The Institute is no longer accepting applications for this degree.

The degree is aimed at students who would like specific training for postgraduate research in modern languages aiming ultimately at a PhD, or who wish to take a challenging end-stopped Master’s. The course offers a distinctive and unique choice of translation theory, European and Arabic cultural and intellectual history (taught at the Warburg Institute), German philosophy, and digital humanities in addition to research skills and training. All our graduates are awarded a University of London degree.

The Master of Research is a flexible programme that allows in-depth study under the supervision of experts in the field and provides excellent preparation for students who wish to continue to doctoral study. The dissertation will give you scope to explore an area of interest in depth and to develop advanced critical and analytical research skills. You will receive face-to-face supervision and specialist research training in small groups within a well-established research training programme.

The course is underpinned by exceptional resources in the Senate House Library, a diverse range of seminars and conferences, and networks associated with the specialist centres within the Institute: the Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies, the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing, the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature & Culture, the Centre for Quebec and French-Canadian Studies, and the Ernst Bloch Centre for German Thought.

The MRes is further supported by the digital resources of the PORT (postgraduate online research training) website, part of which is tailored specifically to the needs of students and researchers in modern languages. It includes a variety of resources, ranging from introductory training manuals on conducting research in modern languages via language-specific materials to video clips advising on the preparation for the viva or for job interviews.

Why study here?

  • Established expertise in the fields of Spanish/Latin American, French/Francophone, Italian and German literary and cultural research, and PhD supervision.
  • Opportunity for cross- and transcultural research.
  • A vibrant academic community. The Institute hosts a large range of events every week, including guest lectures, seminars and international conferences in the field of modern languages research.
  • One-to-one tuition and small group teaching.
  • Collaboration with other institutes in the School of Advanced Study (SAS) and high-profile neighbouring institutions including UCL, the British Library, and the Wiener Library.
  • Access to a highly respected research training programme.
  • Access to Senate House Library, with its millions of books and journals, digital resources, special collections, beautiful study spaces, and laptop loans. Senate House Library houses the specialised Germanic Studies Library, a treasure trove of books and archival material.
  • Location in central London, at the heart of Bloomsbury.

The University of London experience

As part of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, IMLR students benefit from a collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment, as well as a range of funding opportunities. SAS is the UK’s national research hub and the  IMLR enjoys close links with its other members, including the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Institute of Latin American Studies, the Institute of Historical Research and the Warburg Institute. Cross-institute collaboration is actively encouraged making us an ideal location for interdisciplinary research.

IMLR students join a community of over 170,000 students in the University of London. They are encouraged to participate in the wider activities of the university and are able to use the libraries of other colleges. All IMLR graduates receive a University of London degree.

The Institute is located in Senate House, an iconic, Grade II-listed Art Deco building in the heart of Bloomsbury. Our central London location ensures that you will be able to enjoy everything the city has to offer, from the world-class resources of the British Museum (adjacent to Senate House) and British Library (within short walking distance) to shops, restaurants, parks, clubs, and theatres. London is regularly named the best university city in the world for its welcoming attitude, diversity, and vibrant student-friendly culture.

Full-time students and part-time students with disabilities may apply for accommodation in one of the University of London’s award-winning intercollegiate Halls of Residence. Our Registry office will send you application information after you have been offered a place. To learn more about accommodation options, please visit halls.london.ac.uk/our-accommodation.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement is a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a university in the UK or an overseas quali­fication of an equivalent standard. We will consider applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements but who offer alternative quali­fications and/or relevant experience.

English is the language of instruction and applicants are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency. Near-native or degree-level competence in the language of study (Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, or Italian) is required.

For information on entry requirements, please visit www.sas.ac.uk/graduate-study/entry-requirements.

Structure and assessment

The course comprises two core modules and one optional module to be chosen from six options. Teaching will be provided by staff from the IMLR, the School of Advanced Study, the Warburg Institute, and University College London (UCL), where relevant.

The research component of the programme is a dissertation written on a research topic agreed and supported by fortnightly meetings between you and your supervisor. The dissertation may be written in English or in the language of study: French, German, Italian, or Spanish. Topics include literature, film, cultural memory, women’s writing, postcolonial studies, exile studies, migrant studies, cultural history, history of ideas, and translation studies. Areas of study include: Europe, the Americas, Caribbean, and North Africa. Our supervisors include Professor Catherine Davies, Dr Joseph Ford, Dr Johan SiebersDr Godela Weiss-Sussex, and Dr Naomi Wells.

You will be expected to have successfully completed two/three essays (depending on which module you choose), a 25,000-word dissertation, and an assessed presentation at an IMLR research seminar.


Core modules:

  • Research Skills and Methodologies
  • Dissertation

Optional modules (one to be chosen, subject to availability)

  • Translation Theory and Literary Translation Practical Exercise
  • Translating Literary Culture and Literary Translation Practical Exercise
  • Reviving the Past: Introduction to Cultural and Intellectual History
  • Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance
  • German Philosophy
  • Introducing Digital Humanities

Research Skills and Methodologies (20 credits)

You will be provided with specialised training in: research projects in modern languages; archive skills training with the Wiener library; modern languages archives and libraries training (in collaboration with specialist librarians in Senate House Library and the British Library); digital resources and use of social media; critical theories and approaches; visual languages; history and history methods; and professional skills and career management.

Translation Theory (15 credits)

This module, taught at UCL’s Centre for Translation Studies, explores theoretical approaches to translation, investigating key topics in depth, and examines the interdisciplinary contexts of theoretical engagements with translation, with particular reference to the application of philosophical and critical theory and the examination of translation ethics and poetics.

Translating Literary Culture (15 credits)

This module, taught at UCL’s Centre for Translation Studies, examines the theory and practice of translating text-based literary materials, broadly-defined. The module discusses theoretical engagements with translating literary culture, including notions of voice and style, contextualizing source and target literary systems, and ideological and other issues in the selection and conduct of translations. You will consider practical and theoretical approaches to the translation of a range of genres, such as canonical literary texts, poetry, children’s literature, academic literature, drama translation, performance texts and sung texts.

Literary Translation Practical Exercise (5 credits)

This module will build on the theory and practice of translation learned in the optional modules taught at University College London: either ‘Translation Theory’ or ‘Translating Literary Culture’. You will receive supervisory guidance on the selection of a short literary text in the language and genre (for example: poetry, narrative, essay) of your choice, and guidance to identify possible translation challenges in advance of the practical translation of the text into English. The text chosen will be in French, Italian, German, Spanish or Portuguese.

Reviving the Past: Introduction to Cultural and Intellectual History (20 credits)

This module, taught at the Warburg Institute, will provide you with foundational knowledge and research skills for the study of the cultural and intellectual history of Europe, from the medieval era to modernity. You will become familiar with specific historical moments and the various aims and means of their retrieval, making use of primary and secondary texts in the Warburg Library and other collections in London and beyond.

Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance (20 credits)

Taught at the Warburg Institute. Starting from selected Renaissance texts, this module will explore the continuing importance of the texts in Arabic philosophy, science, and magic translated into Latin in the Middle Ages, and also the beginnings of the study of Arabic itself and the production of new translations. Topics will include the problem of translating from Arabic, attitudes towards Islam, the Arabic contributions to philosophy, mathematics, and medicine, and the ‘Antarabism’ of the humanists. No knowledge of Arabic is required.

German Philosophy (20 credits)

This module will provide you with the opportunity to study aspects of the history of German philosophy in depth and at the cutting edge of current philosophical and intellectual-historical scholarship, by close-reading, analysing and interpreting primary sources in German, in the context of an explicit articulation of critical, historical and philosophical methodological frameworks for text interpretation. Primary literature will be in German, but translations will be provided and seminars will be held in English.

Introducing Digital Humanities (20 credits)

This module will allow you to approach your subject area from the perspective of digital humanities and other collaborative, multidisciplinary, and quantitative methods in data acquisition, analysis, dissemination, and teaching. Topics in this module will focus on the application of multiple interdisciplinary approaches to the traditional research areas of literature, history, art history, material culture, and the humanities more broadly. Such approaches include the application and extraction of semantic information in text and structured data, geographic and spatial analysis, 3-D imaging and modelling, and visualisation and sonification.

Dissertation (140 credits)

The dissertation will be on a research topic agreed between you and your supervisor and will be supervised with (on average) fortnightly meetings within IMLR or, where appropriate, with co-supervisors in other institutes in SAS or elsewhere. The dissertation is the research component of the Master of Research. It consists of a significant research project in which you will undertake an in-depth investigative study in the modern languages disciplinary field, which may include aspects of translation, translation theory, or digital humanities. The dissertation will be assessed by an internal and external examiner. The assessors will consider: overall structure, organisation, and presentation of the contents; the relevance and understanding of the theory and methodologies used; the ability to develop an argument and to integrate theory with close critical reading; and the ability to provide a critical evaluation of secondary sources and to give evidence of original ideas or approaches. The dissertation may be written in the language of study (French, German, Spanish or Italian, subject to the availability of staff).

Full-time students take the taught modules in terms 1 and 2 and meet their supervisor in preparation for the dissertation throughout the year. A title and proposal for the dissertation project must be submitted to the supervisor by the start of term 2. Most of the supervision for the preparation of the dissertation will take place in term 2. The students write up their dissertation in the summer. Part-time students take the taught modules in terms 1 and 2 of the first year, and prepare and write up their dissertation in year 2.

Teaching and supervision

Teachers are recognised experts drawn from the Institute, the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Lambeth Palace Library, and other institutions, at which some of the teaching takes place.

Mode of Study

This degree can be taken full-time over one year or part-time over 24 months.