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German Research MPhil/PhD, option of joint PhD with Stuttgart/Sorbonne or Humboldt University



  • REF rankings 2014: The Modern Languages departments are ranked 9th in the REF's power rankings which take into account the quantity and quality of research activity and performed well in terms of impact with 100% of their research rated as haveing an outstanding (4*) or considerable reach and significance
  • Research income: Over £1m since 2001.
  • Current number of academic staff: 10 permanent (all research active).
  • Current number of research students: 15.
  • Recent publications:
    • Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory; 
    • The German Tradition of Psychology in Literature and Thought;
    • Wenders and Handke: Collaboration, Adaptation, Recomposition
    • The German Bestseller in the Nineteenth Century;
    • Private Lives and Collective Destinies: Class, Nation and the Volk in Gustav Freytag;
    • Crisis and Form in the Later Writing of Ingeborg Bachmann;

    • Bridal Quest Epics in Medieval Germany;
    • The German Joyce;
    • Selbstreferenz in Literatur und Wissenschaft. Kronauer, Grünbein, Maturana, Luhmann;
    • Phantom Images: The Figure of the Ghost in the Work of Christa Wolf and Irina Liebmann;
    • Fragmented Fatherland. Immigration and Cold War Conflict in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1945-1980.
  • Current research projects: Current PhD students work mainly in: literary studies, film and cinema studies; literary and cultural theory; the history of ideas.
  • Joint PhDs available: Exciting opportunities to gain a joint PhD with the University of Stuttgart/Universite Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)/Humboldt University Berlin.

Key information

Duration Expected to be: MPhil two years FT, three years PT; PhD three years FT, four-six years PT. September to September, January to January or April to April.

Study mode Full-time,Part-time

Awarding institution King's College London/King's and Stuttgart/Sorbonne or Humboldt for joint programme

Faculty Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Department Department of German


Entry requirements

Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.

Bachelor's degree with 1st class or 2:1 Honours (or overseas equivalent) in German Studies or a relevant subject, and preferably also a taught Master's degree. Students applying from Germany would be expected to have completed six semesters of study.

Application procedure

Applications are welcome from a range of disciplines in the Arts and Humanities. The PhD programme is bilingual and participants are expected to have a good or excellent knowledge of both English and German. If candidates wish to study for extended periods at the Sorbonne, competency in French is also expected.

We encourage you to discuss research possibilities with the department prior to application - please do get in touch with us directly. A focussed research proposal (750 words) must be submitted with your application. You may also be asked to submit samples of your written BA work, relevant projects or MA dissertation. You should expect to be invited to an interview to discuss your research plans with your potential supervisor and another member of the department. Admission to our research programmes will initially be for the MPhil but we expect students to transfer to the PhD after an appropriate period, by agreement with their supervisor and the Departmental Postgraduate Research Committee.

Personal statement and supporting information

Filling out the application forms for PhD courses and funding bodies is a time-consuming - and important – business. It’s important to remember that all postgraduates are interested in their courses and so course selectors and funding bodies are looking for evidence of the following to make their decision:

  • How does the candidate's project build on/follow on from what they've done before?
  • Does the chosen programme of study come across as a logical next step in the context of that individual's personal and academic development?
  • What specific modules/authors/dissertations/essays did the candidate do in the past that made them choose this particular programme of study?
  • Does the candidate have a clear focus? Do they have a clear idea of what their proposed programme of study will give them?
  • What skills can the candidate bring to the programme (eg. languages, analytical skills, professional experience etc.)?
  • Do they have what it takes to complete the programme successfully?
  • Does the candidate have a clear idea about a dissertation topic? Have they got a project that might be classified as 'innovative'?
  • Why are they applying to King’s? What's distinctive about King’s that made them want to pursue graduate studies here?
  • What individuals will they want to work with? Is there evidence that they have really researched their chosen course/institution. Do they know who the key people are?
  • How well does the candidate fit both the programme of study and the institution?

You will also be asked to supply references (usually two) both for your application for a place and for funding (remember to consult your referees before naming them and use this opportunity to alert them to the information most assessors will need in order to make their decision).


Course intake

No set number.

Joint PhDs - Application advice

Applications are welcome from a range of disciplines in the Arts and Humanities. The PhD programme is bilingual and participants are expected to have a good or excellent knowledge of both English and German. If candidates wish to study for extended periods at the Sorbonne, competency in French is also expected. 

Applicants for the Joint PhD programme must contact the relevant departments at both universities before submitting an application in order to discuss the suitability of their topic for the joint programme and to locate potential supervisors. Applications should initially be submitted to the proposed home institution only, ie where the student will start and finish their programme. Students should note that acceptance onto the programme may take slightly longer than for single-institution PhDs because of the additional steps involved. Further details, including FAQs, can be found on the King’s Worldwide web pages.

Applicants who choose King’s as their home institution should apply through the online system, selecting the appropriate Joint PhD option from the drop-down list. In addition to the standard supporting documentation, applicants should submit a Travel Plan form indicating how they intend to divide their time between the two partner institutions. Students must spend a specified amount of time in each institution, details of which can be found in the ‘Notes’ section of the Travel Plan form.

It is recommended that students submit applications for the Joint PhD programme by the end of March to begin the following September.

Application closing date

There is no specific deadline for applications. Applications will be considered subject to the availability of places, thus we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. Please note funding applications may be subject to specific deadlines.


Course detail


Our PhD programme has grown in recent years to become one of the largest and dynamic in the UK. We now offer a range of distinct PhD programmes, including joint programmes that offer unique opportunities for co-supervision in the UK and Germany. The MPhil/PhD in German is based at King’s College London, and leads to a PhD from King’s College. Our Joint-PhDs with the Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of Stuttgart or the Sorbonne (University of Paris IV) involve at least one year at our partner institutions in Berlin, Stuttgart or Paris, and lead to a Joint-PhD conferred by both institutions.

Our current research students work mainly in cultural and historical studies from the Middle Ages to the present day, including literary studies, film and cinema studies; theatre studies; literary and cultural theory; and the history of ideas. In the field of literary and cultural studies, applications are further welcome from students with interests in the study of nation, identity and memory; gender; realism and modernism; the classical tradition; and comparative literature and performance. The Department's links with European Studies also provide an important focus for research on migrant communities; post-1945 political movements; gender and politics; international relations; European identities and German history.

Course study environment

As a research student, you will have designated primary and secondary supervisors, and most students will see their supervisor at least every two weeks during the first year of research. We will monitor your progress through termly written reports and annual reviews. You will be strongly encouraged to attend research seminars in the department and beyond, and expected to present your research in the departmental seminar at some point.
We offer a dedicated study space for our postgraduate research students on the fourth floor of our Virginia Woolf building. Our students benefit from funds to subsidise student attendance at conferences, and to contribute towards research costs. As a student, you will also have access to the facilities of the Institute of Modern Languages Research.

Postgraduate training

The department organises individual training for graduate students, tailored to their specific needs. All postgraduate research students in the department attend a regular graduate research seminar that provides a forum to discuss practical, methodological and theoretical issues relating to their research. Students also participate in a full programme of training events run under the auspices of the new AHRC doctoral training partnership, the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) ( Students also attend the relevant research training workshops offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, the Graduate School, and the Institute of Modern Languages Research.

Joint PhDs - Benefits of collaboration

The Joint-PhD is an innovative integrated programme that offers unique opportunities for the very best PhD supervision in a pan-European context. The programmes offered provide candidates with the opportunity to divide their PhD study between two prestigious universities enjoying full supervision at both. While supervisions and regular graduate seminars enable students to construct a theoretical, historical and systematic framework for their research, the Joint-PhD also organizes international colloquia and workshops at which students can present and discuss their work with peers and academic staff across the institutions involved. The programme builds on an extensive network of existing institutional links, joint teaching experience and collaborative graduate programmes between King’s and the partner universities.

Joint PhD with the Humboldt University, Berlin

The programme builds on an extensive network of existing institutional links, joint teaching experience, emerging research collaborations, and collaborative graduate programmes between King’s and the Humboldt. Current research projects include studies on Queer Theory, the Modernist Novel, and multilingual German literature.

Joint PhD with the University of Stuttgart/University of Paris, Sorbonne (Paris IV)

This well-established tri-national PhD programme leads to the award of a Joint PhD. It provides candidates with the opportunity to divide their PhD study between two prestigious universities, and to access resources at partner institutions including the German Literature Archive in Marbach and the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation. Recent and current research projects include the internationalization of satire in Early Modern texts; history, translation and poetics in early 20th-century texts; the international reception of contemporary German bestsellers; the global dissemination of theories of totalitarianism; existentialism in postwar German literature; and the role of journals in the dissemination of poetics.

Joint PhDs - Subjects/specialisms available for joint study

Applications are welcome from across the field of German Studies, including Comparative Studies with a substantial German element.

FAQs about joint PhDs can be found on the King’s Worldwide web pages.

Head of group/division

Professor Erica Carter

Contact for information

Postgraduate Admissions, Admissions Office tel: +44 (0) 20 7848 1649 fax: +44 (0) 20 7848 7200

Contact email

Course website

Career prospects

Career destinations

Academia, publishing, media, civil service.


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Fees and funding

Annual funding is available through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership. Up to 80 studentships are available for postgraduate research students studying Arts & Humanities at King's College London, School of Advanced Study (University of London) or University College London from the London Arts & Humanities Partnership (AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership). Find out more at

Full time tuition fees - Home/EU
£4,600 (2016)

Full time tuition fees - Overseas 
£17,000 (2016)

Part time tuition fees - Home/EU
£2,300 (2016)

Part time tuition fees - Overseas
£8,500 (2016)

Please visit our web pages on fees and funding for more information.


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