MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies

Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and government guidance, we have had to make some changes to the programme in order to mitigate against risks to health and to give you the best possible academic experience in the circumstances. We will continue to monitor and respond to the changing public health situation. The changes are:

1. Core course classes will be delivered online.  Option course classes may be delivered online in the Lent Term, subject to advice.

2. Language tuition may be delivered online.

3. Individual supervisions may take place in person where there is an agreement between supervisor and student, otherwise they will take place online.

We recommend you read the University’s coronavirus pages

Why study for the MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies at Cambridge?

Because at its heart is our Centre’s brilliant library and archive with 24-hour access for our students.

Because our friendly team of staff, 3 of whom have clocked up over 60 years at the Centre between them, are here to help you.

Because classes are small (the average class size is 12) giving you individual attention and making sure that you soon feel part of the Centre’s family.

Applications for 2020-21 have now closed.

If you wish to enhance your understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic history and current condition of South Asia to prepare yourself for a variety of careers, or if you want to go on to pursue further research, this is the course for you.

This interdisciplinary course covers South Asia from the early modern period to the present.  The geographic areas studied are the modern states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.  It provides a structured introduction to key debates in South Asian history, development economics, politics and sociology through a variety of intensive courses.

For those interesting in applying for 2021-22 and in light of the latest advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the University’s in-person Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day has been cancelled. However, the University is working on producing a virtual alternative which will be available in November. Keep an eye on the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.


The MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies is a postgraduate course with a substantial research component, which runs for nine months covering the three terms (Michaelmas, Lent and Easter) of the Cambridge Academical Year.

This is an inter-disciplinary course.  Teaching and learning take place in the Centre of South Asian Studies.  Teaching is provided by scholars from various faculties and departments of humanities and social science across Cambridge.  The degree is conferred by the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences.


The MPhil aims to introduce you to the latest research topics, methods and debates in South Asian studies at an advanced level. It provides training in the use of print, manuscript and other sources relevant to South Asian studies.

South Asian languages and literature are an essential component of this course.  You will be expected to study at least one South Asian language.  Training in Hindi and Urdu are offered in preparation for the three-hour written examination and the oral examination.

A freestanding postgraduate degree in its own right, the training you will receive will also prepare you to go on to further study if you wish to pursue an academic career.  While you are carrying out your research for your MPhil, you will be involved in various tasks that help you to develop a wider range of skills that will be useful to you as you progress through your career to more senior positions.  Many of these skills will be useful to you, whether you choose to stay in academia or pursue a career outside research.

You will receive close supervision whilst undertaking an original research project as you complete your final dissertation.

The Centre’s Librarian and Archivist will provide training in the advanced use of library and archival facilities and the appropriate use of electronic databases for the location, identification and evaluation of source materials.

The Graduate Admissions website provides a wealth of information for applicants including how to apply, what to expect from studying at the University, the Colleges and funding opportunities. There is also a course directory which has information on each of the courses on offer including details on the course structure, assessment criteria, fees and deadlines for submitting an application.

There is also a detailed process map of how the application process works and an extremely useful FAQs page if you have questions about the application process.

Further information about the course, how to apply, assessment and frequently asked questions can be found in links at the foot of this page.

What our students say about the course:

“The optional class on Elections was a treat to
attend.  It was well-structured, beautifully incorporated primary source
material, and led to fruitful and enlightening discussions.  In short,
it was what I had expected the MPhil to offer.”  Tript Kaur Mehta, 2018-19

“It is with pride that I state that I now know how to read and write Hindi! Mr Kumar has a good teaching method that allows for a holistic understanding of the language.”  Hannah Nafize Ahamad Madatali, 2018-19

“Overall I was very satisfied with the course. The course pushed me as an academic and, with the support of the staff at CSAS, I was able to produce work that I would not have been capable of prior to the core and option course. I could not say more good things about my learning experience this year.” Aleena Din, 2017-18

“The Centre was literally a homejust as comfortable, in every aspect.” Vanya Lochan, 2017-18

“Mr Kumar is one of the best language teachers I have had. Structure of the course is good and Mr Kumar ensured that the whole class moved at a pace suited to it. ” Medha Bhattacharya, 2017-18


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