PhD programmes

Develop your original ideas in a supportive community of researchers.

Why take a PhD in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures?

Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to expand upon your interests and expertise in a community that really values research and seeks to make an original, positive contribution to learning in the arts and humanities.

As one of the largest and most diverse Schools in the University of Edinburgh, our research environment is the ideal place to challenge yourself and share your ideas with others.

You will be supervised by at least two members of academic staff, and there are many ways in which you can collaborate with the wider School community, from regular research and work-in-progress seminars to conferences, workshops and online journals and forums, including Inciting Sparks and FORUM. We are also home to a number of established research centres and networks.

Between the School, the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development, you will find a range of programmes and resources to help you develop your doctorate-level skills. Our PhD student community is also highly active, running reading groups and other meet-ups to support each other through the opportunities and challenges of PhD life.

PhD study at a glance

  • Over the course of your PhD, you will be expected to complete an original body of work - your thesis - culminating in a dissertation of around 80,000 words which you'll defend in an oral examination (viva voce).
  • You will study for a minimum of 36 months (three years). If you’d like to study part-time, you may take up to 72 months (six years) to complete your PhD.
  • You will be supervised by at least two members of academic staff with expertise in your area of research. 
  • You will typically be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, in the city’s historic centre, close to the Main University Library and the National Library of Scotland. Our in-house facilities include a dedicated Postgraduate Study Room, and our festival city, the first UNESCO World City of Literature, is a treasure trove of cinemas, theatres, music venues, museums, galleries and collections.

What can I study?

We currently offer 18 PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) programmes across our subject areas. All links take you to the University of Edinburgh's online Degree Finder, where you can find out more about what's involved in the PhD.

Celtic and Scottish Studies Chinese Comparative Literature
Creative Writing English Literature European Theatre
Film Studies French German
Hispanic Studies Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Italian
Japanese Korean Medieval Studies
Russian Scandinavian Studies Translation Studies

How and when do I apply?

Please read the guidance from the subject area of your PhD. We welcome interdisciplinary applications that cross subject areas – in this case, begin by choosing what you consider to be the most relevant area for your research project:

Asian Studies

PhDs in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Studies

Celtic and Scottish Studies

PhD in Celtic and Scottish Studies

English Literature

PhDs in English Literature or Creative Writing

European Languages and Cultures

PhDs in French, German, Hispanic Studies, Italian, Russian, Scandinavian Studies, and Comparative Literature

Film and Theatre

PhDs in Film Studies or European Theatre

Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

 PhD in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Translation Studies

PhD in Translation Studies


We also suggest that you read the University’s general guide to applying for Postgraduate Study, which includes advice on entrance requirements, writing a personal statement, choosing your referees, writing a research proposal and more.

Take me to the guide to applying for Postgraduate Study on the University of Edinburgh website


You apply for your programme through the University of Edinburgh’s online Degree Finder and its associated application service, EUCLID.

Applications to start a PhD programme in September 2021 will open on 1st October 2020 and close at the end of July 2021.

Take me to Degree Finder for postgraduate study


Fees and funding

Fees are determined by your nationality and the country where you are ‘ordinarily resident’. When applying for a programme, you should take into account that fees increase each year.

Find out more about fees for PhD study on the University's Tuition Fees website

Postgraduate study can be expensive, and the funding available is highly competitive. Many scholarship schemes have early deadlines so, to increase your chances of being eligible for a range of scholarships and other awards, you are strongly encouraged to apply for your PhD as early as possible (e.g. November if you wish to start your PhD the following September).

Find out more about funding for PhD study

Related links

Contact the Postgraduate Office

Research centres and networks in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

The Institute of Academic Development resources for doctoral researchers