French Studies PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Our internationally recognised research in French Studies ranges from the medieval to the contemporary period, focusing on the 18th century and after, with the preponderance in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Recent and on-going PhDs in French Studies span a broad range of periods and topics, and we welcome enquiries and proposals relating both to discrete specialisms and to interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work.

Professor Francis Lough

Professor Francis Lough

“Birmingham has a very long standing tradition of modern languages, with superb facilities, a fantastic campus and a very vibrant department of modern languages. Each of the individual language sections (Arabic, French, German, Hispanic, Italian, Russian) has its own particular identity while colleagues also work closely across languages in different areas of teaching and research.”

The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a thesis of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision. In contrast the PhD, the most advanced research degree, leads to a thesis of up to 80,000 words. This will be supported by expert supervision by a member of academic staff. 

Postgraduate research is pursued in its broadest social and intellectual context, and you develop your research project within an active and friendly postgraduate community. Postgraduates are offered opportunities to present work-in-progress at Departmental Research Seminars, the School Postgraduate Forum, and relevant Postgraduate conferences hosted at the University. As appropriate, staff and supervisors will also guide postgraduate students in important areas beyond the thesis itself, such as the preparation of external conference papers and research publications.

Since we are particularly interested in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work, it is possible to arrange joint supervision involving staff from other Departments, thereby giving you access to a broader knowledge base and maximising the quality and originality of your work.

Distance learning

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

Why study this course

  • In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results, 75% of research at the University of Birmingham for Modern Languages and Linguistics was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’ or  rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.
  • The Department of Modern Languages is home to one of the UK’s largest groups of internationally renowned researchers in the national cultures of Europe – past and present.
  • The Department incorporates the subject areas of French Studies, German Studies, Italian Studies, Russian Studies and Hispanic Studies. You can pursue specialist, cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary postgraduate study in any of these areas and you can also research a wide range of cultural, literary, historical, and socio-political topics related to periods from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,270 full-time; £2,135 part-time*
  • International: £16,320 full-time

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2018.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Funding opportunities

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. 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.

Students applying for the MA by Research programme may be eligible to apply for a postgraduate loan to help finance their studies. For those starting in the 2017/18 academic year, these government-backed student loans will provide up to £10,280 for Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

Entry requirements

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.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

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.

International students

Academic requirements

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:

How to apply

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.

Please note: Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by the end of June.

Additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

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

Apply now

The following summary indicates our principal areas of research expertise. Please view our staff profiles for further possible research topics.

  • French cultural history, especially of the 20th century; the Nouvelle Revue Française and Jean Paulhan; Franco–British cultural relations. Contact - Professor Martyn Cornick. Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5965; Email: m.cornick@bham.ac.uk
  • History and theories of sexuality; history and politics of sexual 'perversion'; modern critical theory; nineteenth-century French writing and culture; decadence and the fin de siecle; cinema and media studies; death studies. Contact: Professor Lisa Downing - Email: l.m.downing@bham.ac.uk
  • Dada and Surrealism in French cinema and literature, particularly Tristan Tzara, Luis Buñuel and Jean-Luc Godard; 20th-century French poetry. Contact - Dr Stephen Forcer; Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5985; Email: s.m.forcer@bham.ac.uk
  • Francophone Caribbean literature and film from Martinique and Guadeloupe and the Antillean diaspora (including the Haitian diaspora in Canada); Francophone colonial and postcolonial studies more generally. Contact: Dr Louise Hardwick - Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5964; Email: l.a.hardwick@bham.ac.uk
  • French, women’s and artists’ film; French, film- and feminist philosophy (Beauvoir, Irigaray); modernist and post-modernist French visual art; critical and feminist theory; Duras; Beckett. Contact - Dr Kate Ince; Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5972; Email: k.l.ince@bham.ac.uk
  • Inter-war literature and culture; Second World War and literature; Irène Némirovsky; women’s writing; literature and translation; travel writing. Contact - Dr Angela Kershaw; Tel: +44 (0)121 4145974; a.kershaw@bham.ac.uk
  • Colonial and postcolonial studies; popular representations of Empire in Britain and in France; European imperialisms in comparative perspective; the decolonisation of European empire; colonial and postcolonial history of francophone Africa, North Africa and the Sahara. Contact - Dr Berny Sèbe; Tel. + 44 (0)121 414 6173; Email: b.c.sebe@bham.ac.uk
  • 19th-century literature; Honoré de Balzac; the politics of Balzacian provinciality; contemporary re-imaginings of 19th-century literature; adaptation studies Contact -  Dr Andrew Watts; Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5965 Email: a.j.watts.2@bham.ac.uk
  • 20th- and 21st-century French poetry, especially post-1945 and extreme contemporary; relations between art and literature in France; text-and-image studies. Contact: Dr Emma Wagstaff - Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5965; Email: e.r.wagstaff@bham.ac.uk
  • Words/music relations (including aesthetics, translation, adaptation, and performance); poetry and poetics (especially nineteenth-century French, and metre, accentuation, versification); voice/performance in relation to literary texts; the role of digital media in researching texts and performances (music, theatre, readings). Contact Professor Helen Abbott; Email: h.abbott@bham.ac.uk

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Modern Languages

Birmingham's Modern Languages postgraduates develop excellent communication skills, whilst cultural awareness and foreign language skills are highly sought after by employers. Postgraduates in Modern Languages also have a range of transferable skills including the ability to gather and interpret information, organisational skills and the ability to work well with others. Such skills can be used in a variety of occupations.

In 2015/16, over 95% of Modern Languages postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our language graduates train to become professional linguists such as translators and interpreters. Other graduates enter employment where their language skills may be advantageous but not central to their role - for example, within international organisations or in the travel and hospitality industry - and some go on to teaching or lecturing positions. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Berlitz Language Centre; TransPerfect Global Business Solutions; KPMG; University of Birmingham; University of Cambridge; and University of Oxford.

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.

Get involved

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.

Accommodation

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.