skip to primary navigationskip to content



The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies offers PhD students the opportunity to pursue research which spans our broad range of expertise: Arabic Studies, Chinese Studies, Hebrew Studies, Korean Studies, Japanese Studies, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Persian Studies, Sanskrit and South Asian Studies.

To explore the range of work carried out in the Faculty, see our Research pages.

To apply for a PhD, see the University admissions site

Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

Applicants who apply for the PhD at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies will be expected to have a high 2:1 or a First in their Bachelors Degree and achieve at least 67% or above in their Master’s degree (or international equivalent).

Language Requirements

For PhD study applicants are expected to have a good knowledge of the language, appropriate to the subject they intend to study.

Language Requirements for Non-Native English Speakers

Applicants who are non-native speakers of English or who have not taken a degree course at an English-speaking University will need to provide evidence of their English language ability. Prospective students in this position will need to sit an IELTS or TOEFL examination. In IELTS they are expected achieve at least a minimum score of 7.0 in each element, and at least an overall score of 7.5. In TOEFL they are expected to achieve 25 in each element with an overall score of at least 110.

Applicants should note that they can submit their graduate application before they have passed their IELTS and TOEFL examination if they are unable to sit their examination beforehand. It is also possible for prospective students to re-take this test. Applicants should note, however, that any offer made to them will be conditional upon the successful completion of their IELTS or TOEFL examination.

The Application Process

Applicants are advised to contact the prospective supervisor with whom they wish to work with by e-mail before they start the application process. Applicants can contact more than one academic member of staff if they wish to. Applicants are advised to introduce themselves and to prepare a draft research proposal as the premise for further discussion. A full academic staff directory with contact details can be found here. Specific information for Chinese Studies can be found here.

All graduate applications must be submitted via CamSIS, which is the University of Cambridge’s Centralised Database system. When completing the Applicant Portal, applicants must indicate two College choices (first and reserve); more information on college membership can be found here. You will be asked to provide several supporting documents as part of the application process, which are outlined below. After an applicant has uploaded and submitted their complete Applicant Portal and supporting documentation, they will receive an automated confirmation e-mail from the Graduate Admissions team. All graduate applications are processed centrally by the Graduate Admissions Office and then made available to the Faculty. All graduate applications are then assessed and reviewed internally by the Faculty’s Degree Committee who decide whether to accept or reject an application.

Any applicants who the Degree Committee wish to make an offer to must be interviewed either in person or via Skype. Shortly after an applicant's graduate application has been reviewed by the Degree Committee, the applicants CamSIS Self-Service page is updated with either a conditional offer or a reject. This process can sometimes take a while after their application has been reviewed by the Degree Committee regardless of the applicant’s date of submission.

Any applicants who have been given a conditional offer of acceptance by the Faculty and who are deemed to be outstanding will then be considered for funding (depending on their funding status). It is essential that applicants who wish to be considered for funding tick the relevant boxes in Section B of their Applicant Portal otherwise they cannot be entered for funding competitions.

Supporting Documents

You must upload the following supporting documents onto your CamSIS Self-Service page:

  •  The original transcript scores from your Undergraduate Degree and Master’s Degree.
  •  A separate dissertation research proposal (maximum of 600 words).
  •  Two samples of your work:
    • One to be a sample of written work (max. 3000 words. (max. 3000 words. The sample of written work can include any piece of academic writing completed by the applicant. If you submit unpublished work, please ensure that it is graded by your teacher/supervisor and signed by you, the applicant.)
    • One to be an extended research proposal.
  •  An IELTS or TOEFL test score if English is not your first language.
  • Two academic references. These are uploaded by your referees.
  •  Attainment of Languages: Simply list the languages you have and your level i.e. proficient, intermediate-level, basic level etc.

Application Deadlines

If you are seeking funding for your course, there are specific deadlines and eligibility criteria for each funding competition. Further information on this can be found on the funding section of our website. Generally, the funding application deadline is 4th January 2018.

Even if you are not seeking funding, we strongly recommend that you submit your application by 4th January, as no applications will be accepted once programmes are full. Applicants should note that applications cannot be considered for a programme once the course has met its quota. If places are still available after the funding deadline, self-funded applicants can continue to apply until the final deadline date of 31 May 2018.

PhD Structure and Assessment 

As a graduate student you are allocated a supervisor, who will meet regularly with you and monitor your progress. At the end of your first year of research you are required to submit a PhD Progress Examination. This usually consists of two long essays, one of a bibliographical nature and the other a substantial piece of work based on the first year's research. Once you have passed the PhD Progress Examination you are formally registered for the PhD degree.

The second and third years are spent researching and writing the PhD thesis. The thesis must not exceed 80,000 words exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography subject to an overall word limit of 100,000 words exclusive of bibliography. An oral examination (viva voce) is required.

To apply for a PhD, see the University admissions site