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PhD in Renaissance Studies

We offer our graduate students a buoyant research culture with researchers of national and international renown. Among the strongest aspects of our programme is the remarkable concentration at Warwick of academics (some forty at present) working in areas related to Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies, across departments such as Classics and Ancient History, English and Comparative Literatures, History, History of Art, Liberal Arts, and the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Students are regularly able to pursue research that combines the expertise and methodology of a number of different fields. (Typically our PhD students are advised by two supervisors based in different departments.) Furthermore, the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance has strong ties with a number of international partners such as the Newberry Library and its consortium, Johns Hopkins University (and its Singleton Center for Premodern Europe), the Warburg Institute, and the Renaissance Centre in Tours. Exchanges of students and researchers from these and other institutions make for a greatly enriching environment for our own students.

Applying: Students may be considered for the doctoral programme if they hold, or are currently studying for, an MA (or international equivalent) in a relevant discipline; they should normally also have a first degree in a relevant subject. Research towards the award of a PhD (up to a maximum of four years full-time and seven years part-time) may be undertaken in any of the disciplinary areas covered by the academic interests of staff teaching for the Centre. Interdisciplinary research is strongly encouraged.

Applications for doctoral study at Warwick are made online through the Doctoral College Office. You can apply at any time of the academic year, although it is sensible to do this as early as possible, particularly if you are seeking sources of funding (see below and the links on the right-hand side of this page). You should include in your application a statement of your research project (details below) and a sample of your recent written work (ideally an essay or dissertation chapter from your MA work). We advise making early contact with our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr Aysu Dincer ( in order to discuss your eligibility, the best supervisors for your intended project, and funding schemes for which you are eligible.

What happens to your application? Applications are evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies and by one other staff member (usually the prospective supervisor[s]). Admission is dependent upon: satisfactory academic qualifications, satisfactory English language competence, the identification of a suitable and feasible research project, and the agreement to supervise by a suitable staff member. You will be notified informally by e-mail from the Centre, and formally by a letter from the Doctoral College Office. Conditions of offer may be attached, such as a pass in an MA which you are currently taking, or a satisfactory TOEFL score (or equivalent), or the completion of a number of weeks pre-sessional English language training.

The Research Project: it is up to applicants to identify an area of possible study which interests them. It should be broadly feasible within the time-span of the PhD and with the research resources available at or near Warwick. Students are advised to compose a statement of around 500-1000 words of their proposed area of study. This should situate a topic within a particular chronological or thematic area, and should make specific references to events, regions, intellectual configurations, cultural practices, texts, artists or authors which will be studied (whichever is most relevant). You should also locate the topic within current historical or critical work in this area, perhaps citing a few recent secondary works which have interested, inspired or provoked you. This is not the place for a personal statement about your past career or future aspirations. We recognise, of course, that all projects change and evolve during the process of doctoral study, and that it is difficult to define a project in advance of carrying it out. However, it is very important, when assessing applications, for us to have a clear idea of your project, not least to enable us to identify possible supervisors.

Resources at Warwick: although Warwick is a relatively new university (founded in 1965), Renaissance Studies was a particular area of interest from the beginning, and the Library has therefore built up a quite substantial suite of resources for its study. In addition to very helpful electronic resources (which include, among others, Project Muse, EEBO, Early European Books, ITER, etc.), the Library holds a good collection of relevant journals, editions, and critical studies, in addition to a few (mostly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century) rare books. The Library has helpful and efficient means of ordering scans of articles not held at Warwick and of getting books through interlibrary loan. Other libraries that are easily reachable from Warwick include the Warburg Institute in London, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the University of Birmingham Library.

Funding your PhD: there are several means of funding your studies at Warwick; these fall roughly into three categories: Warwick funding (particularly the Chancellor's International Scholarships), consortium funding (via the Midlands Four Cities alliance), and third-part funding (including, for instance, the China Scholarships). For more details, see here.

What happens after the PhD? Our graduates have gone on to teaching and research positions at a number of different institutions, in several different countries. For instance, Sara Miglietti is a senior lecturer at the Warburg Institute; Aidan Norrie teaches at University Campus North Lincolnshire; Sophia Li is a professor at the National Sun Yet-sen University in Taiwan; Leila Zammar continues her teaching and research activities in Rome. For other alumni profiles, see here.

Examples of current doctoral research in the CSR include:

  • 'François Hotman : Writing and Making History in Times of Religious Conflict' (Christian Martens)
  • 'Psychophysiology in Pietro Pomponazzi's philosophical thought: the Expositio libelli De sensu et sensato (1524-1525)' Leonardo Graciotti (visiting PhD student, Jan - Sept 2023)
  • 'Edible Saints and Holy Vices: Late Medieval and Renaissance Ecclesiastical Parody' (Daria Akhapkina)
  • 'Renaissance school teaching: Latin language pedagogy and innovation in the shadow of tradition in England, 1540-1640' (Clive Letchford)
  • 'Transalpine Travellers and Friendly Affairs: Alba Amicorum in Early Modern Italy, ca. 1550-1700' (Karin Sprang)
  • 'The Making of Kingship of Richard III in English History and Theatre' Po-Hao Lin (one-year visiting PhD student)
  • 'Crime, Punishment and State Justice in Seventeenth-Century Tuscany' (Wanxin Du)
  • 'Bene constitutae civitatis alumna eloquentia: Neo-Latin letters by women humanists in the Venetian Quattrocento' (Alex Tadel)
  • 'The Christian kingdom of Ethiopia in the travel diary of Francisco Álvares (1520-1526)' (Mathilde Alain)
  • 'Alchemical iconography as mediator of knowledge on the example of European manuscripts of 15h and 16th centuries' (Sergei Zotov)
  • 'Public Festive Rituals in Renaissance Bologna: Space, Senses and Power' (Eva van Kemenade)
  • 'Laughter and Violence in the Italian Renaissance: The physical and emotional abuse of the beffa’ (Sophie Hartles)
  • From Vergil to David: Maffeo Vegio’s ‘Literary conversion.’ A study on the shaping of literary careers by early Renaissance writers (Iván Parga Ornelas)
  • Ars Oblivionalis: A Cultural History of Forgetting in Renaissance Florence (Matthew Topp)

Areas of Research in Previous PhD theses