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

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.

Sara Marie Westh

Sara Marie Westh

“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 Shakespeare Institute”
Ask Sara a question

At The Shakespeare 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 Shakespeare Institute at the time of admission, and are supervised by a member of The Shakespeare Institute's teaching staff. There is also the opportunity for split location registration.

The PhD, the most advanced research degree, leads to a thesis 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 thesis 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.

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

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

Why study this course

  • The Shakespeare Institute and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) collaboration – you will benefit from our exciting five-year collaboration with the RSC at The Other Place which has seen the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre. Opened in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, The Other Place is the RSC’s creative hub for rehearsal, training, learning and research.
  • Research expertise – in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF), 87% of English Language and Literature research at the University of Birmingham was rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent.’
  • Research culture – The Shakespeare 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 seminars and play readings, an annual international conference organised by students for students, and regular interactions with senior RSC personnel.
  • Access to outstanding resources – The Shakespeare 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. We also have the world’s largest collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century dramatic manuscripts on microfilm. Additionally,  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, students have access to the most comprehensive Shakespeare studies collection in the UK.

Fees and funding

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

Campus-based programmes

  • UK/EU: £4,770 full-time; £2,385 part-time*
  • International: £16,820 full-time

Distance learning programmes

  • 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.

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.

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

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; Email: m.dobson@bham.ac.uk.

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; Email: j.d.jowett@bham.ac.uk.

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; Email: e.fernie@bham.ac.uk.

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; Email: m.j.wiggins@bham.ac.uk

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; Email: e.sullivan@bham.ac.uk

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; Email: a.rokison@bham.ac.uk

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 Email c.laoutaris@bham.ac.uk

Early modern literature and culture, especially drama and playgoing. Contact - Dr Simon Smith Email s.c.smith@bham.ac.uk

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; Email: t.e.lockwood@bham.ac.uk

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; Email: g.wright@bham.ac.uk

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
Email:t.j.hamling@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: Shakespeare Studies

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.

Over the past two years, over 93% 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: National Trust; Royal Shakespeare Company; Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; Shakespeare's Globe, University of Birmingham and University of Oxford.

The Shakespeare Institute is situated in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon, giving you an opportunity to study within walking distance of Shakespeare’s birthplace, school and grave.

Students outside the Shakespeare Institute

Learning resources are all around you: the Shakespeare Institute library; the outstanding picture collections, records and library holdings of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; and the archives of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). We also have the theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company on our doorstep.

The Shakespeare Institute at The Other Place

Shakespeare Institute students benefit from our exciting five-year collaboration with the RSC which has seen the University become a Founding Partner of The Other Place. The theatre closed in 2006 but has been redeveloped in Stratford-upon-Avon, home of both the RSC and the Shakespeare Institute. Opened in spring 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, The Other Place is the RSC’s creative hub for rehearsal, training, learning and research. Our students are able to access creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, as well as the expertise of RSC artists and practitioners.

University of Birmingham students working with an RCS practitioner at The Other Place

Living in Stratford-upon-Avon

Most of our campus-based students choose to live in Stratford, rather than Birmingham, and we would recommend that choice as it facilitates participation in all the activities of the Institute.

Stratford-upon-Avon is an attractive market town with more than 800 years of history located in the heart of England. It blends heritage, culture, theatre, arts and gardens along with a thriving community offering a wide variety of leisure and shopping experiences all within walking distance. The Shakespeare Institute itself is only seven minutes from the Railway Station and five minutes from the town centre.

The Shakespeare Institute does not have its own accommodation so students are responsible for making their own living arrangements for the duration of their study. There are, however, many sources of accommodation in Stratford-upon-Avon and we give as much assistance as we can to help students find somewhere to live.

Professor Ewan Fernie giving a presentation

Virtual tour of the Shakespeare Institute

Use the interactive virtual tour below to move around the Shakespeare Institute today. Drag the image below to rotate your view and click on doorways to change rooms. Navigate through the library, gardens, music hall, seminar rooms and main hall. A full screen version is available on Google maps.