MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies

The applicant portal for 2023-24 entry is open. Offer holders for 2022-23 who wish to re-submit their applications for 2022-23 may now do so from their Self-Service page.

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

Because at its heart is our Centre’s brilliant library and archive.

Because our friendly team of staff 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.

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.


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:

“Very satisfied. I had a brilliant year and it was a fantastic experience. The strength of this course, compared with other larger courses, is the community spirit fostered by the Centre and the dedicated facilities and staff. The weekly departmental lectures showcased some of the most original and thought-provoking research, and it was a joy to feel a part of a vibrant research community.” Thomas Parkinson, 2019-20

“I had a positive experience of the Core Course as a whole. It offered a firm foundation to my studies of modern South Asia, which was essential given that I started this MPhil without any significant study of South Asian history beyond my own area of interest in Afghanistan.”  Timothy Lowe, 2019-20

“It was a really enriching experience.”  Srimati Ghosal, 2019-20

“The Options Courses were also incredibly insightful and fascinating. The ability to sit in on various courses allowed us to gain a breadth of knowledge on varying themes in postcolonial South Asia. The Options Essay was a great way to set us up for the next assessment of our dissertation, and the feedback was very helpful.” Ayesha Baloch, 2019-20

“I had a very positive experience producing my dissertation and I really appreciate the support, accommodations, and flexibility of everyone at the Centre and my advisor, Shruti Kapila.”  Nicole-Ann Lobo, 2019-20

“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


Page Primary Image