Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

European Theatre PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: European Theatre

Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to make an original, positive contribution to research in European Theatre.

One of Europe’s foremost festival cities, with a rich artistic heritage and theatrical culture, Edinburgh is an inspirational place to study theatre. Researchers and practitioners are drawn here from across the globe.

As well as the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the city is a year-round cultural treasure trove. Venues range from pop-ups and community spaces to the multi-stage Traverse Theatre, which provides support and opportunities for new and emerging writers.

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

Based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), you will benefit from expertise that spans British, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Scandinavian theatre studies, as well as drama and performance theory.

Research excellence

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), our research 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 have particular strengths in:

  • 17th-century French theatre
  • contemporary French cinema and fiction
  • 19th- and 20th-century Italian literature
  • 20th-century German theatre and cultural politics, particularly in the Weimar Republic and the GDR
  • digital philology
  • early modern, modern and contemporary Spanish literature and culture
  • electronic publishing
  • English Renaissance Theatre and theories of performance and performativity
  • film aesthetics and film philosophy
  • gender and performance
  • gender history
  • Greek and Persian political and sociocultural history
  • Greek poetry
  • literary theory
  • medieval literature
  • Modernism and performance
  • reception studies and popular culture
  • Russian modernist and postmodernist film, theatre and literature
  • Scandinavian literature
  • word and image

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, including:

  • comparative literature
  • intermediality
  • 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.

Read our pre-application guidance on writing a PhD research proposal

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.

Browse Beyond the Books episodes and hear our research community talk about their work

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDEuropean Theatre3 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25
PhDEuropean Theatre6 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

This programme includes training on 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 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 outstanding 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 range from talks by visiting speakers and work-in-progress seminars, to reading groups, conferences, workshops, performances, online journals and forums, many of which are led by PhD candidates.

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 over 350,000 titles in European languages.

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

Treasures include a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays put together by the 19th century Shakespearean James Halliwell-Phillipps.

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).

Look inside the PhD study space in LLC

In the city

As a PhD candidate at Edinburgh, you will be based in a world-leading festival city with fantastic theatres, cinemas, galleries, museums, and collections. Most of the city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the Old Town retaining many of its medieval buildings and streets.

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 kilometer from our School. It houses the Bute Collection of early modern English drama.

Edinburgh has the UK’s oldest student-run theatre, Bedlam, giving you the opportunity to gain practical experience in all aspects of theatre, including writing, acting, directing and producing. Other notable theatres include the Traverse, Festival, Lyceum, King’s and Pleasance.

We have excellent links with Edinburgh’s European institutions, including the Institut français d’Écosse, Istituto Italiano di Cultura Edimburgo and the Consulado General de España en Edimburgo, as well as the organisers of the International, Fringe, Book and Film Festivals.

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.

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 contact 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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDEuropean Theatre3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDEuropean Theatre6 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.

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 date Application deadline
6 January 2025 31 October 2024

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.

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