Postgraduate study

East Asian Studies PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: East Asian Studies

Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to expand upon your interests and expertise in a community that really values research; and to make an original, positive contribution to learning in East Asian Studies.

Having been established over 50 years ago, Edinburgh’s expertise in this area supports both in-depth and diversified, disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research on the political, cultural and economic factors shaping international relations in the East Asian region and, comparatively, across the globe.

Join our community and undertake a specialised research project under the guidance of experienced and well-published supervisors. We have particular strengths in:

  • ancient philosophy and religion
  • the comparative politics of East Asia
  • classical and modern literature
  • East Asian media and films
  • imperialism
  • colonial rule and decolonisation
  • political and economic transformation

Working with colleagues elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and across the wider University, we are able to support PhD theses crossing boundaries between languages and/or disciplines, including comparative literature, film studies, and translation studies.

Over the course of your PhD, you’ll be expected to complete an original body of work under the expert guidance of your supervisors leading to a dissertation of between 70,000 and 100,000 words.

You will be awarded your doctorate if your thesis is judged to be of an appropriate standard, and your research makes a definite contribution to knowledge.

This programme includes optional training on research skills, methods and problems.

Between the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), you’ll find a further range of programmes and resources to help you develop your postgraduate skills.

You will also have access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.

Our graduates tell us that they value LLC’s friendliness, the connections they make here and the in-depth guidance they receive from our staff, who are published experts in their field.

As part of our research community, you will be immersed in a world of knowledge exchange, with lots of opportunities to share ideas, learning and creative work.

Activities range from a regular seminar series in Asian Studies (with talks by esteemed visiting speakers, staff, and research students), to film screenings and workshops.

We are home to the Scottish Centre for Chinese Studies and the Scottish Centre for Korean Studies, and have particularly strong links with the Confucius Institute for Scotland, Consulate General of Japan, the Japan Foundation and the Korea Foundation.

Based in the Main University Library, the Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK, bringing together a collection of more than 400,000 rare books (including Chengtze's 1440 Book of Changes), six kilometres of archives and manuscripts, and the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects.

Notable collections include the East Asian Studies Collection of some 50,000 print and digital resources, including a dedicated Korea Collection supported by the Korea Foundation.

As a PhD candidate here, you will be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in a world-leading festival city with a thriving East Asian cultural scene.

Many important collections are a short walk from our buildings, including those in the National Library, Museum and Galleries of Scotland. For example, the National Library of Scotland has 127 volumes of Chinese books (printed between 1655 and 1912) and the National Museum of Scotland holds a unique Chinese collection, including the second-largest collection of oracle bones outside of East Asia.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK postgraduate taught degree or its international equivalent in an appropriate subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 70 overall with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

There are a number of scholarship schemes available to eligible candidates on this PhD programme, including awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Please be advised that many scholarships have more than one application stage, and early deadlines.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start dates Application deadlines
12 September 2022 31 July 2022
9 January 2023 31 October 2022

If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

The online application process involves the completion of a web form and the submission of supporting documents.

For a PhD programme, you should include:

  • a sample of written work of about 3,000 words (this can be a previous piece of work from an undergraduate or masters degree)
  • a research proposal - a detailed description of what you hope to achieve and how

You will also need to supply two references.

Before you apply, you should also look at the interests and expertise of our research community on the programme website. This will help you decide if this programme is right for you and your supervision needs.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH