Studying for a PhD at the Institute of Modern Languages Research

The School of Advanced Study is the UK's national research hub in the humanities and offers a world-class research environment to our research students. We run a range of research training programmes, open to all postgraduate students, as well as an active public engagement calendar. The School is part of the AHRC-funded London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP), through which we are able to offer a number of studentships in humanities disciplines. Our institutes also offer a range of bursaries and studentships for applicants on our programmes.


The Institute's research strength lies in its combination of the study of several language fields: French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

Its academic staff specialise in literature, cultural studies, history of ideas and comparative studies: the city (especially Berlin, Trieste), borders, the body, psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality, feminism, women's writing, Jewish writing, exile writing, children's literature, etc.

Because of its function as a centre for academic events in European culture, the Institute has national and international contacts with researchers in its fields. The Insitute is thus particularly well placed to offer supervision for projects that cross national and disciplinary boundaries.


How to Apply

Before agreeing to accept you, the School will require you to submit a research proposal, so it is worthwhile having this drafted ahead of a formal application. Guidelines on drafting your research proposal.

Once you have contacted the School, you will be put in touch with a potential supervisor. It is important that you discuss your outline research proposal with them, and that you feel you can work together. Your supervisor will discuss any further development or re-focusing of your proposal before the formal application is taken to the relevant Research Degrees Committee for approval.

Please apply by clicking the links to the appropriate online application form for the September 2019 session. 

Location Mode Duration Apply
London Full Time 3 years Apply
London Part Time 6 years Apply
Distance Learning Full Time 3 years Apply
Distance Learning Part Time 6 years Apply


Distance Learning

From autumn 2017, the School of Advanced Study will offer students with an appropriate topic and level of local resource the opportunity to undertake a PhD by distance learning. These students are required to attend our London campus at set intervals to complete an intensive research training module, for upgrade, and for the viva but will otherwise study at their own location. This option is available to UK, EU and international students on the same basis as our on-campus PhD programmes (three years full time, six years part time). Fees are the same as for our on-campus PhD programmes. Please note that not all institutes and supervisors offer this option, and that some topics are not appropriate to be studied this way.

If you would like to be considered for our Research Degree programme via Distance Learning, please download and fill out the Research Degrees by Distance Learning form, to attach to your online application.


Subject Areas

The Institute of Modern Languages Research offers doctoral research supervision in the following broad areas:

  • French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese studies
  • Literature
  • Cultural studies

Comparative and interdisciplinary studies are available in:

  • Borders
  • Cities and cultures
  • Exile writing
  • Film and cultural studies
  • French and Francophone studies
  • Gender and sexuality
  • German philosophy
  • German studies
  • Iberian and Latin American studies
  • Italian Studies
  • Jewish writing
  • Memory studies
  • Photography and memory in Latin America
  • Women's writing


Professor Catherine Davies

Director of the Institute of Modern Languages Research

Email | Research Profile


Professor Davies has published widely on 19th- and 20th-century Spanish and Spanish American literature, history and culture. She specializes in the following fields: women's writing; historical fiction; intellectual history; gender studies; the political essay, and poetry. She is particularly interested in the cultures, histories and literatures of Spain, Galicia, Cuba, Argentina and Colombia.

Professor Davies has successfully supervised a large number of PhD theses on, for example: Rosa Chacel, Diamela Eltit, Silvia Galvis, Spanish Romantic literature, Galician women's writing, Cuban crime fiction,  African-Cuban poetry, Colombian literature, Women novelists in 20th-century Spain, and Latin American women's Testimonio.

She has also examined many PhD theses in the UK and internationally. Her recent co-authored book, South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text (2006)  is on the literature and culture of the Independence period in early 19th-century Spanish America and Spain explored from a gender inflected perspective.  


  • Spanish Romantic literature
  • Galician women's writing
  • Cuban crime fiction
  • African-Cuban poetry
  • Colombian literature
  • Women novelists in 20th-century Spain
  • American women's Testimonio

Dr Dominic Glynn

Lecturer (French)

Email | Research Profile


Dr Glynn has wide-ranging research interests, but his main area of scientific enquiry is contemporary French theatre and literature. He has written about the work of writers and directors active in the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st. His book (Re)telling Old Stories honed in on two landmark productions by directors Peter Brook and Ariane Mnouchkine, in order to outline general characteristics of the theatrical field in the 1980s and 1990s.

His latest research project addresses the central question of the writer’s standing within French theatre over the last 30 years. The specific objectives of this multi-annual research venture are three-fold.

First, to identify the emergence of new authorial voices and to reflect on opportunities available for living writers. Second, to consider the strategies used by writers to promote their work and to establish themselves. Third, to highlight how these strategies relate to the emergence of un- or post-dramatic forms of writing for the stage.

Dr Glynn’s expertise in contemporary French theatre and literature has been honed not only by his academic research, but also by working as a dramaturge and translator in France. Moreover, he is the author of a short work of fiction, Lignes de fuite.


  • Modern Languages

Dr Katia Pizzi

Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies

Email | Research Profile


Dr Pizzi specializes in modern Italian studies, with particular interest in the literature of the inter-war years. Her books A City in Search of An Author: The Cultural Identity of Trieste (2001) and Trieste: triestinita`, italianita` e male di frontiera (2007) explore cultural identity and memory in Trieste and the north-eastern borders in Italy.

Her research further encompasses the European and Futurist avant-garde, especially the relation with machine culture and technology, as well as children’s literature, illustration and comics in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Publications in this domain range from Pinocchio Puppets and Modernity: The Mechanical Body (2011) to numerous articles and chapters on children’s literature and nationalism, the Unification, Antonio Rubino’s illustrations and European comics.


  • Modern and contemporary Italian writers
  • The concentration camp Risiera di San Sabba
  • Pinocchio
  • Fable and myth

Dr Johan Siebers 

Associate Fellow

Email | Research Profile


Dr Johan Siebers (Associate Fellow, IMLR/Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Middlesex University) is available for dissertation and thesis supervision in the area of post-Kantian German philosophy.

His own work investigates the possibilities of metaphysical thinking today and he is committed to the idea that the purpose of philosophy is the liberation of the mind. His research interests include critical theory; German idealism; metaphysics; being and speculative philosophy; aesthetics; philosophy of language, dialogue and communication; religious experience; temporality and futurity; existentialism and psychoanalysis.

He is also interested in the relations between German and classical American thought (Transcendentalism, Emerson, pragmatism, Whitehead and process philosophy). He has a special, but not exclusive, interest in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch and lead the Ernst Bloch Centre at the IMLR.


  • Post-Kantian German philosophy. 

Dr Anne Simon

Associate Fellow

Email | Research Profile


Dr Simon specializes in German Studies in the mediaeval and early modern periods, with particular reference to the impact of these periods on subsequent eras.

Her book The Cult of Saint Katherine of Alexandria in Nuremberg: Saint and a City draws on a wide variety of textual and visual sources to explore interrelated themes: the shaping of urban space through the cult of Saint Katherine, her role in the moulding and advertising patrician identity and alliances through cultural patronage; and patrician use of the saint to showcase the city's political, economic, cultural and religious importance at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire.

Her research and publications also encompasses travel literature from all periods; Early Modern women’s letters; the history of the book; didactic literature for women; and the relationship between text and image.


  • Middle Ages to the present, including artistic and cultural patronage
  • The Reformation
  • Hans Sachs
  • Travel literature
  • Publishing history
  • Marginal groups
  • The National Socialist use of the Middle Ages
  • Nuremberg’s contemporary self-marketing

Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex

Reader in Modern German Literature

Email | Research Profile


Dr Weiss-Sussex's main research interests lie in the German culture and literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in the representation of the city in literature, women's writing and modernism.

Her current research project investigates concepts of Jewishness and femininity in the work of German-Jewish women writers in early 20th-century Berlin. It builds on the conference volume 'Not an Essence but a Positioning': German-Jewish Women Writers (1900-1938) (co-edited with Andrea Hammel, 2009).

Her other publications include the monograph Metropolitan Chronicles. Georg Hermann’s Berlin Novels, 1897 to 1912 (2001) and the edited volumes BerlinKultur und Metropole in den Zwanziger und seit den Neunziger Jahren (2007, with Ulrike Zitzlsperger) and The Cultural Identities of European Cities (2011, with Katia Pizzi).


  • The culture of the Weimar Republic
  • Post-1945 literature

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