Hi Dr Faiers; I’m an MA candidate currently working on my thesis on Shakespearean comedy. I would love the prospect of studying at Birmingham someday, so I wanted to ask you what areas of Shakespearean studies the Institute (or your department) is interested more in?

Hi – the Shakespeare Institute covers all areas of study into both Shakespeare and Renaissance drama. The supervisory staff can support you in everything from detailed literary studies of individual plays or themes to performance-led research in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Institute works in partnership with the RSC. A few PhD topics currently being researched are the music of the King’s Men (Shakespeare’s acting company); disguise drama around 1600; the material memory of the stage; and my own research into the commercial infrastructure of professional theatre around 1600. Other candidates are preparing critical editions of non-Shakespearean texts. It’s very varied! I hope you choose to join us.

Hi, Dr. Faiers, I am from India and I am interested in doing a PhD from the University of Birmingham. I am interested in researching the interdisciplinary nature of Shakespearean plays. I would like to know more about the guidelines to take admission in the university?

Hi, thanks for your question. Take a look at which gives details of postgraduate options at the Shakespeare Institute which is part of the University. It’s based in Stratford upon Avon and works very closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Institute is running virtual open days during the current pandemic so look out for one of those. But if you just fill in the form on the website, they will send you more details about admission requirements and policies. Please do think about joining the Shakespeare Institute – it’s a great place to research!
Best wishes

Dear Dr. Faiers, Is the University of Birmingham a prestigious university? I got an offer from it, besides another offer from the University of Exeter and I'm speculating my options. Exeter is a bit higher in ranking, isn't it? Does this mean that Exeter offers a higher quality education and support? Which one do you recommend? I'm planning to come for a full time PhD in English Literature. I'm an international student. Thank you very much indeed.

Hello, thank you very much for your question. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

Our English Literature department is very highly regarded and is one of the top 50 English Literature Departments in the world, so I think I can say it’s prestigious! We can’t speak for Exeter and are a bit biased towards Birmingham but a lot of picking the best university comes down to personal preference.

On the course page ( there is a link to a live Q&A chat with members of staff from the English Literature department. I would advise you sign up to that, and you can ask more questions there.

I hope this helps,
PG Recruitment

Dear Meryl, I hope this message finds you well. I plan to come to the University of Birmingham for a full time PhD in English Literature. I'm turning 44, but my grey hair gives the impression of a much older age! I come from Iraq. However, I have an impression that Europeans, including the English of course, prefer young ages. Youth are more valued. Do you think that this is a real point of concern?! Thank you very much. Stay safe.

Hello, thank you very much for your question. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

I don’t think that would be the case at all! The beauty of postgraduate study is that you can return to it at any age. Please don’t worry that your age will be a disadvantage – not only would it NOT impact your application at all but if you come to campus we have support for mature students in our PGMSA (Postgraduate and Mature Students Association) –

I hope this helps,
PG Recruitment

Hello, I am writing up some research that touches upon the Herculean theme in 'As You Like It' and I am wondering if there was potentially similar in the musical 'Dirty Giant' commissioned by the Belgrade Theatre in 1975. If you can advise and or suggest sources for the second of these I would be most obliged.

Hello – thanks for your question but I’m afraid I really can’t help very much. Bizarrely though, I was working at the Belgrade at the time of Dirty Giant, running the marketing department. Dirty Giant was a pretty miserable experience for me, with tiny audience numbers, and marketing therefore being blamed for lack of sales! The musical was commissioned from John Burrows and John Harding by Ed Thomason, then joint artistic director of the Belgrade. Burrows and Harding used to be represented by Michael Imison Ltd; this agency is now Alan Brodie I believe Concord Theatricals (formerly Samuel French) handle the performance rights to Burrows and Harding’s most famous work, The Golden Pathway Annual: maybe they can help you further. Sorry I cna’t be of more assistance. Best wishes.

Hello Dr Faiers, I am curious about the reception that a non-traditional student might receive? I see that your pathway is non-traditional. I am a physician in my 7th decade (Psychiatrist) who is interested in taking a sabbatical year from my practice for the on campus Shakespeare Studies track. What has been your experience at the Institute? Thank you.

Thank you for getting in touch – and for assuming that I’ve already received my doctorate! I think you’d find The Shakespeare Institute a very welcoming and enjoyable environment with plenty of like minded colleagues, many with extensive professional backgrounds in other fields. There’s a virtual open tomorrow online
so do join that if you can. You’ll find Erin Sullivan very helpful, I’m sure. Good luck, Meryl

Hi Meryl, I am from Iraq and I plan to come to Birmingham to study English Literature by research. My potential supervisor is Dr Rona Cran. Do you know her? What advice can you give me to not only survive but also to thrive? I'm very keen for self development and would like to make the most of my study experience. Many thanks!

thank you for getting in touch. I don’t know Dr Cran personally but I would recommend that you contact her and try and speak to her before your course starts if that is possible. I found it helpful when I first met my PhD supervisor to come up with a clear strategy/timetable early on about how to go about my work and how often to speak to each other. There are a lot of support resources available at the university to, including a postgraduate social group that meets regularly and is really supportive.

I hope that helps,

How have you funded your postgraduate studies?

I am self funded – which is a luxury of my age, I know, but by doing part-time study, there is plenty of time for paid employment as well. If someone is determined to do postgrad study and needs to work as well, it’s really possible although it does require good time management and working longer hours sometimes at both aspects of life. My first year was an enormous diary juggle but it became easier as I got into the writing itself.

What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

I graduated (from Birmingham) in the seventies and always wanted to do postgraduate study just for its own sake but career and family took over. Now I am semi-retired so studying became possible.

Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

I was already a graduate of Birmingham so thought what I wanted to study (comparing the operation and business of 16th century theatre to how I work now) would be appropriate via the Shakespeare Institute. In fact, the SI directed me to History as the SI master’s courses are taught courses and I needed a research degree but after two part time years on the M Res course, I’ve ended up (very happily) back at the Shakespeare Institute for my doctoral research.

What, for you, are the best things about the course?

I started by following an MRes in the History department for two part time years and the enormous flexibility this course gave me allowed me to define my research parameters when I decided to upgrade to a PhD. I’ve enjoyed high quality support from supervisors in both the History department and the Shakespeare Institute. What I’ve really loved has been discovering research with original sources so I’ve now worked with 16th century manuscripts in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington (funded by a business trip to the US with a small top up from a university fund) and the British Library and with artefacts at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Museum of London.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?

Do it! It’s a great department; excellent supervision and support; and you are properly respected for what you bring to your studies – everyone’s contribution enriches the experience for everyone else.