Research Degrees in Comparative Literature
Suitably qualified candidates can study for the degrees of MPhil and PhD in Comparative Literature. Research topics can be in traditional areas of comparative literature or in such fields as literary theory, translation studies, gender studies and interdisciplinary studies.
The PhD requires a minimum of three years' full-time study (minimum four years' part-time). The MPhil is a research degree of the shorter type, normally requiring two years full-time (four years part-time). Students can study on a full-time or part-time basis; part-time non-residential registration is also possible in some cases.
All research students initially register for the MPhil; they can upgrade to the PhD after a minimum of one year's full-time study (or two years part-time), provided their work is of a sufficient standard.
Programme of Study
As a research student you do not follow a prescribed programme of study. Instead, you carry out your own research project under the guidance of a Supervisor, while following research and skills training as appropriate.
Students have both a Principal Supervisor and a Subsidiary Supervisor. You may register either in the department of your Principal Supervisor or in the Centre for Intercultural Studies.
Research Training and Seminars
In addition to the research training available in individual academic departments, the Centre for Multidisciplinary & Intercultural Inquiry organises regular seminars for research students and staff working across cultural, disciplinary or linguistic boundaries.
Comparative Literature research students can take part in the symposia and week-long seminars of the international Hermes Consortium, which involves the universities of Aarhus, Giessen, Lisbon, Leuven, Santiago de Compostela and Utrecht as well as UCL.
Students working in translation studies can attend a two-week specialist Translation Research Summer School, a collaboration with Manchester, Edinburgh and the Hong Kong Baptist University.
The UCL Graduate School offers a range of induction and skills training courses for all research students. The Graduate School also hosts two Royal Literary Fund Fellows, professional authors who offer one-to-one tutorials in effective academic writing for both native and non-native speakers of English.
Study for the degrees of MPhil and PhD in Comparative Literature results in the submission of a thesis. The thesis is a book-length contribution to knowledge, based on original research.
A thesis for the degree of MPhil runs to approximately 60,000 words. It should be either a record of original work or a thorough and critical exposition of existing knowledge in an area of comparative literary study.
A PhD thesis may be up to 100,000 words and must form a distinct contribution to knowledge, show evidence of original thought and research, and be suitable for publication as submitted in abridged or modified form.
Recent and Current Theses
Recent and current work in the broad area of comparative literature within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities includes theses on such topics as:
- Orientalism and virtuality. Sanskrit literature in Britain and France in the 18th and 19th centuries
- The image of Italy in modern Scandinavian literature
- The Alien Within. Foreign fiction in German translation during the Nazi regime
- A comparative reading of Octavio Paz and T.S. Eliot
- The American reception of French Surrealism
- Translating Anglophone fiction for girls into Dutch 1950-2000
- Travelling Theory: Hélène Cixous in the English-speaking world, Roland Barthes in Turkey
- The literary and philosophical theories of Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty
- Peircean semiotics as a foundation for a theory of translation
- The critical value of Milan Kundera's approach to authorship
- ntertextuality and genre: David Lodge's campus novels in Spain
- Nonsense and translation in literature and biology »« First-person narration in the early modern novel: Sorel's Francion, Grimmelshausen's Courasche and Defoe's Moll Flanders
- Computer-assisted analysis of style in Virginia Woolf's novels and their French translations
- The discourse on female urban mobility in British silent cinema and mass culture 1890-1930
- Taiwanese nativist literature in English translation.
The graduate programme in Comparative Literature draws on the combined expertise of staff in the language and literature departments in UCL's Arts and Humanities Faculty, the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). This enables virtually global coverage.
The library resources in central London are unrivalled. Apart from the UCL Library and the University of London Library, there are the specialist collections of SSEES and SOAS, the various research institutes of the University of London (click here for a list) and, beyond these, the British Library. All these collections are within a few minutes' walk of UCL.
Candidates for a research degree should possess a good MA degree (or equivalent) in a language and literature subject or in another relevant field. There is no deadline for applications, as research students can start at any time (i.e. not necessarily in September).
Application forms, general information about admission for a research degree at UCL and copies of the Graduate School Prospectus may be obtained from the Admissions Office in the UCL Registry. Online application form are also accessed via the Admissions Office. Please note that you may need to provide proof of proficiency in English with your application; click here for details.
For academic advice, please contact the relevant department.
Research Project Proposals
Admission to a research degree programme is normally dependent on the submission of a detailed research project proposal. The proposal, which will normally be document of between 1000 and 3000 words, should cover such things as:
- the area of research, with an indication of the scope, genres, themes, periods, authors and/or main texts;
- the research questions which the project will address;
- the methodology to be applied in addressing the research questions;
- the disciplinary and wider relevance of the project;
- the current state of knowledge in the relevant area, as recorded in key publications;
- the specific contribution to knowledge which the project intends to make;
- practical aspects of the project, such as the location of relevant materials and an initial timepath;
- your suitability to carry out the project.
Fees and Funding
Current fees are listed on the UCL Registry's Information for Prospective Students pages.
All prospective research students can apply for UCL Graduate School Research Scholarships.
Dr Florian Mussgnug
Ms Patrizia Oliver