What’s it like to do a PhD in Asian History?
PhD students will be expected to locate and engage with a specified range of primary sources. You will then have to contextualise your understanding of these sources in the wider secondary literature. Some popular research topics in Asian History include:
- Asian diaspora
- Asia in a global world
- Gender roles
- Nationhood, empire and dynasties
- The role and development of religions (Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism)
- Writing and literature
Most Asian History PhD projects are self-proposed. That means that you’ll identify a gap in the current literature and detail a viable research plan for filling it within the given study period. Your topic of choice will form the basis of your PhD, with the results being written up in a thesis of 75,000 words. Your work will then be assessed and critiqued in an oral viva exam.
There are some opportunities to apply for an advertised PhD project. Often funded by a historical site, archive, or national body, you will be expected to research a particular period, source base or location.
Throughout the PhD you will spend the majority of your time analysing historical documents, writing up your findings and discussing your work with your supervisor. There will be plenty of opportunities to share your research with the wider academic community through conferences and publications.
Depending on your location and availability of sources, you may be required to undertake a research trip. Prospective students should plan for at least one extended trip, though more may be necessary. You will also have to consider any language requirements. If you’re studying foreign-language sources then you might have to dedicate some time to study that language.