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Run by Faculty of Arts
Awards available PhD , MPhil
Programme length MPhil: one year full-time;
two years part-time
PhD: three years full-time;
six years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places Not fixed
Start date January 2017 (2016/17 fees apply)
September 2017
January 2018

Programme overview

The Department of German is engaged in research across a broad spectrum of German studies, covering many aspects of language and linguistics, literature, history and culture: from the early modern period to the present day. We have particular expertise in modern literature (the novel, poetry and drama, especially in the classical age, the early 20th century and the post-Wende period), historical and modern sociolinguistics, history and politics of Germany and Austria since 1800 (particularly of the political East), and German children's literature and comparative literature. We also benefit from strong links with Augsburg, Graz, Heidelberg and Kiel, as well as research centres in Germany, especially the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbacham Neckar.

We welcome applications from students wishing to pursue tailor-made research to Master's or doctoral level in any of the above areas. Interdisplinary and cross-linguistic research is particularly encouraged. Our postgraduates are fully integrated in a professionally and personally supportive departmental community.

You will be part of a departmental reading group, and you will have the opportunity to present your work at departmental or school-level research events and colloquia elsewhere in the Faculty of Arts. We support you in the development of a full range of academic skills, and may be able to offer undergraduate teaching commitments to doctoral students.

Special research facilities foster interdisciplinary collaboration between all departments through a series of research seminars and other events; while the Multimedia Centre is a specialist language centre comprising a language laboratory, media suite, a library of foreign films, newspapers and magazines, and an 18-seat screening room.

NB For students starting in January 2017, fees for 2016/17 will apply (Full-time: UK £4,121, overseas £14,200; Part-time: UK £2,061. Fees are per annum and subject to annual increase.)

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2017/18

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2017. For information on other funding opportunities, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree (or international equivalent). Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

MPhil/PhD: A pass at Master's level (or international equivalent).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile C
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

Research within the department focuses on four major areas:

  • The social and political history of Austria and the GDR, including post-1945 and 1990 memory studies;
  • The relationship of literature and history in the experience of exile and literature biography;
  • The role of language use and metalinguistic perception in the formation of identity, taking into account a number of sociolinguistic phenomena from the present and past;
  • Comparative literature, which includes reference to issues of poetry, music and translation.

Staff are also active in interdisciplinary research at school and faculty level, focusing on themes and approaches such as conflict and culture, identity formation, Weimar culture, comparative literature and translation. Several of our postgraduates are co-supervised by colleagues from other departments, where this is desirable.

The department has had success recently in obtaining external funding for postgraduate studies, post-doctoral fellows and research grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust and the Humboldt Foundation, among others.

The department's collaborative research in linguistics and East German studies was recently supported by AHRC-funded networks for work in 'History and Language, Linguists and Historians' (2008-10) and 'After the Wall: Reconstructing and Representing the GDR' (2009-11). Our commitment to literary studies has been recognised with AHRC awards to study Arthur Schnitzler (2014-17) and work on the British Library's collection of Stefan Zweig's work (2014-17). Post-doctoral fellows have been researching a range of topics on German comparative literature, historical sociolinguistics and East German history.


The majority of graduates from this programme develop careers as academics in higher education, while maintaining the capacity to undertake new and innovative research in the field of German at the same time.

Staff profiles

Dr Mark Allinson, (Senior Lecturer), modern German and Austrian political and social history, especially GDR history; politics in the new Bundesländer

Dr Steffan Davies, (Senior Lecturer), classical modernism (especially Döblin); exile; German history (19th and 20th centuries); German literature of the Classical Age (Goethe, Schiller)

Professor Nils Langer, (Professor), historical sociolinguistics; language contact; purism and standardisation; regional and minority languages; the history and current usage of Bristolian dialect

Dr Debbie Pinfold, (Senior Lecturer), Literary responses to the Third Reich; memory studies, in particular memories of the former GDR; post-1945 German literature, especially prose fiction and literature of the GDR; representations of childhood.

Professor Robert Vilain, (Professor), 19th- and 20th-century German; Austrian and comparative literature; poetry, modernism and the avant garde; text and image.

How to apply
Application deadline:

September 2017 start: 1 August 2017
January 2018 start: 1 December 2017

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 29% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 38% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 26% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 7% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Admissions Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 8443 Email:

Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
3-5 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TB


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