Comparative Literature PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Start date
Flexible start date
Duration
Full-time: 3 years, part-time: 6 years
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning, Doctoral research
Fees

Annual tuition fee 2022 entry:
UK: £4,565 full-time, £2,283 part-time
International: £19,800 full-time; £9,900 part-time (distance learning only)
More detail.

The PhD in Comparative Literature and Critical Theories at the University of Birmingham offers students the opportunity to propose and develop exciting doctoral projects exploring relevant aspects of the cultures of the world through the study of literature, as well as other cultural forms, and critical theory. 

Hosted in the Department of Modern Languages, this programme counts on the wide expertise of academics able to supervise projects that look into cultural forms produced not only in English, but also in Arabic, Catalan, French, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.  Students are also enabled to work on many aspects of critical theory, from those associated with the Frankfurt School to postcolonial theory, decolonial studies, eco-criticism, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, feminist and queer theory, memory studies, translation theory and linguistics.

Students can also benefit from the supervision of academics across the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music and the College of Arts and Law, enabling support for projects interested in cultural forms beyond literature such as music, film and visual art.

The plurality and diversity that characterises the work of our academics provide unique combinations of expertise that are ideal for ambitious, interdisciplinary projects dialoguing with comparative studies and critical theory.

A PhD is assessed by a thesis of 80,000 words. You will also need to defend your thesis at a viva voce (oral examination) before a panel of expert examiners. Find out more about what to expect from a PhD.

You can study our Comparative Literature PhD full-time or part-time, on campus or by distance learning. The College of Arts and Law is experienced in delivering high-quality distance learning to students all over the world. Find out more on our distance learning website.

Incorporating a comparative approach has helped me uncover links and establish parallels between geographically and temporally distant histories and cultures. Employing a comparative perspective has given my research visibility at several conferences this year

Yana , PhD Student - Modern Languages

Why study this course?

  • Cultural comparisons: You can work comparatively with cultural artefacts in languages other than English
  • Truly Interdisciplinary: With access to our wide range of expertise, you can get the right supervision team to develop an interdisciplinary project
  • Training and community: You will have access to a strong postgraduate training programme which includes the possibility to learn another language, as well as numerous training courses that will enhance your skills as a researcher. The Department of Modern Languages boasts a vibrant postgraduate community and provides a range of support for its research students
  • World-leading research: In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results, 75% of research at the University of Birmingham for Modern Languages and Linguistics was judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

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Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £4,565 full-time; £2,283 part-time
  • International: £19,800 full-time; £9,900 part-time (distance learning only)

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

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.

* For UK 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 2022.

Fee status

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

Paying your fees

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

How To Apply

Application deadlines

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 2022, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 July 2022.

If the programme has a Distance learning option then students will usually attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 July 2022. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

Six easy steps to apply for a postgraduate research course in the College of Arts and Law

Six steps to apply for our Postgraduate Research courses

Do you have an idea for an interesting research project? You can follow our six easy steps to apply to study for our postgraduate research courses. These include guidance on identifying funding opportunities and writing your research proposal.

Please also see our additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Please note: While our PhD programmes are normally studied in three years full-time or six years part-time, and Masters-level research programmes one year full-time or two years part-time, many programmes have a longer length listed in course or funding applications. This is because the course length is defined as the maximum period of registration, which includes a period of supervised study plus a thesis awaited period. The maximum period of registration for a full-time PhD is four years (three years supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For a full-time Masters-level research programme, it is two years (one year supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For part-time programmes, the periods are double the full-time equivalent.

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

Our Standard 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, usually in a relevant area.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent), usually in a relevant area.

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

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


Our specific research strengths include expertise in postcolonial and decolonial studies, world literature, translation studies, gender and sexuality studies, world cinema, adaptation theory, memory studies.

Potential supervisors are drawn principally from the Departments of Modern Languages, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, and English, but may also be based in other departments.

We list here some of the potential supervisors able to support research in this field and encourage applicants to contact the Programme Convenor, Dr Charlotte Ross in the first instance for advice on whom to approach.

Modern Languages:

English Studies:

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Modern Languages

Our Modern Languages postgraduates develop excellent communication skills, cultural awareness and foreign language skills - all highly sought after by employers at home or abroad. 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.

The latest data shows that 85% of Modern Languages postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2017). Many of our graduates enter roles for which their programme prepared them, such as language teaching oe translation. Others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including publishing, executive research and project management. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include Language Connect, RWS Group, TransPerfect Global Business Solutions, University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge and University of Oxford.

The department has an excellent employability record, and the majority of graduates go on to successful careers. Find out about how our alumni, have used the skills they developed studying Modern Languages at postgraduate level within their careers.

Graduates in Comparative Literature can pursue careers in academia, the arts and media, journalism, public relations, publishing, and teaching (including Teacher of English as a Foreign Language), the charity sector, and politics.

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