An announcement from the University of Reading

Mary Bryden Studentship (PhD) in Samuel Beckett Studies, for entry September 2019.

We are delighted to announce the Mary Bryden Studentship in Beckett Studies at the University of Reading. Supported by an endowment from our colleague Professor Mary Bryden’s Estate, the Ph. D. studentship offers an annual subsistence stipend of £10,000 for 3 years full-time study, or part-time equivalent. The scholarship will also cover full UK/EU tutorial fees, or will make a contribution to overseas fees.

Current fees for UK and EU students studying full-time are £4,260 per year, fixed for three years, or £2,130 part-time. Further information on fees can be found on the Graduate Studies website.

The studentship is open to highly qualified applicants proposing to study any aspect of Samuel Beckett’s work towards a Ph.D. at the University of Reading. The successful candidate will be based at the Samuel Beckett Research Centre at the University. Further details are provided below.

The closing date for applications to the Studentship is 24 April 2019. You should apply via the online portal of the University of Reading and indicate that the funding will be provided by the studentship.

Professor Mary Bryden died in 2015; she was a loved and respected colleague in French Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies, of which she was a sometime Head. Mary’s research specialities lay chiefly in the sphere of twentieth-century French literature, philosophy, and culture, and she worked intensively on Samuel Beckett, Gilles Deleuze, Hélène Cixous, T. E. Lawrence and Thomas Merton. Her books include Women in Samuel Beckett’s Prose and DramaSamuel Beckett and the Idea of God, Beckett’s Proust/Deleuze’s Proust (jointly with M. Topping), and a number of edited books, such as Samuel Beckett and Music, and Beckett and Animals.

The University of Reading leads the world in research resources for the study of Samuel Beckett. In addition to the renowned Beckett archives held in Special Collections, experts working at Reading include Dr Conor Carville, Professor Steven Matthews and Dr Mark Nixon in English, and Professors Jonathan Bignell and Anna McMullan in Film, Theatre and Television. You can find their staff pages on the relevant department website.

For further information about the Mary Bryden Studentship, please contact Professor Steven Matthews on

The Samuel Beckett Research Centre


The University of Reading holds the Samuel Beckett collection; the world’s largest collection of resources relating to the work of one of the twentieth century’s most significant writers. Highlights of this collection include the Knowlson Collection, the Billie Whitelaw Collection, and the six manuscript notebooks of Beckett’s first major novel Murphy.

The University is also home to the Samuel Beckett Research Centre, an interdisciplinary hub for the advancement of scholarly and creative engagement with the works of Samuel Beckett, an engagement partly drawing on these archives of Beckett materials held in the University of Reading’s Special Collections.

The Samuel Beckett Research Centre is an active community of scholars and writers from a range of disciplines across the University and beyond, undertaking internationally acclaimed research, and producing new creative work, on Beckett. The Centre staff and adjuncts come from all career levels, including post-doctoral and doctoral researchers, and Masters students, as well as creative and research associates from both within and outside of the University. Our support for PhDs in Beckett Studies draws on decades of expertise and engagement.

The Mary Bryden Samuel Beckett Studentship

The long-term vision for the Mary Bryden Samuel Beckett Studentship is to nurture and support the next generation of Beckett Scholars who will, in perpetuity, promote interdisciplinary research on Beckett and promote his relevance to global issues, from issues such as mental health to “post-truth” politics.

Studying for a PhD in Beckett at the University of Reading

Lisa Dwan to perform Not I in Reading

The University of Reading has an established track record of supervising graduate work in Beckett studies. PhD students in the Samuel Beckett Research Centre benefit from and contribute to a strong and established culture, and join a large and vibrant community, which spans research and researchers from English Literature, Film, Theatre and Television, Modern Languages, Philosophy, and Applied Arts.

In addition to our experienced academic staff, our PhD students work alongside a thriving group of postdoctoral researchers who recently completed their PhDs and can advise students as they pursue their own research. PhD students are supervised by world-renowned researchers, many of whom have extensive experience of working or living overseas. Students also have many opportunities to interact with, and to learn from, international academics and students, through academic study, seminars and conferences, and social events.

All PhD students at Reading are encouraged to undertake the qualification courses to teach in Higher Education, and are offered paid teaching work during their registration period.

Conferences: We ensure there are plenty of opportunities for our PhD students to communicate their work and network with other researchers, present seminars, speak at Reading-hosted Beckett conferences and workshops, and visit or host researchers from other institutions. Students attend research seminars hosted by the Centre, often featuring internationally renowned speakers. These collaborative exercises allow ideas to flow and spread through the international Beckett community quickly and effectively.

Archival Work: We encourage all of our research students to undertake a certain amount of archival work during the period of their studentship. As part of the aim of the Mary Bryden Samuel Beckett Studentship, we would like the recipient to work in the Beckett archives at Special Collections, in order to increase their own skills and experience, and to enable the production of unique and original research in the final thesis.

It will be a requirement that the holder of the Mary Bryden Studentship take an active leadership role (up to 6 hours per week) in regard to the Beckett Collection at Special Collections, University of Reading. This role might involve (but is not restricted to) hosting visiting scholars; introducing visitors to the archive; and/or the opportunity to lead workshops and public exhibitions. Full mentorship will be provided for this aspect of the Studentship requirement.

The Graduate School: All our PhD students automatically become members of the University-wide Graduate School. The Graduate School provides training, professional development, study space, advice and administrative support in a dedicated building for the postgraduate research community at Reading.

Split Between Research and Commitment at Archive

While the leadership role through presence at our archive of Beckett materials is important work, it is vital that this not detract from the award recipient’s own studies. Therefore we propose the following criteria:

  • The total demand on their time does not exceed 180 hours in any one year
  • The total demand on their time does not exceed 6 hours in any week
  • The work is compatible with their programme of doctoral study
  • Their supervisor approves each aspect of the commitment

Make up of Studentship Appointments Panel

To ensure that the most appropriate student is chosen interviews will be conducted by a 3-person panel:

  • The Director of the Beckett Research Centre
  • The Head of School of Literature and Languages
  • A representative of the Beckett International Foundation
Posted by:Rhys Tranter

Rhys Tranter is a writer based in Cardiff, Wales, UK. He is the author of Beckett's Late Stage (2018), and his work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, and a number of books and periodicals. He holds a BA, MA, and a PhD in English Literature. His website is a personal journal offering commentary and analysis across literature, film, music, and the arts.

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