SOAS University of London

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The Alphawood Scholarships at SOAS

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The Alphawood Scholarships application window for 2019-20 is now closed. We expect to be able to share final decisions on award by early May 2019. Please continue to check this page for updates and news at this time.

1. Introduction

The Alphawood Scholarships form part of the £15 million Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP) at SOAS University of London, which has been funded by the Alphawood Foundation, Chicago. The SAAAP Remit is:

To support and advance the understanding and preservation of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture from ancient to pre-modern times. The SAAAP remit includes study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage.

It is intended that the greatest impact of the Alphawood Scholarships will be felt in the Southeast Asian region. The Alphawood Scholarships Selection Panel, convened as a function of the SAAAP Scholarships Sub-board, will therefore look to make awards to students who intend to support the aims of SAAAP through employment, teaching, further study or any other relevant activity in the region.

2. Background

Between 2014 and 2018, SAAAP is proud to have awarded over 90 Alphawood Scholarships to support outstanding scholars of the ancient to pre-modern Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture of Southeast Asia, helping scholars to pursue postgraduate programmes of study at SOAS. Supported programmes of study over this period have included: the Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art; the Postgraduate Certificate in Buddhist Art or Southeast Asian Art; the MA in History of Art and Archaeology; the MA in Religious Arts of Asia; and MPhil/PhD programmes in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts.

In 2019, we were delighted to launch an extension of the scheme for a sixth year by offering up to one to two new Alphawood Scholarships to support MPhil/PhD study in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts, to commence with the 2019-20 academic year.

Through the Alphawood Scholarships scheme, it is expected that our scholars and alumni will be well-equipped to make a significant and positive impact on the understanding and preservation of ancient to pre-modern Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture in Southeast Asia. Alphawood Scholars are selected with the expectation that, as alumni, they will be in a position to apply the learning and skills they gain while on award to the benefit of the galleries, museums, heritage organisations, universities, government departments and other institutions in the Southeast Asian region in which they may go on to work. The geographical reach of the Alphawood Scholarships scheme, as in the wider SAAAP, includes: Brunei; Cambodia; East Timor; Indonesia; Laos; Malaysia; Myanmar/Burma; Singapore; Thailand; and Vietnam.

The Alphawood Scholarships commencing with the 2019-20 academic year will cover:

  • Scholars’ SOAS tuition fees in full, including an expected four years’ tuition for the Department of History of Art and Archaeology MPhil/PhD programme and, if required, tuition for the four-week Pre-sessional English-language course at SOAS’ International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies (IFCELS) department
  • A generous maintenance allowance of £16,539 per year (pro rata) to cover costs of living and studying in central London as well as fieldwork during Year 2 of the PhD programme
  • Economy flights to and from the UK at the start and end of the MPhil/PhD programme, as well as one annual return economy flight (London and home region) during each year of the expected four years of enrolment
  • Visa costs, the costs of any requisite health checks and Immigration Health Surcharge costs required for visa purposes, which will be reimbursed to Scholars on arrival in the UK

3. Candidate Eligibility Criteria                             

The following eligibility criteria apply to all prospective applicants to the Alphawood Scholarships scheme this year:

  • You should normally be resident in one of the following countries: Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam.
  • Applications will be considered from candidates who are not normally resident in these countries, provided you can demonstrate your intention and capacity to return or relocate to the region to pursue employment, teaching, further study or to otherwise make a direct and positive impact in the countries listed above regarding the objectives of the SAAAP Remit. Please include evidence of this in your personal statement.
  • You should specify your proposed PhD thesis topic and research question at the point of application for admission and application for award, and articulate how this topic addresses the ancient to pre-modern Buddhist or Hindu art or architecture of Southeast Asia, in line with the objectives of the SAAAP Remit. Please include evidence of this in your personal statement.
  • To be considered for an Alphawood MPhil/PhD Scholarship, you must have received an offer for your programme of study from the SOAS Doctoral School by the time that the Scholarships are awarded in April 2019.  Therefore, we strongly encourage all applicants to apply to the Doctoral School for a place in the MPhil/PhD programme in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology as a first priority. Once you have completed and submitted your application for admission to the MPhil/PhD programme, you should then develop your application for an Alphawood Scholarship, as set out below.

4. Eligible Course of Study 

For the 2019-20 academic year, the Alphawood Scholarships scheme will only be available to support up to one to two full-time MPhil/PhD students whose research topic focuses on objectives of the SAAAP Remit to advance the understanding and preservation of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture from ancient to pre-modern times, including study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage studies. Awards to support study under other postgraduate programmes at SOAS are not available for the 2019-20 academic year.

5. English Language Requirements

Please note that candidates are asked to provide evidence of their English-language proficiency at the point of application to demonstrate that they hold the minimum level of proficiency for entry onto the MPhil/PhD programme. This should include approved English Language test results (IELTS for UKVI) and evidence of prior postgraduate study at an English-language university where possible.

The Alphawood Scholarship may be extended pro rata to support up to four weeks of pre-sessional English-language tuition at SOAS’ International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies (IFCELS) Department prior to taking up the MPhil/PhD programme (in August and September 2019), should the Doctoral School set this as a requirement. Please note that the Alphawood Scholarship for MPhil/PhD study cannot be extended to cover full terms of English Language and Academic Study (ELAS) at IFCELS. Students who do not meet the minimum English-language threshold for entry onto the MPhil/PhD programme in September 2019 would not be eligible to take up an Alphawood Scholarship at that time.  

To obtain entry onto the IFCELS four week pre-sessional course in August and September, or direct entry onto the MPhil/PhD programme in September, candidates will need to submit in their application evidence of IELTS for UKVI scores of at least 6.5 overall, with at least 6.5 in Writing and at least 6.0 in Speaking, Reading and Listening; or at least 7.0 overall with at least 6.0 in Reading and Writing and at least 5.0 in Listening and Speaking. More guidance on IFCELS assessments can be found here.

Applicants who need to make an appointment to take the IELTS for UKVI examination to support UK Tier-4 visa applications, please note that examinations must be booked at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Applicants are reminded that the examination should be valid for visa application purposes, and should be issued with a UKVI reference number. Results from other types of IELTS examinations may not be valid for visa application purposes.

Successful candidates will be reimbursed for the cost of one IELTS for UKVI test once arrived in the UK and after opening a UK bank account. Alphawood Scholarship applicants will need to submit official IELTS for UKVI results (dated from within the last two years) as a part of the application for admission.

6. Candidate Assessment

Applications for award are assessed:

  • By a Selection Panel comprised of members of SOAS staff with pertinent academic and professional experience and convened as a function of the SAAAP Scholarships Sub-board;
  • On previous academic and professional experience of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture from ancient to pre-modern times, including study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage studies;
  • On perceived potential for academic or professional leadership in the field as above;
  • On interest in (and engagement with) the objectives of the SAAAP mission;
  • On alignment to research specialisms within the Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts, at SOAS;
  • On correlation of proposed thesis subject to the objectives of the SAAAP mission;
  • On clarity and coherence of the research proposal;
  • On perceived potential for direct and positive impact in the field and in the region;
  • On evidence as to how pursuing a research degree at SOAS will have a transformative impact on the applicant’s potential impact in the field and in the region;
  • On recommendations of two references, as provided in the Application for Admission to the SOAS Doctoral School;
  • And in consideration of expressed financial need for a scholarship to support MPhil/PhD study at SOAS.
     

Academic references, transcripts, personal statements and other relevant information in your application will be considered to assess the above criteria. Your Alphawood Scholarships application, as well as your application for admission to the Doctoral School, will each be taken into consideration in the award selection process.

7. Scholarship Application Process

There are 2 steps to the application process.

STEP 1 - Application for Admission to the MPhil/PhD programme:

All candidates considering an application for an Alphawood Scholarship are first asked to complete their application for admission to the SOAS Doctoral School through the Postgraduate Research online application formPlease read our Guidance for applying for MPhil/PhD carefully before you start your application.

We strongly recommend that applicants begin the Application for Admission to the MPhil/PhD programme as a first priority, as all Alphawood Scholarship applicants will be required to have an offer of admission in place by the time the Alphawood Scholarships Selection Panel begin reviewing applications (from mid-March to early April 2019). As the Doctoral School and the Department of History of Art and Archaeology may take between four to six weeks to assess applications for admission and to offer a place in the MPhil/PhD programme, we strongly recommend that applicants should complete and submit applications for admission to the Doctoral School by 8 March 2019.

STEP 2 - Apply for an Alphawood Scholarship:

After submitting an application for admission to the Doctoral School, applicants should then apply for an Alphawood Scholarship through the Alphawood Scholarships online application form.

Please note that applicants should complete and submit this Application Form in one sitting. It is not possible to save drafts of this form, nor to return to a partially-complete form at a later date for revision.

As such, we recommend that all applicants make note of the questions and work on responses in a separate document until fully satisfied with the responses. Applicants may then return to the Online Application Form to input and submit these final responses.

Applicants should use the Personal Statement section in their Application for Scholarship to demonstrate their interest in the objectives specified in the SAAAP Remit (Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture from ancient to pre-modern times, including study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage studies). Applicants should also demonstrate their intention to pursue employment, teaching, further study or to otherwise make a positive impact in areas of the SAAAP Remit after studying at SOAS.

The deadline for applications for an Alphawood Scholarship for MPhil/PhD study this year is 29 March 2019.

8. Deadlines and Notifications

  • 8 March 2019 – Candidates should submit their complete application for admission to the SOAS Doctoral School using the Postgraduate Research online application form by this time
  • 29 March 2019 – Candidates must submit their complete application for an Alphawood Scholarship through the Alphawood Scholarships online application form by this time
  • 25 April 2019 – The Alphawood Scholarships Selection Panel and SAAAP Programme Board convene to discuss and agree the successful applicant/s for award to support MPhil/PhD study commencing in the 2019/20 academic year. The SAAAP Office will contact all applicants by early May 2019 to inform them of the outcome of their application
  • 23 August 2019 – 4-week IFCELS Pre-sessional Course B begins
  • 23 September 2019 - Academic Term 1 (2019-20) at SOAS begins

For more information about the Alphawood Scholarships or the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS, please contact:
Email: alphawoodscholarships@soas.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7898 4378