SOAS University of London

Doctoral School

Postgraduate Research Admissions FAQ

  1. How do I apply for a research programme at SOAS?
  2. When can I enrol on a research programme at SOAS?
  3. What is the deadline for applying?
  4. What information does my supporting/personal statement need to include?
  5. What information does my research proposal need to include?
  6. Do my qualifications met the eligibility criteria?
  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. currently enrolled on a UK Masters degree that will be conferred in the autumn?
  9. Do I need to contact a potential supervisor before I submit my application?
  10. What kind of references do I need to obtain?
  11. How do I arrange references to support my application?
  12. Can I amend referee details once I've submitted my application?
  13. I studied for my undergraduate and/or postgraduate degrees in the English language; do I still need to take an English test?
  14. Do I need to take an English test before I submit my application to SOAS?
  15. I've applied for the wrong programme, how do I amend my application?
  16. Why is my application still pending?
  17. How long does it take for a decision to be made on my application?
  18. Who can I contact for an update on my application?
  19. My application was unsuccessful, can I reapply?
  20. My application was unsuccessful, can I have feedback?
  21. Can I transfer my research from another institution to SOAS?
1. How do I apply for a research programme at SOAS?

To apply for a research programme at SOAS you will need to create an account and submit an application using the online application form. Please read the How to Apply guidance first.

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2. When can I enrol on a research programme at SOAS?

MPhil/PhD programmes (all Departments/Centres) – September entry
MPhil/PhD Financial and Management Studies – September, January or April entry
Visiting Research Student (Non-Degree) – September, January or April entry

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3. What is the deadline for applying?

The deadlines for receipt of a complete application form (including receipt of references submitted directly and confidentially by your referees) are as follows:
• September Entry Applications – 30th June
• January Entry Applications – 24th October
• April Entry Applications – 31st January
Please remember that applications submitted on the deadline are unlikely to be considered complete in time.

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4. What information does my supporting/personal statement need to include?

Your supporting/personal statement should act as a covering letter which explains your motivation for applying to SOAS. It is useful here to outline your skills and experiences that will be relevant to your time at SOAS and how you will perform as a student at the School. You should aim to write about a page but if you wish to write more you are free to do so.

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5. What information does my research proposal need to include?

Specific Department/Centre requirements may be found on Department/Centre web pages but it may be helpful to review the Research Proposal (pdf; 27kb) guidelines.

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6. Do my qualifications meet the eligibility criteria?

The School expects applicants to hold a good UK Master’s degree (or overseas equivalent). Eligibility is assessed by the Doctoral School. In order to fully assess your application we require official copies of your academic transcripts and certificates.

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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 and it is clear that you will not be awarded the Master’s degree before the enrolment date, the offer is likely to include a progression requirement (a post-enrolment condition) of achieving the degree at a specified grade 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 required to withdraw from the programme and lose any fees paid for the first term.

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9. Do I need to contact a potential supervisor before I submit my application?

Information on the expertise and research interests of SOAS staff can be found under the respective departments and you may wish to consult with an academic member of staff with regard to your research proposal before submitting your application (although this is not essential as supervisory availability is one of the issues that will be considered by our academic assessors). You should not delay submission of your application whilst contacting academic staff.

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10. What kind of references do I need to obtain?

If your postgraduate study was within in the past three years we expect at least two references from that institution. If your postgraduate study was more than three years ago we can accept other professional references.

References should not come from prospective supervisors and should be independent of the application process.

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11. How do I arrange references to support my application?

Details of reference requirements are detailed in the How to Apply guidance.

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12. Can I amend referee details once I’ve submitted my application?

No. Referee details cannot be amended after application submission, however, if you would like to nominate further referees for your application, please email dsadmissions@soas.ac.uk with their details (name, email, position, institution, and relationship to you) and we will add this to the list of your nominated referees.

Please do remember that we cannot accept nominations using yahoo/hotmail/gmail or other free use email accounts. Details of reference requirements are detailed in the How to Apply guidance.

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

Due to strict requirements from the Home Office and the need to treat all International students and non-native English speaker students in the same way, we require all students, who have been educated outside one of the Home Office list of majority English speaking countries (or educated for less than three years at degree level within one of these countries), to submit a Secure English Language Test (SELT) relevant to the study of academic English.

Further information on the English Language requirements

If you receive an offer of admission and are required to sit a new English language test it will be a condition of your offer.

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14. 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 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.

Further information on the English Language requirements

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15. I’ve applied for the wrong programme, how do I amend my application?

If you have applied for the wrong programme on your application form you will need to email the Doctoral School Section at dsadmissions@soas.ac.uk to amend your application.

Please note applications can only be amended prior to the application going forward for academic consideration in the Department/Centre.

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16. Why is my application still pending?

Applications will not be assessed by the Doctoral School until two references are received from your referees. Incomplete applications remain pending until we have received all of the information required to allow the Department/Centre to make an informed decision.

Details of what constitutes a complete application can be found in the detailed in the How to Apply guidance. Applications deemed incomplete will not be forwarded for academic consideration until they are deemed to be complete.

If you have any problems submitting application material this can be sent to the Doctoral School Section via email at dsadmissions@soas.ac.uk. Please note that we cannot upload documentation for you prior to submission of the application. Please remember to quote your application ID, name and programme applied for when you email us.

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

Your application will not be assessed by the Doctoral School until acceptable references have been received.

Applications deemed incomplete will not be forwarded for academic consideration until they are deemed complete.

Once your application has gone forward for academic selection in the Department/Centre you will be notified by email. At this stage, it can take between five to eight weeks for a decision on your application to be returned. The Faculty Office may ask you to have an interview or you may need to provide further information before a decision can be reached.

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18. Who can I contact for an update on my application?

If it has been more than eight weeks since your application was sent to the Department/Centre for consideration without receiving an update, you may contact the Doctoral School by email at dsadmissions@soas.ac.uk.

Please note, when a decision has been made you will be informed online by the Doctoral School Section. Decisions cannot be given by telephone.

Please remember to quote your application ID when contacting us.

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19. My application was unsuccessful, can I reapply?

There may be many reasons why an application is unsuccessful; it could be that:
• your current qualifications do not meet the eligibility requirements of the School or that the Department/Centre expect higher qualifications as the competition is high;
• Your research proposal was not considered strong enough;
• There wasn’t an available supervisor; or
• Your application became complete after the application deadline you could not be guaranteed consideration for this academic year.
The School may recommend that you apply for and complete a Master’s degree in a relevant subject before reapplying for the research programme.

You should only make one application each academic year. If you wish to reapply after an unsuccessful application, you will need to create a new application account and submit a new application when the system opens to applications for the following year.

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20. My application was unsuccessful, can I have feedback?

Feedback is given at the discretion of the School. If you would like to request feedback on your unsuccessful application please request this by email to dsadmissions@soas.ac.uk

Feedback is not guaranteed.

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21. Can I transfer my research from another institution to SOAS?

Under some circumstances it is possible to consider transfer cases. To find out whether you are eligible, please email the Doctoral School Section at dsadmissions@soas.ac.uk.

When you email us please provide us with a detailed account of your current studies to date and the reason the transfer is requested.

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