Buddhist studies for postgraduates

Research degrees

In the United Kingdom a research degree is not the same as a taught degree. A student registering for a research degree works closely with one or at the most two advisers, who will supervise their research project. Taught courses (such as a language course) may be taken if the adviser or student consider it necessary or helpful, but otherwise the student will be expected to commence research from the very beginning. There is thus no integrated research degree programme as such. Examination is by a completed thesis.

Bristol Buddhist Studies encourages applications for places leading to these degrees from those who have a definite research project in mind. Candidates should possess a suitable first degree of high calibre in or closely related to Buddhist Studies. Some prior knowledge of a relevant oriental language will normally be necessary. Students aiming to complete a PhD will be accepted initially as candidates for the degree of MLitt. Students wishing to upgrade to PhD status are required to submit 15-20,000 words before the completion of two years' research for consideration as evidence of their ability to produce work of PhD quality.

Candidates interested in undertaking a research project at the Centre for Buddhist Studies should bear in mind that their project should coincide more or less with the areas of expertise and research interests of the Centre's directors, who will be required to supervise the project. If in doubt please contact the Directors personally. Their areas of expertise are as follows:

For further information about applications for research programmes, please contact pg-hums@bristol.ac.uk or click on the links on the left.


Select Buddhist Studies dissertations completed in our department: 

Name of student



Graduation year


Williams, Chris Western Rationalism and the Visionary Nature of Meditative Experience in the Buddhist Tradition Rupert Gethin, Rita Langer ongoing PhD
Clos Font, Bernat What the Buddha Felt: A Study of Vedanā in Early Buddhism Rupert Gethin, Rita Langer ongoing PhD
Cho, Hyo Eun Discussing unskilful qualities from the unfolded ancient text: the research of the theory of defilements through two chapters in the Śāriputrābhidharma-śāstra Rupert Gethin, Rita Langer ongoing PhD
Weerasekera, Indaka N Finding a Space in the Crowd: The Notion of Solitude in Pāli Buddhist Literature Rupert Gethin 2022 PhD
Morgan, Ruby Can Nāgārjuna escape nihilism? An investigation into David Burton’s Emptiness Appraised: A Critical Study of Nāgārjuna’s Philosophy Rupert Gethin 2022 MPhil
Cholvijarn, P.  The Origins and Development of Sammā Arahaṃ Meditation: From Phra Mongkhon Thepmuni (Sot Candasaro) to Phra Thep Yan Mongkhon (Sermchai Jayamaṅgalo) Rupert Gethin 2020 PhD
Frude, Laura D. Verbal Magic in the Pali Canon: A Study on Protective-Chants, Truth-Acts, and Vows Rita Langer 2020 MPhil
Jacob Lucas  Mindful Life or Mindful Lives? Exploring why the Buddhist belief in rebirth should be taken seriously by mindfulness practitioners Rupert Gethin, Joel Krueger (Exeter) 2018 PhD
Herdman, Hilary Page Encircling the Sacred : Pilgrimage : A Comparative Study in the Buddhist and Late Antique Christian Traditions (Origins to the 7th Century Ce) Paul Williams 2017 PhD
Perera, Luke Andrew Christian Theology and Mahāyāna Buddhism : Prospects and Possibilities for Comparative Theology Rupert Gethin, Gavin D'Costa 2017 PhD
Bolanakis, Panos The Ecstasy of Transformation : Self-Transformation and Ecstasy in Hesychasm and Theravāda Buddhism Rupert Gethin, Carolyn Muessig 2017 PhD
Robson, Elaine Margaret A Christian Catechism in Tibetan : An English Translation and Study of Ippolito Desideri's Tibetan Manuscript Paul Williams 2014 PhD
Rondolino, Massimo A.  Italian and Tibetan Siddhas : A Comparative Approach to the Study of Gtsang Smyon Heruka's Hagiographic Works Paul Williams 2014 PhD
Wormald, Andrew J. Voices of Experience : Modernity and Buddhist Meditation in Republican-Era China John Kieschnick 2014 PhD
Maneewattana, Chutima Reading Samuel Beckett in the Light of Buddhism : A Case Study in the Tradaptation of Waiting for Godot into a Thai Buddhist Context Rupert Gethin and Drama (joint supervision) 2014 PhD
Heise Ingmar Fédéric Buddhist Death Rituals in Fujian John Kieschnick 2012 PhD
Tsai, Chin-ling Buddhist Education and the Rise of the Buddhist University in Modern Taiwan John Kieschnick 2012 PhD
Engelmajer, Pascale F. “‘A Woman May Turn Out Better Than a Man’ : The Spiritual Path of Women in the Pāli Canon Rupert Gethin 2011 PhD
Kota, Bhatsakorn Abhidhamma Study in Monastic Culture : Sukhothai Kingdom to Present-Day Thailand. Rupert Gethin 2010 MPhil
Sak, Shih Nam The Role of Mindfulness of Breathing (ānāpānasati/Smrti) in Early Buddhism and the Abhidharma Rupert Gethin 2006 PhD
Yit, Kin Tung A Study of a Stereotyped Structure of the Path in Early Buddhist Literature : A Comparative Study of the Pāli, Chinese and Sanskrit Sources Rupert Gethin 2004 PhD
Nagashima, Jundo A Study of the Late Madhyamaka Doxography Paul Williams 2003 PhD
Messent, Andree Dominique The Yogācāra-Svātantrika-Madhyamaka School of Buddhism and Its Influence on Rnying Ma Doctrine with Special Reference to Śāntaraksita's Madhyamakālamkāra Paul Williams 2003 PhD
Scheidegger, Daniel Amadé Lights and Visions in Rdzogs Chen Thinking. Paul Williams 2003 PhD
Fuller, Paul Alan Wrong-View (micchā-Diṭṭhi) and Right-View (sammā-Diṭṭhi) in the Nikāyas and Early Abhidhamma Rupert Gethin 2003 PhD
Heymans, Sarah Stories About 'How to Live the Best Kind of Life' : Narrative and Ethics in the Dhammapada Aṭṭhakathā Rupert Gethin 2002 PhD
Burton, David Studies in Early Indian Madhyamaka Epistemology Paul Williams 1998 PhD
Rotem, Ornan Wisdom Arising from Reflection : An Exploration of Cintāmayī Prajñā Arising from Kamalaśīla's Bhāvanākrama I. Paul Williams 1995 PhD
Tetley, Nigel  The Doctrine of Rebirth in Theravāda Buddhism : Arguments for and Against Steve Collins 1988 PhD