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Ph.D. Programme in English

The Ph.D. in English at Ashoka University is designed for students who are passionate about literature as well as the wider world. The curriculum exposes students to diverse modes of analysing texts that collapse the traditional disciplinary silos of historical period and language. Students are asked to formulate questions that are firmly grounded in academic rigour while pushing the boundaries of current scholarship. Teaching and research are seen as mutually constitutive, and students receive extensive training in pedagogic practice, underscoring the dialogic nature of all learning and writing. As they progress in the programme, students are encouraged to experiment with their teaching in the classroom. The Ph.D. in English thus aims to produce colleagues whose work is academically rigorous, but who are also not afraid to inject intellectual adventurousness into their theory and practice.

The English Department at Ashoka University has strengths in literary theory, Indian literatures (including Dalit and Sufi literatures), Translation Studies, global medieval and early modern literature, Indian Shakespeares, Precolonial literature of European-Indian encounter, Queer Theory, Digital Humanities, Performance Studies, Postcolonial Literature, Modernism, Film Studies, and Ecocriticism.

Students thinking of applying to the Ph.D. programme in English at Ashoka are advised to first visit the university website and acquaint themselves with faculty specializations before devising a possible topic of research. The programme will only accept students whose specific research interest makes a clear fit with the scholarship of one or more members of the faculty.

All our PhD students are fully funded for a period of five years. In addition, we also offer funds for books and travel, including for international conferences.


Requirements to Apply

Students with an MA or MPhil in English (with 55% or higher). We will also consider applicants from non-English backgrounds so long as they can demonstrate expertise in the field of English literature.

To apply to the Ph.D. in English, applicants need to complete an online application form and to provide the following:

  • Statement of Purpose (700 words)

  • Research essay on student’s area of interest (3500 words): We are looking for a critical writing sample and not a research proposal or programmatic abstract of your dissertation. The writing sample can be an academic essay or a chapter of an undergraduate or graduate (MA or MPhil) thesis that best represents your academic interests.

  • Two academic letters of recommendation

Applications to the PhD programme are based on the online application followed by

a) a written examination of the longlisted candidates and

b) an interview of candidates shortlisted after the written examination.

Requirements for the Ph.D. in English

As part of the programme, students sign up for a maximum of 12 credits–3 4000L English courses of 4 credits each–during each semester. Among the total of 12 required courses, students can opt for a maximum of two Independent Study Modules (ISM) on topics of their devising, and with professors of their choosing (provided the professors are willing). The maximum number of courses that students can take in other departments is three across the first two years.

Alongside these courses, the Ph.D. students also have to fulfil a teaching requirement for 6 semesters.

  • Admissions Timeline

    Timeline for applications: 2023-24
    Applications Open: 20 January, 2024
    Applications Close: 21 February, 2024
    Online Written Exam for longlisted candidates: 17 March, 2024
    Shortlist and Interviews: End April
    Decisions: Early May

  • Skeletal Structure

    The first two years will consist of coursework. Each PhD student must take three courses – of four credits each – per semester. This will allow students to study a wide range of theories and texts as they move towards formulating their dissertation topic.

    Year 1:-

    Monsoon Semester

    Mandatory Courses – Introduction to Literary Theory

    Elective Courses – Two elective courses, at the 4000 level; classes at any other level will require special permission from the professor

    Spring Semester

    Mandatory Courses – Research Methods and Ethics

    Elective Courses – One elective course at the 4000-level; classes at any other level will require special permission from the professor

    Teaching Requirement –  Pedagogy Seminar: TA for one undergraduate class

    End of Summer 1 / Beginning of Year 2: Written Qualifying Exam based on a mandatory list of tests. The list for this exam will involve literature stretching from 800 CE to the present. You will be provided with a list of 100 texts from among which you should pick 25, with the stipulation that at least half the texts should date from before 1800.

    Year 2:-

    Monsoon Semester

    Elective Courses – Three elective courses, including, preferably, a seminar in Advanced Theory

    Teaching Requirement – A Pedagogy Workshop and GA for the ASP Proseminar

    Spring Semester

    Elective Courses – Three elective courses, including, preferably, a seminar in Advanced Theory

    Teaching Requirement – GA for the ASP Proseminar

    Second week of the fifth semester in Year 3: Oral Qualifying Exam

    PhD students must select at least 7 of their 9 elective courses from the department’s 4000-level graduate seminars. With the permission of the DGS, students can take two of their electives in the form of an ISM, an upper-level UG course, or a course in another department.

    The maximum number of courses you can take in other departments is three across two years. The PhD Director can provide for exceptions to this rule under compelling circumstances.

    Year 3:-

    End of third year: Defend a 10-12 page dissertation prospectus which will allow students to advance to the dissertation-writing stage of the PhD program. This prospectus will include a rationale for, and an outline of, the stakes of the proposed dissertation.

    Years 4 and 5:-

    The fourth and fifth years will be spent in researching and writing the thesis.

    Teaching Requirement – Teach one Critical Thinking Seminar in one semester of your fourth or fifth year

    End of fifth year: Dissertation submission and defense.

Applications for the Ph.D. Programme in English are now open

Applicants must apply through the online admissions portal.
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Study at Ashoka