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Postgraduate Study

The Spanish and Portuguese Section offers undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan. It is unique in its commitment to exploring the trans-historical and cross-cultural interrelations between all these language areas and their corresponding cultural formations. The research interests of its academic staff thus span a wide range of areas including Medieval and Golden Age Spanish cultures and their consolidation in dialogue with the diverse cultures and faith systems of Africa and the "New World"; the literature, art and cinema of Portugal, Brazil and Lusophone Africa; the literature of modern Spain and its relationship with the Enlightenment, colonialism, and modernity; the cinema of the Ibero-American world from early silent film through to its avant-garde, indigenous, popular and transnational dimensions today; and the culture of Catalonia from its rebirth in the Renaixença, through its resistance to Franquismo in literature and film, to its vibrant contemporary artistic, architectural and cinematographic expressions.

The Section also has one of the largest contingents of Latin American specialists in the United Kingdom, whose interests span the poetry and chronicles of the colonial period; the formation of national cultures in post-Independence Spanish America and Brazil; the experimental literatures of the Spanish American "Boom"; and the literature, cinema, and visual art produced in the interlocking contexts of post-dictatorship, mass urbanisation, narcotráfico and neo-liberal globalisation. The intellectual vitality of the Section is further evidenced by a dynamic research culture of public lectures, section seminars, postgraduate workshops and conferences, all of which add to a close-knit system of postgraduate supervision and mentoring that encourages both individual and collective endeavour within the section.

In British universities, the PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy) is traditionally awarded solely on the basis of a thesis, a substantial piece of writing which reports original research into a closely defined area of enquiry. The completion of the PhD thesis is generally expected to take three to four years, and most funding is based on this assumption. It's also possible to take a part-time route through research degrees, and the expected timeframe would be five to seven years. During your research, you will have the opportunity to work closely with a supervisor who is a specialist in your research area.  In addition to your supervisor, you will normally also be able to draw on the help and support of other members of the Section with expertise in your field of study.

In addition to the specialist supervising provided by the Section, the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics runs a programme of professional training for the benefit of all research students. The programme includes seminars and workshops on library resources, giving conference papers, publishing, applications and interviews, and teaching skills. The School of Arts and Humanities runs a central programme covering a range of skills relevant to doctoral students. Doctoral students may also be offered opportunities to do small-group teaching for the undergraduate colleges and, in some cases, language teaching for the Faculty.  

The Spanish and Portuguese Section and the Centre of Latin American Studies are pleased to share details of a  Consortium in Latin American Cultural Studies for PhD students. This new flexible arrangement will foster a greater exchange of ideas between students and scholars in the Section and the Centre and provide more opportunities for them to access relevant training, funding and other resources. Please visit the Latin American Cultural Studies Consortium page on the Department of Spanish and Portuguese website for further information.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, candidates will have acquired excellent skills, experience and knowledge to undertake postdoctoral work (research and teaching) or another related profession.


For Cambridge students applying to continue from the MPhil by Advanced Study to PhD, the minimum academic requirement is an overall distinction in the MPhil.

For Cambridge students applying to continue from the MPhil by Thesis to PhD, the usual academic requirement is a pass in the MPhil.

All applications are judged on their own merits and students must demonstrate their suitability to undertake doctoral level research.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.


This course is advertised in the following departments:

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Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Study Mode : Research

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Spanish and Portuguese This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
Oct. 4, 2023
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Lent 2025

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Oct. 2, 2024
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2025

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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