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Applications for this programme starting in September 2019 are now closed. If you are interested in becoming part of our unique scholarly community from next year onwards, please register your interest in our courses.

The Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) welcomes applications from suitably qualified candidates for its Master of Research in Modern Languages. The degree is offered to students who would like specific training for postgraduate research in modern languages aiming ultimately at a PhD, or who wish to take a challenging Master’s. The course offers a distinctive and unique choice of translation theory, European and Arabic cultural and intellectual history (taught at the Warburg Institute), and digital humanities in addition to research skills and training. 

The Master of Research is a flexible programme that allows in-depth study under the supervision of experts in the field. The dissertation gives the student scope to explore an area of interest in depth and to develop advanced critical and analytical research skills. You will receive face-to-face supervision and specialist research training in small groups within a well-established research training programme.  

Contact the institute

If you have specific questions about this degree, please make an enquiry.

Degree Overview

The course is underpinned by exceptional resources in the Senate House Library, a diverse range of seminars and conferences, and networks associated with the specialist centres within the Institute: the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing, the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature and Culture, the Centre for Quebec and French-Canadian Studies, and the Ernst Bloch Centre.

The MRes is further supported by the digital resources of the PORT (postgraduate online research training) website,, part of which is tailored specifically to the needs of students and researchers in modern languages. It includes a variety of resources, ranging from introductory training manuals on conducting research in modern languages via language-specific materials to video clips advising on the preparation for the viva or for job interviews.

Upon graduating, students will receive a degree awarded by the University of London.

The research component of the programme is a dissertation written on a research topic agreed and supported by fortnightly meetings between student and supervisor. The dissertation may be written in English or in the language of study: French, German, Italian or Spanish. Topics include: literature, film, cultural memory, women’s writing, postcolonial studies, exile studies, migrant studies, cultural history, history of ideas, and translation studies. Areas of study include: Europe, the Americas, Caribbean, and North Africa.

Why study here?

  • Established expertise in the fields of Spanish/Latin American, French/Francophone, Italian and German literary and cultural research, and PhD supervision. 
  • Opportunity for cross- and trans-cultural research.
  • A vibrant academic community. The Institute hosts a large range of events every week, including guest lectures, seminars and international conferences in the field of modern languages research.
  • One-to-one tuition and small group teaching. 
  • Collaboration with other institutes in the School of Advanced Study and high-profile neighbouring institutions including SOAS, the British Library, and the Wiener Library.
  • Access to a highly respected research training programme.
  • Access to Senate House Library, with its millions of books and journals, digital resources, special collections, beautiful study spaces, and laptop loans. Senate House Library houses the specialised Germanic Studies Library, a treasure trove of books and archival material.
  • Location in central London, at the heart of Bloomsbury.

Modules and structure

The course comprises two core modules and one optional module to be chosen from four options. Teaching will be provided by staff from IMLR, the School of Advanced Study, the Warburg Institute, and SOAS where relevant.

To earn the MRes, you will be expected to have successfully completed two or three essays (depending on which module you choose), a 25,000-word dissertation, and an assessed presentation at an IMLR research seminar.


Core modules

  • Research Skills and Methodologies
  • Dissertation 

Optional modules (one to be chosen, subject to availability)

  • Translation theory and Digital Humanities Textual Analysis (must be taken together)
  • Reviving the Past: Introduction to Cultural and Intellectual History
  • Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance 
  • Introducing Digital Humanities


Research Skills and Methodologies (20 credits)

You will be provided with specialised training in research projects in modern languages; archive skills training with the Wiener library; modern languages archives and libraries training (in collaboration with specialist librarians in Senate House library and the British Library), digital resources and use of social media, critical theories and approaches, visual languages, history and history methods. and professional skills and career management.

Dissertation (140 credits)

The dissertation will be on a research topic agreed between you and your supervisor and will be supervised with (on average) fortnightly meetings within IMLR or, where appropriate, with co-supervisors in other institutes in SAS or elsewhere. The dissertation may be written in English or in the language of study: Spanish, Portuguese, French, German or Italian (subject to the availability of staff). Topics include literature, film, cultural memory, women's writing, postcolonial studies, exile studies, migrant studies, cultural history, history of ideas, and translation studies. Areas of study include Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, and North Africa. Our supervisors include Professor Catherine Davies, Dr Joseph Ford, Profesor Andrew Hussey, Dr Katia Pizzi and Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex.

The dissertation is the research component of the Master of Research programme. It consists of a significant research project in which you will undertake an in-depth investigative study in the modern languages disciplinary field, which may include aspects of translation, translation theory, or digital humanities. The MRes provides an excellent platform for those wishing to go on to PhD study.

Full-time students take the taught modules in terms 1 and 2 and meet their supervisor in preparation for the dissertation throughout the year. Students write up their dissertation in the summer. Part-time students take the taught modules in terms 1 and 2 of the first year, and prepare and write up their dissertation in the second year. 

Translation Theory (15 credits)

This module, taught at SOAS, will provide you with key concepts, issues and theories of translation; effective application of translation principles and methods; and knowledge of the translation profession.

Digital Humanities Textual Analysis (5 credits)

This mini-module forms part of the module Introducing Digital Humanities and will focus on three areas of textual analysis: metadata, encoding, and analysis.

Reviving the Part: Introduction to Cultural and Intellectual History (20 credits)

This module, taught at the Warburg Institute, will provide you with foundational knowledge and research skills for the study of the cultural and intellectual history of Europe, from the medieval era to modernity. You will become familiar with specific historical moments and the various aims and means of their retrieval, making use of primary and secondary texts in the Warburg Library and other collections in London and beyond. 

Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance (20 credits)

Starting from selected Renaissance texts, this module will explore the continuing importance of works in Arabic philosophy, science, and magic translated into Latin in the Middle Ages, and also the beginnings of the study of Arabic itself and the productions of new translations. Topics will include the problem of translating from Arabic; attitudes towards Islam; the Arabic contributions to philosophy, mathematics, and medicine; and the 'Antarabism' of the humanists. No knowledge of Arabic is required. This module is taught at the Warburg Institute.

Introducing Digital Humanities (20 credits)

This module will allow you to approach your subject area from the perspective of digital humanities and other collaborative, multidisciplinary, and quantitative methods in data acquisition, analysis, dissemination, and teaching. Topics in this module will focus on the application of multiple interdisciplinary approaches to the traditional research areas of literature, history, art history, material culture, and the humanities more broadly. Such approaches include the application and extraction of semantic information in text and structured data, geographic and spatial analysis, 3-D imaging and modelling, and visualisation and sonification. 

About the institute

The Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) was established in 2004 by the merger of the Institutes of Germanic Studies and Romance Studies, founded in 1950 and 1989 respectively. It is committed to promoting dialogue and research in modern languages for the academic and wider community across a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields in the humanities. IMLR publishes the much-respected Journal of Romance Studies and ‘imlr books’ series as well as other important publications.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement would be a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard (for example a grade-point-average of 3.0 or higher).

We will consider applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience.

English is the language of instruction and applicants are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency. Near-native or degree-level competence in the language of study (Spanish, Portuegese, French, German, or Italian) is required. 

Find out more about our entry requirements. 

How to apply

You can apply online via our online applications system. Applications for this course starting in September 2019 are now closed. Register your interest in this course to be notified when applications open for 2020 entry onwards. 

For more information on how to apply, including the documentation you will need to provide on the application form, click here.

Fees, funding and scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees here.

The School of Advanced Study has a range of funding opportunities for home, EU and international applicants. Find out more about funding opportunities here. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

MRes Bursaries

The Friends of Germanic Studies have made available a scholarship designed to support a student on the Institute's MRes in Modern Languages course, who intends to write their dissertation on a German-related topic. The scholarship provides a fee waiver of up to 100% of the full-time or part-time Home/EU tuition fee, and is tenable for one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

The MRes Bursary, made available by the Bithell Bequest Fund scholarship is designed to support a student wishing to pursue the Institute's MRes in Modern Languages course who intends to write their dissertation on a German-related topic. The scholarship provides the successful applicant with a fee waiver of up to 100% of the full-time or part-time Home/EU tuition fee, and is tenable for one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

More information on both IMLR scholarships.

Further study

Upon successful completion of this MRes degree, students will be well suited to continue their studies at the PhD level. Find out more about our PhD in Modern Languages. 


From the director 

Professor Catherine DaviesThe Institute is home to a diverse, international, and vibrant community of scholars researching our major language areas, and is host to a lively programme of events, conferences, and seminars throughout the academic year. The IMLR provides first-class supervision and guidance from our experienced team of scholars.


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Register your interest 

Applications for this programme starting in September 2019 are now closed. Register your interest for future intakes. 

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