MPhil/PhD in Languages and Cultures

ILCS supports research in the integrated study of languages, cultures, and societies. In addition to offering a PhD programme in Languages and Cultures, the Institute is also able to offer PhD study in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Though its strengths reside primarily within the fields of French and Francophone, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American/ Caribbean studies, the Institute supports the transnational study of languages and cultures while seeking to advance connections with organisations that focus on cultural and linguistic experience in other global contexts. Its staff’s expertise bridges literary, historical, ethnographic, and digital research, with a particular emphasis on postcolonial and migration studies, and the environmental humanities. ILCS is an integral part of the School of Advanced Study which, through the collective work of its eight Institutes, promotes interdisciplinary research.

The Institute enables researchers to collaborate in a wide range of national and international networks and activities, to engage in innovative research, and to demonstrate research value to the wider public. It offers research degrees and is the leading national provider of doctoral training for languages and cultures.

ILCS, and its six research centres, run and contribute to national and international cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural research seminars, lectures, workshops, colloquia and conferences. ILCS also hosts a thriving publications series, a conference support scheme, and a fellowships programme. In close collaboration with the University Council For Languages (UCFL), the British Academy and language area subject associations, ILCS plays a leading role in debates that concern the shape of the disciplinary area and its engagement with issues of high topical concern. It aims to ensure that the social, cultural and economic benefits of research in the integrated study of languages, cultures, and societies research are widely recognised.

Studying at the Institute

Undertaking doctoral research allows you to develop in-depth knowledge, while making a meaningful contribution to your chosen field. With guidance from our expert supervisors, you’ll carry out extensive independent research culminating in a thesis of up to 100,000 words.

These degrees present the opportunity to gain expertise in your area of interest while also honing a range of transferable skills. On completing your degree, you’ll be well prepared for specialist career paths both within academia and beyond.

MPhil/PhD in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

CLACS offers specialist doctoral supervision across the humanities and social sciences, covering Latin America and the Caribbean. An internationally recognised centre of excellence, CLACS is home to a close-knit team of Latin Americanists with expertise in colonial and post-colonial history, political anthropology, human geography, environmental humanities, cultural studies, multilingualism and digital humanities.

Graduates are awarded a University of London degree.

MPhil/PhD in Languages and Cultures

ILCS provides first-class PhD supervision and guidance from academics who are leaders in their field, in collaboration with specialists at other institutions where appropriate.

Students have access to networks associated with the Centres for German & Austrian Exile Studies, Contemporary Women’s Writing, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Austrian Literature & Culture.

More broadly, the School of Advanced Study draws on its expertise in research and teaching to provide programmes of varied and challenging research and skills training. These programmes help support our students and graduate researchers in their wider preparation for careers, in academia or elsewhere.

Graduates are awarded a University of London degree.


Programme Structure

The degree can be taken full time over three years (or a maximum of four) or part time over five years (or a maximum of six), with entry in October and January. You will initially be registered for our MPhil and, providing your progress has been satisfactory, will then be upgraded to our PhD programme.

The primary activity of the PhD programme is the writing of a thesis of up to 100,000 words. There is no formal coursework, but you are encouraged to participate in the regular seminars held at the Institute during the academic year. An extensive research training programme is on offer, with sessions provided from leading scholars and practitioners. After submission of the thesis, you will attend an oral examination conducted by an internal examiner from the University of London, and an external examiner, normally from another university in the UK.

Distance Learning

The School of Advanced Study offers students with an appropriate topic and level of local resource the opportunity to undertake a PhD by distance learning. These students will study at their own location and may be able to undertake formal examination remotely, such as upgrade and the viva (oral) examination.

This option is available to UK and international students on the same basis as our on-campus PhD programmes (three years full time, six years part-time). Fees are the same as for our on-campus PhD programmes.

Areas of Research

The Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies offers doctoral research supervision in the following broad areas:

  • Borders
  • Cities and cultures
  • Comparative/world literature
  • Digital Humanities
  • Exile writing
  • Film and cultural studies
  • French and Francophone studies
  • Gender and sexuality
  • German philosophy
  • German studies
  • German-Jewish writing
  • Iberian, Latin American and Caribbean studies
  • Italian Studies
  • Memory studies
  • Multilingualism
  • Translation studies
  • Women’s writing

Enquiries about research supervision should be addressed to the Director, Professor Charles Burdett, sending a CV and a research proposal.


Professor Charles Burdett


The principal areas of Professor Burdett’s research are literary culture under Fascism, travel writing, the Italian colonial presence in Africa and its legacy, theories of inter-cultural contact, the representation of the Islamic world in recent Italian culture. An important part of his work concerns the theoretical frame through which we consider transnational representations. This research interest lies at the heart of the AHRC beacon project of which he was Principal Investigator, Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures (2014-2017). The project explored a series of critical instances of linguistic and cultural translation embedded within the histories of Italian mobility. He is the co-editor of the volumes, Transnational Italian Studies (2020) and Transcultural Italies: Mobility, Memory and Translation (2020). His book, Italy, Islam and the Islamic World: Representations and Reflections from 9/11 to the Arab Uprisings (2016) examined some of the most significant voices in defining Italy’s relationship with Islam and the Islamic world over recent years. His monograph, Journeys through Fascism (2007, pbk 2010), drawing on a wide range of theoretical work on travel and cross-cultural exchange, examined representations by Italian writers of travel to Africa, the Middle East, Russia and the United States.

Dr Joseph Ford



Dr Ford specialises in 20th- and 21st-century Francophone Literature and Culture, with specific interests in Algeria and what has become known as the Algerian Civil War or 'Black Decade' of the 1990s. His wider research interests are in postcolonial studies, the theory and practice of world literature and literary translation, and French and Francophone intellectual culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. His first book, Writing the Black Decade: Conflict and Criticism in Francophone Algerian Literature (forthcoming in January 2021 with Lexington Books), studies how literature – and the way we read, classify and critique literature – impacts our understanding of the world at a time of conflict. He has published articles on Mustapha Benfodil, Maïssa Bey, Salim Bachi and Kamel Daoud, translated a book-length collection of poems by Mustapha Benfodil (Hesterglock Press, 2018) and is completing an article on the theory and practice of 'world literature' in the work of the Algerian writer Kaouther Adimi. Dr Ford is Director of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory (CCM), co-General Editor (with Catherine Davies) of the Journal of Romance Studies and convenor of the Convocation Seminars in World Literature and Translation (co-convened with LINKS).

Dr Ainhoa Montoya

Ainhoa Montoya (photo by José Pedro Salinas, 8 Sept 2022)

Dr Ainhoa Montoya’s research focuses on the uses of law in violent environmental conflicts in Central America, and the ontologies and moralities these uses incorporate. Her previous project addressed post-conflict violence in El Salvador, exploring ethnographically how Salvadorans conceive of democracy and participate in the country’s political life in the context of a violent peace. Ainhoa welcomes PhD students with an interest in bringing an anthropological perspective to the study of violence and conflict, democracy and state transformation, the law, the environment and natural resources, social movements, or human rights.




Dr Jamille Pinheiro Dias

Jamille Pinheiro Dias

Jamille Peinheiro Dias works on cultural, artistic and literary traditions, indigenous knowledges, translation studies, and the intersection between environmental and aesthetic activism in Latin America, with a focus on Brazil. She is interested in working with PhD students who wish to pursue research on socially and environmentally engaged literature, film and aesthetics, pan-Amazonian cultural production, indigenous poetics and aesthetics, and translation in the region.  

Dr Katia Pizzi


Dr Pizzi specializes in modern Italian studies, with particular interest in the literature of the inter-war years, memory studies, Futurism and technology. Her books A City in Search of An Author: The Cultural Identity of Trieste (2001), Trieste: triestinita`, italianita` e male di frontiera (2007) and Cold War Cities: History, Culture and Memory (2016) explore the cultural identity of key cities and regions during the Cold War and beyond, especially Trieste and the north-eastern borders of Italy. Pizzi's recent research interests lie in Modernism, the European Futurist avantgarde, industrial cultures and technology, and she is writing the monograph Italian Futurism and the Machine. Pizzi has further published several chapters and articles on children’s literature and nationalism, the interface between text and illustration, Antonio Rubino and comics. Her volume Pinocchio Puppets and Modernity: The Mechanical Body (2012) was awarded with the prestigious Best Edited Book Prize by the Children's Literature Association. Pizzi has supervised doctoral theses on modern and contemporary Italian writers, women writers, Holocaust memory, writing and migration and Pinocchio.

Professor Godela Weiss-Sussex


Professor Weiss-Sussex's research interests lie in the culture and literature of the 20th and 21st centuries in the following areas: women’s writing, the works of German-Jewish writers produced in Germany and in exile, issues of identity and belonging in contemporary literature, multi- and translingual writing, and the city in literature and the visual arts. Her main current research projects focus on multilingualism and alternative concepts of belonging in contemporary German-Jewish women’s writing, and on minor and minority literatures in Europe. Her recent publications include the monograph Jüdin und Moderne. Literarisierungen der Lebenswelt deutsch-jüdischer Autorinnen in Berlin, 1900-1918 (2016), and (co-edited with Caroline Bland and Catherine Smale): Women Writing Heimat in Imperial and Weimar Germany, Special Issue of German Life and Letters (72.1, 2019). Professor Weiss-Sussex has successfully supervised PhD dissertations on German post-war literary journals, on the culture and society of Weimar Germany, on female authors’ writing in British exile, and on Kindertransport literature.

Dr Naomi Wells

Naomi Wells 2_large

Dr Wells specialises in the area of multilingualism and migration in Spanish- and Italian-speaking contexts, with her current research focusing on digital spaces of communication and representation. She has conducted fieldwork in Spain, Italy, Chile, and the UK, and her research incorporates transdisciplinary methods and approaches drawn primarily from applied and sociolinguistics, translation and cultural studies, migration studies, and digital humanities and digital culture studies. She has recently published articles in the journals Modern ItalyModern Languages Open and Language Policy, and has contributed to Liverpool University Press’s forthcoming Transnational Modern Languages book series. She is also joint Section Editor of the Digital Modern Languages Section on Modern Languages Open, and provides postgraduate research training on qualitative and online research methods. Dr Wells is able to supervise research in the areas of: Hispanic and Italian Studies, multilingualism, cultures of migration and diaspora studies, minority and regional languages, social media and internet research, (digital) discourse analysis and (digital) ethnography.

Professor Catherine Davies


Catherine Davies

Professor Davies has published widely on 19th- and 20th-century Spanish and Spanish American literature, history and culture. She specializes in the following fields: women's writing; historical fiction; intellectual history; gender studies; the political essay, and poetry. She is particularly interested in the cultures, histories and literatures of Spain, Galicia, Cuba, Argentina and Colombia. Professor Davies has successfully supervised a large number of PhD theses on, for example: Rosa Chacel, Diamela Eltit, Silvia Galvis, Spanish Romantic literature, Galician women's writing, Cuban crime fiction, African-Cuban poetry, Colombian literature, Women novelists in 20th-century Spain, and Latin American women's Testimonio. She has also examined many PhD theses in the UK and internationally. Her recent co-authored book, South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text (2006)  is on the literature and culture of the Independence period in early 19th-century Spanish America and Spain explored from a gender inflected perspective. 

Professor Linda Newson

Linda Newson (Supervisor)

Professor Linda Newson has conducted extensive archival research in Latin America and is the author of seven monographs and two edited books.  Her first five monographs examined the demographic and cultural impact of Spanish colonial rule in Trinidad, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the Philippines. More recently, she examined the African slave trade in Peru in the 16th and early 17th centuries. She is currently researching the history of medicine in Peru in the early colonial period.  She has received awards for distinguished scholarship from the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (USA) and the Royal Geographic Society. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and chairs its Latin American and Caribbean Panel. In 2015, Professor Newson received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Latin American Studies.

Professor Andrea Hammel

Andrea Hammel

Andrea Hammel is Professor of German and the Director of the Centre for the Movement of People at Aberystwyth University. She is the author of Finding Refuge: Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Fled to Wales to Escape the Nazis (Honno, 2022) and The Kindertransport: What Really Happened (Polity, 2023). She is on the Editorial Board of the Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, and the series editor for Peter Lang's Exile Studies/Exilstudien. She recently led a project on Refugees from National Socialism in Wales: Learning from the Past for the Future which was funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and involved co-curators who are refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Kuwait. One of its outcomes was an exhibition which was shown in Aberystwyth, the Senedd, the Houses of Parliament and in Bangor.

Professor Johan Siebers


Professor Johan Siebers

Professor Johan Siebers (Associate Fellow, ILCS/Professor of Philosophy of Language and Communication, Middlesex University) is available for dissertation and thesis supervision in the area of post-Kantian German philosophy. His own work investigates the possibilities of metaphysical thinking today and he is committed to the idea that the purpose of philosophy is the liberation of the mind. His research interests include critical theory; German idealism; metaphysics; being and speculative philosophy; aesthetics; philosophy of language, dialogue and communication; religious experience; temporality and futurity; existentialism and psychoanalysis. He is also interested in the relations between German and classical American thought (Transcendentalism, Emerson, pragmatism, Whitehead and process philosophy). He has a special, but not exclusive, interest in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch and leads the Ernst Bloch Centre at the ILCS.

Dr Anne Simon


Dr Simon specialises in German Studies in the mediaeval and Early Modern periods, with particular reference to the impact of these periods on subsequent eras. Her main interest is the city of Nuremberg from the Middle Ages to the present. Her book The Cult of Saint Katherine of Alexandria in Nuremberg: Saint and a City draws on a wide variety of textual and visual sources to explore the shaping of urban space through this cult; the saint’s role in moulding and advertising patrician identity and alliances through cultural patronage; and the use of Katherine to showcase the city's political, economic, cultural and religious importance at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire. Dr Simon’s research and publications also encompass pilgrimage and travel literature; nuns’ letters (Pepper for Prayer: The Correspondence of the Birgittine Nun Katerina Lemmel, 1516‒1525, edited by Volker Schier, Corine Schleif and Anne Simon); the history of the book; didactic literature for women; and the relationship between text and image. Dr Simon has supervised work on a wide range of topics from the Middle Ages to the present, including artistic and cultural patronage; the Reformation; Hans Sachs; travel literature; publishing history; marginal groups; the National Socialist use of the Middle Ages; and Nuremberg’s contemporary self-marketing.