Postgraduate study

German PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: German

Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to expand upon your interests and expertise in a community that really values research, and to make an original, positive contribution to learning in German studies. One of the University of Edinburgh’s larger Modern Language subject areas, German has earned its place as a significant centre for research, supporting a broad range of cultural and literary research themes, from the medieval period to the present.

Join our community and undertake a specialised research project under the guidance of experienced and well-published supervisors. Our research expertise includes:

  • 18th century and Romanticism studies
  • Bertolt Brecht
  • censorship studies
  • contemporary German literature
  • cultural and political studies and literary theory
  • Film Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • identity studies
  • LGBTQI+ representationliterature and culture of the Weimar Republic and the National Socialist era
  • migrant literature in German
  • palaeography and Medieval textual studies
  • post-Holocaust literature
  • post-war West and East German literary and cultural studies
  • the Medieval German epic
  • Theatre and Performance Studies
  • Translation Studies
  • travel writing
  • Turkish-German literature
  • working-class representation on film and television

Working with colleagues elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and across the wider University, we are able to support PhD theses crossing boundaries between disciplines and/or languages.

Over the course of your PhD, you’ll be expected to complete an original body of work under the expert guidance of your supervisors leading to a dissertation of between 70,000 and 100,000 words. You will be awarded your doctorate if your thesis is judged to be of an appropriate standard, and your research makes a definite contribution to knowledge.

Your PhD supervisors will devise a tailored programme of support for you, drawing on training events across the University and in the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities, as well as providing you with individual training and guidance.

Between the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), you’ll find a further range of programmes and resources to help you develop your postgraduate skills, as well as having access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.

Part of a community

As part of our research community, you will be immersed in a world of knowledge exchange, with lots of opportunities to share ideas, learning and creative work. Activities range from a regular seminar series in European Languages and Cultures (with talks by staff, research students and visiting speakers), to film screenings, workshops, and the publication of our esteemed Edinburgh German Yearbook.

Our graduates tell us that they value LLC’s friendliness, the connections they make here and the in-depth guidance they receive from our staff, who are published experts in their field.

The University of Edinburgh contains exceptional resources for study and research in German, including the expansive Karin McPherson collection of GDR writing.

Based in the Main University Library, our Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK, bringing together a collection of more than 400,000 rare books, six kilometres of archives and manuscripts, and the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects.

As a PhD candidate here, you’ll also be within a short walk of the National Library of Scotland, which has outstanding German-language holdings and is a copyright library, meaning it has the right to receive a copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland.

We maintain close links with the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow, one of an international network of centres promoting German language and culture, and with the German Consulate here in Edinburgh.

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 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

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 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

There are a number of scholarship schemes available to eligible candidates on this PhD programme, including awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

Please be advised that many scholarships have more than one application stage, and early deadlines.

*(Revised 27 November 2020 to update featured funding information.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

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

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. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Pre-application guidance

Before you formally apply for this PhD, you should look at the pre-application information and guidance on the programme website.*

This will help you decide if this programme is right for you, and help us gain a clearer picture of what you hope to achieve.

The guidance will also give you practical advice for writing your research proposal – one of the most important parts of your application.

*(Revised 19 November to provide updated pre-application guidance)

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

Further information

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