Postgraduate study

French PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: French

We offer supervision for the PhD, MPhil and MSc by Research degrees in most areas of French cultural studies.

The PhD and MPhil degrees allow you to pursue a research topic in depth and produce a substantial thesis.

The MSc by Research programme is designed to enable students who have taken a first degree in French to specialise in an aspect of French literature or culture which interests them, while acquiring core skills in theories and methods of study applicable to their topic.

Students spend the first half of the degree programme doing preliminary research and writing two essays on their chosen field of study, while following a taught course according to their specialisation. They then write a dissertation, on a topic agreed with their supervisor.

French at the University of Edinburgh has enjoyed a consistently excellent record in research and publications, confirmed in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, which ranked 55% of our research as world leading or internationally excellent.

Language, to us, is inseparable from culture. As such, we encourage you to think broadly and explore the implications of language in a wider perspective. Our research expertise covers a wide range of areas including:

  • adaptation studies
  • contemporary politics and institutions.
  • film studies
  • Francophone and post-colonial studies
  • French thought
  • literature from the Middle Ages to the present day
  • self-writing
  • translation studies
  • word and image
  • word and music

The impact of COVID-19 on your programme

The challenges of COVID-19 have caused the University – along with every other Higher Education institution across the world – to adapt quickly to best support our students.

For next year (2020/21) we are planning a hybrid approach – a blend of on campus and digital elements that allows you to continue with your research programme.

In practical terms this means that if you can’t make it to Edinburgh for part of the academic year, we will use technology to keep you close to us (socially and intellectually) despite the physical distance until you are able to join us.

If you can be in Edinburgh, then we will be welcoming you on campus and using that same technology for some aspects of your research training and support.

There will be face-to-face teaching and supervision, supported by expanded digital resources, as well as academic and pastoral support.

We will be opening laboratories, libraries and other research facilities as soon as permitted and your supervisor will be in touch with more detailed updates*.

*(Revised 4 June 2020 to add information on impact of COVID-19.)

All research students follow a core course in Theory and Methods of Literary Study plus a course of research training, which includes bibliographic skills, project development and dissertation and thesis writing. You will participate in regular research seminars run by French, Film Studies, European Theatre and Translation Studies.

As a member of our dynamic and enterprising postgraduate research community, you will have access to a comprehensive range of resources, including world-class libraries (the National Library of Scotland holds one of the best French collections in the UK), membership of the Institut Français d’Ecosse, and access to a number of specialised facilities, such as the Centre de Recherches Francophones Belges which hosts a regular programme of talks and conferences.

You should have near-native speaker competence in French.

MScR: A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a related subject.

PhD: A UK 2:1 honours degree and a masters degree, or their international equivalents, in a related subject. We may also consider your application if you have equivalent qualifications or experience; please check with your potential supervisor before you apply.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start date Application deadline
11 January 2021 30 November 2020

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, Masters by Research applicants should include an outline of their proposed area of study; PhD applicants should include a full research proposal.

Before you apply, we strongly recommend that you discuss your research proposal by email with a prospective supervisor.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH