The School of Oriental and African Studies, abbreviated to "SOAS" is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the University of London. Specialising in laws, politics, economics (specifically development economics), humanities and languages concerning Asia, Africa and the Middle East, SOAS currently offers over 300 undergraduate Bachelor's degree combinations, and over 70 one-year intensively taught Master's degrees. MPhil and PhD degrees are also available in every academic department.
Founded in 1916, SOAS has produced several heads of state, government ministers, ambassadors, Supreme Court judges, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and many other notable leaders in emerging markets, future superpowers and in the Next Eleven. Located in central London, SOAS describes itself as the "World's leading centre for the study of a highly diverse range of subjects concerned with Asia, Africa and the Middle East", and is consistently ranked amongst the top universities in the UK.
The institution was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies at 2 Finsbury Circus, London, England, the then premises of the London Institution. The School received its Royal Charter on 5 June 1916; admitted its first batch of students on 18 January; and was formally inaugurated by King George V in the presence of the Earl Curzon of Kedleston among other cabinet officials just a month later on 23 February 1917. Africa was added to the school's name and remit in 1938 and the school permanently shifted to Thornhaugh Street, which runs between Malet Street and Russell Square.