Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Japanese and Korean Studies SOAS University of London
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
The Department is able to supervise MPhil and PhD degrees by research and thesis in a wide range of cultural and linguistic subjects. Intending research students should not feel constrained to limit their choice of topics to those indicated against the names of current staff members (postgraduate students have recently been working on a range of topics that include Japanese cinema, Kabuki texts, modern Japanese linguistics and literature, Meiji historical texts, Korean linguistics and literature, Korean colonial and eighteenth-century history). Research undertaken at MPhil and PhD level is based on literary, documentary, and archive material available at SOAS and also gathered during fieldwork in Japan and Korea.
All students register 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 bi-weekly 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. The student’s progress is further overseen by the 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 on offer in the Doctoral School.
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.
Towards the end of the first term, full-time students are required to submit a literature review of approximately 5000 words. Instructions for this is provided at the faculty research training seminars and students discuss with their supervisors how this literature review could be integrated into their upgrade research proposal and later their dissertation.
For the upgrade process year 1, full-time students (year 2 for part-time students) are required to submit a 10,000-word upgrade portfolio consisting of a research proposal and a core chapter. The relative word count of these two elements should be decided between the student and supervisory committee, but it is expected that the core chapter should be of no less than 3000 words. The deadline for the submission of this portfolio is 15th May each year.
The research proposal typically includes 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 core chapter should ideally be an analytical piece of writing in which the student by way of a case study shows how the research proposal translates into actual research. Depending on the nature of the research project access to primary source material can be difficult before the student undertakes the second-year research and in such cases, the content should be agreed between the student and the supervisory committee.
The upgrade process from MPhil to PhD status is based upon an assessment of the upgrade portfolio 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. The three supervisors meet separately to discuss the outcome of the upgrade and to inform the student. On successful completion of the upgrade portfolio, students are formally upgraded to PhD and proceed to the second year. (If the assessors consider there to be shortcomings in the portfolio, 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 the 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 organised 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, one of whom has experience of examining in the University of London and at least one of whom is external to SOAS.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.
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