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PhD in Comparative Literature


The Department of Comparative Literature at Queen Mary ranks among the leading centres for research and study in Comparative Literature in London. The Department 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.

Research Culture

Members of the Department frequently supervise doctoral and visiting post-doctoral students from around the world who choose to pursue research at Queen Mary under their guidance.

The Department 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, among others.

The Department also has a thriving MA in Comparative Literature, and hosts the highly prestigious annual George Steiner Lecture.

Research Staff

Our staff engage in interdisciplinary research and research-led teaching of literatures and cultures from the European countries to China, South Asia and Australia, covering different periods, sharing a focus on World Literature. The intellectual profile of the department is broad and dynamic.

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.

Research Areas

The Department of Comparative Literature seeks to support PhD research with:

  • Theoretical interests in: cosmopolitanism, exile, translation, world literature, childhood, critical/literary theory, digital humanities, Global South studies and postcolonial studies.
  • Interdisciplinary interests in: thinking literature alongside visual media, material culture, the arts, philosophy, ethics, pornography, life sciences, and environmental studies.
  • Regional and linguistic interests in: German, Russian, French, Central European, East Asian (with focus on modern China), South Asian Anglophone and bhasha, Global South, and intra-Asian literatures.

Individual staff research profiles can be found here.

PhD Programme

QMUL Comparative literature PhD students receive high-quality academic supervision from active research staff, and benefit from participating in the Department’s thriving research community.

PhD students participate actively in the research community at QMUL and beyond, by presenting their own work at staff-student research seminars and at events hosted by the London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Studies (LINKS). PhD students also have opportunities to organising talks and events, often featuring invited speakers.

Comparative Literature PhD students have opportunities to seek part-time employment to assist in teaching within the Department, thereby receiving relevant training for academic career paths.

Comparative Literature PhD students benefit from a number of on-campus facilities, including work spaces. PhD students also receive access to a wide range of library and archival materials. The QMUL University Library contains an extensive collection of English and foreign language monographs and journals (including e-journals) on comparative literature. QMUL students also gain access to the Senate House Library, University of London Library, the Library of the Institute of Romance and Germanic Studies, and the libraries of the other constituent Colleges of the University of London. QMUL students further benefit from close proximity to the British Library, the National Archives at Kew, and London’s many museums.

More Programme Information

Testimonials

Queen Mary is a stimulating environment for PhD candidates, where intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and interdisciplinary engagement are constantly encouraged. The quality of supervision and the careful mentoring I receive are invaluable, and help me feel integrated into the academic community. In addition to the support I receive in writing my thesis, there are many opportunities to share work and participate in other activities. There is also plenty of research training offered to post-graduate students. Overall, it is an incredibly enriching experience.
Celine Clavel
My research is in comparative children's literature, and Queen Mary has one of the few specialists in the country on the subject. Queen Mary also has a connection with the nearby Museum of Childhood. My supervisor is excellent - prompt, constructive, understanding, friendly, and always giving me opportunities to get involved in teaching, conferences and research groups.
Aneesh Barai

Application Process

If you would like to apply, the first step involves emailing your research proposal (1500 words) to the Graduate Tutor, Dr Adhira Mangalagiri, who will liaise with potential supervisors. Applicants must discuss their proposed research with the Department in advance of submitting a formal PhD application. Note that indication of interest on the part of a potential supervisor does not guarantee acceptance into the programme.

Once the Graduate Tutor confirms that the Department will be able to support your research pending your acceptance, you may then make a formal PhD application online.

Apply here

Applicant Selection Criteria

The Department receives applications from top UK, US, and other overseas universities, and runs a competitive annual PhD application cycle. Applicants are accepted on the basis of previous academic performance, quality of proposed research, and fit with the Department’s areas of expertise.

Research Funding

The QMUL College Studentships are extremely competitive; there is no separate application for funding process: you will be considered automatically for these awards if you have made a formal PhD application by 31 January for admission in the following September.

QMUL PhD Funding

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