SOAS School of Law

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SOAS School of Law
SOAS Crest.jpg
Established 1947
Dean Paul Kohler
Administrative staff
Undergraduates 210
Postgraduates 130
Location Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom

The SOAS School of Law is the law school of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. It is based in the Bloomsbury section of London, United Kingdom, the SOAS School of Law is one of Britain's leading law schools and the sole law school in the world dedicated to the study of legal systems in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.[1]

The School of Law has over 400 students, it offers programmes at the LL.B., LL.M. and MPhil/PhD level. International students have been the majority at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level for many years.

It publishes a number of journals, including the Journal of African Law, the Journal of Comparative Law and the Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law. Along with the International Environmental Law Research Centre (IELRC), it produces the Law, Environment and Development Journal (LEAD Journal). An independent student law journal is also published by undergraduate and graduate students, the SOAS Law Journal, and includes unique scholarship from faculty, students and alumni.

Notable alumni of the school of law include David Lammy MP, former President of Ghana John Atta Mills, Supreme Court justices from Nigeria and Sri Lanka, and Iranian human rights activist Ghoncheh Ghavami.


The SOAS School of Law was established in 1947 with Professor Vesey-Fitzgerald as its first head, and as such is one of the 20 oldest law schools in England. Initially, the School of Law only hosted post-graduate students; in 1975, under the leadership of Antony Nicholas Allott, the school developed a uniquely comparative undergraduate LL.B. Honours programme that thrives to this day;[2] in 2012, the Head of the Law School, Professor Mashood Baderin, was appointed as Special Independent Expert to Sudan by the United Nations Human Rights Council.[3] In 2013, Professor Paul Kohler assumed the role as Head of the SOAS School of Law following the retirement of Professor Baderin.


The SOAS School of Law Honours Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) programme is recognised as a Qualifying Law Degree by the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council for the purposes of completing legal training. As such, the SOAS LL.B. satisfies all professional requirements for the Common Professional Examination. Many alumni go on to train as either solicitors or barristers in England, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and throughout the Commonwealth of Nations where local regulators of the legal profession view the SOAS LL.B. (Honours) as highly valuable. Admission is highly competitive with fewer than 80 available spaces each academic year.

Although many modules at SOAS embody a substantial element of English common law, all modules are taught as far as possible in a comparative or international manner with an emphasis in the way in which law functions in society. Thus, law studies at SOAS are broad and comparative in their orientation. All students study a significant amount of non-English law, start in the first year of the LL.B. course, where 'Legal Systems of Asia and Africa' is compulsory. Specialised modules in the laws and legal systems of particular countries and regions is also encouraged and faculty experts conduct modules in these subjects every year.

Several combination BA degrees also allow students to combine law courses with another faculty, including history and politics.

The SOAS School of Law also has an expanding and varied Master of Laws (LL.M.) which provides many advanced courses on comparative, international and transnational commercial law- all keenly focused on Asian and African legal issues.

The SOAS School of Law also offers a highly-esteemed PhD programme.

In addition to academic programmes, SOAS School of Law students also have access to several Pro Bono law clinics,[4] these Pro Bono law clinics offer students the opportunity to work alongside practising lawyers on actual cases involving human rights and civil rights which are taken on free of charge to the clients. Very few British law schools offer such opportunities in-house.


The SOAS School of Law has an unrivaled concentration of expertise in the laws of Asian and African countries, human rights, transnational commercial law, environmental law, and comparative law.

It is home to a thriving research community including the following research centres:

  • Centre for East Asian Laws (CEAL)
  • Centre for Law and Conflict
  • Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies (CEMS)
  • Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (CIMEL).

Faculty members routinely contribute to journals and publish volumes of leading research annually, the school has close ties with the internationally renowned Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, which is also part of the federal University of London.


The SOAS School of Law and faculty members are involved in the publication of the following legal research journals:

  • Journal of African Law,
  • Journal of Comparative Law,
  • Law Reports of the Commonwealth,[5]
  • Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law,
  • Law, Environment and Development Journal (LEAD Journal),
  • SOAS Law Journal (Co-founded by five SOAS law students, it is a student led and edited journal featuring submissions by students, alumni and faculty.)[6]


The SOAS School of Law is a top law school in the United Kingdom, it was ranked 15th out of all 110 British law schools by The Guardian League Table in 2016.[7] In 2015, The Guardian ranked the SOAS School of Law as the 10th best law school in the entire United Kingdom,[8][9] the QS World University Rankings placed SOAS as the 113th best law school in the world in 2016.[10] However, it should be noted that due to the highly specialised orientation and academic niche that the SOAS School of Law serves, a true comparison to other generalist institutions is impossible.

Guardian Rankings The Complete University Guide
2018 25[11] 23[12]
2017 30[13] 36[14]
2016 15[15] 29[16]
2015 10[17] 26[18]
2014 30[19] 39[20]
2013 16[21] 26[22]
2012 6[23] 13[24]
2011 7[25] 24[26]
2010 12[27] 29[28]
2009 10[29] 15[30]
2008 10[31] 17[32]

SOAS Law Society[edit]

The SOAS Law Society promotes opportunities to learn about the study of law and career options to student members at SOAS, the Law Society hosts meetings, intercollegiate exchanges, mooting tournaments and other educational events. Although there was formerly a separate SOAS Bar Society that conducted bar-related programming and organised moot teams and tournaments, it merged with the Law Society in 2013. Past moot teams fielded by the SOAS Law Society or SOAS Bar Society have participated in the annual English Law Students Association (ELSA) Moot Tournament and the prestigious London Universities Mooting Shield, which was founded by SOAS Law School alumnus, barrister and present New York attorney Daniel Jackson.

Amal Clooney was a special lecturer on international criminal law.


Faculty at the SOAS School of Law are routinely rated highly on national student satisfaction surveys, with the satisfaction rate reaching 91% in 2015.[33]

The SOAS School of Law has more than 30 full-time academic staff, 20 professors, many visiting professors and distinguished judicial and other visiting academic staff.

Visiting Professors

Notable alumni[edit]

Heads of State[edit]

John Atta Mills: Former President of Ghana


Shirani Bandaranayake: 43rd Chief Justice of the Sri Lanka Supreme Court


Lawyers: Solicitors and Barristers[edit]

Politicians and Diplomats[edit]

The Right Honourable David Lammy MP


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ SOAS School of Law Student Handbook: 2009
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  11. ^ The Guardian. 2017-09-21. ISSN 0261-3077 league table for law league table for law Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 2016-05-25.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2018". Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  13. ^ "University guide 2017: league table for law". The Guardian. 2016-05-23. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  14. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2017". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  15. ^ "University guide 2016: league table for law". The Guardian. 2015-05-25. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  16. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2016". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  17. ^ "SOAS School of Law in UK’s top ten | SOAS, University of London". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  18. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2015". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  19. ^ "University guide 2014: league table for law". the Guardian. 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  20. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2014". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  21. ^ "University guide 2013: league table for law". the Guardian. 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  22. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2013". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  23. ^ "University guide 2012: Law". the Guardian. 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  24. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2012". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  25. ^ "University guide 2011: Law". the Guardian. 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  26. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2011". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  27. ^ "University guide 2010: Law". the Guardian. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  28. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2010". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2009". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Law - Top UK University Subject Tables and Rankings 2008". Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  33. ^
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External links[edit]