Research areas: Arts and Humanities Research Council Funding

The Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C) is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, the University of Warwick, Coventry University, De Montfort University, the University of Leicester, Nottingham Trent University, and the University of Nottingham.

AHRC research areas at the University of Birmingham

Applications are now open for 2024 entry.  Please browse the subject areas below for further details on University of Birmingham research areas included in this funding scheme. You can also search for potential supervisors at other institutions in the consortium. 


Based in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, we offer promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in a range of areas across Byzantine, Prehistoric, Classical, Historical, Conflict, Landscape, Funerary and Environmental archaeology, as well as Geographical Information Systems and virtual environments. 

We welcome applications onto our Archaeology PhD from candidates whose research interests include:

  • Archaeological Theory
  • Archaeology of Human Origins
  • Archaeology of Literate Societies
  • Cultural Geography
  • Industrial Archaeology
  • Landscape and Environmental Archaeology
  • Maritime Archaeology
  • Prehistoric Archaeology

Contact: Dr Gareth Sears-

Classics and Ancient History

The Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology is able to offer an exceptionally wide range of opportunities and specialisms across Classics and Ancient History, as well as access to our outstanding research collection in the University Library. If your interests are in late antiquity, the medieval Balkans or modern Greece, your research will be supported by the excellent specialist library housed in our Whitting Room. 

Our Classics and Ancient History PhD invites applications from candidates whose research interests include: 

  • Classical Literature
  • Classical Reception
  • Epigraphy and Papyrology
  • Languages and Linguistics
  • Philosophy, Thought and Religion

Contact: Dr Gareth Sears - 

Drama and Theatre Arts

The Department of Drama and Theatre Arts enjoys a highly respected national and international reputation for excellence in research in the study of drama. We benefit from Birmingham's exceptional resources for theatre research, as well as the University's links with world-class theatre in Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, London and beyond. 

We offer candidates the opportunity to carry out research in a dynamic environment, allowing students, scholars and theatre practitioners to work together to achieve a new breadth and depth in the study of drama. 

Our research programmes - Drama and Theatre Studies PhD, and Drama and Theatre Studies Practice-based PhD welcome applications from candidates whose research interests include:

  • Drama and Theatre Studies
  • Theatre and History
  • Theories of Theatre
  • Theatre and Society

Contact: Dr Ellen Redling -

English Language and Literature

The School of English, Drama and Creative Studies contains some of the leading centres for the postgraduate study of English in the UK, offering research supervision to postgraduates across practically the entire historical and conceptual range of English language and literature. 

Our research students enter a self-motivated, vibrant and enthusiastic community of international scholars with an active research culture, and are well supported in their research by a network of supervisors and other advisors, as well as student-led seminars, department seminars and regular talks by visiting speakers. 

We welcome applications onto our English Language and Applied Linguistics PhD and English Literature PhD programmes, from applicants whose research interests include: 

  • Comparative Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • English Language and Literature
  • History and Development of the English Language
  • Lifewriting
  • Medieval Literature (including Old and Middle English, Anglo-Norman, and Icelandic/Old Norse)  
  • Textual Editing and Bibliography
  • History and Development of the English Language

English Language: Dr Marcus Perlman - 
English Literature - Dr Matthew Ward-


The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences has a renowned history for international excellence in research and teaching. We are a large interdisciplinary and international community of some 60 staff and around 80 research students, who produce world leading research in all areas of physical and human geography. 

We welcome applications to our Geography and Environmental Sciences PhD including in the AHRC relevant area of Cultural Geography.

Contact: Dr Rosie Day -

Heritage Studies

The International Centre for Heritage provides research students with access to a unique academic experience and unrivalled resources. The Centre is a focal point for cross-disciplinary research, postgraduate teaching and policy engagement.  Expertise includes:

  • World Heritage
  • Understanding Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • Valuing Heritage
  • Tourism and Cultural Change
  • Heritages of Conflict
  • Industrial Heritage Futures
  • Imagined and Mediated Pasts
  • Histories of Heritage
  • Heritage Policy

We welcome applications onto our Cultural Heritage PhD from candidates whose research interests could also include: 

  • Archives
  • Heritage Management
  • Information Management
  • Museum and Gallery Studies

Contact: Professor Henry Chapman -


Birmingham is one of the country's leading history departments, with an excellent record of high-powered research of international standing. We are able to offer a broad range of research opportunities. Please see our History PhD

Among the research areas available for applications are:

  • Cultural History
  • Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Economic History
  • History of Ideas
  • History of Science/Medicine/Technology
  • Imperial/Colonial History
  • Political History
  • Religious History
  • Social History
  • War Studies

Contact: Dr Mo Moulton -


The depth and breadth of expertise of Birmingham's academics enables us to provide research opportunities that span departments and even colleges, to include History, Philosophy, Law, Science and Medicine, as exemplified by the Medicine, Ethics, Society and History research group. 

This interdisciplinary approach is evident in all of our research programmes, but those interested in interdisciplinary study specifically might be interested in applying for the following programmes:

In addition, the American and Canadian Studies Centre encompasses research into the literature, culture, history, film and TV, politics and international relations of North America. 

African Studies: Dr Juliet Gilbert -
Sexuality and Gender Studies: Dr Lisa Downing -


Birmingham Law School has made a major contribution to teaching and scholarship, and is regularly ranked among the top law schools in the UK. Our academics are leaders in their fields and the authors of many key works used by practitioners today. 

Among the research areas available for applications on our Law PhD are:

  • Common Law, including Commercial Law
  • Comparative Law
  • Criminal Law and Criminology
  • EU Law
  • Human Rights
  • International Law
  • Jurisprudence/Philosophy of Law
  • Law Regulated by Statute (e.g. Family, Employment, Procedure)
  • Law Related to Property
  • Public Law



Based in the Department of English Language and Linguistics, research into Linguistics at Birmingham is part of a vibrant international community.

We welcome applications onto our English Language and Applied Linguistics PhD programme from candidates whose research interests include:

  • Applied Linguistics
  • Language Variation and Change
  • Lexicon
  • Linguistic Theory
  • Morphology and Phonology
  • Phonetics
  • Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Syntax

Contact: Dr Marcus Perlman - 

If you have an interest in bilingualism/multilingualism, multilingual literacy, bilingual education, second language learning and contemporary discourses about linguistic and cultural diversity, you may also wish to refer to the Centre for Research on Multilingualism in the College of Social Sciences and discuss your research with academics who sit in this research team.

Media, Film Studies and Creative Writing

The Department of Film and Creative Writing brings together two dynamic and successful disciplines within the School of English, Drama and Creative Studies. We are committed to creative and critical practice in teaching and research. Our staff include internationally renowned scholars and award-winning writers.

Employability is a key focus within the Department and we enjoy excellent collaborative relationships with professional partners in film, television, theatre, literature and new media. As well as studying texts from a variety of critical, theoretical and historical perspectives, our students make films, perform poetry, develop screenplays, write novels and create television programmes. Their work can be found in theatres, in libraries, at festivals, in cinemas, on television screens, in newspapers, classrooms, online and in bookshops.

Interdisciplinary research is also encouraged through the B-Film Research Centre

We welcome applications onto our three research programmes:

Contact: Professor Rob Stone -

Modern Languages

The Department of Modern Languages is home to one of the UK's largest groups of internationally renowned researchers in the languages and cultures of Europe, on the continent and beyond. Doctoral students can pursue specialist, cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary postgraduate study in a vast range of areas. 

Our research programmes include: 

We welcome applications for these programmes from candidates whose research interests include:

  • Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies
  • Digital Humanities in Modern Languages
  • French Studies
  • Exile and Migration
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • German Studies
  • Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin Studies
  • Interpreting and Translation
  • Italian Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Medieval Studies
  • Memory Studies
  • Mexican Studies
  • Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Music and language studies
  • Nineteenth Century Studies
  • Russian, Slavonic, and East European Studies

Modern Languages: Dr Lucy O´Sullivan -
Sexuality and Gender Studies: Dr Lisa Downing -


We are located in the Bramall Music Building at the heart of the University campus, centered on the 450-seat Elgar Concert Hall, and our Music Library is one of the best in the country, with special collections including Elgar's diaries, manuscript scores and early editions, as well as Baroque manuscripts and early printed sources, and an extensive microfilm collection. 

We welcome applications for our prestigious research degrees - Musicology PhD, Musical Composition PhD and Music Performance Practice PhD - from applicants whose research interests include:

  • Classical
  • Composition (including computer-aided and electroacoustic composition)
  • History of Music
  • Music and Society
  • Musical Performance
  • Musicology
  • Popular Music
  • Traditional Music

Contact: Professor Scott Wilson -


Our Department is home to a dynamic and friendly community of philosophers, pursuing original research on a wide range of topics. We have a growing international reputation as a centre of excellence for research, and staff members write papers and books in key areas. 

We are multidisciplinary in approach, and our links with the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, the International Development Department, the Birmingham Business School, the School of Psychology and the Birmingham Law School confirm our belief that the issues we face today cannot be solved within any one department alone. 

We welcome applications to our research programmes - the Philosophy PhD and the Global Ethics PhD - from students whose research interests include:

  • Aesthetics
  • Epistemology
  • Ethics (including Bioethics and Global Ethics)
  • History of Philosophy 
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language and Philosophical Logic
  • Philosophy of Mind 
  • Philosophy of Science and Mathematics, and Mathematical Logic
  • Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy: Dr Alex Silk -
Global Ethics: Dr Herjeet Marway -

Theology and Religion

The Department of Theology and Religion combines internationally established strength in teaching and research with initiative in new fields of study. The knowledge and expertise of our academic staff offers variety and depth of study in a context which supports and encourages multidisciplinary research across the areas of theology and the study of religion. 

We offer a wide variety of forward-thinking research opportunities, including our Practical Theology Doctorate and the Theology and Religion PhD.

We welcome applications to these programmes from students whose research interests include:

  • Alternative Spiritualities
  • Church History and History of Theology
  • Contemporary Religion
  • East Asian Religions
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Liturgy
  • Modern Theology
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Religion, Gender and Sexuality
  • Sikhism
  • Systematic Theology

Contact: Dr Amy Daughton:

Visual Arts and History of Art

Based in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the Department of Art History, Film and Visual Studies has access to this excellent and representative collection of post-medieval European art, including paintings, engraving and drawings by such artists as Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Veronese, Picasso and Magritte. it is also an important collection of 19th-century paintings by artists such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, Turner and Whistler. We also encourage interdisciplinary research, particularly on the subject of Film through the B-Film Research Centre. 

We welcome applications for our History of Art PhD from candidates whose research interests include: 

  • Applied Arts (History, Theory and Practice)
  • Art History
  • Art Theory and Aesthetics 
  • Conservation of Art and Textiles
  • Ethnography and Anthropology
  • Film-based Media  (History, Theory and Practice)
  • Fine Art  (History, Theory and Practice)
  • Photography (History, Theory and Practice)
  • Time-based Media (History, Theory and Practice)

Contact: Dr Michaela Giebelhausen-