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English literature and liberal arts research

Our research was judged first in London and second nationally for its 100% four star research environment and impact in REF2021, the UK’s national Research Excellence Framework.

Our researchers examine literature and culture from the contemporary to Medieval periods, while looking forward to the future. Intervening local and global issues, our research is transforming cultural understanding and creative practice internationally.

Our work bridges creative writing, cultural history, literary studies and theatre studies. We have particular strengths in archival literary and historical study, critical ‘race’ studies, cultures of migration and displaced peoples, digital publishing and editing, gender and sexuality studies, material and visual cultures, health and medical humanities, science fiction and science writing.

We are home to the pioneering open-access journal 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, our affiliated research centres include the Centre for Contemporary Literature, the Centre for Contemporary PoeticsBirkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre and Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities, which programme a dynamic range of events open to students and the public. Colleagues originated the Open Library of the Humanities, which has transformed the landscape of academic publishing internationally. Our purpose-built facilities include the Peltz Gallery and Birkbeck Cinema

We support one of the largest postgraduate communities in the country, with a portfolio of specialist MA degrees and an MPhil/PhD programme. Postgraduate study is energised by innovative doctoral training eventscourses and internship opportunities. 

Research centres and institutes



We have formed a number of key collaborations and partnerships to support our research.

Key partners that we have worked with recently are the ICANational GalleryWellcome Collection and Camden People's Theatre.

We have also networked with CHASEBloomsbury Colleges GroupOpen Society University Network and The University of London/School of Advanced Study.