grabs. You can find out more about it here.
There are also Progression Awards available: 40 bursaries at £500 each. SOAS also has a huge range of postgraduate funding available, from scholarships and studentships to one-off prizes and grants.
Considering you’re in the capital city of London, there’s no dearth of options for entertainment and nightlife. On-campus, in addition to SOAS nightlife events, students have access to the University of London Union’s events too.
Off-campus, the nightlife of London beckons. Don’t worry; you don’t need a fat wallet to party, there are plenty of free events and student club nights for those on a budget.
The SOAS Union operates a bar below the Junior Common Room (JCR) with cheap drinks and events, such as pub quizzes and music nights. The union also runs events in the JCR and there is a SOAS Concert Series held fortnightly.
SOAS is not exactly a Mecca for sporting enthusiasts; sporting facilities are thin on the ground, consisting of a gym, some squash courts and an active five-a-side football team. Most sport junkies head to the extensive University of London sporting facilities. There’s also very little sporting action in terms of clubs and events.
The emphasis lies more on cultural, political and arts-related events and activities. Clubs and societies include gems such as Anarchist Discussion Forum, Anti-Slavery International, Cuban Big Band and Good Beer. The Brunei Gallery is a popular hotspot for seminars, displays and other cultural events.
For media-savvy students, the school’s own SOAS Radio broadcasts a variety of shows covering music, culture and current affairs.
Freshers’ week at SOAS runs over a period of two weeks at the beginning of October. Apart from the usual orientation sessions (e.g. student registration, faculty and department introductions), the Union organises a full calendar of social events, including an introduction to the numerous student clubs and societies at the Freshers’ Fayre.
The SOAS Careers Service is an offshoot of the University of London’s ‘The Careers Group’. Services offered include advice on choosing a career path and employer-specific initiatives (job fairs, specialist careers expositions, advertising vacancies, etc.). The Careers Service team is contactable via email, telephone and personal appointments.