PhD at School of Arts and Sciences

Ahmedabad University’s doctoral programmes involve completing graduate-level course work, passing a comprehensive examination, and successfully completing a dissertation. The School of Arts and Sciences offers doctoral programmes in Humanities and Social Sciences, Life Sciences, and Physics. Details of each of the programmes is given below.

Humanities and Social Sciences

The interdisciplinary PhD programme in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the School of Arts and Sciences of Ahmedabad University is committed to cultivating disciplinary depth while recognising the inherently interdisciplinary nature of knowledge production. The programme responds to the new realities of our complex world and capitalises on the strengths of Ahmedabad University’s faculty from across a range of academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Our emphasis on interdisciplinarity and, where appropriate, trans-disciplinarity, enables researchers to enquire into important questions by cultivating an intellectual approach that is informed by the interconnections between disciplinary perspectives. The coursework provides PhD scholars with training that will expand their intellectual range. However, the programme allows scholars the flexibility to pursue standard disciplinary or interdisciplinary research agendas for the theses. This is a unique PhD programme in India, that is built on a vision of nurturing collaboration and developing an interdisciplinary mindset, without compromising disciplinary robustness. The PhD programme is currently able to offer domain knowledge in the areas of History, Political Science, Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology and Urban Studies. A student graduating from such a programme would be able to enter the academic and related job markets as a specialist in a particular topic or research question that may or may not coincide with the conventional disciplines of the social sciences or humanities.

Goals of the Interdisciplinary PhD programme in Humanities and Social Sciences

  • The interdisciplinary PhD programme in the Humanities and Social Sciences responds to the most crucial intellectual needs of our contemporary world. Understanding human problems increasingly requires us to appreciate the intersecting nature of disciplinary domains and the emergence of complex forces. For example, is no longer possible to study electoral democracy without appreciating the role of big data; make sense of youth behaviours without examining social media technologies; or respond to the challenges of climate change without recognising the roles of capitalism or Artificial Intelligence technology.
  • The interdisciplinary PhD programme upholds disciplinary robustness but, unlike conventional doctoral progammes, the interdisciplinary framework of the programme will equip scholars to pose novel research questions that are not bound by constraining disciplinary silos. This will facilitate students to pursue puzzles and solutions lying at unconventional disciplinary intersections. 
  • The programme collaborates and works closely with faculty from other Schools and Centres at Ahmedabad University, whose work overlaps with the School of Arts and Sciences. This also enables students from across Ahmedabad University’s various Schools, and particularly the Amrut Mody School of Management, to benefit from the interdisciplinary course work offered by the distinctive programme.
  • The programme aims to prepare candidates for careers in academia, research and related practice-based careers of applied knowledge. It has been carefully crafted after surveying and considering the best practices of reputed PhD programmes in the humanities and social sciences in India, Europe and North America. 
  • It seeks to strike a balance between coursework and research flexibility, along with theoretical and methodological rigour. Requiring a minimum number of compulsory courses, the programme offers students flexibility to choose courses, create a personalised comprehensive exam and pursue their research interests, all within a reasonable time stipulated by the University-wide doctoral programme framework. In terms of education, the doctoral programme accounts for the best in different global systems, while responding to the specific needs of an Indian context. 

Life Sciences

At the Biological and Life Sciences division, we study fundamental biological questions that span biomolecules, cells, organisms and ecosystems. The objectives of our programme are to nurture science and innovation through rigorous teaching and research, in areas that are central to human and environmental health. The educational objectives are to train students in modern biological techniques in molecular, cellular, biochemical, integrative and computational biology. We encourage multi-disciplinary thinking, cross-disciplinary interactions, and research collaborations with engineers, physicists, chemists, and faculty from the arts and humanities.

We not only celebrate knowledge creation but also its application, by facilitating engagement with industries and by promoting entrepreneurship via VentureStudio (the startup incubator at Ahmedabad University). Students are actively encouraged to break traditional disciplinary boundaries as they design their course work and research programme. Throughout the programme of study and research, we emphasise scholarship and provide an environment that is open to intellectual discussion. Our faculty are from diverse, often interdisciplinary, backgrounds, with many engaging in interactive research in overlapping areas that include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancer and Stem Cells 
  • Physiology and Neuroscience
  • Systems Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioinformatics
  • Structural Biology
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation
  • Forensic Science 
  • Nano-biotechnology and drug delivery
  • Parasitology


At Ahmedabad University, we encourage students to think beyond the traditional borders of the conventional sub-areas of Physics as well as across other disciplines. While some of the current research interests of the faculty involve core areas of Physics, the research interests of faculty involve a significant interdisciplinary approach combining physics, biology and atmospheric sciences. This provides students with opportunities to explore diverse possibilities. The PhD course curriculum comprising of various electives reflects this thinking. PhD aspirants are encouraged to go through the research activities of the faculty members and have an open mind while deciding their research career. It may also be helpful for them to examine the PhD programmes in Life Sciences, and in Humanities and Social Sciences, which give a sense of the engaged, interdisciplinary and collaborative learning practices that are expected at the School of Arts and Sciences.

The PhD Programme in Physics is designed to prepare students for a career as a researcher, either in academia or in industry. Careers in industry will depend on the area of doctoral research and the extent of industrial research in that field. Through coursework and research projects that will expose students to research in different branches of Physics, students will be prepared for the expected and appropriate level of research in the PhD programme.

The Structure of the curriculum is as follows:

 I  Courses in Physics and related areas 27 credits
II Research Methodology 3 credits
III Statistics 3 credits
IV Technical Writing 3 credits
  Total 36 credits

Doctoral students are required to take courses in Mathematical Physics, Computational Physics, Research Methodology, Technical Writing, and Statistics. In addition, students will take five additional courses out of a set of elective courses depending on their area of interest, and complete two Research Projects. Doctoral programme students will choose their research topic in consultation with the faculty during their coursework in the PhD programme.

Broad research areas

Atmospheric Science
Complex Systems and Biological Physics
Gravity and Cosmology

Programme Must Knows

Minimum Programme Credits:

Humanities and Social Sciences | Life Sciences | Physics