The Shakespeare Institute offers promising candidates the opportunity to carry out their research in Stratford-Upon-Avon, as members of a closely-knit research community.
Situated within walking distance of Shakespeare’s birthplace, school and grave, and the theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company, with access to extraordinarily rich libraries and archives, the Shakespeare Institute offers postgraduate students and scholars an academic experience unrivalled by any other university.
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“As a research student, I am given both enough freedom to pursue my studies independently and sufficient support to give me a sense of progress. I can only imagine that this is an extremely difficult balance for my tutor to achieve, one that must be tailored to the individual student. This balance is the best part of being a PhD student. A close second must be the close-knit student community at the Institute”
Ask Sara a question
At the Institute, you are able to study for full-time and part-time research degrees at all postgraduate levels (MA by Research, MLitt, and PhD).
You will work towards writing a thesis on a topic of your own choice, agreed with the Institute at the time of admission, and are supervised by a member of the Institute's teaching staff. There is also the opportunity for split location registration.
The PhD - the most advanced research degree – leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words. If you have not already completed a research Masters, you will normally register for an MA by Research in the first instance, and apply to upgrade your registration to a PhD on the basis of progress made.
The MLitt involves undertaking research on a chosen topic leading to the preparation of a thesis of 60,000 words.
The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a dissertation of up to 40,000 words.
All research students take a course on the Methods and Materials of Research. The aim is to provide an initial training in the methodologies of research in the various fields associated with Shakespeare Studies. There are no other compulsory courses, but research students are expected to attend Thursday Seminars and the Research Seminars; they are also given the opportunity of undertaking specialist training in palaeography.
You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).
For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our
distance learning website.
At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.
Explore the Shakespeare Institute
- The Institute boasts a world-class specialist library: its 60,000 items include the archives of honorary fellow Sir Kenneth Branagh’s theatre and film projects, among many other unique resources. In conjunction with the nearby archives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the rare book holdings of the Cadbury library on the main Birmingham campus, Institute students have access to the most comprehensive Shakespeare studies collection in the UK.
- The Institute, as a single specialist unit full of scholars and students comparing notes about different aspects of closely-related topics, boasts an unmatched research culture. Its activities include weekly play readings, a student-organized international conference, and regular interactions with senior RSC personnel.
- The College of Arts and Law celebrated excellent Research Assessment Exercise 2014 results . 34% of research at the University of Birmingham for English Language and Literature was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’. A further 53% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.
- Our location in Stratford-Upon-Avon enables research students to live and work among the physical and archival traces of Shakespeare’s life and career.
- The Institute is closely linked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in a formal collaboration which in 2016 saw the university become a Founding Partner of The Other Place studio theatre (base for the company’s research and development department).
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:
- Home / EU: £4,621 full-time; £2,311 part-time
- Overseas: £14,180 full-time
Distance learning programmes
- Home / EU: £4,121 full-time; £2,061 part-time
- Overseas: £13,680 full-time
For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.
Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.
Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.
Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.
International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.
Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:
- For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
- If you are applying for a PhD then you will usually also need to hold a good Masters qualification.
Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.
If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.
If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.
We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
Before you make your application
Please refer to our
six step process
on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.
You may wish to
register your interest with us
to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.
Additional Guidance for
applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study
Making your application
When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages
We welcome applications from prospective postgraduate students, particularly those who wish to work in the following fields of study:
Shakespeare in performance; Shakespeare in culture since 1623; Shakespeare and opera; the writings, representation and reputation of Elizabeth I; notions of authorship and nation; the representation of Shakespeare
Contact: Professor Michael Dobson
Director of The Shakespeare Institute and Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9508
Bibliography, editing, textual criticism, textual theory, Renaissance theatre culture and print culture, and Shakespeare’s contemporary dramatists
Contact: Professor John Jowett
Deputy Director and Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9507
Literature and experience, religion, philosophy, and creativity; aesthetics; Shakespeare and poetry; Shakespeare in conjunction with great art and thought from other times and places
Contact: Professor Ewan Fernie
Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Tel: + 44 (0) 121 4149506
The full corpus of dramatic works written in the British Isles, and by ‘British’ authors overseas, between the English Reformation and the English Revolution, including both commercial and literary plays, masques and entertainments, and drama in Latin, Greek, Cornish, and Welsh
Contact: Dr Martin Wiggins, Senior Scholar
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9514
Medical and religious beliefs in early modern England, in particular their intersection. The body and metaphor, illness narratives, early modern life writings, the history of human experience. Shakespeare’s cultural legacy.
Contact: Dr Erin Sullivan
Tel: +44 (0121) 4149513
Theatrical practice and stage history; verse-speaking; Shakespeare for young people; Shakespeare and adaptation; Shakespeare’s language
Contact: Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall; Tel: +44 (0121) 4149511; e-mail: email@example.com
Shakespeare’s Elizabethan and Jacobean playhouses; Renaissance anatomy and dissection; the early modern cultures of melancholy and funeral; witchcraft, ritual and superstition; literature and the visual arts
Contact: Dr Chris Laoutaris; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Associated Members of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies:
Ben Jonson and his contemporaries; The relationships of Renaissance and Romantic writers; The relationships of manuscript and print; Early modern poetry and drama.
Contact: Dr Tom Lockwood c/o Department of English
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 2763
Women's writing in the 17th century; Manuscript Studies; History of Translation.
Contact: Dr Gillian Wright c/o Department of English
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5671
Associated Member of the History Department:
Cultural history, visual arts and material culture of early modern Britain; Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture.
Contact: Dr Tara Hamling c/o Department of Modern History
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9510
The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.
In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.
Postgraduates at the Shakespeare Institute are able to develop a broad range of creative, research and theatre skills, as well as in-depth subject knowledge.
In 2013, 99% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation.
In recent years, our postgraduates have successfully entered a variety of sectors from teaching in secondary and higher education to performing arts, publishing, museums and library and archive work. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Imperial College London; National Trust; Royal Shakespeare Company; Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; The Grove Theatre; and University of Bristol.
Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.
In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.
Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
Support in your studies
We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.
The City of Birmingham
One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.