Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Reading groups and networks

If you would like to set up a new reading group or network we can help with organising and promoting it. Please contact Lucy Stagg, lucy.stagg@ucl.ac.uk, for further advice.

Early Modern English Reading Group (EMERG)

Discussing a wide selection of extracts organised around a central theme, which we circulate in advance via our mailing list. Discussion is lively and informal; previous topics have included stones & statues, dreams, letters & letter-writing, gardens, insects, fake news and the female mind. All staff and students with an interest in the literature and history of the Renaissance in England and beyond are warmly invited to attend. Contact Kate Kinley: catherine.kinley.19@ucl.ac.uk 

Feminisms Reading Group

The Feminisms Reading Group at UCL aims to give students and researchers at all levels access to rich feminist discussions as well as insight into exciting current research being undertaken. Contact Sarah or Ilona: sarah.edwards.19@ucl.ac.uk or ilona.mannan.10@ucl.ac.uk

Latin America in the World Reading Group

The Latin America in the World reading group gathers monthly to discuss recent books which consider modern Latin America from a transnational perspective, and the impact Latin America had on the world and the institutions that govern it. We are open to all who wish to deepen their understanding of how Latin America was instrumental in shaping global history. Contact Francesca Edgerton: francesca.edgerton.22@ucl.ac.uk

Medicine, Sexuality and Reproduction

This reading group provides a space to explore the relationship between medicine, sexuality and reproduction, in both the UK and non-UK contexts. Drawing on texts from across disciplines, as well as on personal, professional and academic experience, group members are invited to critically consider the healthcare experiences and outcomes of gender and sexually diverse individuals. While impossible to ignore the historical (and continuing) criminalisation, pathologisation and othering of sexual minorities in healthcare environments, group members will also be invited to reflect on the emancipatory potential of well-designed healthcare services, and the place for sexually diverse subjectivities within them.

Marxism in Culture

The Marxism in Culture seminar series was conceived in 2002 to provide a forum for those committed to the continuing relevance of Marxism for cultural analysis. Both ‘Marxism’ and ‘culture’ are conceived here in a broad sense. We understand Marxism as an ongoing self-critical tradition, and correspondingly the critique of Marxism's own history and premises is part of the agenda. ‘Culture’ is intended to comprehend not only the traditional fine arts, but also aspects of popular culture such as film, popular music and fashion. 

Migration Research Unit PhD Network

The Migration Research Unit PhD Network launched in 2019 and has, with the generous support of the IAS, expanded into a thriving research hub for postgraduate students conducting interdisciplinary research into migration at UCL. In co-ordination with the IAS Refuge in a Moving World network, the MRU PhD Network hosted a number of reading groups and training sessions on topics as varied as humanitarian assistance, refugee law, vulnerability and the politics of care. Contact: jessica.sullivan.21@ucl.ac.uk

Practice As Research

The Practice As Research network aims to bring together the many different strands of practice-led/based research across all disciplines so as to not be limited by disciplinary conventions, but instead to benefit from cross-disciplinary fertilisation.We consider Practice As Research any practice that is underpinned by scholarship and academic rigour. The network runs a seminar series, a poetic inquiry group and a social fiction writing group. Contact: Nicole Brown, nicole.brown@ucl.ac.uk


PRE-MODERN (PREM) is a new research cluster that explores the wide and varied topics of medieval and early modern studies. Contact Victoria or Sam, victoria.rasbridge.19@ucl.ac.uk, samantha.brown.18@ucl.ac.uk.

Racism and Racialisation PhD group

The Racism and Racialisation PhD group, hosted by the Sarah Parker Remond Centre, is comprised of UCL postgraduate research students working on issues surrounding race and racism. This student-led network welcomes postgraduate researchers from all departments and schools across UCL.

Reading for Wellbeing

This reading group warmly welcomes any UCL staff member who would like to meet and talk about how books – all kinds of books! – can help us with our sense of wellbeing. What do you go to for comfort? Inspiration? Escape? From cookery books to nature writing, crime fiction to romance novels, no matter what your preferences are, come along and join us!

Sociology Network PhD Group

Run by and for its members, and as such will evolve to suit their needs.

Transplanetary Ecologies Reading Group

Continuous human presence in Low Earth Orbit, increasing expansion of techno-scientific infrastructures beyond Earth, and the extractivist ambitions of the commercial 'New Space' sector call for a reconsideration of the conventional analytical frameworks used to describe emergent (extra)terrestrial political, ecological, and social processes. The Transplanetary Ecologies reading group will interrogate this emerging paradigm.

Former groups

Archives for Future History Reading Group

This reading group responds to questions about the role of archival research, museum and artistic practice in a context of pandemic-related travel restrictions, climate crisis, and moves to decolonise British memory institutions. All of these have highlighted the extent to which traditional practices were dependent on various privileges (mobility, access, time and money).

China Centre for Health and Humanity PhD Reading Group

We have had a regular postgraduate Reading Group that meets in the IAS rooms with Chinese students and students studying the history of medicine and film in China. Increasingly this is an online group which includes both UCL students, alumni and interested academics, but there is a core group that likes to meet face-to-face. We discuss readings suggested by the group and read work in its early drafts for both PhD and research fellows.

Creative Writing Lab in Italian

Led by Beatrice Sica and Olga Campofreda, from the School of European Languages, Culture, and Society (SELCS), this Creative Writing Lab in Italian is a space of exchange and growth for those writers or aspiring writers who are looking for a writing community to start a conversation with. The Lab mainly focuses on prose and poetry in Italian language and is open to all cultural backgrounds and nationalities with a good level of Italian (C1-C2).  The Lab’s meetings take place every two weeks for one hour, in which we explore different aspects of writing prose and poetry, alternatively. Meetings are informal: everyone is encouraged to share their personal writing experience and literary knowledge in order to approach specific topics from multiple angles. 

Critical Digital Studies Reading Group

Join the IAS Critical Digital Studies Reading group for their bi-weekly 'Critical Digital Studies' reading group on Thursdays from 18:00 - 19:00. This event is supported by UCL IIPP and Data for Policy.

Decoding Digital Humanities London (DDHL)

A bi-weekly reading group for anyone interested in research at the intersection of computational technologies and the humanities. These gatherings will provide an opportunity to discuss readings, raise awareness of topics at the forefront of research, and spark new questions. DDHL aims to be place for connection for the digital humanities post-graduate community, but welcomes participation from anyone who is interested.

Gender and Sexuality in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (GenSex EECA) Reading Group

The reading group is run by SSEES PhD students (Olga Doletskaya and David Rypel) and strives to create space for discussion, learning and in-depth reading of academic and non-academic materials dealing with gender and sexuality (broadly conceived) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Literary London Reading Group

The Literary London Reading Group, part of the Literary London Society, has been running for eight years. During that time it has provided a forum for academics and members of the public to share their interest and enthusiasm for London’s literatures past and present, and has provided a platform for established scholars, early career academics and independent researchers to share their research with an audience within and beyond the academy. The reading group joined UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies in September 2019 and held three meetings before Covid-19 brought an early end to the year’s programme. As usual, the topics discussed were exciting and varied, ranging from the medieval narrative poem St. Erkenwald, to Michael Landy’s 2001 art event Break Down, to the sparse, Modernist poetry of John Rodker.

Miscellany Cafés

A peer-run international group for postgraduates working in any area related to early modern book history to chat and support each other. We aim to connect PhD students and early career researchers (loosely defined as anyone within 5 years of finishing their PhD) across the world working on the material text in the early modern period in an informal and supportive environment. We have throughout our history run activities including a peer-learning neo-Latin group, a monthly reading group, lightning talks, and socials. All of our activities take place over Zoom, and we use Slack to keep in touch and maintain a noticeboard of calls for papers and events. Every week on Wednesdays this term (alternating between 11.00 and 16.00 BST) we are running a 30 minute Zoom room for coffee and conversation between PGRs and ECRs interested in early modern book history and the material text. If you'd like to join us, please send an email to co-organisers Sam Brown and Grace Murray at gradmiscellany@gmail.com or via our website (www.gradmiscellany.com) for more information.

Modern Languages Reading Group

Led by Beatrice Sica, from the School of European Languages, Culture, and Society (SELCS), the group meets 3-4 times per term to read literature, with texts in foreign languages always accompanied by an English translation. Meetings last about 1 hour and are usually 5-6pm. They are informal and open to everyone who shares a passion for literature.

LAHP-funded Writing Group

The IAS seminar room was an invaluable resource for the London Arts and Humanities Partnership "Shut Up and Write" writing group during the 2019-20 academic year. Doctoral students from across London - UCL, King's, the Royal College of Art, Queen Mary, SAS and others - got together every Friday to work on theses, presentations, conference papers and field notes. The seminar room provided a quiet haven to study together and to motivate one another and share the day's writing goals.

Modern and Contemporary British History

Run by the The Centre for Modern and Contemporary Britain (CMCB)

Postcolonial reading group

Run by the The Centre for Modern and Contemporary Britain (CMCB)

Settler Colonialism & Indigeneity: Further Perspectives on Decolonisation

This group launched in 2020 raising the following questions: How do we make sense of the current political moment? How can we locate the protests against police brutality and the U.S. administration’s militarised response alongside resistance against the rise in anti-Asian racism during the Covid-19 pandemic? What work can we do as scholars against white supremacy and the ways it is perpetuated and upheld in our political, institutional and social systems? How is Indigeneity related to the U.S. and global uprisings against these systems? This series of discussions, reading groups and writing workshops aims to respond to these questions, looking particularly at the power structures that affect and enmesh Indigenous, Asian and African- American communities in North America. Building upon university-wide efforts to ‘decolonise’ the humanities at UCL, we will focus on critical and creative works, from film, literary and cultural criticism to poetry and prose, which address issues related to Indigeneity and settler colonialism in contemporary culture and thought.

Science and Sound

Science and Sound is a new monthly reading group, funded by UCL Music Futures. The group will explore recent research at the interface of STS, music and sound and use its sessions to bring together academics, museum curators and performers.