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The Department of Modern Languages at Aberystwyth University offers MPhil and PhD programmes in a wide range of topics. Students undertaking a MPhil or a PhD often spend a considerable part of their research period working from libraries abroad and / or archives, while remaining under supervision from their mentor at Aberystwyth.
Typical Entry Requirements
Entry Requirements 2:1 Bachelors (Honours) degree in a relevant subject area, or equivalent.
English Language Requirements IELTS 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent
Other Requirements Applicants should submit a full research proposal at the point of applicationBack to the top
The main focus of your research degree will be a detailed dissertation, and you will receive regular supervision from specialists within the Department on its planning, creation and writing.
The MPhil normally takes one year of full-time research (two years part-time), after which students complete and submit a dissertation of up to 60,000 words.
The PhD normally takes three years of full-time research (five years part-time), after which students complete and submit a dissertation of 80-100,000 words.
Areas of research include:
- French: historical linguistics; early modern literature and ideas; modern literature; cinema; Anglo-Norman; Romance linguistics; history of travel and travel literature; 20th- and 21st-century French thought, especially existentialism and feminism; (auto-)biography and life-writing; and theoretical approaches to reading.
- German: 20th- and 21st-century German prose; autobiographies and life writing; women’s writing; German-Jewish literature; history and culture; Holocaust texts and translation; German-speaking refugees from National Socialism and especially the Kindertransport; postdramatic theatre and translation; German grammar and language anxiety; new tragic in European theatre and performance.
- Spanish: stylistic comparison of 19th-century Spanish novels; North African comparative colonial literature; cosmopolitanism; geopolitics; landscape; science in Latin American literature and film; gender, identity and nation; cultural legacies of the Falklands/Malvinas conflict; avant-garde; 20th-century Hispanic poetry; women’s cultural practice; and language learning and foreign language anxiety.
Our postgraduates have been researching such topics as:
- Translating René Le Pays's Amitiez, amours, amourettes: rendering travelogues in the language of their destination
- The early 20th-century German women writers Ina Seidel and Vicki Baum
- The translation of audio-visual Holocaust testimony
- Regional Refugee Committee supporting refugees from National Socialism
- Kindertransport autobiographies and fiction
- A comparative analysis of Second Generation Kindertransport in the US and the UK.
The Department at Aberystwyth takes seriously its two major commitments – teaching and research. Knowledge is advancing at a faster rate than most textbooks are, and the Department believes that it is essential that students learn from experts at the forefront of academic research. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014) assessment the university was placed in the top 50 institutions for research power and intensity. It submitted 77% of eligible staff and 95% of the University's research was of an internationally recognised standard.
Research in literature and linguistics by our staff is regularly published in article and book form, often in the countries concerned. Staff are active in organising conferences, both in Aberystwyth and elsewhere, and give papers in the UK and abroad. The Department also enjoys links with other universities and research groups across Europe.
The Department’s main current and recent research projects include:
The Kindertransport 1938/39 to the UK: Critical Approaches
This project analyses the celebratory approach to the Kindertransport in the public discourse and seeks to dispel myths by providing contemporary evidence on as yet underexplored details of the operation that allowed around 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees to enter Britain without a visa between December 1938 and September 1939. The study investigates the effects of this particular way of finding refuge and the traumatic consequences for the birth parents, Kindertransportees and foster parents. It also explores issues of identity and belonging regarding religious affiliation and resettlement in the different countries of the UK through the examination of archival material, memory texts and oral history interviews. Researcher Andrea Hammel has contributed to several radio programmes, exhibitions, and public events in Germany and the UK on the topic.
Exile writers of the 1930s and 40s: Recognising their contribution to Modernism(s)
This project seeks to integrate novels by German-language refugee writers in the study of modernisms and the field of English literature. Many exile writers were successful in Britain in the 1930s and 40s but have since not received sufficient attention by literary scholars. This project seeks to rediscover this part of literary history.
Translating Holocaust Lives
This project was supported by the AHRC and has already resulted in a ground-breaking volume of the same title, co-edited by Andrea Hammel. It looks into the position of translations and translators regarding Holocaust testimony, be it in written or oral form. It is part of the cultural turn in Translation Studies and investigates the position of translators, the translation context and choices and their interrelationship with literary audiences and educational settings.
Monkey Raisins, Monkey Nuts – German Grammar Project
A lot of foreign language anxiety in German has to do with the fact that German grammar is perceived to be very ‘difficult’. This project aims to design and implement easy German grammar learning tools and memory aids for English native speakers. Phase One involves the design of simple study materials, podcasts and online resources (www. easygermangrammar.org). An accompanying Twitter account @monkeyraisins provides easy-to-use memory aids and tips on German grammar. Phase Two will result in a comprehensive and open source Easy German Grammar book. A series of public workshops will conclude the project and provide first-hand experience with easy German Grammar for both Modern Foreign Language students and teachers.
The New Tragic in Contemporary European Theatre and Performance
This project investigates the defining characteristics of a new and contemporary form of tragic aesthetics in theatre and performance. Phase One involved outlining current manifestations of the new tragic and defining a number of its most typical tropes. Phase Two will result in a full-length study including a range of contemporary examples. A series of workshops and conferences will lead to the establishment of a new tragic network. A public-facing website will finally invite the public to contribute to the project through suggesting further contemporary examples.
Anglo-Norman Dictionary Project
This project has been operating through a phased approach since 2003 to revise the Anglo-Norman Dictionary (AND) in stages. Anglo-Norman, the form of French used in medieval Britain from 1066 until the mid-fifteenth century, is a major component of English. It is crucial to historians of English; as an important dialect of medieval French (in which the earliest French literary texts were written), it forms a key element in any account of the history of French vocabulary. The language of a major European power in the Middle Ages, Anglo-Norman was the medium for a vast array of historical, administrative, and legal documentation. The AND (1977-1992) is the only guide to this difficult vocabulary. The project’s ultimate aim is a complete A-Z revision, which will produce an online resource three or four times the size of the first edition. The project will make AND available online with advanced search options, allowing the user to approach the same material from completely different angles. It is now possible to search by modern English translation, text source, semantic field, date etc.
Contemporary Cuban Cinema Seminar and Festival This project aimed at achieving a greater understanding of the link between Cuban film
and society post-1990. These studies develop the link between the development of a revolutionary consciousness across Cuban arts and the attempt to deliver expressions of that consciousness through the medium of film. However, post-1990, when Cuba suffered the worst crisis in its revolutionary history due to the collapse of European communism, many points of ideological reference shifted and therefore new expressions of that shift were developed in Cuban cinema in order to come to terms with the enormous economic and social changes that took place. It was the purpose of this investigation to examine the expressions of these changes to determine to what extent the state integrates such filmic expressions into the social ideology in a continuously evolving process. The seminars enabled scholars from the UK, the USA and Cuba to bring together their ideas on contemporary Cuban film and its link with Cuban society in order to develop a more complete understanding, not only of Contemporary Cuban cinema per se but also of how Cuban society developed its cultural output at times of severe crisis.
Gender. Nation. Text.
This project explored the multifarious manifestations of gender intrinsic to national ideologies, the use of gender in the construction and development of nation states, and the role of political, literary and cinematographic discourses in cultural debates that define national and international borders in postcolonial societies, primarily in Europe and Latin America. One product of this ongoing collaboration was the volume Gender. Nation. Text. Exploring Constructs of Identity (2017) co-edited by Dr Lorraine Kelly (NUIG), Dr Tina-Karen Pusse (NUIG) and Dr Jennifer Wood (Aberystwyth University). Further publications that developed from this project look at constructs of longing and belonging in relation to the Welsh diaspora in Argentina and understandings of identity.
Narrative and Violence in Modern French and Francophone Literature
This research project investigates the relationship between narrative and violence from a variety of angles. It considers representations of violence, its relationship with narrative structure, and readerly responses to violence that are written into narrative texts. The project has also been at the centre of wider interdisciplinary research initiatives, with the support of the British Academy. Researchers in English literature, social psychology, postcolonial studies, gender studies, critical and legal studies, and book history have together explored how narratives of violence shape interpersonal relationships, cultural imaginaries and geopolitics.
Young colonial influencers? The French female student mission in Indochina (1924)
Through archival research, family archives and interviews, Dr Gelléri is uncovering the forgotten history of a group of female students who were sent from France to today’s Vietnam and Cambodia. Their task was to experience the ‘great deeds of colonisation’ and become ‘influencers’ on behalf of the colonial cause upon their return. They resisted this – but they did become important forerunners of exotic tourism.