Staff and postgraduate students in the Department of German pursue research across a broad spectrum of German studies, covering many aspects of language and linguistics, literature, history, and culture from the early modern period to the present day. We have particular expertise in historical and modern sociolinguistics, modern literature (the novel, poetry and drama, especially in the classical age, the long 19th century, the 20th century and the post-Wende and contemporary periods), the history and politics of Germany and Austria since 1800 (particularly the political East), German children's literature, exile writing, transnational German-language studies and memory studies. We benefit from strong links with partner universities and research centres in Germany and Austria.

We welcome applications from graduates wishing to pursue custom-designed research programmes. Interdisciplinary and cross-language research is particularly encouraged and supported across the School of Modern Languages and the wider faculty. Our postgraduates are fully integrated into a professionally and personally supportive departmental and school community.

You will be encouraged to present your work at departmental, school-level research events and colloquia elsewhere within the faculty. We will help develop your full range of academic skills, including publication, and we may be able to offer opportunities for undergraduate teaching after your first year.

Dedicated research facilities foster interdisciplinary collaboration through a series of research seminars and other events. In addition, the Multimedia Centre is a specialist language centre comprising a language laboratory, media suite, a library of foreign films, newspapers and magazines, and a screening room.

Programme structure

MPhil: a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a 25,000-word dissertation. Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if they are relevant to their research.

PhD: a research project undertaken across three to four years (full-time), culminating in an 80,000-word thesis. As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to teach units themselves from their second year of study onwards.

The MPhil and PhD can be studied via distance learning.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree or international equivalent. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

PhD: A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level C.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,758 per year
UK: part-time
£2,379 per year
Overseas: full-time
£20,700 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2024/25

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2024. For information on other funding opportunities, including University-funded studentships, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Career prospects

Graduates from this programme develop a wide variety of careers, including in the cultural and heritage sectors and as academics in higher education.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.


Research groups

Research within the department focuses on the following major areas:

  • Historical and modern sociolinguistics, and in particular, language policy, language standardisation, and language attitudes;
  • The social and political history of modern Germany and Austria, especially the German Democratic Republic(GDR);
  • The memory and cultural representation of Germany's challenging pasts - in particular, the Third Reich and the GDR - and of the former Eastern Bloc as a whole;
  • Transnational and comparative German-language studies, including Anglo-German and German-American relations, and the literature of migration and exile;
  • The literature and culture of Germany and Austria from the 18th century to the present day with particular strengths in writing in the German classical age (Goethe, Schiller), the long 19th century, Realism and the novel, modernism, the literature of the two Germanies, and contemporary German-language culture and authorship;
  • Theatre and Performance Studies.

Staff are also active in interdisciplinary research at school and faculty level, and several of our postgraduates are co-supervised by colleagues from other departments, where this is desirable.

The department has had success recently in obtaining external funding for postgraduate studies, post-doctoral fellows and research grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Leverhulme Trust and the Humboldt Foundation, among others.

The department's collaborative research in linguistics and East German studies has been supported by AHRC-funded networks for work in 'History and Language, Linguists and Historians' (2008-10) and 'After the Wall: Reconstructing and Representing the GDR' (2009-11). Our commitment to literary studies has been recognised with AHRC awards to study Arthur Schnitzler (2014-17) and work on archives at the British Library which belonged to the author Stefan Zweig (2014-17) and the poet and translator Michael Hamburger (2020-). Post-doctoral fellows have researched a range of topics on German and comparative literature, historical sociolinguistics and East German history.

Contact us


Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Research Admissions

+44 (0) 117 428 2297
Dr Ben Schofield, Head of Subject
+44 (0) 117 455 8440