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The University of Edinburgh: German (PhD)

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
Study type Research


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.

Research excellence

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), our research in German 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.

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

Our research expertise includes:

  • 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

  • post-Holocaust literature

  • post-war West and East German literary and cultural studies

  • 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.

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 Peter Davies (Series 2 - Episode 7), Professor of Modern German Studies, talking about his Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship on the role of translators and interpreters in a holocaust trial.

Doctor of Philosophy - PhD

Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 27th in the 2025 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

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