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The History of SOAS, University of London

The School was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies. It took its present title in 1938, by which time it had also established itself as a centre for African Studies. It moved to its present site in 1941.

The Scarborough Report of 1946 recommended that the whole field of Asian and African studies should be developed in London in contrast to a restricted range of programmes in other universities, and there was a considerable expansion of the School’s activities. In addition, after the Hayter Report of 1961, increased attention was given to the development of the social sciences.

Its expanded library, designed by the architect Sir Denys Lasdun, was opened in 1973. It is one of only five National Research Libraries in the UK and its extraordinary collections of more than 1.5 million items attracts scholars from around the world.

100 years of SOAS

SOAS, University of London marks its centenary in 2016-17.

Key anniversary dates are:

  • 5 June 1916 - the School (of Oriental Studies) receives its Royal Charter
  • 18 January 1917 - the first students are admitted
  • 23 February 1917 - the School is formally opened by the King Emperor George V

The School is planning a year of events and activities with the world-wide community to mark the achievements of the last hundred years and chart their future course as a scholarly resource of global relevance, guardian of specialist knowledge and champion of the issues that matter in the regions that matter in the 21st century.