Research Degrees in South Asian Studies
Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time
SOAS has an international reputation for excellence in the field of South Asian studies earned by the world-leading research undertaken. REF 2014 submissions by members of the Department included significant and paradigm-shifting monographs, edited collections, journal articles and book chapters on literature, cinema cultural history, and postcolonial studies. The Department has two ERC grants: Francesca Orsini for the comparative study of the multilingual literary histories of North India, the Maghreb, and the Horn of Africa; while James Mallinson has one entitled “The Hatha Yoga Project: Mapping traditions of transnational physical yoga practice through philology and ethnography”. Amina Yaqin’s current research projects include a collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Pakistan and the University of East London for the ‘Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue’ research project funded by the RCUK. This follows on from an earlier AHRC funded international research network, ‘Framing Muslims’. Rachel Dwyer is CI on an AHRC funded International Network with the University of Leeds: Soft Power, Cinema, and the BRICS.
The Department welcomes applications for the degrees of PhD on any topic related to the research interests and disciplines of the Department’s research-active staff. Prospective candidates should consult the details of the various staff members’ research areas and adapt their proposal accordingly. These presently include, but are not limited to: Indian film and screen studies; diaspora studies; postcolonial literature; literary studies associated with Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, and Sanskrit; classical Hinduism; feminism; translation; current representations of Muslims; and the politics of Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. Broader topics can be accommodated through joint supervision with colleagues in other Departments and Centres.
A full research training programme is provided at Faculty level, in addition to the close attention each doctoral researcher receives from his or her supervisor. MPhil/PhD researchers admitted to the Department receive research training in the Faculty-wide first-year research training seminar and are also encouraged to participate in discipline-specific training offered by the Faculty Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS) and research skills training coordinated via the Doctoral School.
Under the regulations of SOAS, University of London, all doctoral researchers register initially for an MPhil: they may transfer to PhD after completing one year if they wish and subject to approval by the School, which requires evidence that the candidate’s work is achieving the standard required.
The minimum duration for full-time doctoral researchers is two years for the MPhil and three years for the PhD. Part-time researchers normally take twice as long to complete their studies. When their research is completed, candidates submit a thesis to the examiners and then attend a viva voce examination.
A list of both current and recently completed PhD projects can be consulted, and a list of current staff members and their research interests are available Would-be candidates are strongly encouraged to make initial contact with a prospective supervisor in the first instance, and well in advance of submitting their application, to discuss their proposed research. More general queries should be directed to the Department Research Tutor or to the Doctoral School.
All students registered in year 1 of the programme as MPhil students. The upgrade from MPhil to PhD takes place at the end of the first academic session for full-time students (or at the end of the second academic session for part-time students).
All new MPhil/PhD students are provided with a supervisory committee of three members, comprising a main or primary supervisor, and a second and third supervisor. The split in time commitment across the supervisory committee is 60:25:15. In the first year, students are expected to meet their main supervisor on a fortnightly basis for a period of at least one hour.
The student’s primary supervisor is always a member of the Department in which the student is registered. The second and third supervisors, who act in a supplementary advisory capacity, may be from the same Department, or other Departments/Centres in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures or in Departments/Centres in the other Faculties of the School.
Depending on the nature of the research, joint supervision is sometimes recommended, under the direction of two primary supervisors. In such cases, the student has only one further supervisor on their committee.
The student’s progress is further overseen by a Departmental Research Tutor.
In the first year, students prepare for research by following a research training seminar series (RTS) convened at the Faculty level by the Associate Dean for Research and supported by the generic training offered by Learning and Teaching Development.
Students working in the fields of literature and cultural studies are also invited to participate in the additional training offered in the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS).
Students may also be encouraged by supervisors to attend additional taught courses relevant to their research and to their training needs. These may include specialist disciplinary, language or regional culture courses or research training in other Departments outside the Faculty.
Year 1 students are required to submit a 5000-word literature review to the supervisory committee by Friday 9 December 2016.
Full-time Year 1 (year 2 for part-time students) are required to submit a core chapter and research proposal (of about 10,000 words) to the supervisory committee by Friday 12 May 2017, typically including the following elements:
- Research rationale and context of proposed research
- Main research questions
- Literature review
- Theoretical and methodological framework and considerations
- Proposed research methods
- Ethical issues (where applicable)
- Outlining structure of PhD dissertation
- Schedule of research and writing
Adjustments to one or more of these sections, including additions or deletions where appropriate, are possible by prior arrangement between the students and lead supervisors.
The upgrade process from MPhil to PhD status is based upon an assessment of the core chapter by the student’s research committee, and upon on a 20-30 minute oral presentation, followed by a discussion. The oral presentation is given to Departmental staff and research students. On successful completion of the extended proposal, students are formally upgraded to PhD and proceed to the second year. (If the assessors consider there to be shortcomings in the upgrade proposal, students will be asked to revise it to their satisfaction before the upgrade to PhD status can be confirmed.) Students are not normally permitted to proceed to the second year until the upgrade process has been completed.
The second year (or part-time equivalent) is normally spent engaged in research. This may be by any combination of fieldwork and research in libraries and material collection as agreed between the student and the supervisor(s).
The third year (or part-time equivalent) is devoted to writing up research for the PhD thesis. During this time, students will normally give a presentation in a research seminar organized by the Departmental Research Tutor, comprising a select number of staff members with special expertise in the topic and other research students. During the third year (or part-time equivalent) students will present draft chapters to their main supervisor for comment, before completing a final draft of the thesis. Once a full draft is complete, the work is assessed by all members of the supervisory committee and the student can either submit the thesis or move on to Continuation Status to be given a further 12 months to complete the thesis and submit for examination. The thesis must be completed within 48 months from the time of registration (or part-time equivalent).
The thesis – not to exceed 100,000 words in length - is examined by two leading authorities in the field.
PhD Degrees are awarded by SOAS from registration in 2013 and are subject to SOAS regulations.
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