The M.Phil. in Sanskrit and South Asian Studies is a one-year course designed to promote an understanding of the region’s rich and complex cultural, religious and intellectual histories through the extensive corpus of textual sources in Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit. The course will approach South Asia through its indigenous linguistic and literary traditions in Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, and combine an intensive study of these languages with a wide range of optional subjects that relate to the region’s civilisational history. The course is eligible for students who have no former training in Sanskrit, Pali or Prakrit, as well as for those with some expertise in one or more of these languages.
Students who are specifically interested in South Asia’s colonial and post-colonial histories can also benefit from access to Hindi and Urdu language literary sources under the guidance of the Faculty’s Teaching Officer in Hindi. Apart from the papers listed below, they would also be able to borrow papers from the M.Phil. in Modern South Asian Studies based in the Faculty of History - administered by the Centre of South Asian Studies.
Cambridge offers outstanding facilities for this course. Students will be able to develop their interests working closely with leading scholars in South Asian Studies, draw on Cambridge’s wealth of archival and library collections, and actively participate in seminars and lectures. The South Asian Studies Seminar meets weekly during Full Term in the Centre of South Asian Studies. The seminar provides an opportunity to study South Asia from a wide variety of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.
For students intending to pursue doctoral work, the course offers an in-depth introduction to South Asia’s seminal historical sources, significant language skills to interpret and analyse such sources, an understanding of the relevant historiographical and theoretical issues, and training in methodology. For students taking the M.Phil as a final degree, the skills and knowledge acquired through the course places them advantageously within a wide range of professional career settings, keeping in view South Asia’s growing prominence in the world.
The course runs from 1 October until 1 September. Students choose three examination papers, examined by written examinations in June. With the approval of the Degree Committee, a candidate may offer, in place of one or more of those papers, the same number of essays, each of not more than 5,000 words, including footnotes, but excluding bibliography, or equivalent alternative exercises approved by the Degree Committee. A 15,000-word dissertation is due to be submitted by the middle of August. A candidate may instead, by special permission of the Degree Committee, submit a dissertation of 25,000 words, in which case no papers are offered. A detailed account of the regulations for the M.Phil. can be found in the Graduate Handbook on the Faculty web-site.
For detailed information about the areas covered by our teaching officers, please look at our Teaching Staff section.
This course will consist mainly of weekly lectures, occasional seminar presentations that will form the basis for discussion, and essay work on the early history of South Asia. It will focus on such topics as Vaidika religion and ritual, further developments of Brahmanism, the emergence and development of heterodox religions such as Buddhism, social divisions, state systems, political economies, trade and urbanisation, regional kingdoms, art and architectural traditions, etc.
This paper will be assessed by means of a three-hour examination in June in which students will be required to choose three essay questions out of at least 10. A 5,000-word essay may be offered instead.
This course will consist in intensive language instruction for students who have little or no proficiency in the language of their choice. The paper will be assessed by means of a three-hour examination in June.
For each of these papers students choose one option from those listed below. The precise
range of options will vary from year to year. These options will normally be assessed by
means of a three-hour examination in June, but may instead, when deemed appropriate, be
assessed by means of an alternative excercise such as a 5,000-word essay.
In 2011–2012 it is expected that the following options will be available:
Students have to submit, by the middle of August, a dissertation of not more than 15,000 words, including footnotes and appendices but excluding bibliography, on a subject approved by the Degree Committee of the Faculty. In their dissertation, students will be required to demonstrate research competence and make use of primary sources in one or more of the languages of South Asia.