Postgraduate study

Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies (Hispanic Studies) PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

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 Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies (formerly Hispanic Studies). We specialise in the major areas of Spanish, Spanish-American and Portuguese literary and cultural studies, including Brazil and Lusophone Africa.

Spanish was formally added to the University’s curriculum in 1919 and, in the century since, has developed into one of the best-established subject areas of its kind in the UK, with teaching and research in Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish and Latin American studies. Join our community and undertake a specialised research project under the guidance of experienced and well-published supervisors.

We have particular strengths in Latin American poetry, narrative and film, especially in Chile and Argentina from the 19th to 21st centuries, the Spanish Golden Age, Modern Spanish narrative, Indigenous filmmaking, Cuban post-1959 culture, Lusophone African literatures and Portuguese contemporary culture.

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 languages and/or disciplines, including comparative literature, film studies, and translation studies.

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.

As a PhD student in Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies (SPLAS), you will be given mandatory training in research skills, methods and problems, and may optionally be able to gain guided teaching experience in SPLAS on a ‘Student Experience’ contract.

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) and our annual Cunninghame-Graham Lecture to our weekly informal Spanish-language reading group ‘Poema de la semana’, film screenings and workshops.

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.

Based in the Main University Library, the 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.

Many of our Special Collections are digitised and available online and include treasures such as a 1629 edition of Cervantes, early translations of the Lusiads, paintings by Murillo and Picasso, and Jan Fairley’s rich collection of Latin American music recordings and interviews, which is held in the School of Scottish Studies Archives.

Our in-house Portuguese Language Centre is sponsored by the Camões Institute, while the nearby National Library of Scotland has an outstanding collection of early modern Spanish material.

As a PhD candidate here, you’ll be based in a world-leading festival city with fantastic cinemas, theatres, galleries, and established communities of Spanish and Portuguese speakers.

The Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival was started by our staff and, now in its seventh year, is a regular fixture in the city’s extensive cultural calendar.

We have very close links with the Spanish Consulate in Edinburgh and the Etxepare Basque Institute.

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 John Orr Research Award for PhD research in any romance literature, language or dialect.

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