A PhD in German and Comparative Literature enables you to undertake a substantial piece of supervised research that makes an original contribution to knowledge and is worthy of publication.
Over the duration of the PhD, you produce an original piece of research of up to 100,000 words, in English or in German. Current theses being written between the departments of German and Comparative Literature include a comparison of W.G. Sebald and Orhan Pamuk as ‘marginal’ writers, and a study of post-Holocaust and post-colonial ‘trauma’ discourses.
A PhD, also known as a doctorate, is a requirement for a career as an academic or researcher. In addition, it has become a qualification valued by many employers who recognise the skills and commitment a PhD requires. Employers also recognise that a PhD indicates excellent research capabilities, discipline and communication skills.
Both the Department of Modern Languages and the Department of Comparative Literature offer supervision from world-class academics with expertise in a wide range of disciplines, able to support and guide you through your research. Your progress is carefully monitored to ensure that you are on track to produce a thesis valued by the academic community. Throughout your programme, you are able to attend and contribute to research seminars, workshops, and research and transferable skills training courses, many of which benefit from the broader context of the Centre for Modern European Literature. You are also likely to gain experience teaching.
You may be eligible for a fully-funded PhD scholarship to support your studies with us. The PhD in German and Comparative Literature at Kent can be funded through the Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) scheme, or through the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) collaborative doctoral partnerships. Please indicate in your application if you want to be considered for any of these programmes, and explain your eligibility for the chosen scheme. For the full list of scholarships available within the School, please see our postgraduate scholarship page.
For the full list of ongoing and completed projects in the department, see our postgraduate research page.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.
Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK’s European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
A postgraduate degree in German shows you have advanced knowledge of the culture of Europe’s economically most significant country. It opens employment possibilities in areas such as media, publishing and European administration. Previous graduates have gone on to work in these areas as well as using the qualification as a basis for entering higher-level positions in the public sector. A PhD is also a prerequisite for an academic career.
You undertake supervised research in German and Comparative Literature within the School of European Culture and Languages. Available topics are listed under Research areas.
About German at Kent
The research interests of our staff cover the entire modern period both within German-speaking countries and across Europe, and include poetry, the European avant-garde, women’s writing, modernism, postmodernism and literary theory. Members of the department are experienced in running international projects and have attracted external funding from prestigious sources such as the Leverhulme Trust and the Humboldt Foundation. In addition to the expertise of our staff, all postgraduates in German benefit from the activities co-ordinated by the Centre for Modern European Literature, including lectures by distinguished guest speakers, research seminars, conferences and reading groups.
About the Centre for Modern and European Literature
Many of the most significant European writers and literary movements of the modern period have traversed national, linguistic, and disciplinary borders. Founded on the shared research interests of staff in the School of European Culture and Languages and other Schools in the Humanities at Kent, the Centre for Modern European Literature aims to promote and to facilitate collaborative and interdisciplinary research that can do justice to precisely these kinds of border crossings.
Ranging across English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish literature, the Centre focuses in particular on the European avant-garde, European modernism and postmodernism, literary theory, the international reception of European writers, and the relations between modern European literature and the other arts, including painting, photography, film, music, and architecture.
The Templeman Library has excellent holdings in all our areas of research interest, with particular strengths in modern European literature. The School of European Culture and Languages provides high-quality IT facilities, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Language-learning and translation facilities include eight all-purpose teaching rooms and two networked multimedia laboratories. The University of Kent’s location is ideal for students who need to visit not only the British Library (London) but also the major libraries and research centres on the continent. In particular, we have close links with the Austrian Literary Archives in Vienna and the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach; in 2012, we co-organised the first-ever graduate school for UK postgraduates in Marbach.
Every year, a considerable number of native speakers of foreign languages follow our courses and several European exchange students stay on to do graduate work. There are also foreign-language lectors who are either combining teaching with a Kent higher degree or completing dissertations for their home universities. We can assist with language-training needs of overseas postgraduates, particularly where English is concerned, and are also involved in the Erasmus and Tempus networks.
All postgraduate students in the School of European Culture and Languages have the opportunity to undertake a Researcher Development Programme provided by the Graduate School. There are training workshops for postgraduate students with teaching responsibilities, which bring together students from all its subject areas. Research students gain further academic experience by giving research talks in the Centre for Modern European Literature series, and attending national and international conferences.
We encourage all of our postgraduate students to get involved in conferences, whether by attending, contributing or organising. In 2007, the National Postgraduate Colloquium in German Studies was held in Canterbury, and postgraduate students in German are also involved in the conferences organised by Skepsi, the School's postgraduate-run journal.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Forum for Modern Language Studies; Germanic Review; Modern Language Review; Austrian Studies; and Etudes Germaniques.
Researcher Development Programme
Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.
A first or upper-second class BA honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, a distinction or merit in an MA programme or equivalent in a relevant subject and the appropriate language skills.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Staff research interests in German include: Austrian studies; post-Idealist philosophy and the German lyric tradition; naturalism; modernism and 20th-century literature, especially Rilke, Kafka, Mann, W G Sebald and Jean Améry. Other areas of specialism within the School include: Beckett; Proust; the European avant-garde; modernism and postmodernism; cross-cultural transmission; translation theory; literary theory and aesthetics; Jewish writing; and literature and fundamentalism.
The research culture is consciously conceived as interdisciplinary, through close links with the Centre for Modern European Literature (co-directed by German). Regular research seminars help to bring postgraduates together as a community, as well as to introduce them to visiting speakers from outside the University.
We can supervise postgraduate students in any of the areas listed in our staff research interests, as well as in other main fields of German and European literature. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your plans at an early stage of your application.
Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies (CLLS)
Founded in 2007, the Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies (CLLS) promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and teaching. Membership embraces not just the members of English Language and Linguistics but also other SECL members with an interest in the study of language, as well as researchers in philosophy, computing, psychology and anthropology, reflecting the many and varied routes by which individuals come to a love of language and an interest in the various disciplines and sub-disciplines of linguistics.
Centre for Modern European Literature
Many of the most significant European writers and literary movements of the modern period have traversed national, linguistic, and disciplinary borders. Co-directed by members of Comparative Literature, French, and German, the Centre for Modern European Literature aims to promote collaborative interdisciplinary research that can do justice to these kinds of border crossing.
Ranging across English, French, German, Italian and Spanish literature, the Centre focuses in particular on the European avant-garde, European modernism and postmodernism, literary theory, the international reception of European writers, and the relations between modern European literature and the other arts, including painting, photography, film, music and architecture. The Centre’s activities include a lecture and seminar series and the regular organisation of conferences. It also works with the editors of the postgraduate journal Skepsi, and runs the MA in Modern European Literature.
Staff research interests
Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Ian Cooper: Lecturer in German
German Idealist and post-Idealist philosophy and the German lyric tradition; comparative approaches to German and English poetry.View Profile
Dr Deborah Holmes: Senior Lecturer in German
Biography; Austrian studies; late-19th and early- 20th-century German literature; Italian anti-fascist writing; feuilleton journalism, women’s writing.View Profile
Professor Ben Hutchinson: Professor of Modern European Literature
Nineteenth- and 20th-century German and European literature, especially Rilke, W G Sebald, Jean Améry, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Geoffrey Hill, 20th-century poetry, modernism.View Profile
Dr Heide Kunzelmann: Lecturer in German
H C Artmann, the avante garde, Austrian literature and culture, narrative theory (instability/the protean).View Profile
Dr Katja Haustein: Lecturer in Comparative Literature
French and German autobiographical writing; visual culture; memory and identity; literature and the emotions; women and gender; art and medicine.View Profile
Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalan: Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature
Modernism, 20th-century Hispanic and Latin American literature; Borges, Cortázar, Joyce; reception studies; medical humanities.View Profile
Dr Axel Staehler: Reader in Comparative Literature
Jewish literature and culture, early modern European festival culture, the 18th-century novel in Europe, intermediality and ‘iconarratology’, postcolonial literature and theory, contact zones and intercultural communication, fundamentalism and literature.View Profile
Dr Xiaofan Amy Li: Lecturer in Comparative Literature
France and China/East-Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries, the French reception of Chinese antiquity.View Profile
Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner: Reader in Comparative Literature
Modernist literature, the history of sexuality, the European avant-garde, the history of medicine and psychoanalysis.View Profile
Professor Shane Weller: Professor of Comparative Literature
European modernism, postmodernism and literary theory; Beckett, Kafka, Blanchot, Celan, Bernhard, Sebald; literature and ethics; literature and philosophy; history of ideas.View Profile
Dr Sara-Louise Cooper: Lecturer in French
French language and literature from the nineteenth century to the present day.View Profile
Dr Tobias Heinrich: Lecturer in German
German literature, culture and language.View Profile
The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for Home/EU PG Research programmes have not yet been set by the Research Councils UK. This is ordinarily announced in March.
General additional costs
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: