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:

“My time at CSAS was incredibly rewarding. The most enjoyable part for me was working on my dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Shailaja Fennell and Dr. Garima Jaju. I also thoroughly enjoyed discussing my research, methodological frameworks, and fieldwork with everyone at the Centre. These informal discussions along with the various modules and weekly seminars instilled an intellectual curiosity in me for exploring ethnography as a research method. This inspired my proposed doctoral project — an ethnography of gig work in India which I will be pursuing at Cambridge as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Last, but not the least, the Department provided me immense support during the time when I was battling several health issues. I believe apart from providing exceptional academic and research training, CSAS also prioritises the well being of its student body.” Damni Kain 2022-23

“The MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies is a wonderful, comprehensive course. I found Core Course especially useful for exploring other disciplines besides what I had previously studied for my undergraduate degree, which was in history. The Centre’s library is very well stocked and a great workspace!” Kudrat Singh 2022-23

“The MPhil in South Asian studies was a transformative experience in countless ways. The program’s unique structure covered different facets of South Asia’s geo-political terrain in the most comprehensive way possible. I am particularly grateful for the program’s role in honing my research skills. The guidance I received throughout the dissertation writing process helped consolidate my academic interest in the visual cultures of India. A special mention should go to the CSAS library for providing a vast array of primary and visual materials such as photographs, maps, diary entries, etc., along with its books, which made the research a fun experience. Beyond academic pursuits, my time at the MPhil will always elicit fond memories due to the strong support provided by the CSAS community.” Bhavika Behal 2022-23

“My year at the Centre of South Asian Studies has been nothing short of a fulfilling experience. The faculty and my mentors have been extremely supportive throughout the course, constantly providing valuable and constructive feedback that facilitated a smooth dissertation process. The language and option courses were very insightful and helped an IR student like me, navigate the varying facets of a postcolonial South Asia. Weekly seminars at the Centre enable interdisciplinary discussions with some of the most vivid researchers in South Asia, and are a must-attend. The admin and archivist have been a constant source of motivation and encouragement through the late evenings of dissertation writing. The Centre has managed to build a warm and welcoming community for students, that lasts long after you leave the centre.” Hely Desai 2021-22

“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


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