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Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Chinese and Inner Asian Studies

Overview

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 such diverse topics as colour symbolism in ancient Chinese texts, Chinese cinema, and Chinese Braille systems, and translation studies). If necessary, arrangements can be made for joint supervision with teachers from other departments of SOAS. Research undertaken at MPhil and PhD level is based on literary, documentary, and archive materials in the languages of the area and/or on fieldwork conducted in those languages.

Our alumni are to be found in academic and government posts, journalism and other media, museums, art galleries, aid agencies, libraries, charities, medicine, and large and small businesses of many kinds all over the world, and a large number of them work in the area or in the cultural field of their studies.

Some Recent Research Theses

Katherine Foster - Child of Sorrow: Children and Childhood in Late Twentieth Century Chinese Fiction

Jung Eun Jo - Analysis of the Discourse on Music of the Lüshi chunqiu mainly in comparison with the "Yuelun" chapter of the Xunzi

Alastair Morrison - 'Farewell to History': New Historical Fiction's Alternative Vision of the 20th century China

Hing Fong Camilla Lai – Yang Weizhen’s Iron Style Poems on History

Yun-Chung Li – Monk Poetry as External Learning in the Middle and Late Tang, exemplified by the poetry and lives of Guanxiu and Qiji

Christopher Rosenmeier – Shanghai Avant-Garde: The Fiction of Shi Zhecun, Mu Shiying, Xu Xu and Wumingshi

Academic Staff and their Research Areas

Dr Cosima Bruno BA(VENICE) PHD(LONDON)
Contemporary Chinese literature; translation studies

Dr Rossella Ferrari BA(VENICE) MA PHD(LONDON)
Contemporary Chinese drama and film; theory and practice of the avant-garde; transnational Chinese culture

Professor Bernhard Fuehrer BA(NATIONAL TAIWAN) PHD(VIENNA)
Classical Chinese philology, rhetoric, philosophy and literature; the history of Sinology in Europe; reception of the canon with specific reference to the Analects

Professor Michel Hockx DRS PHD(LEIDEN)
Modern Chinese literature and language; Chinese writers and writings from the late imperial and republican periods, with emphasis on modern poetry and on the sociology of modern Chinese literature

Dr Andrew H-B Lo MA PHD(PRINCETON)
Chinese language (Cantonese and Mandarin); fiction and prose from the Ming-Qing periods; cultural activities of Ming and Qing scholars, especially games

Dr Xiaoning Lu BA (Nanjing), MA (Fudan), PhD (Stony Brook)
Chinese-language cinemas, film history and criticism, global socialist culture, and Chinese popular culture.

Dr Tian Yuan Tan BA MA(NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE) PHD(HARVARD)
Pre-modern Chinese literature, with emphasis on drama, songs, and fiction in the later dynasties; Chinese literary history and historiography; court theatre and performance; popular literature and culture.

Structure

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.

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 on offer in the Academic Development Directorate (ADD)

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.

In term 3, year 1 full time students (year 2 for part time students)  are required to submit a core chapter (of minimum 10,000 words) and research proposal (of about 2,000 words) by Friday 10th May 2013.

The core chapter is a specimen of analytical writing which is to form an integral part of the PhD dissertation. This chapter should present an argument and demonstrate an actual application of a clearly-articulated methodological framework to the primary sources under investigation. 

The research proposal typically includes the following elements:

  1. Research rationale and context of proposed research
  2. Main research questions
  3. Literature review
  4. Theoretical and methodological framework and considerations
  5. Proposed research methods
  6. Ethical issues (where applicable)
  7. Outlining structure of PhD dissertation
  8. Schedule of research and writing
  9. Bibliography (excluded from work count)

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 and all supervisory committee members are present. The supervisory committee then discusses the student's performance afterwards in a more focussed meeting. 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 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 is internal to the University of London and one of whom is external to the University.

PhD Degrees are awarded by SOAS from registration in 2013 and are subject to SOAS regulations.

How to apply

How to apply

Scholarships

Elisabeth Croll Scholarship for fieldwork in China

Application Deadline: 2014-04-30 17:00

SOAS Research Studentships

Application Deadline: 2014-01-31 17:00

The Swire Scholarship in Chinese History

There is one scholarships available for research applicants whose proposed research topic is on Chinese History with a focus on the intensifying encounter - economic or otherwise - between China and the West during the second half of the nineteenth century/early twentieth century. 

For applicants classified as Overseas for fee purpose, the total value of the scholarship will be £23,625 per year for up to 3 years subject to satisfactory progress.  For applicants classified as Home/EU for fee purposes, the total value of the scholarship will be £15,345 per year for up to 3 years subject to satisfactory progress.

Eligible Programmes

  • Any full-time MPhil/PhD (new admissions only) whose Proposed Research Topic is on Chinese History  with a focus on the intensifying encounter - economic or otherwise - between China and the West during the second half of the nineteenth century/early twentieth century.  Please ensure you provide evidence on how your proposed topic falls under the scholarship topic in the personal statement of your on-line application for admission.

Candidate Criteria

  • Open to Home, EU and Overseas students
  • Applicants must possess or expect to be awarded a Distinction in their Masters degree.  Applicants with a non-UK degree to be adjudged in the top rank by their referees and transcript. Those with a mark of Merit may apply but will not be given preference.

Candidate Assessment

  •  Candidates will be assessed on academic merit by a Selection Panel consisting of three academic members.
  • The assessment of your scholarship application will be based on the information in your scholarship application and on the information in your on-line application for admission. The Panel will be looking at your application for admission.  Therefore, it is a requirement that you also submit a complete on-line application for admission by the scholarship application deadline.

Scholarship Application Deadline

  • Scholarship applications must be received no later than 17:00 (GMT) on 31 January 2014 (the on-line scholarship application will be closed after 17:00)
  • Late or incomplete scholarship applications will not be considered.
  • IMPORTANT: Applicants applying for this scholarship must also submit a complete on-line application for admission well in advance (including references, transcripts, grading system, etc.). Please note that complete applications for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year. You should be prepared to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods.   For the on-line application for admission, applicants are required to arrange for references to be submitted by the scholarship application deadline.  Applications for admission which are incomplete (ie missing references, transcripts, grading system, etc) will not be considered.  The Panel will be considering the Scholarship application in conjunction with the application for admission.

Notification of Results

The successful candidate will be notified by e-mail regarding the outcome of the scholarship application by the end of May. If you have not heard from us by the beginning of June, you should assume that your studentship application was unsuccessful.  

Scholarship Application Procedures

You can apply for this scholarship via the online scholarship application, which will be available here on Thursday, 7 March.

For enquiries, please contact:

Scholarships Officer
Registry
SOAS
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London
WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

Email: scholarships@soas.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7074 5094/5091

Application Deadline: 2014-01-31 17:00

Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships in the Humanities

Application Deadline: 2014-01-31 17:00

For further information visit the Scholarships section

A Student's Perspective

You will establish and hone key analytical skills, amass a broad and in-depth knowledge of your chosen field and, from day one, befriend students from around the globe.

David Whittaker