Research course

Shakespeare Studies (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

University of Birmingham · The Shakespeare Institute
PhDMA by research

Entry requirements

For PhD, a Master's degree in a relevant subject is required. For MA by Research or MLitt, a British MA in a relevant subject is required (or a recognised overseas equivalent).

Months of entry


Course content

The Shakespeare Institute offers promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in a dynamic environment in the very place where the great playwright was born and died - Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Situated within walking distance of Shakespeare’s birthplace, school and grave, and the theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Shakespeare Institute offers postgraduate students and scholars an academic experience unrivalled by any other university.

At the Institute, you are able to study for full-time and part-time research degrees at all postgraduate levels (MA by Research, MLitt, and PhD). You will work towards writing a thesis on a topic of your own choice, agreed with the Institute at the time of admission, and are supervised by a member of the Institute's teaching staff. There is also the opportunity for split location registration.

The PhD - the most advanced research degree – leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words. If you have not already completed a research Masters, you will normally register for an MA by Research in the first instance, and apply to upgrade your registration to a PhD on the basis of progress made. You can study for a PhD on campus or by Distance Learning.

The MLitt involves undertaking research on a chosen topic leading to the preparation of a thesis of 60,000 words.

The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a dissertation of up to 40,000 words.

If you like the idea of conducting independent research but feel like you need some taught and assessed coursework to support your study, you may be interested in ourPhD with Integrated Study (Shakespeare Studies).

All research students take a course on the Methods and Materials of Research, which is taught during the first five weeks of the academic year. The aim is to provide an initial training in the methodologies of research in the various fields associated with Shakespeare Studies. There are no other compulsory courses, but research students are expected to attend Thursday Seminars and the Research Seminars; they are also given the opportunity of undertaking specialist training in palaeography.

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at one of our on-campus open days (Friday 4 March 2016). Register to attend at:

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year. For more information, please visit:

Department specialisms

Shakespeare in performance; Shakespeare in culture since 1623; Shakespeare and opera; the writings, representation and reputation of Elizabeth I; notions of authorship and nation; the representation of Shakespeare; Bibliography, editing, textual criticism, textual theory, Renaissance theatre culture and print culture, and Shakespeare’s contemporary dramatists; Literature and experience, religion, philosophy, and creativity; aesthetics; Shakespeare and poetry; Shakespeare in conjunction with great art and thought from other times and places; The full corpus of dramatic works written in the British Isles, and by ‘British’ authors overseas, between the English Reformation and the English Revolution, including both commercial and literary plays, masques and entertainments, and drama in Latin, Greek, Cornish, and Welsh; Medical and religious beliefs in early modern England, in particular their intersection. The body and metaphor, illness narratives, early modern life writings, the history of human experience. Shakespeare’s cultural legacy; Cultural history, visual arts and material culture of early modern Britain; Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture; Ben Jonson and his contemporaries; The relationships of Renaissance and Romantic writers; The relationships of manuscript and print; Early modern poetry and drama; Women's writing in the 17th century; Manuscript Studies; History of Translation;

Information for international students

Research programmes at the Shakespeare Institute offer a unique opportunity to study in Shakespeare's home town, and attract a high level of international enrolments.

Fees and funding

UK students
£4,621 FT - £2,311 PT (campus) / £4,121 FT - £2,061 PT (distance learning)
International students
£14,180 (campus); £13,680 (distance)

Please visit:

The College of Arts and Law Graduate School at the University of Birmingham has a number of bursaries and scholarships available for full-time postgraduate research programmes.

Qualification and course duration


distance learning
36-72 months
part time
72 months
full time
36 months

MA by research

distance learning
12-24 months
part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Postgraduate enquiry service
0121 414 5005