School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

PhDs in Modern Languages and Cultures

Research in The Department of Modern Languages was ranked highly in the last assessment of national research performance, the 2015 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014), receiving a 3.04 overall GPA score, which ranks us second in London.

The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures conducts research in literary, visual and cultural history from the Middle Ages to the present. We collaborate closely with the Department of Comparative Literature and its members as we share many research interests with them.

The programme is normally a 3-year research only PhD programme (i.e., there is no mandatory coursework component).


Supervision Strengths

In addition to high-quality supervision in French, German, Russian and Hispanic Studies (Catalan, Portuguese and Spanish), the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures has particular supervision strengths in Cultural History and, specifically, in:

Funding Competitions and Deadlines

The department of Modern Languages and Cultures at Queen Mary University of London is pleased to invite applications for funded PhD studentships for 2020 entry. Supervision is available in all areas of the department’s research expertise. For full details, see individual staff profiles on the department’s website.

PhD studentships are available as part of the following competitions:

The London Arts and Humanities Partnership 

Up to 90 cross-institutional studentships per year available for postgraduate research students studying arts and humanities disciplines at King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, Queen Mary University London, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music, School of Advanced Study or University College London. Your research topic must be within the subject areas covered by the AHRC

Subject to availability, these awards will cover:

  • Tuition fees for a maximum of three years at the Home/EU rate
  • Annual maintenance grant or allowance (stipend), £16,777 for 2018/19
  • LAHP has a limited number of full awards (fees and stipend) for EU students designated `fees-only’ by the AHRC

Before applying for a LAHP studentship you must have applied to commence a programme of postgraduate study in the 2020/21 academic year at one of the LAHP partner institutions. You are advised to apply for your place of study well in advance of the application deadline for LAHP studentships to ensure that you have the opportunity to consult with your proposed supervisor in preparing the LAHP studentship application.

Competition Timeline

September 2019

  • September: CDA scheme opens for project proposals

December 2019

  • Monday 2nd December: CDA scheme closed for project proposals at 09.00
  • December: Suitable proposals are selected for recruitment by the LAHP Collaborations & Partnerships Committee

January – April 2020

  •  January: Outcomes of proposals communicated to supervisory teams
  •  January – March: Recruitment of students to projects without nominated students
  •  January – March: Students nominated in successful projects must apply for a place to study within the institution of the first academic supervisor
  •  27 March: Final nominations of students to successful projects must be received by the LAHP office
  •  April: LAHP Studentship Moderation Panel approves nominated students as recipient of a LAHP CDA studentship
  •  Week commencing 6th April: Outcome of students to be awarded a CDA studentship conveyed to supervisors

October 2020

  • Student commences PhD study


QMUL Principal’s Studentships

Applications now open, offering up to 18 studentship per year across the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Principal’s studentships offer 3 years of funding (tuition fees + a maintenance allowance of £16,777 per year), for a full-time PhD programme starting in September 2019. Subject to funding arrangements, holders of research studentships will have the opportunity to teach up to 4 hours per week in the second and third years of their study. 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. Prospective candidates are strongly advised to identify a potential supervisor prior to submitting a formal application for admission to a research programme. Candidates whose applications are received after the deadline will be considered for admission, but not for funding. 

Application deadline: January 2020, date tbc soon. No residency/nationality restrictions.

Research programmes and finding a supervisor:

How to apply and supporting documentation checklist:

Further information on QMUL studentships and alternative funding opportunities:

  • Leverhulme Trust Mobile People Studentships, offering up to 7 studentships per year for PhD research examining how the world is being dynamically constituted by mobile people in active and novel ways and how this affects fundamental social and political institutions. The Leverhulme studentships offer 3 years of funding (fees + living stipend). Application deadline: 31 January 2020. No residency/nationality restrictions.
  • China Scholarship Council (CSC), offering studentships for any area of the department’s expertise. These studentships offer 4 years of funding (fees + living stipend). Application deadline: January 2020, dates tbc soon. For nationals of the People’s Republic of China only.

How to apply

For more details about the department and studentship opportunities, please contact a prospective supervisor directly, or the department’s PhD Tutor, Professor Else Vieira.

Regular research and training events

Seminar series:

Iberian and Latin American Research Seminar

Medieval Hispanic Research Seminar

BASF Lecture Series on Anglo-German Matters

Queen Mary Catalan Seminars (Centre for Catalan Studies)

Translation, Transmission and Cultural Transfer, jointly organised with the Department of Comparative Literature

Visual & Material Forum, jointly organized with the School of History


Major yearly lectures:

The Angermion Annual Lecture (German)

The Camões Annual Lecture (Hispanic Studies)

The Catalan Annual Lecture (Hispanic Studies)

The Kate Elder Lecture (Hispanic Studies)

The Malcolm Bowie Lecture, held alternately at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (French)


Events and Projects

French Students Blog

Russian Play

Writers in Residence Programme



Hispanic Research Journal

Garnett Press

Research Centres

MLC hosts or contributes to a number of flourishing Centres:

Grants our current PhD students have been awarded

German: Current PhD Grants

  • One AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the V&A
  • One QMUL research scholarship
  • One grant from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. 

Hispanic Studies: Current PhD Grants

  • One grant from the Wellcome Trust.
  • One grant from the Balearic Islands Doctoral Studentship in Catalan Studies.  
  • Three of the Principal’s studentship, one of which as part of the Open World Research Initiative 'Language Acts and Worldmaking'.
  • Two of the Principal’s studentship (jointly supervised with History and with the School of Politics and International Relations)
  • Two from the Queen Mary University of London Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships (QMUL-LTDS) (jointly supervised with the School of Politics and International Relations on the theme of ‘Mobile People: mobility as a way of life’

Russian: Current PhD Grants

  • One AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award with the British Library

How to apply

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for our PhD programmes are:

  • A Bachelor's degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject, with a minimum final degree classification of 2.1 (or international equivalent)
  • A Master's degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject, with a minimum final degree classification of Merit (or international equivalent)
  • Proof of proficiency in academic English (e.g., minimum IELTS 7.0, with a minimum of 7.0 in writing), where applicable
  • A compelling research proposal that closely aligns with the research interests and expertise of staff in the department
  • Capacity to conduct independent and original PhD-level research (as evidenced by a statement of purpose and letters of reference)

How to apply

Preliminary Application Procedures

The first step as you consider applying to the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures for a PhD will be to look at the research interests of individual staff to see if we have a colleague who works in the area of your research interests. Our main research interests are set out here.

It is essential to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your proposed PhD project before you apply for admission. This is likely to be a draft proposal at this stage, and indicative of your interests rather than binding. It will help you to organise your thinking and will give any prospective supervisor the most essential information. Your proposal may be refined and redrafted after discussions with your prospective supervisors before you apply.

We normally do not accept students who have not yet secured agreement from a potential supervisor. If you are unsure who may be an appropriate supervisor for your project, have a look at the available supervisors below and/or contact

How to apply

Your application

Once you have applied online (How to apply), we also encourage applicants to send a complete zip archive of their application dossier to the PhD Tutor in Modern Languages and Cultures ( This helps to ensure that applications are processed in as timely a fashion as possible.

Further information

If you have questions about the content of our PhD programme please contact:

Professor Else Vieira
PhD Tutor in Modern Languages and Cultures
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8335