Postgraduate Research with the College of Arts and Law

As a vibrant community of students and academics, the College of Arts and Law is committed to the advancement of academic endeavour, and research degrees are central to this. From the PhD, the most advanced and prestigious research degree, to the MA by Research, or the combined taught and research MRes, our courses enable aspiring researchers of any level to develop and apply their knowledge towards the preparation of a piece of research that makes a unique impression in their field of study.

Studying with the College of Arts and Law

Why Birmingham?

By choosing Birmingham you are joining a large, diverse and vibrant postgraduate community. Whatever the nature of your programme, we aim to provide a stimulating and engaging study experience of the highest quality. 

From libraries and research spaces, to extra-curricular activities and funding opportunities. All of this is available on our beautiful 250 acre green and leafy campus, providing you with a perfect environment to support and develop your postgraduate experience.

And if you are planning on joining us via Distance Learning, we aim to ensure you receive the same level of support and supervision as on-campus students through our virtual learning environment. You will also have the same level of access to your Student Experience Officers, Careers team, Guild of Students and Wellbeing support.

Discover more about life as a postgraduate research student at Birmingham.

Breadth of experience

Your research degree will involve the preparation of a dissertation of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice, developed under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff. Within the College, we have a broad range of subject areas in which you can undertake research, and in recent years this breadth of experience has seen students enjoy co-supervision, enabling them to tap in to the expertise of more than one supervisor. As the nature of many research projects is increasingly interdisciplinary in scope, this is a key advantage of studying here at Birmingham.

Flexible delivery

We offer three levels of research degree, allowing you to choose the appropriate level to suit your experience and aspirations:

  • PhD – an intensive, independent study that demonstrates original and significant knowledge in your chosen subject culminating in an 80,000 word thesis, deemed suitable for publication.
  • MA by research - a shorter alternative - or stepping stone to - a PhD, culminates in a 40,000-word thesis
  • MRes – taken as standalone programmes or a stepping stone to further research, combine taught modules with an extended independent research project of up to 20,000 words.

These courses are also incredibly flexible, enabling you to select the method of study which suits your existing commitments. All programmes are available to study Part-time or Full-time and our MA by Research/PhD programmes are also available to study via Distance Learning enabling you to complete research all over the world, while benefitting from the input of Birmingham’s world-class academics.

Innovative approach

In addition to the excellence on offer with these traditional forms of research degree, the College of Arts and Law is home to a number of innovative and engaging courses, which enable students to develop their knowledge, and present their research, in creative ways.

The School of English, Drama and American and Creative Studies, for example, is home to the Film Studies Audio-Visual PhD, which leads students through the filming and editing of an hour-long documentary on their research, which is accompanied by a 30,000-word written defence. The School also offers a Practice-Based PhD in Drama and Theatre Studies, which allows your academic research to be conducted through practical experimentation, accompanied by a 40,000-word thesis.

Another example is the Music Performance Practice PhD, which centres on a musical performance of up to 45 minutes.

Personal development

The College of Arts and Law offers all our postgraduate students opportunities to gain and enhance skills, alongside your studies, to aid your personal and professional development. These include free language training, either for personal development or to support your research, and employability skills training.
Theology and Religion student, Cait sits in the Arts lounge

The best things about my course are the close and meticulous support I am receiving from my supervisors, as well as the sense of connection with the local research community. Life is exciting as a researcher at the University of Birmingham with lots of events, conferences and presentations by renowned scholars.

Ioannis, PhD Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology