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Research degrees in Comparative Literature

See also: the website for the Department of Comparative Literature and Culture

Queen Mary has an active and flourishing research culture with staff working across disciplines to shape the dynamic field of comparative literature. Established in 2012, the PhD Programme in Comparative Literature has since grown to include supervision capacity in European Literatures, the literatures of China and the Indian subcontinent, as well as in world literature, postcolonialism, cosmopolitanism, and transnationalism.

The Department is one of the leading centres for research and study in Comparative Literature in London and benefits from its close collaborative links with the institutions of the University of London, such as University College London (UCL), King's College London, Goldsmiths, SOAS, etc. The Department also has a thriving MA in Comparative Literature, and hosts the highly prestigious annual George Steiner Lecture in Comparative Literature, most recently delivered by David Damrosch (Harvard), Susan Bassnett (Warwick), Haun Saussy (UChicago), and Emily Apter (NYU).

The PhD community in the Department of Comparative Literature is truly international, with its research supported by competitive fellowships and awards of academic institutions in the UK and abroad. Members of the Department have organized major international conferences and symposia; they are also actively involved in the British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA), the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA), and the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA). Department members also serve in advisory roles on editorial boards of journals and publications series in Comparative Literature worldwide.

Graduate students participate actively in the Comparative Literature community at Queen Mary and beyond, including presenting their own work at staff-student research seminars and at events hosted by the London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Studies (LINKS), of which Queen Mary is a lively member. Students are encouraged to contribute more broadly to the research culture by organising talks and events, often featuring invited speakers.

The School of Languages, Linguistics and Film is situated in a modern building on Queen Mary's main campus at Mile End. The University Library contains an extensive collection of English and foreign language monographs and journals (including e-journals) on comparative literature. The Library has corporate memberships which enable Queen Mary students to use the University of London Library and the Library of the Institute of Romance and Germanic Studies, as well as the libraries of the other constituent Colleges of the University of London.

Prospective students are advised to consult the postgraduate selector, Dr. Adhira Mangalagiri ( about potential supervisors before submitting a research proposal. The Department of Comparative Literature is interested in receiving applications from prospective PhD students across a wide range of areas. The Department has particular research strengths in the areas below.

Research areas

  • Cosmopolitanism and transnationalism
  • Exile
  • Translation and 'world literature'
  • New developments in literary theory
  • Literature, visual media and material culture
  • Literature and childhood
  • Literature and philosophy
  • Literature and science
  • Literature and the arts, including iconography and ekphrasis
  • Literature and pornography
  • Canon formation in the digital age
  • Intra-Asia comparison (between literatures of East, South, Southeast, and Central Asia)
  • Postcolonial and Global South studies
  • Environmental humanities

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entry requirement for admission to the programme is an upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject and a postgraduate degree (MA, MRes) from a UK university, or overseas qualifications of an equivalent standard. At its discretion, Queen Mary may accept candidates with alternative qualifications or an appropriate level of research experience gained in the workplace or similar environment.

Language requirements
We may require a qualifying examination in English and/or evidence of an appropriate level of competence in written and spoken English.

The School accepts students for a research degree, leading to a PhD. Applicants for this degree are accepted on the basis of previous academic performance and subject to the availability of a member of staff to supervise their work. We welcome applications from home and overseas students. Prospective students are advised to consult a potential supervisor with a draft research proposal before submitting a formal application. You should also include a relevant piece of written work showing your potential for carrying out high level research in your subject area (preferably a final-year undergraduate or MA dissertation), with your application. Completed applications should be sent to the Admissions and Recruitment Office at Queen Mary.

Please also refer to the How to apply section.

For international students, please refer to the International students section on this website.

Further information

Please contact:

Galin Tihanov
Professor of Comparative Literature 

Apply online

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