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Programs : Brochure

Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Language Prerequisite: No previous study
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.3 Credit Available For: College
Other Eligibility Requirements: Min. 3.3 GPA in Concentration Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad
Housing Options: University Residence Hall/Apartment Application Deadline: Fall/Year: February 1, Spring: October 1
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

BOA LogoSchool of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

The School of Oriental and African studies, commonly known as SOAS, combines language study and disciplinary expertise and hosts one of only five national research libraries in the UK. More than 5,000 students from over 130 countries consistently comment on the excellence of the teaching and the enthusiasm of the staff. All of their courses provide students with an understanding of complex global issues and knowledge of non-Western theories.
For additional information, visit the SOAS website
The City of London

London is one of the most exciting and dynamic places in the world to be a student - a city at the cutting-edge of developments in every field. With more than 8.5 million inhabitants and an incredible concentration of history and creativity throughout the city, you can find yourself among a sea of both British and worldwide cultures. For study purposes, London offers special advantages, including major libraries, museums and art galleries, the headquarters of learned societies, and research institutes in medicine, law and the humanities.

Did you know…?

SOAS counts multiple heads of state as alumni. Influential figures throughout history, including Paul Robeson, have attended SOAS.



The program at the School of Oriental and African Studies is for College credit only.

Minimum GPA Requirement: A cumulative GPA of 3.3 is required. You must also have a minimum of 3.3 in your concentration.

Language Prerequisite: No previous study required.


Language of Instruction



A full course load at the School of Oriental and African Studies consists of four modules per semester or four units per year. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

Note that units are yearlong courses; four course units could also comprise two full units and four half units; or three full units and two half units. Units are weighted differently so it is the responsibility of prospective participants to arrange with their major advisor at Penn before departure and through communication at the time of course selection that an appropriate amount of Penn credit will be awarded. The SOAS website offers more details on courses, including how to choose them and any restrictions.

SOAS Academic Calendar
Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

Grades are reported to Penn on the SOAS scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
SOAS Grade Penn Grade
70-100 A
65-69 A-
60-64 B+
55-59 B
50-54 B-
45-49 C+
40-44 C
0-39 F

Special Features

BOA Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by the School of Oriental and African Studies prior to the start of each semester. More information on SOAS’s orientation activities can be found here.

Language Courses

More than 50 non-European languages can be studied at SOAS.

Group Excursions

The SOAS Students’ Union hosts local and regional excursions throughout the year.

BOA Special FeaturesOther excursions and activities are organized by the Cornell Brown Penn UK Centre.

Student Associations

Penn students studying at SOAS have access to a wide range of student activities and associations. SOAS boasts an incredibly diverse and multicultural environment through our extra-curricular events. The supportive and politically active Students’ Union organizes weekly events to enhance the student experience. There are more than 160 clubs and societies covering sport, debate, cultural, religious, and political interests.


BOA CampusParticipants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

SOAS student residence is offered by Sanctuary Students. Dinwiddy House is the dorm for undergraduate students. It is adjacent to the Vernon Square campus and a 15 minute walk from the main campus at Russell Square. Costs are set by Sanctuary Students but, compared to other central London residences, these options are very affordable. Dinwiddy House has 500 undergraduate student spaces including single en-suite rooms, six or seven rooms clustered around shared kitchen and dining facilities, access to telephones and broadband internet, on-site laundry, bike storage, and indoor and outdoor leisure spaces.

Students staying at SOAS for the entire academic year are permitted to apply for a place in one of the catered intercollegiate residences owned and maintained by the University of London (approximately 170 places are allocated to SOAS students). This offers a valuable opportunity to mix with students from other colleges of the University. All provide catering, offering breakfast and evening meals on weekdays and all meals at weekends.

More information can be found on the SOAS Study Abroad website and main accommodations page.

Cost and Finance

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.

Budget Sheets

Academic Year

Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

AASAP/UK Lord Acton Memorial Scholarship: Merit-based scholarship awarded to the applicant who demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of the value of an international educational experience and who agrees to share how the scholarship helped to fulfil their academic and personal ambitions. The award is £500 for a semester abroad or £1,000 for a full year.

BUTEX offers eight scholarships to North American students studying at a university in the United Kingdom. The value of each scholarship is £500 and will be paid to the winners once they have arrived and registered at their host university. Interested students should contact the appropriate Global Programs Manager in the Penn Abroad office.

Next Steps

For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in London, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.