Research Degrees in History
Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time
The SOAS History Department is one of the world’s major centers offering supervision for research degrees in African and Asian history. It attracts students and scholarly visitors from all parts of the world. The top ratings given to the Department in the official national research assessments of 1996, 2001 and 2008 took into account the excellence of its research training, as well as the staff publication record. The Department provides opportunities for well-qualified applicants to join large groups of students and staff working in or around their specialist fields of history. The unique combination of individual supervision, taught courses and seminars ensure that the large majority of students complete their degrees within four years.
SOAS students have unrestricted and usually free access to a huge range of seminars, conferences, and workshops being held in SOAS or within easy reach. Most importantly, they attend a weekly regional history seminar – on Africa, South Asia, the Near and Middle East, East Asia, or South East Asia – and often special workshops on themes related to their research. Close links are maintained with the nearby Institute of Historical Research and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, which run their own research seminars. These give research students many opportunities to meet scholars who are visiting SOAS, and those based elsewhere in the University of London or in Britain. Attendance at classes forming part of taught courses in SOAS or elsewhere may also be possible by arrangement.
Library holdings in London are superb for many of the subjects studied in the Department. SOAS history students have free access to the nearby British Library (including the India Office and Oriental Collections), to the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, to the National Archives, and to a vast array of other collections, including the libraries of most other London colleges and universities.
Registration Procedures for First-Year Students
During the Registration period, your supervisor and the Research Tutor will be available at advertised times to meet you in their offices. You will need to discuss any courses that you may want to audit or that you are required to take and pass (i.e. courses specified in your letter of acceptance from the School and/or language courses) with your supervisor.
Presence in London
Students are expected to be based at SOAS throughout their study, except for periods of fieldwork.
Logbook and Email
Each student has a personal electronic logbook that you can access via BLE https://www.ble.ac.uk/. The logbook must be completed every time you meet with your supervisor throughout your study programme, and all goals and deadlines agreed during the tutorial must be logged. A logbook is an online tool designed to support you in your academic and professional development and to help you build a broad and balanced skills profile. It also enables your supervisor(s) to follow your progress and advise you accordingly. Academic and faculty staff, as well as other students, will use your SOAS email to contact you with important degree-related information throughout your studies. If you use another email account make sure that all mail from your SOAS account is forwarded.
The School requires all students to complete their PhD within four years. It is crucial that students notify their supervisor, the Research Tutor, and the Registry as early as possible if their study has to be interrupted for any significant period because of exceptional personal circumstances. These problems might be financial, personal or in relation to your role as a parent and/or carer. Please provide documentation in the form of medical certificates, letters of explanation, etc. where applicable. Be also aware that any extensions to your fieldwork beyond the usual 12 months period will result in a shortening of the writing-up period as the four-year rule will remain in place.
All first-year students are required to attend the weekly Methodology Seminar, the main forum for discussing current historical research, presenting your own research and engaging with the research of your peers. First-year students are also required to attend at least one regional research seminar (African History Seminar, Near & Middle East History Seminar, South Asia History Seminar, Southeast, and East Asia History Seminar) as specified by the supervisor. During the third term, students will normally present a full paper to their regional seminar.
Other training needs, for example in languages, are required for some first-year students as set out in the letter of acceptance to the research programme. Students are also encouraged to audit courses within the History department or other departments and faculties within the School as agreed with the supervisor. Students need to ask the respective course convener for permission before they can audit a course. Auditing is possible for lectures but not for tutorial classes so that languages classes are normally precluded. Arrangements for additional courses with other colleges of the University of London (such as UCL for European languages) will be made wherever possible, but cannot be guaranteed. The times of such required lectures are not to clash with your seminar commitments within the department. If the time slots for other lectures you wish to audit outside the department coincide with that of the regional research seminar or the Methodology Seminar, then these compulsory courses must take precedence.
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