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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Near and Middle Eastern Studies

Overview

The list of the staff of the Department provides information on the main areas of teaching and research, and supervision for research students can be provided across this wide range.

Some Recent Research Theses

  • Izabella Czyzewska How to Pray to Hittite Gods: A Semantic andContextual Analysis of Hittite Prayer Terminology with the New Editions of Selected Prayers of Muršili II
  • Maria De Cillis  The Discourse of Compromise: Theoretical Constructs of Free Will and Predestination in the Works of Avicenna, Ghazālī and Ibn ʿArabī.
  • Jacob Eriksson Swedish mediation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: a study of the utility of small-state mediation and Track II diplomacy.
  • Benjamin Geer Priests of the Nation: Nationalism and Power in Modern Egyptian
    Literature and Cinema.
  • Alyn D. Hine Russian Literature in the Works of Mikhail Nu'ayma
  • Christie Johnson Authorship in Kitab al-aghani: production, reception, subjectivit
  • Walid Khazendar Place in the Making: A Study on Image-Making in Early Arabic Poetry.
  • Krikor Moskofian Literature and Survival: Literary Criticism and the Construction of Cultural Identity in Armenian Printed Press of Diaspora 1919-1928.
  • Khadiga Musa A Critical Edition of a Twelve/Eighteenth Century Manuscript on Legal Maxims: ‘Umdat al-Nazir fi’l-Ashbāh wa’l-Naẓā`ir.
  • Laetitia Nanquette The Eye Sees Not Itself: Images of France and Iran Through Their Literatures (1979-2009).
  • Luis Siddall The reign of Adad-narari III.
  • Ludek Vacín Shulgi of Ur: Life, Deeds, Ideology and Legacy of a Mesopotamian Ruler as Reflected Primarily in Literary Texts.
  • Lisa Wilhelmi The Akkadian of Boğazköy

Academic Staff and their Research Areas

Professor Muhammad A S Abdel Haleem BA (Cairo) PHD (Cantab) FCIL (London)
Qur’an, Hadith, Tafsir; Islam in society; classical and modern Arabic literature

Dr George Dedes BA MA PhD (Harvard)
Early Anatolian Turkish; Ottoman language and literature; Ottoman history; Turkish-Greek relations; modern Turkish culture

Dr Ayman El-Desouky BA (American Univ. Cairo) MA PhD (Austin, Texas)
Comparative literature, 19th and 20th-century Arabic literature, hermeneutics, modern philosophy and theory

Professor Andrew R George BA PhD (Birmingham) FBA
Cuneiform and Ancient Mesopotamian studies

Professor B George Hewitt MA PhD (Cantab) FBA
Caucasian languages (especially South and North West Caucasian) and linguistics; language work

Dr Marlé Hammond BA MA PhD (Columbia University)
Classical and Modern Arabic Literature and Poetics; Egyptian and Arabic Cinemas; Women's Writing; Folkloric Narrative

Professor Hugh Kennedy PhD (Cantab)
Medieval history of Arabic-speaking lands

Dr Karima Laachir BA (Abdelmalek Essadi University, Tetouan Morocco) MA PhD (Leeds) PGCHE (Birmingham)
Comparative postcolonial literature (Arabophone, Francophone and Anglophone), Arabic popular culture, Diasporic cultural productions,literature of the North African diaspora (Beur), exclusion of ethnic minorities in Europe with a specific focus on France, postcolonialism and colonial legacies, Islam and Islamophobia.

Dr Chris Lucas BA (SOAS) MA PhD (Cantab)
Grammatical change and the interface between syntax, semantics and pragmatics in Arabic and other Afro-Asiatic languages, and in English and other (Indo-)European languages.

Dr Nima Mina BA (Marburg) MMus PhD (Montreal)
Classical and Modern Persian literature, Orientalism in 18th-20thcentury Europe, Middle Eastern minority writers in Europe, Diaspora studies, music performance, translation studies

Dr Wen-Chin Ouyang BA BEd (Tripoli) MA MPhil PhD (Columbia University)
Classical and modern Arabic literature, The 1001 Nights and Arabic Popular Epics, Classical and modern Arabic Critical thought and theory, Networks of Circulation and World Literature, Semiotics of the Visual

Dr Mustafa Shah BA PhD (London)
The early Arabic linguistic tradition; classical Islamic theology and jurisprudence

Dr Ayman Shihadeh BA (London) MSt (Oxon) DPhil (Oxon)
Arabic philosophy; Islamic theology; ethical theory in Islam; Arabic paleography and codicology

Dr Stefan Sperl BA (Oxon) PhD (London)
Classical Arabic literature, medieval Arabic popular literature; court poetry and oral literature; refugee studies

Dr Yair Wallach BSc MA PhD (University of London)
Culture, Society and History of modern Israel/Palestine; Visual and Material Culture; Urban Studies; Israel-Palestine Conflict

Dr Mark Weeden
Hittite, Akkadian language and literature in Syria

Dr Katherine P Zebiri BA PhD (London)
Arabic language and literature; modern Islamic studies

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). See http://www.soas.ac.uk/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). See http://www.soas.ac.uk/cclps/degrees/phd/

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.

Year 1 full time students (year 2 for part time students) are required to submit a core chapter and research proposal (of about 10,000 words) by Friday 16th May 2014, typically including the following elements:

  1. Research rationale (1000 words): a brief description of the scope of the research, its significance and its context, highlighting the project’s research questions, conceptual framework, and methodology, and addressing any ethical issues that may have been identified.  (Note: ethical concerns are particularly important when you are working with human research subjects.  See the code of practice at the following link: http://www.soas.ac.uk/researchoffice/ethics/)
  2. Outline of proposed dissertation (250 words)
  3. Schedule of completion (250 words)
  4. Bibliography (excluded from word count)
  5. Draft of core chapter (8500 words): a specimen of analytical writing that presents an argument which is to form an integral part of the thesis.  The argument should draw on a clearly-articulated methodology, address both factual and theoretical concerns, and cite evidence from both primary and secondary sources.

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. Usually the PG research tutor and the three members of the supervisory committee are all present in addition to fellow postgraduate students or interested faculty members.  The viva follows the presentation for a further 15-20 minutes. 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.

A Student's Perspective

I attended as many SOAS events as possible because it is the best way to meet non-study abroad students and interact with the community

Ranya Saadawi, Columbia University