SOAS University of London

School of Arts

Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) Museums and Heritage (2020 entry)

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This research degree provides advanced training and research experience at a doctoral level in the broad areas of museology. The programme will be particularly focused on the histories, theories, ideologies and practices of past and present collecting, collections and collectors, including curating as well as past and present theory, ideology and practice in museums and can include heritage studies.

Programme Code: N2Z1 (Full-Time) & N2ZA (Part-Time)

Start of programme: 2020

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Who is this programme for?:

A key feature of the programme is its emphasis on interdisciplinarity across the arts giving students the opportunity to develop research across any of the disciplines within SoA (HAA, Music, Media, English) that are relevant theoretically or have a distinctive application to museums and heritage studies.  This programme will also offer a distinctive research pathway for the growing number of students in the MA in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture studies. 

Entry requirements

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Fees 2021/22

UK fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2021/22 entrants. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page



New students will be supervised by a panel of two academics consisting of a lead supervisor and a second supervisor. Occasionally a third supervisor may be appointed. Primary supervisors on the programme will be School of Arts staff with an expertise in curating and or museum/heritage studies.

Second and third supervisors can be located in any of the SOAS Departments or Centres. Beyond this, the department research tutor has overall responsibility for SOAS research students, being available to discuss general problems.

The first, second and (if relevant) third supervisors form the students’ supervisory committee. Depending on the topic and student, other SOAS staff may also take on primary supervision as appropriate.

Current SOAS PhD students wishing to transfer to PhD in Museology who enrolled before 2018-19 and have a supervisory committee of 3 members will retain a 3 person supervisory committee after the transfer.

Core research training is shared across PhD programmes in the School of Arts, with the addition of tailored pathway-specific training. Museology students may be required to take one or more postgraduate courses (typically the core module in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture studies or the optional module on Curating Cultures) depending on their prior qualifications and the requirements of their research project.

Students will be required to attend classes and seminars associated with these modules, but are not expected to undertake module assessment.  In term 3 of Year 1 (full-time) or term 3 of Year 2 (part-time), students submit a Research Proposal/Upgrade Paper of about 12,000 words, typically including the following elements:
  1. Research rationale and context of proposed research
  2. Main research questions;
  3. Literature review;
  4. Theoretical and methodological framework & considerations;
  5. Proposed  research methods;
  6. Ethical issues (where applicable);
  7. Work Plan and Budget;
  8. Bibliography.

Adjustments to one or more of these sections, including additions or deletions where appropriate, are possible by prior arrangement between the student and supervisory committee.

This research proposal/upgrade paper is assessed by the student’s supervisory committee in an oral exam (viva voce). Prior to the viva voce, the student will have presented an earlier version of the research  proposal/upgrade paper in a Centre research seminar, involving a 20 minute oral  presentation, followed by a discussion, also open to other staff and students.
On successful completion of the viva voce, students are formally upgraded to PhD and proceed to the second year (full-time) or third year (part-time).
If the assessors consider there to be shortcomings in the research proposal/upgrade paper, a student will be asked to revise it to their satisfaction before the upgrade to PhD status can be confirmed. Students are not permitted to proceed to the next year or to undertake fieldwork until the upgrade process has been completed.

The thesis must be in English, not be more that 100,000 words, excluding bibliography and appendix, be reflective of the investigation carried out whilst a postgraduate research student and form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject as set out in SOAS Postgraduate Research Degree Regulations.

Submission of the thesis is normally expected by the end of the third year but, when justified, up to an additional three terms of enrolment may be agreed to enable the completion of writing-up of the thesis.

Students may not submit their thesis after four years of full-time registration (seven years for part-time) have elapsed. Examination is by a minimum of two independent examiners at least one of whom is external to SOAS. Examination consists of an assessment of the thesis and a viva voce covering the thesis and the research upon which it is based. Students who successfully complete the programme are awarded a PhD in Museology.

Students who do not meet the requisite standard to achieve a PhD may, if they meet the requirements set out in the SOAS Postgraduate Research Degree Regulations, be awarded and MPhil in Museology.

Notice for MPhil Upgrades, 2020

As previously advised in Doctoral School circulars, due to the current health crisis we will not be holding a School of Arts Upgrade symposium this year. MPhil students should submit the Upgrade portfolio on PhD Manager by May 15 to ensure timely reporting on the outcome to the Doctoral School by June 15. Extensions to this date can be granted in consultation with supervisors and the School of Arts Director of Doctoral Studies, Ashley Thompson, keeping in mind that we seek to keep students on track for progression mid-September whenever possible. Students should inform the Doctoral School of any extensions organised in this way by sending an email to:

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate research tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Research Tuition Fees page.

Fees for 2021/22 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Research Degrees Full-time  Part-time 
UK Overseas UK Overseas
MPhil/PhD £4,486 £20,000 £2,243 £10,000
Extension of Writing-up Status - 3 Terms £990 £990 £990 £990
Visiting Research Students (charged pro rata for termly attendance) £4,486 £20,000 -  -
Meiji Jingu Japanese Studies Research Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2020-05-07 15:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


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