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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.
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.
Over the duration of the PhD, you produce an original piece of research of up to 100,000 words, in English or in German. Recent and ongoing research topics include a comparison of W.G. Sebald and Orhan Pamuk as ‘marginal’ writers, a study of post-Holocaust and post-colonial ‘trauma’ discourses, and the literary motif of wandering from Romanticism to the twentieth century.
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 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, and explain your eligibility. For the full list of scholarships available, please see our postgraduate funding page.
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, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
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.
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.
Duration: 3 to 4 years full-time, 5 to 6 years part-time
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:
We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.Search scholarships
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, over 90% of our Modern Languages and Linguistics research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for outputs and environment.
Following the REF 2021, Modern Languages and Linguistics at Kent was ranked 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education.
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.
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.
Founded in 2007, the Centre for Language and Linguistics (CLL) promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and teaching. Membership embraces not just the members of English Language and Linguistics but also other 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.
T: +44 (0)1227 768896
Postgraduate Office, School of European Culture and Languages
T: +44 (0)1227 827283
T: +44 (0)1227 823254