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Undertaking doctoral research allows you to develop in-depth knowledge, while making a meaningful contribution to your chosen field.

With guidance from our expert supervisors, you'll carry out extensive independent research culminating in a thesis of up to 100,000 words. The Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), based at the Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies, offers specialist doctoral supervision across the humanities and social sciences, covering Latin America and the Caribbean. An internationally recognised centre of excellence, CLACS is home to a close-knit team of Latin Americanists with expertise in colonial and post-colonial history, political anthropology, geography, environmental humanities, cultural studies, multilingualism and digital humanities.

This degree presents the opportunity to gain expertise in your area of interest while also honing a range of transferable skills. On completing this course, you'll be well prepared for specialist career paths both within academia and beyond.

Graduates are awarded a University of London degree.

Subject Areas and Supervision

The Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies offers doctoral research supervision in the following broad areas:

  • Colonial history
  • Postcolonial history
  • Political and legal anthropology
  • Ethnographic research
  • Human and cultural geography
  • Environmental humanities
  • Cultures of migration and mobility
  • Sociolinguistics and multilingualism
  • Cultural Studies
  • Digital research
  • Latin American Literature (Spanish and Portuguese)

Research degrees in the field of Latin American Studies are also available through the Refugee Law Initiative, part of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Before submitting an application you are advised to contact a member of staff at the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies who has interests in your proposed field of study to discuss your proposal. A list of academic staff and their interests can be found below.

Contact the Centre

Key Information

Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

The Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) was established as part of the Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies in April 2021 and continues the activity of the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), which was founded in 1965.

CLACS occupies a unique position at the core of academic study of the Latin American and Caribbean region in the UK. Internationally recognised as a centre of excellence for research promotion and facilitation, it serves the Latin American Studies community in the UK and worldwide through the development of a range of scholarly initiatives, resources and networks.

The School of Advanced Study

The School of Advanced Study at the University of London brings together eight internationally renowned research institutes to form the UK's national centre for the support of researchers and the promotion of research in the humanities.

Course structure

The degree can be taken full time over three years (or a maximum of four) or part time over five years (or a maximum of six), with entry in October and January. You will initially be registered for our MPhil and, providing your progress has been satisfactory, will then be upgraded to our PhD programme.

The primary activity of the PhD programme is the writing of a thesis of up to 100,000 words. There is no formal coursework, but you are encouraged to participate in the regular seminars held at CLACS during the academic year. An extensive research training programme is on offer, with sessions provided from leading scholars and practitioners. After submission of the thesis, you will attend an oral examination conducted by an internal examiner from the University of London, and an external examiner, normally from another UK university. 

Distance Learning

CLACS now offers students the opportunity to undertake their research degree by distance learning. This option is available to UK, EU and international students on the same basis as its London-based PhD programmes.  Distance-learning students are required to attend the London campus on three set occasions: at the start of their studies for an intensive induction programme, for an external review of their progress (the upgrade panel) and for the final oral exam (viva).  Students maintain regular contact with supervisors via video conferencing.  Fees are the same as for on-campus research programmes.

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.

Opportunities and facilities

As part of the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, you'll benefit from a collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment. You’ll learn from leading specialists in your field; hone your research skills in our sector-leading training programme; expand your knowledge through an extensive calendar of events, conferences, and seminars and become part of a worldwide network of humanities scholars. The Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies enjoys close links with other SAS members and is home to a diverse, international, and vibrant community of scholars covering its major language and culture areas. Throughout the academic year it is host to a lively programme of events, conferences and seminars that is at the heart of the functioning of the disciplinary area.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies possesses a world-class library collection dedicated to the study of Latin America and the Caribbean, located on the sixth floor of Senate House Library, which includes periodicals, political pamphlets, documentary films and photographs, in addition to extensive holdings of printed and digital books. CLACS publishes an open access book series in Latin American Studies with University of London Press.

Because of its function as a centre for academic interest in a very extensive range of topics, the Centre has national and international contacts with researchers in all of the fields that it represents. It is therefore particularly well placed to offer supervision for projects that cross national and disciplinary boundaries.

The Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies works together with national and international professional associations representing the field and actively maintains and builds ties with cultural, diplomatic and business organisations with an interest in Latin America and the Caribbean.

How to apply

Before submitting an application you are advised to contact a member of Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies academic staff who has interests in your proposed field of study to discuss your proposal. A list of academic staff and their interests can be found below.

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.

Candidates will normally receive an initial response to their application within 28 working days. Those who have been formally interviewed will normally be informed within one week as to whether they are to be offered a place.

Note: in accordance with regulations research students will be registered for the MPhil degree in the first instance. Upgrading to PhD will be considered in the second year for full-time students and in the third or fourth year for part-time students.


Dr Ainhoa Montoya

Director of the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies / Senior Lecturer

Ainhoa Montoya full sized

Email | Research Profile


  • The anthropology of violence and conflict
  • The anthropology of democracy and state transformation
  • The ethnography of the law
  • The anthropology of the environment
  • Social movements and citizenship practices
  • Transitional justice, human rights and memory work


Dr Montoya’s research focuses on post-conflict violence and conflicts over natural resources. She is the author of The Violence of Democracy: Political Life in Post-War El Salvador (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Her research has been funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. She is currently working on a British Academy-funded project which explores the political-legal strategies of environmental and human rights defenders who oppose mineral extraction in Central America and Mexico, focusing specifically on the moralities, ontologies and forms of knowledge that they bring to these strategies. Dr Montoya is co-editor of the Bulletin of Latin American Research (BLAR), the journal of the Society for Latin American Studies.

She accepts PhD students with an interest in bringing an anthropological perspective to the study of violence and conflict, democracy and state transformation, the law, the environment and natural resources, social movements, or human rights.

Dr Jamille Pinheiro Dias

Lecturer in Environmental Humanities and Modern Languages

Dr Jamille Pinheiro Dias

Email | Research Profile


  • Languages and the Environment
  • Socially and Environmentally Engaged Literature, Film and Aesthetics in Latin America
  • Indigenous Poetics and Aesthetics in Latin America, particularly in Brazil
  • Translation Studies
  • Cultural Production in the Pan-Amazonian Region
  • Brazilian Literature, Film and Culture
  • Art and Activism in Latin America


Jamille Pinheiro Dias works on cultural, artistic and literary traditions, Indigenous knowledges, Translation Studies and the intersection between environmental and aesthetic activism in Latin America, with a focus on Brazil. She is interested in working with PhD students who wish to pursue research on socially and environmentally engaged literature, film and aesthetics, pan-Amazonian cultural production, Indigenous poetics and aesthetics, and translation in the region.

Dr Naomi Wells

Lecturer in Modern Languages (Italian and Spanish) with Digital Humanities​​

wells naomi



  • Cultures of migration and mobility to and from Latin America
  • Sociolinguistics and multilingualism in Spanish-speaking contexts
  • Digital culture in Spanish-speaking contexts
  • Social media and internet research
  • (Digital) discourse analysis and (digital) ethnography


Dr Wells specialises in the area of multilingualism and migration in Spanish- and Italian-speaking contexts, with her current research focusing on digital spaces of communication and representation. She has conducted fieldwork in Spain, Italy, Chile, and the UK, and her research incorporates transdisciplinary methods and approaches drawn primarily from applied and sociolinguistics, translation and cultural studies, migration studies, and digital humanities and digital culture studies. She is joint Section Editor of the Digital Modern Languages Section on Modern Languages Open, and provides postgraduate research training in qualitative and online research methods.

Professor Linda Newson

Professor Emerita

Linda Newson

Email | Research Profile


  • Colonial Latin American history
  • Colonial Latin American geography
  • The economic and social history of Latin America up to 1800
  • The demographic history of Latin America to 1800
  • The African slave trade to Latin America
  • The history of science and medicine in Latin America
  • The missionary orders in colonial Latin America
  • The colonial Spanish Philippines


Her research interests include Latin America and the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period; the impact of colonial rule on indigenous societies; the Portuguese slave trade to Spanish America; and the history of medicine in early colonial Spanish America.

Professor Catherine Davies

Professor Emerita 

Prof Catherine Davies - SAS CLACS



  • Latin American Literature and Culture from 1800
  • Literature and Culture in Argentina 19th and 20th C 
  • Literature and Culture in Cuba 19th C
  • Women’s Writing
  • British travellers to Latin America in 19th C
  • Translation Studies
  • The history of Spain and Spanish America 19th and 20th C


Her areas of research are the literatures, cultures and histories of Spain and Latin America during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her specialisations include: the literature and history of Galicia, primarily the work of Rosalía de Castro; the history and literature of Cuba (particularly the abolitionist Rafael María de Labra); the history and literature of Argentina, especially 19th C British travellers to the River Plate and British foreign policy; gender studies and women’s writings in nineteenth and twentieth-century Spain, Latin America and Cuba; the involvement of women in the Spanish American wars of independence; translation studies and travel writing. 

She has directed numerous research projects, the most recent being the Arts and Humanities research Council Open World Research Initiative, Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community, SAS allocation (with Manchester and Durham universities) (2016-2020, £800,000). 

The School of Advanced Study is a unique environment in which to study the humanities.  The School strives to reflect the latest developments in thinking across the humanities disciplines it supports and to ensure that its programmes reflect this.   We are also aware that the needs of our students are constantly changing.  With that in mind, the School continually reviews the its programmes and, as part of that process, reserves the right to alter or discontinue them. 

We assure you that we carry out these exercises at no detriment to any enrolled students. Students enrolled on any programme that we discontinue will be able to complete that programme within a reasonable timeframe and with all the necessary resources at their disposal. The School will communicate any anticipated changes with students as early as possible.