SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Department of Anthropology Research Student Handbook

Table of Contents
  1. A Summary Statement of Educational Provision
  2. Student Representation
  3. Contacting Members of Staff
  4. Staff Roles
  5. Enrolment/Registration Procedures and Course Commitments
  6. Logbooks
  7. Libraries
  8. Information Technology
  9. Media Production Skills
  10. Transfer to PhD/Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal
  11. Research Ethics
  12. Fieldwork and Funding
  13. The PhD Dissertation
  14. Extension to Writing-up (Continuation) Status
  15. Submitting the Dissertation
  16. Postdoctoral Research
  17. References for Applications
  18. SOAS Careers Service
  19. Staying in Touch

1. A Summary Statement of Educational Provision

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology teaches the discipline of Social Anthropology with special reference to the countries, peoples, societies, cultures, and diasporas of Asia, Africa and the Middle East - both past and present. The emphasis given to particular regions, themes and approaches will vary with current trends in the discipline, broader global developments, and the evolving research specializations of academic staff. The Department recognizes a special responsibility to complement the provision of skills in the languages and the cultural and social affairs of Africa, Asia and the Middle East provided in the other Departments, Institutes and Centres of SOAS.

Degree programmes are offered at BA, MA and Research (MPhil and PhD) levels. This Statement and Handbook refer chiefly to the MPhil and PhD Anthropology degree programme. Research Students should also consult the SOAS Postgraduate Research Degree Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degrees available at the Doctoral School website (https://www.soas.ac.uk/registry/degreeregulations/).

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2. Student Representation

At the beginning of each year arrangements are made for the election of student representatives: one from the first year (pre-fieldwork) and one from the post-fieldwork cohort. Representatives formally meet with staff at least twice a year in the Student/Staff Forum. Students share the responsibility of setting the meeting agendas, and for identifying issues that will be taken up more fully by the Department Staff Committee which meets at least twice a term. A dedicated noticeboard is available for student representatives to communicate current information to fellow students. Student representatives from the department will also have a chance to serve on Faculty- and School-level committees.

Faculty office staff will assist student representatives in setting up e-mailing lists for the MPhil/PhD programme. You should check your SOAS email regularly as this will be used by academic and faculty staff, as well as other students, to contact you with important degree-related information throughout your studies..

Faculty staff will also assist student representatives to organise meetings and events (i.e. making room bookings). These may include informal meetings with staff or with other students, year forums, workshops, or social events as students see fit.

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3. Contacting Members of Staff

Individual office hours are posted outside the doors of academic staff and/or on the Anthropology Department staff page. Please try to make your enquiries at those times only. When in their offices, staff are frequently conducting supervisions, preparing for teaching, or engaged in research activity. If you need to arrange an appointment at an alternative time, please do so in person, by email, or by telephone. Of course, we do understand that emergencies may require immediate attention.

The Faculty Office is open during holiday periods (with reduced opening hours - see the Faculty Office webpage for details), but academic staff are only available for consultation during these times by previous appointment. Staff will normally contact you by e-mail, or by leaving a note in the postgraduate pigeon holes on the 3rd floor (located between rooms 327 and 328). Pigeon holes should be regularly checked during term time. Notices concerning courses and timetabling will be posted on the MA Student Notice board on the 3rd floor. You should check this notice board whenever visiting the faculty office

4. Staff Roles

Supervisor

As an anthropology research student, you will be assigned a primary supervisor in the department at the beginning of your studies. This staff member will be available for consultation on matters concerning your work and welfare. Normally, you will have the same tutor throughout your study programme. If your supervisor is absent on research leave, you are expected to keep in touch with them, but your second supervisor will normally assume responsibility for administrative duties during the first supervisor’s absence.

If you are a first-year, full-time MPhil/PhD student, you should arrange to meet your supervisor during registration week and fortnightly during term time. Your supervisor will schedule regular meetings with you once you have introduced yourself. Post-fieldwork students are expected to meet with their supervisors once a month or more frequently given their writing timetables. Part-time students are expected to see their supervisors monthly in years one and two and as needed during the post-fieldwork period.

Second Supervisor

Your second supervisor is usually assigned to complement the thematic or regional expertise of the first supervisor. A second supervisor can be consulted during the first year of research, but their principal task is to examine the Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal (see 9, below) in Term 3 (year one for full-time students, year two for part-time students). The second supervisor can also step in to fulfil the primary supervisor’s duties should they be on leave. When you return from the field, the second supervisor will be invited as one of two people to comment on your PhD post fieldwork seminar presentations. The second supervisor may also be the penultimate reader of a PhD thesis draft if deemed necessary by your main supervisor.

Co-Supervisor

Some students will have two supervisors who share the task of seeing them through the research student programme. A co-supervisor is generally a supervisor based in another department, and the work load of tutorials is shared equally between the two. The School expects the co-supervisor from the student’s main department to act as ‘lead’, that is, to take responsibility for ensuring that all the paperwork is completed. In such cases, students are assigned a third supervisor as well as the usual second, making a research committee of four.

Research Tutor

During registration week, you are also advised to meet the Research Tutor, Professor Paul Basu. From week one you will be seeing the Research Tutor regularly in the Research Training Seminar. The Research Tutor can offer moral support and general guidance, acting as both confidant and spokesperson. If you have any special burdens be they financial, personal or in relation to your role as a parent and/or carer of which you think the department should be aware, it is a good idea to let the Research Tutor know as soon as possible. You may also wish to discuss with the Research Tutor any plans for taking time out, intermitting, or for deferring your course (Registry must also be consulted at an early stage).

If you are not comfortable with your supervisor, you can request a change of tutor from the Research Tutor as well, although such changes are not undertaken lightly and again will need approval from the Associate Dean of Research. If you have serious problems which need counselling, or require the setting in motion of grievance procedures, your supervisor or Research Tutor can make suggestions and point you in the right direction.

Your Research Committee

Every student has a three-person research committee. The committee consists of the above members: supervisor, second supervisor and Research Tutor. In cases where the Research Tutor and supervisor are one and the same person, the Head of Department will normally act as the third member of the committee. The Research Tutor monitors the progress of every student and signs the Upgrade Form at the end of the MPhil year. In cases where a student has concerns about the upgrading viva, they (or their supervisor) can request that the Research Tutor be present as an ‘external’ during the exam process.

The Associate Dean for Research

The Associate Dean for Research (ADR),  Dr Mandy Sadan, together with the Faculty Research Committee, has responsibility for overseeing all aspects of research student training. The ADR oversees the progression of all students through to graduation. If arising problems related to supervision or training cannot be resolved with your supervisor, you are advised to speak to the Research Tutor and/or Head of Department. If you are still not satisfied or need further advice, you should speak to the ADR regarding regulations and procedures.

In general - It is important that you keep your supervisor and the Research Tutor aware of problems which may be leading to repeated absences, difficulty completing coursework or other issues affecting your studies. Please provide documentation in the form of medical certificates, letters of explanation, etc. where applicable.

If after reading this handbook you are still in doubt as to the right person to see about academic or personal matters, ask in the Faculty Office. There is a list of Department Staff and their roles alongside the staff photographs posted in the fifth floor corridor.

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5. Enrolment/Registration Procedures and Course Commitments

During the Registration period, members of staff 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 offer from the School and/or language courses) with your supervisor. All MPhil students are required to attend the Research Training Seminar, and to take and pass the Research Methods in Anthropology course (students who can demonstrate that they have successfully completed a university-level course in statistics may be exempted from the Term 2 component of the course, Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Social Research, by the Research Tutor).

It is your responsibility to speak to specific course teachers about attending their language classes or auditing their lectures.

The times of required lectures are fixed so as not to clash with other lecture commitments you may have within the department. If the time slots for other lectures you wish to audit outside the department coincide with that of the Research Training Seminar, Research Methods, or Statistics courses, then these compulsory courses must take precedence. Some juggling in relation to the demands of language classes might be possible, but you must first discuss this with both your supervisor and the Research Tutor.

Attendance and Absence

Attendance for the Research Training Seminar, Research Methods in Anthropology, and Statistical Analysis courses is compulsory. Attendance is monitored, not least to ensure that students are not encountering problems. As a matter of courtesy, please contact the Research Tutor if you anticipate being unavoidably absent from a particular class. If absence is due to illness, then you should, where possible, submit a medical certificate. This is especially important when absence is prolonged, or results in the late submission of coursework. Please refer to the Postgraduate Research Degree Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degrees for information on School regulations.

Please talk to your supervisor or Research Tutor if you are experiencing, or anticipate experiencing, problems which you feel impinge upon your attendance or studies. It is usually best to share such difficulties with a concerned member of staff who will be able to advise you, in confidence, on the best way to cope with them.

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6. Logbooks

At the start of your MPhil/PhD programme, you will be issued with a personal electronic logbook. Before meeting with your supervisor, you are responsible for completing the first few entries that outline what you think he/she needs to know about your existing skills and experience and your future training needs. 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. The logbook must be signed by your examiners at the end of your MPhil upgrading viva.

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7. Libraries

There are two libraries at SOAS to which you have access. You should become familiar with them, their strengths, layout, computer catalogues, loan regulations etc. from the start and learn to use them to your best advantage.

SOAS (Main) Library
Familiarise yourself from an early date with the principal sections of the main library, including the Teaching collection, General collections, Regional collections, Periodicals and current periodicals room and Social Science Reading Room (for reference works).

Anthropology Department Library
The Helen Kanitkar Departmental Library contains a large number of items, mostly copies of popular anthropological texts and material used on BA and MA courses. This library also serves as the Postgraduate Research Student (PGRS) study centre. The room is equipped with computer terminals for the exclusive use of postgraduate research students, making this an important space for writing and research, as well as for informal meeting and exchange of ideas.

Ethnographic Film
Every week the Department of Anthropology screens an ethnographic film in the SOAS Lecture Theatre. The films are carefully selected from the collections of the Royal Anthropological Institute and elsewhere, and are introduced by people with specialist knowledge. There is usually opportunity for discussion. Additionally SOAS has a subscription to Ethnographic Video Online, a comprehensive visual anthropology database providing access to hundreds of classic and contemporary ethnographic films. This can be accessed via the SOAS Electronic Resource Library.

Other Libraries
If you cannot find what you need in the SOAS Library, there are a large number of other academic libraries you can access, including the University of London Library at Senate House and the libraries of UCL, LSE, Birkbeck and Kings College London. There is additionally the British Library and the Royal Anthropological Institute's Anthropology Library and Research Centre, located in the British Museum. See also guidelines to using other libraries on the SOAS Library website.

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8. Information Technology

MPhil/PhD students have access to computers in the SOAS Main Library and other parts of the campus. The IT Service Desk is located in the SOAS Library. See IT Support for further information.

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9. Media Production Skills

MPhil/PhD students are encouraged to take the Media Production Skills course (15PANH050). This module provides postgraduate students with multimedia training and practice that can be used during fieldwork. Students will learn to harness a variety of media technologies including stills and video cameras and audio recording equipment, and will be introduced to basic production and post-production techniques. The course is run in Term 2 and numbers are capped, so students are advised to sign up early in Term 1 to secure a place.

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10. Transfer to PhD / Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal

SOAS research students are initially registered on a MPhil/PhD and, subject to satisfactory progress, are subsequently transferred to PhD status. For full-time students, consideration for transfer will take place in Term 3 of the first year; for part-time students, consideration will take place in Term 3 of the second year of enrolment. Students may not leave for overseas fieldwork unless they have completed the consideration for upgrade and submitted a Fieldwork Application Form.

The transfer to PhD (or ‘upgrade’) involves submitting a 20,000 word Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal. The deadline for submission is 4:00pm on Friday of Week 4, Term 3, although students are encouraged to submit before this date. Oral examinations take place before the end of Term 3. Late submissions of Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal are only accepted in exceptional circumstances and with the prior agreement of the Research Tutor. A late submission may delay transfer to PhD status and departure for fieldwork. No student is granted permission to leave for fieldwork until they have been successfully examined and upgraded.

The general guidelines for producing the MPhil upgrade document in Anthropology are:

  • Research Report: 12,000 to 14,000 words
  • Fieldwork Proposal: 6,000 to 8,000 words
  • Totalling no more than 20,000 words.

As part of the upgrading process, students are also required to obtain ethical approval of their proposed research project following SOAS’s Research Ethics Policy (see Ethics section, below) 

Contents of Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal

The Research Report should demonstrate a clear development in your critical thinking over the course of the MPhil year regarding your topic of study and related issues.

  1. The formulation of your research problem should demonstrate sound understanding of the related debates and dialogues underway both in anthropology and elsewhere in the human sciences, and an ability to take up a scholarly position;

  2. Your research problem should be formulated in relation to the existing ethnographic literature of your selected region;

  3. The Research Report should display an ability to pose an anthropological question/problem such that, if necessary, you could make a new project for yourself once arriving in the field;

  4. The Research Report should contain a well-formulated research question that emanates squarely from the preceding discussion.


The Fieldwork Proposal section is the place to address pragmatic and practical information. If the Report has not addressed, for instance, the current political situation in your field site and the ways that it might impact your study, then you might wish to consider it here. The Proposal is the place to include timetables, statement of visa requirements, discussion of funding applications, and institutional and personal links in the field. Importantly, it is the place to elaborate upon your proposed field methods and to discuss ethical issues (these may also be addressed to some degree in the Research Report, but try to avoid repetition)

Correct spelling and grammar are required for all submitted work, and poorly structured reports will not be accepted. Keep in mind that research committees have an obligation to refer students who merely submit literature reviews in place of properly developed reports; who propose projects that are not sufficiently developed or deemed to be untenable; or who display insufficient foundational knowledge in the subject of anthropology. It is therefore important that your supervisor’s advice be taken seriously whilst writing.

The Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal are important steps in the development of students’ research projects and, in addition to supervisors’ guidance, there will be ample opportunity to discuss them in the MPhil Research Training Seminar.

Submission and Examination

Two bound copies of the combined Report and Proposal must be submitted to the Faculty Office by the above mentioned deadline, and labelled for the attention of the Anthropology Research Tutor. Students will be examined by their second supervisor and another member of the department (or of another department if appropriate) in a viva voce. Every effort is made for the examination to take place within two weeks of submitting the reports.

There are several possible outcomes from the viva voce examination, including:

  • that the student will be transferred to PhD status (subject to the approval of the Associate Dean for Research);
  • that the student’s transfer has been deferred to a specific date and subject to certain stated requirements (e.g. involving minor or major re-writing);
  • that the transfer is not approved, but the student can continue for an MPhil degree only; or
  • that the programme of study be terminated.

A student working well with their supervisor will find that there should be little need to worry about the last two categories.

Students Joining the MPhil after Completing the MA Res or another ESRC-Recognised Masters

The first year of study differs for students joining the MPhil/PhD programme after completing the MA in Anthropological Research Methods (MA Res) or another ESRC-recognised Masters. For SOAS MA Res students, the work done in this year will have to be agreed with their supervisor and this will include finding a second supervisor and may include further language training. However, the expected pattern is that the MA Res dissertation will serve as the basis for producing the 20,000 word upgrade document that includes the Research Report and Fieldwork Proposal described above. The Report section should include the development of any ideas not fully considered in the Masters dissertation, plus a Fieldwork Proposal that includes a discussion of methods and ethics. This document will be submitted for upgrade to PhD status.

For these students, it is expected that the upgrade document is submitted in the second half of Term 1, and for the upgrade viva to take place before the end of Term 2. Once upgraded, full-time students on the ‘1+3 pathway’ should therefore be able to leave for fieldwork by Term 3 of the first year of their MPhil/PhD registration.

Students in a similar position coming to us from other universities may choose, in consultation with their supervisor, to follow the above path or to do the full MPhil year of training including the Research Training Seminar, the Research Methods and Statistics courses and any necessary language training. Decisions on individual study patterns will be decided in consultation with the Research Tutor.

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11. Research Ethics

SOAS expects its staff and student researchers to maintain the highest ethical standards, and to foster openness, honesty, tolerance, fairness and responsibility. Ethical review is necessary to ensure that SOAS research projects will comply with the requirements of the School’s Research Ethics Policy. Ethical approval must be obtained before any research project commences. Guidelines of SOAS’s two-stage ethical review procedure and downloadable copies of forms are available from the School’s Research Office webpages.

It is expected that upgrade documents and PhD dissertations will demonstrate students’ awareness of and engagement with both SOAS and discipline-specific codes of ethics. Students are expected to familiarise themselves with the Association of Social Anthropologists’ Ethical Guidelines for Good Research Practice.

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12. Fieldwork and Funding

Application Forms for Undertaking Overseas Fieldwork

Once upgraded to PhD status, you and your supervisor must complete the Application for Overseas Fieldwork form and submit to the Doctoral School. On this form you are expected to outline your research plans for the next 12 months, including points of contact while in the field and a description of arrangements for supervision while away. Fieldwork of longer than 12 months must be supported by your supervisor and approved by the Associate Dean for Research.

You are expected to keep in touch with your supervisor throughout fieldwork. Some students prefer to send a regular monthly report of their activities by email (or post); while others submit a longer mid-term fieldwork report after the first six months. You and your supervisor must agree on your planned method of reporting prior to departure. At the end of the year, your supervisor must complete an annual assessment form for you and will need to know what you have been doing. Any requests for extended stay made from the field must be supported by your supervisor and approved by the Associate Dean for Research, so regular contact with your supervisor is essential. Note carefully that any extensions to your fieldwork will result in a shortening of the writing-up period, and this needs to be taken into serious consideration. The School requires all students to complete their PhD within four years.

Funding Fieldwork

Few students come to the MPhil/PhD programme with their fieldwork funding in place and this is an issue that occupies considerable first-year concern and effort. So while working on methods and training, a student is expected to identify and apply to any relevant sources of fieldwork funding. Your supervisor can offer guidance, but, aside from writing references, a supervisor is not expected to locate sources of income for you. Finding funding, writing applications, and collecting the necessary supporting material are all part of your research training and transferable skills that will serve you after the PhD.

The Registry maintains a list of scholarships available on SOAS research degree programmes as well as a database of external funding sources. Please contact Alicia Sales, as100@soas.ac.uk, in the Scholarships Office for information and assistance regarding ESRC, AHRC, and SOAS scholarship applications, as well as for information about other funding schemes.

Below is an additional list of scholarships and grants available for anthropological research. Note that the dates and deadlines, as well as the sums of awards, listed below are subject to change each year. Students are advised to check institutional websites as early as possible to verify procedures and deadlines. Keep in mind that referees require plenty of advance warning for supplying letters of support.

  • AHRC (UK and EU Students only): www.ahrc.ac.uk
  • Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentships: http://www.bloomsbury.ac.uk/studentships/
  • British Commonwealth (must apply through home country)
  • British Foundation for Women Graduates: Founded in 1907 BFWG has been providing Scholarships Funds for women in their final year of study for a PhD. Its wholly owned subsidiary Funds for Women Graduates (FfWG) makes awards to help women graduates while undertaking postgraduate study or research. For more information see http://bfwg.org.uk/bfwg4/.
  • Chevening Scholarships: The Chevening Scholarship scheme offers exceptional candidates the opportunity to undertake postgraduate study at leading universities in the UK. It is aimed at future leaders, opinion formers and decision-makers. For more details on the Chevening Scholarships Programme see http://www.chevening.com
  • Elisabeth Croll Scholarship for fieldwork in China: The Elisabeth Croll Scholarship for fieldwork in China has been created to honour the memory of Elisabeth Croll (1944-2007), vice principal of SOAS and Professor of Chinese Anthropology. The scholarship offers a current MPhil/PhD student at SOAS £1000 towards the cost of fieldwork in China.  Application Procedures: Application forms may be downloaded from obtained from: www.soas.ac.uk/registry/scholarship  Application Deadline:
    • A date in October–for students leaving for fieldwork from 10 January  to 25 April inclusive
    • A date in January – for students leaving for fieldwork from 26 April to 25 September inclusive 
    • A date in April – for students leaving for fieldwork from 26 September to January inclusive
  • Daiwa (small grants, Japan): http://www.daiwa-foundation.org.uk
  • DARG Postgraduate Prize (Development/education related, funds fieldwork and conference attendance as well): http://www.gg.rhul.ac.uk/DARG/finance.htm)
  • ESRC (UK and EU Students only): www.esrc.ac.uk
  • Felix Scholarships are open to Indian graduates starting a degree at SOAS to read for a Taught Postgraduate Masters degree or for a Masters or Doctoral by research degree (MPhil/PhD), who would be unable, without financial assistance, to take up their place. Applicants must be under 30 years of age and must have at least a first-class Bachelor's degree from an Indian university or comparable institution. Those who already hold degrees from universities outside India are not eligible to apply. Graduates are expected to return to work in their home country. Up to six scholarships were available for previous academic sessions. Scholarships normally cover tuition fees at the overseas rate and an annual maintenance grant. The closing date for applications is normally at the beginning of March. See SOAS website for details.
  • GDAI (Governance for Development in Africa Initiative) PhD Scholarships: The SOAS Centre of African Studies offers three part-present PhD scholarships to African residents. In addition to the SOAS MPhil/PhD application form, send a proposal of the intended research in 1000 words max. This should outline the research objectives, appropriate methods and research relevance. It should also make clear the relation between the proposed research and the core themes of governance and development in sub-Saharan Africa. Contact: Angelica Baschiera, Coordinator, Mo Ibrahim Foundation Governance for Development in Africa Initiative, SOAS. Email: ab17@soas.ac.uk
  • Fürer Haimendorf Fund (administered by the Department, fieldwork grants only). The primary purpose of the Fürer Haimendorf Fund is to support research in South Asia by SOAS doctoral students. Priority will be given to those students wishing to work in the same areas as Professor von Fürer-Haimendorf. Professor von Fürer-Haimendorf was also a pioneer in the use of film and photography as ethnographic tools.  Students working with these technologies are also eligible to apply for funding regardless of their region of ethnographic specialization, but in the knowledge that applicants working is South Asia will be given priority. Applicants are asked to submit proposals of 500 words and costings by May 15th to the Research Tutor. The maximum award available under the scheme is £1,500.
  • Horniman (RAI administers): http://www.therai.org.uk/grants/r-b_notes.html
  • Japan Foundation (one year fieldwork, very tough for PhD students): www.jpf.org.uk
  • Japan Foundation Endowment Committee (supervisor must apply): http://www.bajs.org.uk/JFEC.html
  • Japan Society for the Promotion of Social Science (http://www.jsps.org/)
  • Meiji Jingu PhD Studentships: Two awards are offered annually, either for PhD students at SOAS, or newly enrolling full-time MPhil students, who have been accepted by SOAS. Students may be registered in any department, and be of any nationality, but must be working on some aspect of Japanese Studies. Normally awards are for one year only, but where a recipient of the Studentship has demonstrated outstanding potential for research, the recipient of the Studentship can reapply up to a maximum of three times. Candidates will be chosen on the strength of their proposal, for the MPhil students, and on the results of their research during the previous year, and proposal for PhD students. Some consideration may be given to need. Studentships are worth £5000, and carry a 20% reduction of fees (EU or Overseas). See SOAS website for closing date for applications.
  • MEXT scholarships (Japan Research, Japanese government Scholarships): http://www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp/
  • Newby Trust (fieldwork, development related): http://www.newby-trust.org.uk/
  • Ouseley Memorial Scholarship (not available every year). This scholarship is for a student taking a full-time research degree, whose research requires the use of a Middle Eastern or Asian language. The Scholarship will be awarded for one year only. The value of the Scholarship is £6000 for one year only. The scholarship does not carry remission of tuition fees. The closing date for applications is normally in March – please email: scholarships@soas.ac.uk for more details.
  • Radcliffe-Brown Award: Small sums of financial support for students about to submit the thesis. For information, see http://www.therai.org.uk/grants/r-b_notes.html
  • Sasakawa Foundation (mostly Japan-related, but has interests in other areas): http://www.gbsf.org.uk/general/index.html
  • Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust: Its objectives are to provide financial assistance to graduates with a First or Upper Second class degree, over the age of 24, who register for a higher degree or equivalent academic qualification in any subject, or for a degree in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, at a university in the United Kingdom. The annual closing date for applications is 31st March. Awards are announced in late June. See http://www.stapleytrust.org/ for more information.
  • SOAS Research Student Fellowships are available for students who are proposing to register full-time for an MPhil/PhD at the School. Only new research students may apply: those already enrolled on a research degree programme at SOAS are not eligible. Award-holders must possess a good Masters degree from a UK University or equivalent qualification. Candidates completing a Masters degree may apply. The Fellowships consist of a remittance of fees at home/EU level and an annual bursary. New awards are valid only for the first academic session but, subject to satisfactory progress, they may be renewed for the normal duration of a full-time student’s registration*. Overseas fee payers are recommended to apply also for an ORSAS award, which meets the difference between the higher and lower fees.
    *The normal duration of a full-time student’s registration is three years. The award is therefore renewable for up to a further two years. The closing date for applications is normally at the start of term two. See SOAS website for more details
  • SOAS Faculty of Arts and Humanities Conference Awards: these small grants are offered through the ADR and whenever the faculty budget allows it. The aim is to advertise for applications twice a year if possible. Applications are to the ADR, and must include conference details, a letter of invitation to give a paper, costings and a letter of support from your supervisor. This fund is aimed at 3rd year PhD students, other students can also apply, but priority will be given to 3rd years who have not had previous funding.
  • SOAS Postgraduate Additional Awards for Fieldwork: these awards are intended to provide some financial support for SOAS postgraduate students to conduct MPhil/PhD fieldwork abroad. These awards do not cover conference attendance and are not awarded more than once to any student. Normally these awards do not cover more than the price of a budget return airfare. Competition is very intense and applicants and referees are encouraged to be as precise as possible in making their case. Closing dates for applications are normally in October for students leaving for fieldwork from January to March the following calendar year; January for students leaving for fieldwork from April to September of the same calendar year; and April for student leaving for fieldwork from October to December inclusive. Alternatively, please email: scholarships@soas.ac.uk
  • Spalding Trust (for research in religion): http://www.spaldingtrust.org.uk/
  • Tibawi Trust: this award is to assist a Palestinian postgraduate student and may be used towards conferences, fieldwork etc. The value of the award is £600. The closing date for applications is normally in January – please email: scholarships@soas.ac.uk for more details.
  • Toyota Foundation (small grants, Japan: http://www.iias.nl/iiasn/iiasn5/toyota.html)
  • Tsuda (for SOAS 4th-year students working on Japan)
  • The Universities' China Committee in London: http://www.gbcc.org.uk/UCCmainText.htm
  • Wenner Gren (Fieldwork in the main, but now has a special fund for students who come from countries in which anthropology is under-represented): http://www.wennergren.org/
  • Wingate Foundation (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/cass/prospective/wingate.php)

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13. The PhD Dissertation

In your second year, you are normally expected to conduct twelve months of fieldwork based on your Fieldwork Proposal. Requests for longer periods of fieldwork must be approved by the ADR and supported by your supervisor. On return from the field you will be expected to begin work on your PhD dissertation. In your writing-up year, you should meet regularly with your supervisor and participate in the weekly Anthropology PhD Seminar, where students regularly present their work-in-progress and provide peer support to one another.

Students should familiarize themselves with the regulations relating to PhD dissertations, which are regularly updated. These may be found in the Code of Practice for Postgraduate Research Degrees. A summary of the requirements of a PhD dissertation (thesis( is outlined below.

The PhD thesis shall:

  1. not exceed 100,000 words, excluding bibliography and appendices. Appendices must only include material which the examiners are not required to read in order to examine the thesis but to which they may refer if they wish;

  2. be written in English;

  3. consist of the candidate’s own account of his/her investigations, the greater proportion of which shall have been undertaken during the period of registration at the School;

  4. form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical power;

  5. be an integrated whole and present a coherent argument;

  6. demonstrate research skills relevant to the thesis being presented;

  7. satisfy the examiners with regard to literary presentation; and

  8. merit publication in whole or in part or in a revised form.

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14. Extension to Writing-up (Continuation) Status

Unless they have interrupted due to extraordinary circumstances, full-time students must submit their completed PhD thesis within four years of initial registration. A complete draft of the thesis is required by the end of year three. Subject to satisfactory progress and completion of a draft thesis students may enrol for a maximum of three terms on Extension to Writing-up (Continuation) status at reduced fees. In order to apply, students must submit a substantial part of their draft thesis to their supervisory team no later than 31 July of their third year (or part-time equivalent). The supervisory team will review the draft and, if satisfied that sufficient progress has been made, will support application to Extension to Writing-up status.

Under Extension to Writing-up (Continuation) status students continue to have access to School, facilities, including use of the SOAS Library, but are entitled to receive only a reduced level of supervision.

15. Submitting the Dissertation

Deciding whether the dissertation is near completion should be done in consultation with your supervisor (and possibly second supervisor). Once agreed, students should follow the guidelines available at the PGR Examinations Forms and Guidance webpage.

In brief, students need to complete and return to the Doctoral School an examination entry form no later than two months before the intended date of submission to avoid delays in the appointment of examiners and arrangement of the examination. The student should also provide his/her supervisor with a 300 word abstract of thesis, which is required in the nomination of examiners. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to recommend examiners in accordance with nomination guidelines. At least one of the examiners must be external to the School.

When a student is ready to submit their thesis, they should complete a These Submission Form, and submit this together with two bound copies of the thesis to the Doctoral School. (Binding notes for SOAS theses, and all other guidelines and forms, are available at the PGR Examinations Forms and Guidance webpage.)

Once the copies of the thesis have been received by the Doctoral School, they will be sent to the approved examiners, and the student’s supervisor will be notified and requested to set a date for the examination (viva). Students should liaise with their supervisors to prepare for the viva.

At the viva, there are seven possible outcomes:

  • pass;
  • pass with minor corrections;
  • not pass, but with major corrections (referral);
  • not pass, but with recommendation of award of MPhil (if sitting for the PhD degree);
  • a recommendation of MPhil be awarded upon satisfactory completion of minor corrections;
  • a recommendation of MPhil to be awarded upon satisfactory completion of major corrections (referral);
  • fail.

Should the outcome be ‘pass with minor corrections’, you should ordinarily be notified of this at your viva, and will be informed as to what corrections are required (normally in writing and normally within four weeks of the date of the viva), either directly by the examiners, or through your supervisor. The examiners will also notify the Doctoral School. You should submit your corrected thesis (normally by email) to the person(s) you were informed would be responsible for confirming that these meet the requirements. The three month period you have for completing these will be from the date of the results letter to you from the School.

Should the outcome be ‘not pass with major corrections’, you may be notified of this at the viva, and will receive a letter from the Doctoral School confirming this, together with a copy of the examiners’ joint report. You should submit the corrected thesis together with the Research Degree Examination Entry and Thesis Submission Form for Re-Entry Following Referral to the Doctoral School and ensure that you have paid the re-entry fee within a maximum of 12 months of the date of the official result letter.

If you’ve submitted your thesis for a PhD examination and the outcome is a recommendation for the award of MPhil (whether with or without corrections) then you have the choice of accepting this award, not accepting, or appealing against the decision. If you wish to make an appeal you should contact the Doctoral School for instructions.

Your degree diploma will be issued around three months after your confirmation of award letter date.

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16. Postdoctoral Research

For students who wish to continue with postdoctoral research, please familiarise yourself with the application forms, procedures and deadlines of individual funding schemes well in advance of applying. It is a good idea to discuss the various options with your supervisor. You are responsible for finding possible sources of post-doctoral funding and for working out an appropriate application timetable with your supervisor.

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17. References for Applications

Whether you go on to further study, volunteer work or a paid job, references are important. Students generally ask for references from supervisors and teachers whom they know well, but more general references may also be provided by the Research Tutor or Head of Department.

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18. SOAS Careers Service

SOAS has a Careers Service which is available to all students, free of charge, while they are studying at the school. You will receive further information about this at registration. The Careers Service will help with career advice, preparing applications (including CVs and writing covering letters), practice interviews, and they organise careers fairs, workshops and other skills sessions.

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19. Staying in Touch

The School has an Alumni Office which aims to keep in touch with all graduates. This provides a pool of potential speakers for Careers Talks. Having a record of the employment of anthropology graduates and how our students get on helps us to reflect upon, and plan for, our teaching programmes, and to advise current students.

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