Study modes: Full-time, Part-time
Programme website: German
Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to make an original, positive contribution to research in German Studies.
German was one of the first European languages to be offered at the University of Edinburgh. Since 1894, our subject area has grown into one of the University’s largest in Modern Languages and a significant centre for research. We support a broad range of cultural and literary research themes, from the medieval period to the present.
In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), our research was submitted in Modern Languages. The results reaffirm Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s leading research universities - third in the UK based on the quality and breadth of its research in Modern Languages according to Times Higher Education's REF power ratings.
Join our interdisciplinary community and undertake your PhD under the guidance of our 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+ representation
- literature and culture of the Weimar Republic and the National Socialist era
- transnational (incl. migration) writing 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
Across the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) and the wider University, we are able to support PhD theses crossing boundaries between languages and/or disciplines.
Over the course of your PhD, you will be expected to complete an original body of work under the expert guidance of your supervisors leading to a dissertation of usually between 80,000 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 will find a further range of programmes and resources to help you develop your postgraduate skills.
You will also have access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.
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 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.
The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases. It has over 121,500 titles in German, including around 95,000 books (printed and e-books) and 5,425 journals.
The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:
- more than 400,000 rare books
- six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
- thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects
The Centre's treasures include the Karin McPherson Collection, a unique research opportunity for postgraduate students interested in the literature and culture of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Running to some 1,000 volumes, the Collection presents a complete overview of the GDR’s literary (and sometimes broader) culture from 1949 to 1989, including internationally renowned and lesser-known writers.
Many of our Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, Computing Labs, and dedicated PhD study space in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).
In the city
As a PhD candidate at Edinburgh, you’ll be based in a world-leading festival city with fantastic cinemas, theatres, galleries, museums, and collections.
Many of the city’s resources are located close to the University's Central Area, making them very easy to access when you are on campus. For example, the National Library of Scotland is less than one km from our School. It 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.
These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.
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 the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) before you apply.
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
We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:
- IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
- TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
- PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.
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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).
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:
There are a number of scholarship schemes available to eligible candidates on this PhD programme, including awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Please be advised that many scholarships have more than one application stage, and early deadlines.
Other funding opportunities
Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:
Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.
PhD German - 3 Years (Full-time)
PhD German - 6 Years (Part-time)
|Programme start date||Application deadline|
|8 January 2024||31 October 2023|
We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.
You must submit two references with your application.
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.
Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes: