Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

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 make an original, positive contribution to research in Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies (formerly Hispanic Studies).

Join our interdisciplinary community and undertake your PhD under the guidance of our experienced and well-published supervisors.

Spanish was formally added to the University’s curriculum in 1919 and, in over a 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, Basque, Spanish and Latin American studies.

Research excellence

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), our research in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies was submitted in Modern Languages and Linguistics (Panel D - Arts and Humanities; Unit of Assessment 26).

The results reaffirm Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s leading research universities - third in the UK.

As published in Times Higher Education's REF power ratings, this result is based on the quality and breadth of our research in the unit of assessment.

We specialise in the major areas of Spanish, Latin American and Lusophone (including Brazil and Lusophone Africa) literary and cultural studies, and film and visual culture.

We have particular strengths in:

  • Spanish Golden Age
  • Modern Spanish narrative
  • Latin American poetry and narrative, especially in Chile and Argentina from the 19th to 21st centuries
  • Women's and Gender Studies
  • Indigenous and Afro-descendant filmmaking
  • Memory and Post-Memory Studies
  • Caribbean Studies
  • Diaspora studies and Visual culture (film, graphic arts, performance)
  • Lusophone African literatures
  • Portuguese contemporary culture

Explore our range of research centres, networks and projects in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

Across the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and the wider University, we are able to support PhD theses crossing boundaries between languages and/or disciplines, including:

  • comparative literature
  • film studies
  • translation studies

Be inspired by the range of PhD research in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

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 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.

Go beyond the books

Beyond the Books is a podcast from the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at research and the people who make it happen.

Listen to a mix of PhD, early career and established researchers talk about their journey to and through academia and about their current and recent research. Guests include Dr Isabel Seguí (Series 2 - Episode 4), former Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, talking about research on Women’s Nonfiction Filmmaking in Peru.

As a PhD student in Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies (SPLAS), you will have mandatory training in research skills, methods and problems.

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.

You will also have access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.

Join in

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 include:

  • a regular seminar series in European Languages and Cultures (with talks by staff, research students and visiting speakers)
  • our annual Cunninghame-Graham Lecture
  • our weekly informal Spanish-language reading group ‘Poema de la semana’
  • film screenings
  • 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.

On campus

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, including around:

  • 27,000 books and 5,000 journals in Spanish
  • 5,000 books and 2,680 journals in Portuguese

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

Spanish and Latin American treasures in these collections include:  

  • 1629 edition of Cervantes  
  • early translations of The Lusiads, Luís de Camões' epic poem of 1572, widely regarded as the most important work of Portuguese-language literature
  • paintings by Murillo and Picasso  
  • renowned musicologist Jan Fairley’s rich collection of Latin American music recordings and interviews

Browse the University's holdings in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

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).

Our in-house Portuguese Language Centre is one of only four in the UK sponsored by the Instituto Camões. It houses a dedicated student resource centre, including books and films in Portuguese.

We play a key role in the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies at the University. It brings together staff and students from a number of different subject areas at Edinburgh, including:

  • film, media and art
  • geography
  • politics
  • history
  • social anthropology
  • linguistics

The University of Edinburgh is proud to host the extension of the Cervantes Institute in Edinburgh, exploring cultural links between Spanish-speaking countries and Scotland.

This unique partnership has led to a global first in creating a Catedrático Cervantes/Cervantes Chair, held by Alexis Grohmann, Professor of Contemporary Spanish Literature.

The collaboration means that - for the first time - the Cervantes Institute (which spans four continents and 47 countries) is running events and activities in Scotland.

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 them 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 an outstanding collection of early modern Spanish material.

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

We have very close links with the Spanish Consulate in Edinburgh, and with communities of Spanish and Portuguese speakers in the city.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

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:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDHispanic Studies3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDHispanic Studies6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

If you are a current student or graduate of the University of Edinburgh, you are eligible to apply for a John Orr Research Award. This award of £2,300 per annum is for PhD research in any Romance literature, language or dialect.

There are a number of other 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:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start dates Application deadlines
9 September 2024 30 June 2024
6 January 2025 31 October 2024

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.

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.

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