The Alphawood Scholarships at SOAS

Academic year


The Alphawood Scholarships at SOAS


Applications for Alphawood Scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year have now closed. All applications are now under consideration, and applicants can expect to be contacted with the outcome of their application by 28 February 2018. 


1. Background

The Alphawood Scholarships form part of the £15 million Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP) at SOAS University of London, which has been funded by the Alphawood Foundation, Chicago. The SAAAP Remit is:

To support and advance the understanding and preservation of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture from ancient to pre-modern times. The SAAAP remit includes study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage.

It is intended that the greatest impact of the Alphawood Scholarships will be felt in the Southeast Asian region. The Alphawood Scholarships Selection Panel, convened as a function of the SAAAP Scholarships Sub-board, will therefore look to make awards to students who intend to support the aims of SAAAP through employment, teaching, further study or any other relevant activity in the region.

During the five years in which the Alphawood Scholarships are planned to be offered (2014 – 2019), it is expected that Scholars and Alumni will be equipped to make a significant and positive impact on the understanding and preservation of ancient to pre-modern Hindu and Buddhist art and architecture in the region. Alphawood Scholars are selected with the expectation that, as Alumni, they will be in a position to apply the learning and skills they gain while on award to the benefit of the galleries, museums, heritage organisations, universities, government departments and other institutions in the Southeast Asian region in which they may go on to work. The geographical reach of the Alphawood Scholarships scheme, as in the wider SAAAP, includes: Brunei; Cambodia; East Timor; Indonesia; Laos; Malaysia; Myanmar/Burma; Singapore; Thailand; and Vietnam; where Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture is prevalent.

The Alphawood Scholarships cover Scholars’ SOAS tuition fees in full, including fees for the MPhil/PHD, MA, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programmes to which Scholars are accepted, as well as for English Language and Academic Studies (ELAS) courses to which Scholars may be assigned to strengthen English-language proficiency. The Alphawood Scholarship also includes a generous, pro rata maintenance allowance towards the costs of living and studying in central London, as well as flights to and from the UK at the start and end of the programme. Visa costs, IELTS for UKVI examination costs and any requisite health checks that are required for visa purposes will also be reimbursed to Scholars on arrival in the UK. Please note that the maintenance allowance will be provided in line with the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) guidelines for London (Doctoral) and will be calculated pro rata for programmes of less than a year. It is expected to cover the cost of accommodation.

As a chief aim of the Alphawood Scholarships is to build capacity within institutions dedicated to the objectives of the SAAAP Remit, support will be available to successful candidates who require extra English-language tuition at SOAS before they start their Degree, Diploma or Certificate programmes. Requirements will be assessed on an individual basis after the Scholarships have been awarded and will be based on the candidate’s proven English language abilities.


2. Candidate Eligibility Criteria                             

To be eligible for these scholarships you should:

  • Normally be resident in one of the following countries: Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam.
  • Applications will be considered from candidates who are not normally resident in these countries, as long as you can clearly demonstrate your intention and capacity to return or relocate to the region to pursue employment, teaching, further study or to otherwise make a direct and positive impact in the countries listed above regarding the objectives of the SAAAP Remit. Please include evidence of this in your personal statement.
  • MA applicants only: you must write your dissertation on a theme connected with ancient to pre-modern Buddhist or Hindu art or architecture of Southeast Asia in line with the objectives of the SAAAP Remit. Please include evidence of this in your personal statement.

To be considered for an Alphawood Scholarship, you must have received an offer for your programme of study before the scholarships are awarded in February 2018. Therefore, we strongly encourage all applicants to apply to your intended programme of study as a first priority, then applying for your Alphawood Scholarship

3. Eligible Course of Study 

Alphawood Scholarships are available for a range of postgraduate programmes in the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS.

Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas:

  • Southeast Asian Art (running next in April 2019 for students commencing in the 2018-19 academic year)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art (a combination of three modules)

Modules start in September, January and April every year. Each module is assessed by two essays and an exam. Applicants must have a BA or BSc to be eligible and can already hold an MA.

Taught Master’s (MA) Programmes:

  • MA History of Art and Archaeology
  • MA Religious Arts of Asia

The MA is made up of 4 taught course units and a compulsory one unit dissertation. The 4 units may be made up by any combination of full units or half units. Each course is assessed by written work and presentations. There are no exams. The dissertation of 10,000 words will need to be submitted in September 2018 (for the 2017/18 academic year) and September 2019 (for the 2018/19 academic year). Students must have a BA or BSc to be eligible and a previous MA is considered desirable.

Postgraduate Research

The Alphawood Scholarships are open to full-time MPhil/PhD applicants whose research topic focuses on ancient to pre-modern Buddhist and/or Hindu art of Southeast Asia. For applicants who are considering applying for an MPhil/PhD degree, holding a pre-existing MA from a UK university is considered desirable, providing valuable experience in preparation of undertaking a research degree at SOAS.

4. English Language Requirements

Please note that successful candidates will be asked to provide approved English Language test results (IELTS for UKVI) to demonstrate that they hold the minimum UK Visas and Immigration requirement to obtain a Tier 4 (General) Student visa.

You must book your English Language test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Please make sure that the test you take is valid for visa purposes (you should be issued with a UKVI reference number). If you do not take the right test, your results may not be valid for your visa application. Successful candidates will be reimbursed for the cost of one IELTS for UKVI test. Successful candidates joining in the 2018-19 academic year will be asked to provide evidence of their English-language test results to the SAAAP Office by 20 April 2018.

Successful candidates may also be offered support to ensure that they reach the English-language requirements set by SOAS to study at the Postgraduate level. Alphawood Scholars can be supported to pursue either of two English-language pathways led by the International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies (IFCELS) department at SOAS. These include: Pre-sessional English language courses (with courses lasting four, eight or twelve weeks, depending on assessed need) and/or the English Language for Academic Study (ELAS) programme (with courses lasting three, six or nine months, depending on assessed need). The minimum English-language level to join a programme at IFCELS is IELTS 4.5 (with at least 4.5 in Writing). Please read our Step-by-Step Guide to the ELAS Pathway for more information on what is expected. Each candidate’s English-language requirements will be assessed on an individual basis after an Alphawood Scholarship has been awarded and will be based on the candidate’s proven English-language abilities.

5. Candidate Assessment

Candidates will be assessed:

  • By a Selection Panel comprised of members of SOAS staff with pertinent academic and professional experience and convened as a function of the SAAAP Scholarships Sub-board;
  • On experience and interest in (and engagement with) ancient to pre-modern Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture;
  • On the candidate's demonstrated intention to make a significant impact in the Southeast Asian region through a clear determination to advance the objectives of the SAAAP Remit
  • On academic merit, promise and on a demonstrated understanding of how studying at SOAS will aid the candidate's academic and professional development in areas aligned with the SAAAP Remit
  • Financial need may also be taken into consideration

Academic references, transcripts, personal statements and other relevant information in your application will be considered to assess the above criteria. Your Alphawood Scholarships application, as well as your full application to your intended programme of study, will each be taken into consideration.


Application will close on 28 February 2018


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