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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 Postraduate 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 Postgraduate 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.

We encourage you to discuss your draft PhD research proposal with a prospective supervisor. We recommend writing a proposal that is fewer than 3,000 words in length. You may then submit this as one of the documents in your application.

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

The information below is correct for the 2021/22 academic year. Applications for this year open on 01 September 2020 and close on 2 June 2021.  If you wish to be considered for funding the deadline for submitting your application is 3 December 2020.


Supervisors - Middle Eastern Studies

HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal University Associate Professor 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.

Applicants for PhD study should have some prior academic training in anthropology, which is also usually offered as part of the MPhil by advanced study programme.

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

University Assistant Professor in the Eastern Islamic Lands and Persian-Speaking World

Dr Ashraf welcomes inquiries from prospective MPhil and PhD students who are interested in projects relating to the history of Iran and the Persian-speaking world, from the early modern to modern periods broadly defined.

Research interests: Comparative empires; the ‘Persianate world’; imperial and state formation; political culture; Persian historiography; history, memory, and the politics of knowledge.

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 NOT accepting any new PhD students

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

Language Teaching Officer in Hebrew
Research interests: Ancient Hebrew philology and linguistics, Ancient Hebrew periodization, exegesis

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.

On sabbatical: October, 2021 to May, 2022
Professor of Classical Arabic Studies

Professor 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

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 Assistant Professor 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.

Kennedy Leigh Professor of Modern Hebrew Studies

Prof 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

Reader 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 Professor of Persian Studies

Prof 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.

Dr Christine van Ruymbeke talks about postgraduate studies in Persian Literature

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

On sabbatical: August, 2021 to October, 2023
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.

** Prof Adolphson will be on sabbatical leave during the academic years of 2021-22 and 2022-23.  However, he may be able to accommodate new PhD students during this period. **

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

Professor of the Anthropology of China

Professor 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

Professor of Chinese

Professor Galambos is on sabbatical leave during the academic year 2020/2021 and thus is not be able to accept new graduate students at the moment.

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

University Assistant Professor in the Study of Late Imperial China

I welcome proposals for graduate work in the areas of late-imperial Chinese literature, print culture, and Chinese religions.

Research interests: Chinese history, premodern Chinese literature, religious practice in China, print culture and history of the book, travel and pilgrimage, and popular culture. I am particularly interested in the interplay between literature and religion in late-imperial China (primarily during the Ming and Qing dynasties). I am also interested in the history of the book, travel and pilgrimage, popular culture, and religious practice.

On sabbatical: October, 2021 to September, 2022
University Associate Professor in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

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

Dr. Inwood will be on sabbatical during the academic year 2021-22, having delayed her research leave due to the current pandemic. She may, however, be able to accommodate new PhD students during her sabbatical. 

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

University Assistant Professor in Korean Studies
Research interests:

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.

University Associate Professor 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 Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations

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

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

University Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Studies

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. Please contact her by e-mail prior to application and submit a draft research proposal (ask for guidelines).

Research interests: Japanese society, with emphasis on the cultural history and anthropology of daily life, including studies of sleep, gender, household waste (incl. plastics) and the impact of the 2011 tsunami.

Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilization

Chinese thought; pre-imperial and early imperial cultural history; natural history; classical Chinese language.

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 modern Chinese history. He is interested in the history of war, the history of the Chinese Communist Party, and economic and political history. 

However, Prof van de Ven will be on sabbatical leave during the 2021 calendar year. He will resume taking on new PhD students in 2021-22 academic year, and MPhil students in the 2022 intake.

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 University Assistant Professor in Japanese Literature and Culture

Dr Young is pleased to supervise graduate students interested in modern and contemporary Japanese and Okinawan literature, particularly where linked to themes and issues of imperialism, decolonisation, gender and sexuality, multilinguality, and translation.    

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

Supervisors - South Asian Studies

Associate Professor 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