Kent offers an excellent environment for postgraduate study in French literature, thought, culture, society and the visual arts from the 18th century to the present.
A PhD in French enables you to undertake a substantial piece of supervised research in the subject 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 French. Previous doctoral theses have included ‘Deleuze and Anti-Humanism: The Sense of Deleuze's Spinozism’, ‘Haptic Experience in the Writings of Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot and Michel Serres’, ‘Le Livre Fermé: The Fortune of Rousseau's Educational ideas in the Primary Schools of England and France during the 1960s’, ‘Photobiographies: pour une écriture de notation de la vie (Roland Barthes, Denis Roche, Annie Ernaux)’, and ‘De l'abject et du sublime: Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett’.
The Department of Modern Languages offers 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.
The University of Kent is an ideal location to study French. Canterbury is the closest British university city to mainland Europe, and our proximity to the Channel ports and Ashford International station means you can be in Paris in just a couple of hours. PhD students may also benefit from an optional year in Paris at the École Normale Supérieure.
You may be eligible for a fully-funded PhD scholarship to support your studies with us. The PhD in French 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 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.
A postgraduate degree in French studies is an extremely versatile qualification that can open the door to exciting career opportunities in many professions. Our graduates have gone on to work in the IT industry, academic administration, cultural management and to further postgraduate training and academic careers at UK and overseas universities.
About French at Kent
French at Kent is part of the Department of Modern Languages. Our main research interests include word and image studies, narratology, literary theory, psychoanalysis, medical humanities, sociolinguistics, postcolonial studies, gender studies and autobiography. Staff and postgraduates in French take a leading role in the School of European Culture and Languages’ Centre for Modern European Literature and the School of English’s Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, whose activities include conferences, lectures, research seminars and reading groups. Students also participate in an annual international conference organised by Skepsi, an online journal based in the School of European Culture and Languages and run by MA and PhD candidates.
Our programmes benefit from Kent’s proximity to Paris in more than one way. Most colleagues within French have research links in Paris. We have a long-standing exchange with the prestigious École Normale Supérieure. A more recent development is the exciting range of MA programmes based in Canterbury and Paris. Roughly half of our research students opt for a co-tutelle leading to the award of a PhD from Kent and a doctorate from a French institution. Students who undertake their research entirely in Canterbury benefit from the cosmopolitan atmosphere at the UK’s European university.
The Templeman Library has excellent holdings in all areas relevant to our research, with particular strengths in 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st-century French literature. The School of European Culture and Languages provides high-quality IT facilities, including state-of-the-art media laboratories, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Other facilities include all-purpose teaching rooms and two networked multimedia laboratories.
Every year, a considerable number of French nationals and native speakers of other foreign languages follow our postgraduate courses, while European exchange students who come to Kent as undergraduates often stay on to do graduate work. We are involved in the Erasmus and Tempus networks, and we also have a team of French-language lectors who combine undergraduate teaching with study for a Kent higher degree or with writing a dissertation for their home universities. Postgraduate dissertations in French studies at the University of Kent may be written in English or in French. The University of Kent also offers language training, particularly in English, for overseas postgraduates.
The Graduate School offers all postgraduates in the School of European Culture and Languages a wide-ranging programme of training in transferable skills. The School provides training workshops for postgraduate students with teaching responsibilities, bringing together postgraduates from all our subject areas. Research students may gain further academic experience by giving talks at the Centre for Modern European Literature research seminars. Postgraduates in the School of European Culture and Languages also organise their own annual international conference, and edit and contribute to Skepsi, the School’s postgraduate online journal of European thought.
In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, the performance of French at the University of Kent was ranked 7th in the UK, with a high proportion of our research publications judged to be first-rate (“world-leading” or “internationally excellent”). Backed by strong institutional support, our group continues to make an assertive and original contribution to French studies in the UK. Our research activities are given a markedly international dimension by publications, conference papers and public lectures in mainland Europe, the USA, Australia and elsewhere, as well as a range of collaborative ventures.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Australian Journal of French Studies; Diderot Studies; Dix-neuf; Forum for Modern Language Studies; French Cultural Studies; French Studies; Modern Language Review; Revue Romane; and Romance Quarterly.
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, and 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 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. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
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 interests broadly fit within the parameters of French literature and thought from the 18th century to the present, with research clusters organised around the following areas: the European Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment; Ekphrasis; Franco-Japanese relations; Life Writing; Medical Humanities; Philosophy and Critical Theory; French Surrealism; Cubism; the Avant-Garde; the interface between visual arts and text.
Recent publications have focused on authors, artists and thinkers including the following: Apollinaire; Artaud; Badiou; Barthes; Blanchot; Cocteau; Crébillon fils; Deleuze; Diderot; Djebar; Flaubert; Foucault; Garréta; Houellebecq; Lacan; Maupassant; Mérimée; Nimier; Perec; Picasso; Proust; Roubaud; Sade; Voltaire; Yourcenar; Zola.
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 subdisciplines 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 Thomas Baldwin: Reader in French
Nineteenth and 20th-century French literature; representations of art in literature; literary theory and philosophy.View Profile
Dr Larry Duffy: Senior Lecturer in French
Nineteenth-century French literature, thought and culture; Flaubert, Zola; Houellebecq; realism, naturalism and documentary literature; the body.View Profile
Dr David Hornsby: Senior Lecturer in French and Linguistics
The history of the French language; sociolinguistics of French; sociolinguistic theory.View Profile
Dr Lucy O'Meara: Lecturer in French
Literary and cultural theory; aesthetics; Roland Barthes.View Profile
Dr Mathilde Poizat-Amar: Lecturer
French cinema, modern French literature.View Profile
Dr Sara-Louise Cooper: Lecturer in French
French language and literature from the nineteenth century to the present day.View Profile
The 2019/20 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
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: