Research Degrees


The Institute of English Studies provides a unique scholarly community in which to pursue doctoral research. We offer research supervision in a number of subject areas across different periods. Supervision is currently available in the following broad areas:

  • Late nineteenth and early twentieth century literature
  • The literature of the Irish Revival
  • The history of the book
  • Business and quantitative book history
  • The history of authorship and author-publisher relations
  • The history of individual publishing houses
  • The history of literary agency from the 1880s
  • The history of book and newspaper distribution and selling
  • The history of libraries
  • The history of readers and reading
  • The history of artificial lighting
  • Anglo-American modernism
  • Anglo-Irish literature of the twentieth century
  • Romanticism
  • James Joyce
  • Modern manuscript studies and genetic criticism
  • Reading notes and marginalia
  • Textual criticism
  • Reception history
  • Literary history

For a list of current research students and their topics, see our research students pages.

M.Phil/Ph.D supervisors

Important note: The Institute registers students for MPhil/PhD study only when principal supervision is offered by the staff listed below.  It is, however, possible to arrange co-supervision with particular experts in the Colleges of the University of London, and, on occasion, with experts from institutions outside the University of London (e.g. the British Library) when such experts are also Teachers of the University of London.  In cases where it is more appropriate for MPhil/PhD students to be registered at a College of the University, the Institute is happy to offer informal advice.

Professor Warwick Gould
Professor Gould is happy to supervise on a wide range of late nineteenth and early twentieth century topics, especially in the literature of the Irish Revival, and in the general field of the History of the Book. He has supervised and examined numerous PhDs on W. B. Yeats, on Lady Gregory, Seamus Heaney, John Masefield, Elkin Mathews, V. S. Naipaul, Walter Pater, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, P. B. Shelley, Australian Literature (and Patrick White), Irish Publishing, 1886-1930, Fin de siècle Poetry, 19th Century Irish Radical Verse, 19th Century Occult Publishing, 20th Century Literary Theory, and 20th Century Literary Agenting.

Professor Simon Eliot
Professor Simon Eliot is prepared to supervise a range of subjects in the period spanning the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. In particular supervision is offered in business and quantitative book history, the history of authorship and author-publisher relations, the history of individual publishing houses, the history of literary agency from the 1880s, the history of book and newspaper distribution and selling, the history of libraries, the history of readers and reading, and the history of artificial lighting. Beyond the period of the 'long nineteenth century', he has broad interests in the history of reading from the 1450s to the present day, and in the history of Oxford University Press 1478-2000.

Professor Michelle Brown
Professor Brown is happy to supervise in the area of Medieval Manuscript Studies. Her particular interests include: Insular and Anglo-Saxon book culture: the book before 1000; palaeography, codicology and illumination generally.

Mode of Study

Research degrees can be completed on a full-time basis (up to four years) or on a part-time basis (up to seven years).

Research Training for MPhil/PhD Students

The Institute and the School of Advanced Study offer a range of subject specific training courses for research students. 



We welcome an informal approach in the first instance. Applicants should approach the prospective supervisor or the post-graduate adminstrator (who will advise on a suitable prospective supervisor). We expect applicants to discuss their research proposal with the prospective supervisor, who will offer advice on the topic and on completing the application form. Discussions can take place in person or via telephone, email or letter.

The formal application, with supporting documentation (including references and a statement from the prospective supervisor), will be submitted to the Institute's Higher Research Degrees Committee (HRDC), who will forward a copy of the materials to the Registrar of the School of Advanced Study. In assessing the application the HRDC will satisfy itself that:

  • the candidate's qualifications are acceptable;
  • the research proposal meets the required academic and practical criteria (see below);
  • the research proposal has been adequately discussed by the candidate with the prospective supervisor and has the supervisor's support;
  • training and other academic support needs have been assessed and can be met;
  • the proposed starting date and other relevant dates will allow the student to take part in training and other relevant activities of the Institute and the School (the preferred starting dates are October and January. Only in exceptional circumstances should the starting date be any other time.)

The research proposal to be considered by the HRDC should:

  • define the research question or problem to be addressed;
  • indicate the main objectives of the research;
  • specify why the question or problem is important, what other research has been done in the area (supported by a short bibliography of no more than one side of A4), and how the research will contribute to understanding in the area;
  • indicate the methods and sources to be used;
  • not exceed 1000 words, plus the bibliography.

We recognise that many features of the research proposal may be modified during the first year of research.

Research students are admitted to study for the MPhil in the first instance. Their suitability for transfer to the PhD is formally assessed towards the end of the first year (full-time students).

The Institute's Higher and Research Degrees Committee (HRDC) normally meets four time a year (late October, January, March  and June). Completed applications and research proposals should arrive at the Institute at least ten days before the meeting at which they are to be considered. The Institute's decision on an application will be communicated to the candidate and to the School's Registrar shortly after the meeting at which the application was considered. Thereafter the School registry will send out offer letters.

All research students are subject to the regulations contained in the Quality Assurance Framework section 11.

The School of Advanced Study offers bursaries for Master's degree study and for research degree study (MPhil/PhD). For details, visit