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

Italian Studies at Birmingham has an excellent record in attracting postgraduate students and offers a vibrant postgraduate community that is firmly anchored within the broader context of Modern Languages.

Our doctoral researchers are involved in student-led seminars, discussion groups and networks including ROLES (the postgraduate and sexuality research network), the GCfE (Graduate Centre for Europe), the BCT (Birmingham Centre for Translation) and EMREM (a postgraduate forum for researchers working on Early Medieval, Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation and / or Early Modern topics).

The department is home to the Leopardi Centre, a Leverhulme-funded project on populists in power, an AHRC-funded project on Leopardi's Zibaldone and an AHRC-funded project on ‘Interdisciplinary Italy 1900-2010'. Research interests range from Medieval to Contemporary Italy and include expertise in literary studies, history of art, translation studies, cinema and visual culture studies, politics and media studies and cultural studies.

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 Studies, Italian) 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 dissertation of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision.

The PhD – the most advanced research degree – leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice and under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff.

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, there is a compulsory annual visit to campus (every two years for part-time PhD students) - please see our frequently asked questions about distance learning to find out more.

We welcome applications in the major areas of Italian Studies, and members of staff are always willing to discuss ideas and proposals with those who are thinking of applying.

Profiles of our current Modern Languages doctoral researchers

Why study this course

  • 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.
  • We have been recognised for the quality of our research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework Exercise, with over 75% of our research judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.
  • 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 2016/17:

  • Home / EU £4,110 full-time; £2,055 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.

* 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 2016.

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 tuituion fees and funding.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

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.

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

  • Italian politics, Italian media, political communication, populism and neo-nationalism in Europe.
    Contact: Dr Daniele Albertazzi
  • Italian cinema; 20th- and 21st-century Italian poetry and narrative; cultural theory, especially theories of conflict, opposition, power and privacy; religion in Italian and European cinema; interdisciplinary practice in Italy since 1900.
    Contact: Dr Clodagh Brook
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7504
  • The Age of Romanticism in Italy; the reception of Dante in the 19th century; 20th-century fiction; critical theory in Italy; the relation between oral and written literature; the work of Umberto Eco.
    Contact: Professor Michael Caesar
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5931
  • Autobiography; the work of Giacomo Leopardi; Leopardi in the European context.
    Contact: Dr Franco D'Intino
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5930
  • Medieval literature especially Dante and Cavalcanti, Italian diachronic linguistics, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
    Contact: Dr Paolo De Ventura
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5935
  • Renaissance literature and art; chivalric romance, particularly Ariosto; grace and other ‘keywords’ of early modern Europe, the debate about women in early modern Italy, the value of literature as an object of knowledge from early modern Europe to today.
    Contact: Dr Ita Mac Carthy
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5930
  • Literary studies; Cultural studies; Gender and Sexuality studies 19th century, 20th century and contemporary
    Contact: Dr Charlotte Ross
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7505

Related research

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.

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.

Over the past five years, over 94% 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. Others graduates enter employment where their language skills may be advantageous but not central to their role - for example, within international organisations, the Civil Service and in the travel and hospitality industry. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Arts and Humanities Research Council; Deloitte; Tate Britain Gallery; University of Manchester; and Zamyn (a communications agency).

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.


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.

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.