PhD in Sociology

The Department of Sociology encourages research that proves its generic relevance for South Asia and makes an effort to transgress the parochial borders of existing research through a wider canvas of theorisation and possible empirical work. The topics/themes of research in the Department of Sociology should have a South Asian perspective, or show an adequate effort towards it. There need not always be a comparative perspective though the department encourages that the researches in MA, M Phil. and Ph D programmes would dwell upon the relevance of the research for South Asia. This emphasis is in accordance with the vision of the department stated as following:

"The department not only provides a forum for the production of cutting-edge intellectual knowledge and exchange of that knowledge traversing across national borders in South Asia and beyond, but also strives through this knowledge to dislocate the persistence of an imposed framework emanating from the colonisation process and postcolonial politics of knowledge.

The PhD programme aims at enabling research scholars to rethink, revise and rejuvenate the discipline of Sociology by effectively centering South Asia and engaging in a purposive dialogue with dominant centers of knowledge, typically associated with the West, as well as with new emergent perspectives from other parts of the world.

We invite students whose commitment as research scholars in Sociology and Anthropology reflect these concerns and interests. We are especially interested in students who will help push the bounds of Sociological and Anthropological knowledge to enable the development of a ‘South Asian Sociology’; who are aware of its diverse histories, concerns and approaches, and can initiate a rethinking of the category of South Asia without falling prey to nationalist and statist paradigms and contribute to the further development of Sociology and Anthropology as disciplines on the whole.

We are a young department and we offer students a vital space for intellectual and methodological innovation which is often not available at established departments elsewhere. Thus, our research students will play a critical role in developing new approaches as we grow as a department.

Based on the current composition of our faculty we invite students to work on diverse topics including: Anthropology of Contemporary Art, Anthropology of Folklore, Popular Culture, Performance, Media, Cinema, Music and Visual Culture, New Innovations in Sociological and Anthropological Theory and Methodology, Social Thoughts in South Asia, Sociology of Education, Politics of Knowledge Production, Gender and Sexuality, Material & Consumer Culture, Regionalism & Nationalism, South Asian Studies, Anthropology of Development, Social Stratification, Social Movements, Political Economy of Identity Politics, Violence and Conflict, Urban Anthropology, Sociological and Anthropological Studies of Economic life, Industrialization and the World of Work, Ethnicity and Nationalism, Migration Studies and Diaspora, Forced Migration, Borders, Political Sociology, Historical Sociology.

In addition to the curricular component, the Ph.D programme requires research scholars to be active in a variety of extra-curricular activities of the Department such as conversations, symposia, cinema-discussions, blogging, and exhibitions, among others. The idea behind the culturally rich programme is to impart a holistic education in which sociology, culture, politics and everyday life come together.

For more details, see Department of Sociology WebPages

Minimum Eligibility

12 years of schooling + a 3 or 4 year Bachelor’s degree + a 2 year post-graduate degree in Sociology or related disciplines like Political Science, Economics, Psychology, Social Anthropology, History, Philosophy, Linguistics, Mass Communication, Education, Geography, Law, Social Work, Development Studies, Criminology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Comparative Literature, Comparative Religious Studies and Sociology of Science from an institution recognized by the government of any of the SAARC countries, with a minimum of 50% marks or an equivalent grade.

Admission Procedure : will consist of two phases. The first phase consists of an Entrance Test and the minimum marks required to clear the Entrance Test will be 50%. Those who are shortlisted for the second phase will have to submit a written research proposal, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation and face an interview. A minimum of 50% marks will have to be secured in the interview separately, in both the written test and the interview (including the research proposal and statement of purpose), in order to be eligible for admission. 50% of the marks obtained will be added to the second phase, which will be evaluated out of an overall score of 100 (50% from Entrance Test and 50% from the proposal and interview). The final merit list will be prepared by totalling the marks obtained in both the phases.

Phase 1

Format of the Entrance Test Paper

The duration of the Entrance Test will be 3 hours and candidates will have to attempt two long answer questions (chosen from a given list) of 25 marks each. Answers should not exceed 750 words. Questions will be based on the subject matter covered in the following illustrative readings:

Arendt, Hannah .1998. The Public and the Private from Arendt, Hannah, The Human Condition pp.22-78, Chicago: Chicago University Press

Chatterjee, Partha. 2006. The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World. New York: Columbia University Press

Descartes, Rene. 2008. Meditations on First Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press

Feyerabend, Paul. 2010 . Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge. New York: Verso

Foucault, M. 1995. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. NY: Vintage Books, pp. 3-31, 135-169, 195-228.

Foucault, Michel. 1991. “Governmentality.” The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, edited by G. Burchell et al. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 87-104

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. "Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture" in The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books, pp. 3-33

Hann, Chris and Keith Hart. 2011. Economic Anthropology: History, Ethnography, Critique Cambridge: Polity Press

Marx, Karl. 1867. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Chapter 1), available at

Popper, Karl. 2002 . Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. London: Routledge

Russell, Bertrand. 2004. History of Western Philosophy. London: Routledge

Weber, Max. 1930. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Translated by Talcott Parsons. London and New York: Routledge

Weber, Max. 1978.Economy and Society: an outline of interpretative sociology. Volume 1,2 &3. Berkeley: University of California Press

Phase 2

Shortlisted candidates will have to furnish two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a detailed research proposal and face an interview.

Letters of Recommendation: Candidates must submit 2 letters of recommendation from two individuals not related to them who can, with authority, comment on their suitability to study at the MPhil/ PhD level in Sociology. They should address the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates’ academic background up to that point; analytical and language skills, strengths and orientations in publications (if publications are available) and creativity so far evident in the candidate’s chosen area of research etc. Though no marks will be assigned to these letters, they will guide the selection panel in making its decision. Please note that if the letters of recommendation are not received by the University by the specified date, the candidate’s eligibility to proceed further will be curtailed.

Research Proposal: Applicants are also required to submit a complete research proposal that outlines the process of the proposed research and, in general, includes the following points:

  1. The context within which the general topic of the proposed research has been conceived;

  2. Research questions, problems or hypothesis that the candidate hopes to explore;

  3. A clear analysis of the comparative sources that could be used to guide the proposed research (to indicate that the candidate has read relevant material) as well as an analysis of the main approaches and findings of key literature (as well as its weakness);

  4. A description of the tools and methods for collecting information and data that are expected to be used, and why such tools are preferred. If required, new methods of research to overcome the limitations of existing methods can also be suggested.

  5. The conceptual models/categories and theoretical approaches to be employed and their justification;

  6. Case studies and samples that the candidate proposes to use and their selection criteria;

  7. Areas where field work will be undertaken and the relevance of that location to the proposed study.

  8. A brief explanation of how the proposed research might contribute to the existing knowledge;

  9. A tentative timetable for the proposed research;

  10. A complete bibliography using a referencing system acceptable in any of the social sciences (for stylistic considerations, candidates for both Sociology and IR programs may refer to the ‘Style Guide’ available on the webpage of the Department of Sociology).

The research proposal should establish the candidate’s creativity in presentation and conceptualization, analytical skills as well as versatility in language, and should not exceed 2500 words.

Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose is a narrative statement in which the candidate explains why he or she is motivated to undertake the proposed research, and why it should be undertaken. In writing the statement of purpose the candidate can garner information from the research proposal and the literature read so far; but it also can and should outline the personal and subjective considerations that may have led to the conceptualization of the proposed research. This could include the academic history of the candidate as well as his or her personal history and the social and political transformations experienced by his/her society where the research might be based. Essentially, all this information will allow the selection panel to understand the approach the candidate is proposing and his/her background. The candidate can be creative and imaginative when writing the statement of purpose in terms of conceptualization and presentation. It should not exceed 600 words.

Interview : All candidates applying for the PhD programme must also face an interview either in person or via Skype. The interview will focus on the information provided in the research proposal, statement of purpose and the letters of recommendation. Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of their oral presentation skills, ability to articulate complex ideas, response to hypothetical field problems, etc., that may be posed. Candidates are encouraged to be creative and candid when facing the interview. Phase 2 will carry a weightage of 50 marks.

50% of the seats are reserved for candidates from India and the other 50% for candidates from SAARC countries other than India, taken together. Separate merit lists will be prepared, one for candidates from India and the other for the SAARC countries combined (except India).

MPhil/PhD Sociology Test Paper for the year 2016.


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