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Research degrees
Research areas
English and creative writing
History of books and reading

History of books and reading

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
October January
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
Application period

The History of Books and Reading (HOBAR) Research Collaboration, based in English & Creative Writing has made major contributions to the subject internationally. Members have produced numerous publications in the history of the book, including works on authorship studies, printing, publishing, bibliography, textual editing, and above all, the history of reading.

The group’s research interests range widely, from early modern manuscript culture to 21st century digital reading, and from publishing studies, to the postcolonial histories of the book. The HOBAR collaboration includes a number of externally funded projects, including the UK Reading Experience Database, 1450–1945 (UK-RED) which has produced a digitised database recording the reading experiences of British subjects from 1450–1945, with over 34,000 entries. Most recently, members have been involved in the largescale pan-European consortium project, Reading Europe Advanced Data Investigation Tool (READ-IT), which is developing digital tools to help us uncover the hidden histories of reading.

We welcome applications in areas that correspond with current staff research interests. We look for detailed and well thought-out proposals, which set out specific research questions and outline the originality of your topic or approach.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English

Current/recent research projects

Recently completed PhD projects:

  • Popular genre fiction in Indian writing in English: recent trends in the Indian literary marketplace 
  • James Lackington: reading and the art of self-advancement
  • Conrad’s reading

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,500 per year Full time: £11,426 per year
Part time: £2,250 per year Part time: £5,715 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, and to see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, visit Fees and studentships.


Old book open on a table

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Molly Ziegler
Email: FASS-EnglishCreativeWriting
Phone: +44 (0)1908 652092

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.