Latin American Studies PhD

Major code: LARR


We are one of the longest established and most broadly-based centres for the study of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies in the UK. Research at Liverpool is characterised by wide-ranging interests in the national and global dimensions of Latin American Studies, with a particular emphasis on social science, historical and cultural studies research. Liverpool hosted the annual conference of the Society for Latin American Studies in April 2016 and is home to both the Bulletin of Latin American Research and the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies. In 2017-18, Liverpool hosts Postgraduates in Latin American Studies (PILAS), including workshops and the PILAS annual conference organised by team of postgraduate students from Liverpool and Manchester.

Within the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures we have consolidated research interests in digital culture, migration, slavery and forced labour, heritage, gender, film, environmental politics and climate change, history, and literature, enhancing the research environment by providing institutional support to colleagues and postgraduates with related and overlapping interests. 

Funding and Research Environment

Our research students benefit from interdisciplinary and cross-institutional supervision tailored to their research interests. Latin American Studies at Liverpool is part of the Language-Based Area Studies pathway of the ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre, which also involves the University of Manchester and Lancaster University. Our students can therefore access the resources, facilities, modules and expertise of three top UK universities. ESRC funding is available for 1+3 (MA and PhD) and +3 (PhD) research for projects with a social science focus in Latin American Studies. Prospective applicants with a humanities focus can apply through the modern languages pathway of the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership.

A regional research centre, North West Americas Studies Network (NWASN), fosters a robust research environment based on expertise in the Department. This Liverpool-based multidisciplinary network brings together experts in Latin American and North American studies to support research in the field, exchange ideas, and to provide opportunities for collaborations amongst the members. 

Subject Overview

Latin American Studies research in Liverpool focuses on societies, cultures and politics of the region drawing on social sciences, digital humanities, film studies and literature. Our research is characterised by interdisciplinary breadth and we offer supervision combining cultural studies with social science approaches. We are particularly interested to hear from potential doctoral students working in the areas of historical memory debates, memorialisation, the politics of memory, and social justice. We also offer supervision in the following areas: digital culture, migration, human rights, slavery and forced labour, heritage, gender politics, electoral behaviour, film studies, environmental politics and climate change, history, and literature.

Recent research topics undertaken by postgraduates include:

  • Socio-environmental conflicts and renewable energy in Ecuador
  • Maternal health and childbirth practices in Guatemala
  • Youth mobilization and empowerment in El Salvador
  • Transitional justice in Guatemala
  • Citizenship in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas

 Examples of recent PhD thesis topics include:

  • Natural resource extraction and rural resistance in Peru
  • Sexual politics and social movements in Brazil
  • Indigenous movements in Bolivia
  • Participatory democracy in Venezuela
  • Local content and online practices in a Brazilian favela
  • Gender, sport and development in Nicaragua

 Research students are trained in research methods prior to field work.

Key Facts

REF 2014
72% of our publications were rated 4* and 3* (world leading and internationally excellent), which ranks Liverpool Modern Languages and Cultures as 14/57 in the sector. 90% of environment was also rated 4* and 3*.

Why Department of Modern Languages and Cultures?

Close-knit community

We are a small but growing department and have developed very distinctive areas of strength in research. As a result we are uniquely placed to offer taught programmes which are tailored to the individual in a friendly, supportive atmosphere and, for research students, close contact with your supervisors from the outset.

Interdisciplinary activity

The department of Modern Languages and Cultures comprises academic staff working across a wide range of language-based studies covering literature, new media, film, history, politics, culture and sociolinguistics. The Department is an active participant in the School’s inter-disciplinary research centres, including the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Eighteenth-Century Worlds research centre. Since 2010, we have been part of the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures, one of four Schools in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.