The Department of History runs a PhD Programme under the guidelines of Ashoka University and the rules and regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The Programme provides students with a robust training in source-based, research-driven, serious academic history-writing. All History PhD candidates are expected to devote their full time to the PhD Programme.
The Faculty in the Department of History combines a passion for innovative teaching with cutting-edge research. It has expertise in a wide range of specializations. It offers training in the archaeology of prehistoric and historical societies, with a focus on palaeodietary and palaeoclimatic reconstruction using advanced archaeological theory and scientific techniques. In the history of ancient and early medieval India, it has a thrust on archaeology, heritage, social history, political history, as well as the history of religions, texts, and ideas. In medieval and early modern history, it focuses on the history of states and empires, with an emphasis on the history of politics, political culture, warfare, military culture, and environment of India. In the history of modern India and the Indian Ocean, it specialises in environmental history, intellectual history, urban history, business history, spatial history, as well as the history of political violence, international development, science, medicine, nationalism, revolutionism, technology, knowing, and knowledge-production. It offers training in the history of late-imperial and modern China, with a thrust on the history of borderlands, spaces, science, statecraft, society, economy, textual and historiographical cultures, and transregional and global Sinophone histories. It also covers contemporary history and international history of modern South Asia, history of Tibet, China-India history, and global history.
Liberal Arts: Centred on its stimulating Liberal Arts model of education, Ashoka University offers a unique environment for pursuing historical research in India. Its rich intellectual environment fosters inter-disciplinary thinking and research.
Library: Ashoka University has a world-class library. It has an expanding collection of books and journals of South Asian and global history. It provides access to a wide-range of digital resources, like JSTOR and South Asia Archive. The Department of History is deeply committed to expanding its library resources further for supporting serious research and pedagogy.
Seminars: For several years, the Department of History has been running multiple seminar series throughout the year. Both eminent and upcoming scholars of History and allied disciplines regularly present their latest research here. The main series – titled Ashoka History Seminar – runs through the year with active participation of our Ph.D. scholars.
Language Training: The History Ph.D. Programme offers tailor-made language training to cater to the research needs of its students. Currently Sanskrit and Persian are offered. Depending on the research requirements of incoming students, new options for languages will be introduced.
Teaching Opportunities: All History Ph.D. students will be able to gather some pedagogical experience as Teaching Assistants during their tenure at Ashoka. This will give them an opportunity to mentor Ashoka’s undergraduate students and thereby acquire teaching skills.
Stipend: All History Ph.D. students, who are not recipients of other financial aids already, will receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 35,000. In addition, they will be eligible for an annual contingency grant of Rs. 20,000 as support for their research. Students holding an MPhil degree will receive this stipend for the first 4 years, while students without an MPhil degree will receive this stipend for the first 5 years. The university may also extend additional financial support for Ph.D. students to participate in conferences.
Accommodation: History Ph.D. students will be able to take up accommodation at the Ashoka campus, depending on its availability. They can also opt not to stay on campus and avail an extra sum of Rs. 7,000 as Rent Allowance towards off-campus housing.
Ph.D. Timeline: The tenure of Ph.D. students at Ashoka University is a maximum of 6 years. Out of this, all students will focus on coursework during their first one or two years, depending on their academic needs. During their second year, students will be required to submit their final Ph.D. Research Proposal. The semester fee is Rs. 12,500 per semester.
Students with Masters in History or a related discipline with 55% or more marks are eligible to apply. In admission, preference will be given to students who already have a research degree (like MPhil) or have experience in research work otherwise.
The Department of History, Ashoka University, invites applications for its PhD Programme for the academic year 2023-24. The department is looking for motivated, committed, and bright young scholars, who will be expected to carry out high-quality research.
Applications can be submitted between 15 February 2023 and 15 March 2023.
All applicants should submit applications only online using the official University website portal. For this, click here.
As a part of this online application, applicants will need to upload a research proposal and a writing sample, both in the PDF format.
The length of the research proposal should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words, excluding the bibliography. The research proposal should include
(a) a concrete discussion on the proposed field of research and the research questions,
(b) a survey of the existing historiography of this field,
(c) indication of potential primary sources to be analysed, and
(d) a detailed bibliography of secondary literature.
The writing sample does not have a word limit. It should be a piece of writing – an article, an assignment, or a chapter – that the applicant considers to be one of their best works.
All applicants are required to appear for a mandatory qualifying entrance examination which will be held online on 1 April 2023. They will be intimated about the logistical details of this once their forms have been submitted and accepted.
In the examination, applicants will be required to answer a few essay-type questions. These will test the applicants on the basis of their analytical capability, historical understanding, and the ability to articulate their thoughts clearly. To see past years’ question papers, click here.
Applicants shortlisted on the basis of the entrance examination, the research proposal, and academic record will be invited to appear for an online interview in April or May 2023. The list of shortlisted candidates will be published on this webpage. Shortlisted candidates will also be informed by email. All interviews will be held online. The exact dates for the interviews will be announced by the time of the exam.
Following the interviews, the final list of applicants selected for admission to the History PhD programme for the academic year 2023-2024 will be published on this webpage. The selected candidates will also be informed by email.
The academic session for the new batch of PhD students will begin in August 2023.
“I am a second year PhD scholar at the Department of history, Ashoka University. I work on the history of the Afghan communities in early modern South Asia. The PhD programme at Ashoka offers a lot of opportunities and resources to its scholars in the form of lectures, conferences, seminars, and colloquiums. For a person like me who started her PhD online due to pandemic, Ashoka has provided a safe space to work and to develop my ideas in a supportive community of faculty members and fellow research scholars. It was only through the efforts of the history department and the PhD cohort that things became a little easy and manageable virtually. The best part of studying at Ashoka for me is also how the university tries to foster a sense of community among its students and ensure that they have substantial access to resources. The PhD programme not only trains scholars to hone their research and skills but also to learn the logistical and pedagogical dimensions of teaching a class. This has really helped me to not only have a dialogue but also to freely express my thoughts and opinions.”
Why History at Ashoka?
“The doctoral programme of the History department at Ashoka offers proper assistance, judicious guidance and sound intellectual friendships beyond the fetters of curriculum-oriented teaching and learning. Our department holds a very dynamic, inclusive and fertile academic environment when it comes to organizing scholarly symposiums, conferences, writing workshops or research colloquiums as they continue to enrich our understanding not only of the discipline of history but the larger academic scene in the first place. Moreover, the highly well-equipped library at Ashoka and the resourceful repository of Ashoka Archives of Contemporary India add to the delightful experiences of conducting research. I have been thoroughly enjoying the research-life here with all of my colleagues, friends and faculty members.”