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Postgraduate

Postgraduate Research Admissions FAQ

  1. How do I submit an application? Is there a deadline for applying?
  2. Should I have contacted a potential supervisor before I submit my application or can one be found for me? Where can I find contact details of supervisors?
  3. How long does it take for a decision to be made on my application?
  4. I studied for my undergraduate and/or postgraduate degrees in the English language; do I still need to take an English test?
  5. Do I need to take an English test before I submit my application to SOAS?
  6. Do my undergraduate and/or postgraduate degrees make me eligible to enrol for Research at SOAS?
  7. Can I submit my application before I have finished my current studies?
  8. What happens if I won’t be awarded my studies until after the start of the SOAS term, e.g. UK Masters degrees that are conferred in the autumn?
  9. Can I register for a Research Degree later than the September start of term?
  10. Why is my application still pending?
  11. Where should I obtain references from to support my application and how many do I need?
  12. If my application is successful, what will I need to do?
  13. If my application is unsuccessful, what are my options?
  14. Do I need a visa if I have an offer from SOAS?
  15. What are the tuition fees and when do I need to pay them?
  16. How do I apply for accommodation?
  17. Is there any funding available to help me pay my fees and living expenses?
  18. Can I defer my offer to a later academic year?
1. How do I submit an application? Is there a deadline for applying?

Applications ideally should be submitted online. You can begin the online application process

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To ensure there is enough time to fully consider your application and receive a decision in good time for September entry the deadline for applying to the School is 30 June. Applications submitted after the deadline can be considered but there is no guarantee that a decision can be given in time for this year's September entry.

2. Should I have contacted a potential supervisor before I submit my application or can one be found for me? Where can I find contact details of supervisors?

It is not a formal requirement to identify a proposed supervisor before you submit your application but it is often beneficial if you do as it enables us to direct your application to the right person, quickly. If you do not identify a proposed supervisor in your application, the department will nominate several selectors based on the area of research you propose. Potential supervisors can be contacted by browsing the Academics Departments.

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3. How long does it take for a decision to be made on my application?

Your application will initially be reviewed by the Postgraduate Research Section to ensure it is complete. Incomplete applications will be missing any of the following: a supporting statement, a research proposal, transcripts of studies to date, or two recent academic references. If any of these are missing then you will receive an email to inform you of exactly what is missing. Incomplete applications are held in a pending state and are not considered by the Department.

Complete applications can take up to four weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year, and whether or not the Department want to interview you before making a decision. You should be prepared to wait up to six weeks in busy periods.

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4. I studied for my undergraduate and/or postgraduate degrees in the English language; do I still need to take an English test?

Where English is not your first language, you must demonstrate a satisfactory level of English language and must meet the English language requirements.

Some applicants can be exempted from having to take an English test if they have enough academic experience in an English-speaking environment. Assessments are done on a case by case basis.

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5. Do I need to take an English test before I submit my application to SOAS?

No, although it is recommended that you book your place for one as soon as you can because places for TOEFL and IELTS testing do fill up quickly. Your SOAS application can initially be considered without evidence of your English language ability but in the event that you are made an offer, it will be conditional upon passing a School approved English test. You will not be permitted to enrol at the School without this.

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6. Do my undergraduate and/or postgraduate degrees make me eligible to enrol for Research at SOAS?

Eligibility is initially assessed by the Doctoral School Section, Registry upon receipt of your application. In order to fully assess your application we require copies of your academic transcripts. Applications are assessed as a whole. Admissions tutors take into account academic qualifications, relevant work experience, academic recommendations, professional references and your personal statement. For more information please see the SOAS Admissions Policy

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7. Can I submit my application before I have finished my current studies?

Yes. Your application can be considered using the transcript marks you have achieved to date. In the event that you are made an offer, it is likely to be conditional upon the completion and award of the qualifications you are currently studying. It is worth noting that you should not be enrolled at another institution at the time you are due to enrol at SOAS. Where possible, any potential overlaps in enrolment should be declared in your application.

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8. What happens if I won’t be awarded my studies until after the start of the SOAS term,e.g. UK Masters degrees that are conferred in the autumn?

In the event that you are made an offer in these cases, the offer is likely to include a post-enrolment condition of achieving the degree before the end of the first term at SOAS - this is normally December if you enrol in September. In the event that you do not achieve the degree, or level of degree stipulated, you may be forced to withdraw from the course and lose any fees paid for the first term.

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9. Can I register for a Research Degree later than the September start of term?

Yes, for Financial and Management Studies only. If you are applying to this department you have the option of September, January or April start dates.

Due to the training schedule for MPhil/PhD starters, all other research degrees begin at the start of the normal academic term, in September.

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10. Why is my application still pending?

Incomplete applications remain pending until we have received all of the information required to allow the Department to make an informed decision. All submitted applications must have a supporting statement, a research proposal, transcripts of studies to date, and two recent academic references. If you are missing any of these items from your application please aim to submit them (or arrange to have them submitted) to the Doctoral School Section, Registry as soon as possible. If you have any problems submitting application material, please contact us at researchadmissions@soas.ac.uk, quoting your name, course applied for and your application ID.

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11. Where should I obtain references from to support my application and how many do I need?

References must be submitted either with your application and supporting materials or shortly after. References can be submitted in a number of ways:

  • by online submission, providing you have nominated them on your online application
  • by email to researchadmissions@soas.ac.uk
  • by post to: The Postgraduate Research Section, School of Oriental and African Studies: University of London, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG. Postal references can be submitted directly by the referee or by you so long as it is received in a sealed, signed/stamped envelope. We cannot accept open references from the applicant.

Online and emailed references must be submitted directly by the referee using an official institution email address (i.e. not a yahoo/hotmail/gmail account). We cannot accept references from free use accounts.

References should not come from prospective supervisors and should be independent of the application process. We require a minimum of two references. If your postgraduate study was in the past three years we require at least two references from that institution. If your postgraduate study was more than three years ago we can accept other professional references. 

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12. If my application is successful, what will I need to do?

If your application is successful, you will be made a formal offer by the School. We will first send you an email with your offer letter attached as an electronic Word document. A hardcopy of your offer will not automatically be sent unless you request it. The offer will explain exactly what you are required to do.

If your offer is conditional, you will need to:

  • accept the offer;
  • meet any conditions outlined in the offer; and
  • pay your tuition fees before you are permitted to enrol at SOAS in September.

Conditions of offers tend to involve the proof of awarded qualifications, or meeting the School’s English language requirements.

If your offer is unconditional, you will need to:

  • accept the offer; and
  • pay your tuition fees before you are permitted to enrol at SOAS.

Unconditional offers may have post-enrolment conditions, such as the award of a Master’s degree in the Autumn after enrolling at SOAS. You will be sent accommodation and tuition fee information when it is available. 

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13. If my application is unsuccessful, what are my options?

If your application is unsuccessful, there may be a number of reasons why. In some cases candidates are not eligible based upon their current qualifications. At other times their research proposal is not considered strong enough, or there just isn’t an available supervisor at the time of application. If the Department recommend you gain a Master's level degree instead you will be informed at the time and invited to submit a fresh application. Alternatively, we welcome you to submit another application to research the following year. 

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14. Do I need a visa if I have an offer from SOAS?

The UK Border Agency will be able to advise you on whether you need a visa to come to study at SOAS. For further information you can visit the UK Council for International Affairs (UKCISA)  or UK Border Agency.

If you do require a visa you should request a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Study) number from the Doctoral School Section, Registry once you have accepted your unconditional offer. We cannot provide CAS numbers until all outstanding conditions of offers have been satisfied. Further advice and basic information about visas and UK entry requirements can be sought from the SOAS Student Services. 

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15. What are the tuition fees and when do I need to pay them?

Tuition fees are payable in full before or at enrolment at the beginning of each academic year.

A fee payment by instalment option is available to all self-funding students undertaking on-campus degree programmes. The minimum tuition fee for instalments is £1500. The fees are paid in two equal instalments:

  • the first instalment is due before or at enrolment
  • the second is due by 31 January 2014

An administration charge of £150 is payable for the instalment option.

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16. How do I apply for accommodation?

An information leaflet about accommodation will be sent to you with your offer letter. You will need the code on the leaflet to apply for accommodation. 

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17. Is there any funding available to help me pay my fees and living expenses?

You can contact the Scholarship and Bursary Office for further information.  

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18. Can I defer my offer to a later academic year?

Offers are not automatically transferable to a subsequent session or to a later start date. If you wish to be considered for a deferral or to change your mode of study, please write to the Doctoral School Section, Registry or email researchadmissions@soas.ac.uk. When requesting a deferral, please state the reasons why you wish to defer your entry. You should note, however, that a deferral, if agreed, will be granted for the following academic year only.

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