study group

Our PhD programme

Tomorrow's leading academic or a practitioner with specialist expertise on East Asia?

Either way, Sheffield will help you to realise your ambition as a full-time, part-time, or remote location PhD student. Our social science and humanities based research training, quality research opportunities, and high standards of physical infrastructure, including online access to vernacular newspapers and databases, attracts a range of exceptional students annually. What is unrivalled is the quality of the teaching and research environment the Sheffield team provides. It is what led the Higher Educational Funding Council for England to designate our taught programmes as 'excellent' - the highest accolade given and for our researchers to be nominated for awards on a regular basis.

We are now one of the leading centres for the study of East Asia in the UK. 

Research topics

Our research topics are constantly responding to developments in the disciplines, as well as to the dynamic changes in the region. We supervise dissertations across a wide range of disciplines, including politics, international relations, political economy, business and economy, demographics, sociology, culture and film, language and literature, and modern history. Our geographical focus spans Japan, Greater China, the Korean peninsula, and East Asia as a region. The topic of your dissertation can be thematic, country specific or regional. Inter-disciplinary and inter-departmental supervision is also available for students wishing to pursue research involving another part of the world or involving other disciplines.

To get an idea of where our research strengths lie, and to identify a member of staff with relevant research experience in your area of interest take a look at our supervision page.

We are particularly keen to receive applications in the areas covered by our research clusters:

East Asian Text and Culture
Movement(s), Economy and Development in East Asia
Power, Cooperation and Competition in East Asia

Double Degree Programmes

In the School of East Asian Studies we offer two double degree programmes to a small number of students each year. These programmes allow you to spend at least one year of your PhD studying and undertaking research at The Graduate School of Law, Tohoku University, Japan or The Department of Political Science and International Relations, Yonsei University, South Korea depending on your research interests. At the end of your degree you will be awarded a degree from Sheffield and Tohoku, or Yonsei University.

Find out more about our Double Degree Programmes

The Sheffield Degree

The Sheffield degree is a three-year research degree of normal registration. As such, it is flexible, with the opportunity to audit graduate courses, participate in language training, and develop broader transferable skills. We are recognised as a dedicated centre for scholarships offered by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Other funding is available though the Sasakawa and Daiwa Foundations as well as the China Scholarships Council. We also have a number of internal university schemes for supporting doctoral research.
Find out more about scholarships.

PhD training in the Faculty of Social Sciences

As part of the Faculty of Social Sciences you will have access to world class training alongside your doctoral study. The Social Sciences Doctoral Training programme is tailored to your individual needs to ensure you have the right skills you need to develop your research.

The training programme is designed to exceed current UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) training and development guidelines, and gives all our social science PhD students access to ESRC-funded White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership cohort activities, regardless of your source of funding.

Bespoke methods training is designed and delivered through the Sheffield Methods Institute which has world class research expertise in qualitative and quantitative methods. All our students receive interdisciplinary training and experience opportunities via the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership, and additional discipline specific training is provided in each of our departments.

Spending part of your degree in East Asia

If, due to the nature of your research topic, you need to spend long periods of time in East Asia, this is not only acceptable but actively encouraged. Many of our students spend part of their degree conducting research in the region and we have experience in ensuring you are fully supported whilst spending time outside of the U.K.

Research and publication

Since its inception in 1963, the School of East Asian Studies has trained leading academics who are now working at the cutting edge of East Asian studies in the UK, the East Asia region and more widely across the world. Some of them have published revised versions of their dissertations in international peer review journals as well as in the School's book series, from top-ranked publisher Routledge (part of the Taylor and Francis Group).

Career enhancement and opportunities

We are committed to training the next generation of scholars working on East Asia. If you already hold a position in higher education, but want to add value to your career by conducting advanced research for the Ph.D., then we are able to help you to make optimal use of your existing academic experience. Should you choose a career outside of academia, our doctoral programme will enhance your potential to succeed in a competitive market in which globally orientated skills are increasingly in demand. Regardless of your own final career goal, as a Sheffield Ph.D. you will join that select group of graduates who have made their careers in government, world-class banks, brokerage firms, and as a range of professions, whether in Britain, Europe, East Asia, or the wider world.