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As a doctoral student in the Department of Languages and Cultures at the University of Reading, you will contribute to our interdisciplinary research culture, and benefit from the mentoring provided by an integrated and supportive research community with an international outlook.

We offer PhD programmes in:

  • French Studies
  • German Studies
  • Italian Studies
  • Spanish and Latin American Studies
  • Translation Studies
  • Comparative and Intercultural Studies.

Areas of expertise

On our PhD programmes, we offer expert supervision in a wide range of areas.

PhD in French Studies

  • Modern Francophone literature and cinema
  • Children’s and women’s literature in French
  • Francophone (Indian Ocean) literature
  • Twentieth-century philosophical writing in French
  • Philanthropy and NGOs
  • Disability studies
  • War studies
  • Translation and publishing history

PhD in German Studies

  • German language, literature and culture (1700–present)
  • GDR history and culture
  • Twentieth-century German film
  • Exile writing
  • Critical political and media discourse analysis
  • Migration and its representations
  • Translation and publishing history

Our East German Studies Archive offers unique resources, including an extensive collection of German feature films.

PhD in Italian Studies

  • Italian migration and diasporas
  • History of Italian language and sociolinguistics
  • Modern Italian literature and culture
  • Multilingualism in modern Italian literature
  • Intellectual history (post 1800–present)
  • Translation and publishing history 

PhD in Spanish and Latin American Studies

  • Modern and contemporary Hispanic literature
  • Spanish and Latin American popular culture
  • Literary and print culture in Spain and Latin America
  • Colombian, Chilean and Argentine history and culture
  • Nation building and citizenship in Latin America
  • Theatre practices in Latin America
  • Translation and publishing history

PhD in Translation Studies

Translation studies looks at processes and techniques of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural mediation. We support doctoral projects in translation interfacing with French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Arabic languages and cultures. In the field of translation studies we support doctoral research investigating:

PhD in Comparative and Intercultural Studies

This PhD programme accommodates researchers with a background in literary studies, cultural studies, history, or linguistics, with knowledge of cultures and languages in addition to English, and with an interest in comparative and intercultural studies.

Research projects within this programme can include comparative literature and cultural transfer, cross-linguistic comparison of discourses and language use as well as intercultural communication. 

Supervisory teams may draw on related research expertise of staff in and across the departments of English Literature; English Language and Applied Linguistics; Film, Theatre and Television; and History.

Our doctoral scholars are encouraged to present their work at national and international conferences. They have the opportunity to showcase their work-in-progress at the annual University of Reading Language Studies Conference. 

PhD supervision

When you study a PhD with us, you'll be assigned two supervisors who have research expertise in your chosen area of enquiry. If your project spans more than one discipline, your second supervisor may be from a different department to complement your areas of interest.

Our academics are leaders in their areas of research and will work closely with you to ensure your time with us as a PhD student is as rewarding and intellectually enriching as possible.

Find out more about how to apply for a PhD, and identify and contact a supervisor.

Student at a cafe drinking tea and using tablet

Types of doctoral degree

We offer several routes to a doctoral qualification, so you can find the one that suits you and the topic you wish to study.

Female student sitting in library making notes at a desk with a pile of books next to her

Part-time study

Part-time PhDs are available as well as full-time, so you can choose a mode of study that suits your circumstances.

Student using her laptop sitting outside a cafe

PhD by Distance

Our PhD by Distance programme allows you to benefit from the expertise of a Reading-based supervisor, while conducting your research in a different location.

Past PhD projects

Here are some examples of projects that students have undertaken in the Department.

French Studies

  • The Heath-Pompidou Paris 1971 summit: Franco-British European honeymoon or marriage of convenience? An actor-centred study (2020), Dr Patrick Robert
  • The female fertility cycle in cross-cultural perspective: representations of menstruation, childbirth, and the menopause in contemporary women's writing in French (2018), Dr Maria Tomlinson (SWW DTP)
  • Pro-European groups and the French, Belgian and British empires (1947-1957) (2013), Dr Laura Kottos (AHRC)
  • The cultural memory of the Second World War: D-Day veterans and commemoration in Britain (2012), Dr Gregory Tinker (AHRC)


German Studies

  • Cultural memory and Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung in Christa Wolf’s prose works: a narratological and cultural studies analysis (2020), Dr Caroline Rowan-Olive.
  • Representations of contemporary feminist protest in Germany and the UK (2018), Dr Sophie Payne (SWW DTP)
  • The Misogyny of the Trümmerfilm: space and gender in post-war German film (2017), Dr Richard McKenzie


Italian Studies

  • British Military Encounters with Italian Civilians 1943-1946 (2021), Dr Fabio Simonetti (AHRC)
  • Italian intellectual Diaspora in the UK: Luigi Meneghello and Carlo Dionisotti (2019), Dr Marta Pozzolo (SWW DTP)
  • La salmodia di David Maria Turoldo: un approccio interdisciplinare (2018), Dr Valentina Calista (University of Reading)
  • Strategie di composizione letteraria in Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (2015), Dr Stefano Bragato (AHRC)


Spanish and Latin American Studies

  • Dolls from Mayan Mexico and Guatemala: A case study on the use of objects in the construction, expression and negotiation of identities (2021), Dr Emma Jackson
  • New technologies and cultural identity in Cuba: A study of the evolution and impact of video gaming culture in Granma Province (2020), Dr Miranda Lickert (Leverhulme)

Why study with us?

100% of our research is of international standing (REF 2021, combining 4*, 3* and 2* submissions – Modern Languages and Linguistics).


Life in the Department

Join a friendly, collaborative community. You’ll have many opportunities to network with other researchers, within the University and internationally.


Our research

We study French, Italian, German, Spanish and several related languages, including Dutch, Catalan, Latin, medieval Occitan.