German (MPhil / PhD)

Our doctoral programme aims to respond to the needs and interests both of students seeking an academic career or other professional employment and of those who wish to pursue a line of intellectual enquiry for its own sake. We aim to recruit both recent graduates and mature students who now have the time to pursue an intellectual enthusiasm, perhaps after a lifetime of professional work.

We offer supervision in most areas of German studies, including: baroque literature; eighteenth- to twenty-first-century literature, especially the novel; Anglo-German cultural relations; German literature in philosophical context; gender studies and women's writing; twentieth-century German history; history of German thought; German film and memory studies. There are also opportunities for supervision in interdisciplinary research, and candidates with such interests are especially welcome.

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation. The MPhil thesis is not more than 60,000 words; the PhD thesis is not more than 100,000 words. The thesis requirements for a practice-based project vary according to the nature of the research and can be discussed with the admissions tutors. Both the MPhil and the PhD are assessed by a viva voce examination.

At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

Find out more about studying German at Birkbeck.



  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 13th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2016-17 World University Subject Rankings.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • In the 2014 REF, Modern Languages and Linguistics achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 73% of our research was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A good degree in German or a related subject.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees


    Part-time home/EU students: £2226 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4195 pa
    Part-time international students: £6050 pa
    Full-time international students: £11995 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Fees and finance

    Outstanding MPhil/PhD researchers are encouraged to apply for our competitive scholarships and studentships, which cover fees and maintenance. Read more and apply now

    Find out more about other research funding opportunities at Birkbeck. 

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    We attract a substantial number of research students. Nearby facilities include the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies and the German Historical Institute, both within five minutes' walk.

    Study resources include a series of first-year workshops on research skills. You will also be provided with access to computer workstations with email and internet facilities.

    The Department of Cultures and Languages hosts its own regular seminars, in which academic staff and graduate students have the chance to discuss their projects. You are expected to participate in the department's research events, including attending lectures, research skills sessions and other classes/workshops as appropriate.

    Read more about our vibrant research culture and find out about our current MPhil/PhD students and their areas of research.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

    For information about applying as a research student and finding a supervisor for your research area, read our guide for applicants.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply, and start studying, at any time during the year.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in German is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the Department.

    Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:

    • Peter Damrau, MA, PhD: devotional literature of the 17th century; women's writing of the 18th century.
    • Nicolette David, MA, MA, PhD: critical theory, especially psychoanalysis and gender; drama and the novel in the 19th and 20th centuries; German and Austrian Modernism; Weimar Culture; film studies.
    • Joanne Leal, BA, PhD: 20th- and 21st-century German literature and film, especially literature/film and gender; the recent German novel; the films of Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
    • Eckard Michels, MA, PhD, Habil: 20th-century German history, especially diplomatic and military history.
    • Anna Richards, MPhil, DPhil: 18th- and 19th-century German literature, especially the novel and its medical historical context; women's writing.
    • John Walker, MA, PhD: 18th- and 19th-century German literature and philosophy, especially the German realist novel; the history of ideas; the relationship between literature and philosophy; the thought of the German Enlightenment and its modern reception, especially in relation to multiculturalism.
    • Alexander Weber, Staatsexamen, PhD: German literature from the 17th century to the present; Anglo-German cultural relations; history of ideas; literature, theology and journalism.