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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Modern South Asian Studies is no longer accepting new applications.

This is a postgraduate course with a substantial research component, which runs for nine months covering the three terms (Michaelmas, Lent and Easter). It is designed to enhance the understanding of social, cultural, political and economic history; and the present geopolitical and policy environment in South Asia. It provides intensive research and language training for those who wish to go on to prepare a doctoral dissertation, but it is also a freestanding postgraduate degree course in its own right. 

The MPhil is associated for examination purposes with the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences. But teaching and learning for the course take place in the Centre of South Asian Studies and the various humanities and social science faculties and departments. The course covers South Asia from the early modern period to the present including its connections with South East Asia and Central Asia. The areas studied cover the modern states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

The MPhil aims to introduce students to the latest research topics, methods and debates in South Asian studies at an advanced level. It provides training in the use of printed, manuscript and other sources relevant to South Asian studies. The MPhil offers language training, usually in Hindi and Urdu, but this can be subject to change due to resources. It offers training in the advanced use of library and archival facilities and the appropriate use of electronic databases for the location, identification and evaluation of source materials. It provides a structured introduction to key debates in South Asian history, development economics, politics and sociology through a variety of intensive courses. Finally, it offers close supervision in undertaking an original research project.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of the course, students should have acquired:

  • a deeper understanding of their chosen area of South Asian studies and the critical debates within it;
  • a conceptual and technical understanding that enables the evaluation of current research and methodologies;
  • the technical skills necessary to pursue primary research in their chosen area;
  • the ability to situate their own research within current and past methodological and interpretative developments in the field; and
  • an understanding of and proficiency in a modern South Asian language.
  • the ability to use and independently work with library and archival facilities.

Skills and other attributes

By the end of the course, the students should have acquired:

  • the skills necessary to locate, read, interpret and analyse the primary source material relevant to their area of interest;
  • the skills necessary critically to evaluate their own and others' work;
  • the ability to formulate a research proposal using the appropriate primary materials and to place this within its relevant academic context, to locate and assimilate relevant secondary source material and to discuss pertinent interpretative debates;
  • the ability to reach an independent judgement, based on their own research; and
  • a facility in communicating the results of their ideas, research and its conclusion in a written form as a work of historical scholarship, and as an oral contribution in a research colloquium.
  • making appropriate use of electronic databases for the location, identification and evaluation of source materials.


The MPhil is a freestanding degree, but it is expected that many candidates, because of the significant research-training component of the course, will proceed thereafter to pursue a PhD. The course offers a thorough preparation for doctoral research, through historiographical, geopolitical and conceptual emphasis of the taught component, through the specialist options, and through the dissertation. All MPhil students who wish to continue to a PhD will be encouraged to discuss their progress with their supervisor. Typically marks of 70 and above are required to support the case for continuation to the PhD. Students move on to do PhDs at POLIS, History, Geography, Centre of Development Studies and other social science departments in the University.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.


This course is advertised in the following departments:

Key Information

9 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Centre of South Asian Studies This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

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Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Feb. 29, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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