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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies



The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies offers PhD students the opportunity to pursue research which spans our broad range of expertise. Our researchers are engaged in internationally recognised work in the history, literature, linguistics, social anthropology, sociology, politics and contemporary culture of the Middle East, North Africa, China, Japan and the two Koreas. In addition the work of several staff crosses traditional boundaries, both geographical and subject based.

We welcome applications from qualified applicants who wish to undertake a three-year course consisting of individual supervisions and guided research, resulting in a thesis of up to 80,000 words. The degree will be granted on the basis of this thesis and an oral examination (viva voce).

There is full information about the course and how to apply on the Graduate Admissions pages. You will be expected to achieve a continuation mark of at least 67% in your current Masters degree and satisfy any pre-existing requirements also set by the Degree Committee, for example the English language requirement.

EU and International students can find information about their country's equivalent continuation requirements from the Graduate Admissions International Qualifications page.

Before you apply, it is essential that you contact your prospective supervisor to discuss your proposed research. A full list of supervisors for Middle Eastern, East Asian and South Asian Studies, showing their research interests is found below. Please see our Research pages for more information about the kind of work carried out in the Faculty.

You may also wish to look at the list of our current PhD students, including their thesis topics.


Supervisors - Middle Eastern Studies

University Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies, Assistant Director, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies

Dr Anderson lectures and supervises Masters students and is happy to supervise PhD students in any area relevant to his work on social anthropology, Islam and trade networks.

Research interests: Social anthropology, relating to Islam, and the sociality of trade. Trading networks connecting China to markets in West Asia and Arabic-speaking countries

Lecturer in Eastern Islamic Lands and the Persian-speaking world

Dr Ashraf is happy to supervise graduate students, particularly in the field of Iranian history

Research interests: The history of Iran from the early modern to the present, comparative early modern Muslim empires, travel literature, and the culture and economy of gift giving.

Professor in the History and Culture of the Maghrib

Professor Bennison is happy to supervise graduate students in work relating to the pre-modern history of the Maghrib and Islamic cultural history, including the Medieval Islamic West

Research interests: The medieval Islamic West; 18th-19th century Muslim religio-political discourse and state structures especially in the Maghrib; Islamic cultural history

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa'id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies

Professor Fahmy is happy to supervise graduate students working on modern Arab cultural, social and political history

Research interests: Egyptian legal, medical & military history; Islamic responses to 19th century medical & legal developments; the 1967 Six Day War; contemporary Arab politics

Regius Professor of Hebrew

Professor Khan is happy to supervise projects relating to any area of his research.

Research interests: Semitic philological and linguistic studies, particularly of Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic. Also endangered dialects of Neo-Aramaic and the history of Judaeo-Arabic, including modern spoken varieties.

Reader in Classical Arabic Studies

Dr Marsham is happy to supervise graduate students in work relating to pre-modern Islamic History.

Research interests: Islamic History; Late Antiquity; Political Culture in Early Islam; Empire and State Formation; Arabic Historiography; Comparative and Transregional History

On sabbatical: January, 2018 to August, 2018
Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic

Professor Montgomery is currently on sabbatical

Research interests: History of ideas in classical Islam; classical Arabic literature; literary translation.

University Lecturer in Modern Arabic Literature and Culture

Dr Olszok is happy to supervise students who wish to work in fields of Arabic literature in which she has expertise.

Research interests: Modern and Contemporary Arabic Literature; Comparative Literature; Animal and Eco-critical Studies.

On sabbatical: October, 2018 to September, 2019
Kennedy Leigh Reader in Modern Hebrew Studies

Dr Peleg welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests relevant to his interests in modern Hebrew literary history, Israeli cinema and Israeli culture more generally, primarily the creation of a native Hebrew culture in Palestine/Eretz Israel at the beginning of the twentieth century and its legacy.

Research interests: Modern Hebrew literary history; Israeli cinema and culture; the creation and legacy of a native Hebrew culture at the beginning of the 20th century

University Lecturer in Hebrew & Aramaic

Dr Rand is happy to supervise graduate students in areas relating to his research.

Research interests: Jewish liturgical poetry (piyyut) in Hebrew and Aramaic from Byzantine period Palestine; Hebrew codicology

Ali Reza and Mohamed Soudavar Reader in Persian Studies

Dr van Ruymbeke welcomes approaches from potential graduate students with research interests relevant to hers. She requests that prospective students email her to discuss their proposed projects before sending in their applications.

Research interests: Classical Persian Literature, Modern Persian poetry, Poetics and Rhetorics, Science and poetry, Nezami Ganjavi, Persian Animal Fables as Mirror for Princes, Kalila wa Dimna, Anvar-i Sohayli, ‘Iyar-e Danesh, Khamriyya, Eskandar, Politics and poetry, Comparative literature, Persia’ s presence in the European world, Codicology, Persian manuscripts and paintings, Botanical representations in classical Persian paintings, Iranian cinema, Rewritings

Supervisors - East Asian Studies

Keidanren Professor of Japanese Studies

Having supervised graduate students in a range of fields, including premodern and modern Japanese history, premodern literature as well as Buddhism, Professor Adolphson would welcome enquiries from motivated graduate students and young scholars from across the world.

Research interests: Social structures, ideologies, mentalitée, religious institutions, legal history, historical documents and international trade in Medieval Japan

University Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Modern China

Dr Chau is happy to supervise research students in the areas of Chinese religious and ritual life; social and cultural change in contemporary China; Chinese environmentalism; the local state; urban renewal; China and the overseas Chinese and other topics relating to social anthropology of contemporary China.

Research interests: Social and cultural transformations in contemporary China; Chinese religions, especially their social aspects; ritual theories; Indonesian Chinese returnees

Reader in Chinese

For this year, Dr Galambos can accept only one graduate student; in any of the areas related to his own research interests.

Research interests: Chinese manuscripts; Dunhuang studies; Tangut studies; history of Chinese writing; contacts between China and Central Asia; Silk Road

University Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature and Culture

Dr Inwood is happy to supervise students in topics relating to her research into contemporary Chinese culture.

Research interests: Chinese contemporary genre fiction and poetry; popular, fan and folk cultures; internet culture and society; media studies; sociology of literature and culture

Professor of East Asian History

Prof. Kushner is pleased to supervise graduate students interested in imperial and postwar Japanese history, 20th century Japan-Taiwan, as well as Sino-Japanese relations, the history of the Cold War in East Asia, and history of war crimes in East Asia.

Research interests: Modern East Asian history - including Japan, Taiwan, and China - in particular the wartime, postwar imperial dissolution of the Japanese Empire, and the Cold War in East Asia, as well as history of war crimes, memory politics and the pursuit of justice.

On sabbatical: April, 2018 to August, 2018
Senior Lecturer in Pre-Modern Japanese Studies

Dr Moretti welcomes graduate projects on Japanese literature, intellectual history, textual scholarship, book history, translation studies and popular culture (with a focus on the Edo period and with or without connection with contemporary Japan).

Research interests: Early-modern Japanese popular literature as well as paleography and history of the book

University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations

Dr Nilsson-Wright is happy to supervise graduate students who wish to work on East Asian politics and international relations, particularly with reference to North and South Korea.

Research interests: Cold War relationship between the USA & NE Asia, particularly Japan & the two Koreas; contemporary regional security issues, foreign policy & domestic politics

On sabbatical: September, 2018 to December, 2018
Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies, Japanese Studies Exam Coordinator

Dr Steger welcomes inquiries from talented young scholars to work under her supervision. She is willing and able to supervise a wide range of topics related to Japanese contemporary society.

Research interests: Japanese society, with emphasis on the cultural history and anthropology of daily life, including studies of sleep, gender, and the impact of the 2011 tsunami

On sabbatical: January, 2018 to April, 2019
Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilization

Professor Sterckx welcomes proposals for graduate work in fields relating to his research into Classical and literary Chinese language, and pre-imperial and early imperial cultural history and manuscript studies.

Research interests: Classical and literary Chinese language and philology; cultural history of pre-imperial and early imperial China; text and manuscript studies

Professor of Modern Chinese History

Prof van de Ven is happy to supervise graduate students in a range of topics relating to Chinese contemporary history

Research interests: History of the Chinese Communist Party before 1949; the history of warfare in modern China; Chinese globalization in the 1850-1950 period

Kawashima Lecturer in Japanese Literature and Culture
Research interests: Modern and contemporary Japanese literature; Okinawan studies; writing by minorities in Japan; postcolonial studies; feminist criticism; translation theory.

Reader in Chinese Language and Linguistics

Dr Yuan is happy to supervise students in topics relating to his research into Chinese linguistics.

Research interests: Empirical studies of bilingualism and multilingualism; linguistic approaches to non-native Chinese grammars; Chinese linguistics, syntax and semantics

Supervisors - South Asian Studies

University Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit

Dr Vergiani is happy to supervise graduate students on work relating to his research.

Research interests: History of linguistic ideas and the philosophy of language in ancient India, including the role of grammar in the history of Sanskrit

Key contact

Graduate Administrator