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Research at the University of London

Research at the University of London is highly collaborative, carried out in partnership with its colleges, with national subject communities in the humanities and law and in combination with external partners in London’s knowledge quarter.

The University occupies a unique position in the UK’s research landscape through the exceptional research collections of its libraries, through its School of Advanced Study, which serves as a national centre for the promotion and facilitation of research in the humanities, and through the wide communities of scholars across the world who take part in delivering the international online programmes.

Research challenges

The challenges we face as a modern society are complex; and the solutions to them will be equally complex, in need of the kinds of explanation the humanities and social sciences can provide. The University of London continues to be ground-breaking. As early as 1921, the Institute of Historical Research was formed as a laboratory of ideas in the study of history, and today the Institute of Philosophy’s Centre for the Study of the Senses pioneers significant lab-based collaborations between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists.

Our research concentrates on the human dimensions to societal challenges. To confront climate change, global mobility, social injustice, human rights, poverty, we will need to understand the human world and to appreciate the critical importance of cultures, languages and identities to the contemporary world. This is at the heart of our research.

Humanities Research

The School of Advanced Study with its eight research institutes has a unique role in developing collaborative, innovative and distinctive research in the humanities, and in equipping researchers to navigate and contribute to UK’s research and innovation landscape. Through our institutes and our specialist hubs for digital humanities and public engagement, we train the next generation of humanities researchers, devise innovative methods for new discoveries, connect humanities researchers and practitioners across disciplines and sectors, and provide unique humanities research infrastructure to create new knowledge and new formats for collaboration. Working with funders and other research and innovation organisation, the School helps to create the infrastructure that will support a diversity of researchers at all career stages to make the most of opportunities to work across disciplines sectors and cultures.

We are home to four specialist research libraries (in Classics, Law, History and at the Warburg Institute), and our main Senate House Library is home to 50 special collections and 1800 archival collections, each drivers and facilitators of research for over 100 years.

Research institutes

The School of Advanced Study unites eight internationally renowned institutes in the humanities at the centre of the University of London.

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

IALS a national resource for legal researchers supporting and facilitating research students at universities across the UK and in the University of London.

Institute of Classical Studies fresco of roman women

Institute of Classical Studies

The national centre for the promotion and facilitation of research in Classics and related disciplines throughout the UK and abroad.

Commonwealth flags

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

The ICWS is the only postgraduate academic institution in the United Kingdom devoted to the study of the Commonwealth.

Books

Institute of English Studies

The Institute of English Studies (IES), is an internationally renowned research centre specialising in the history of the book, manuscript and print studies, textual scholarship, digital editing and new critical approaches to literary history.

PhD in History

Institute of Historical Research

The Institute of Historical Research is the UK's national centre for history, dedicated to supporting historians of all kinds.

MRes in Modern Languages

The Institute of Modern Languages Research

The Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) supports, promotes and facilitates research in Modern Languages (primarily French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese).

Postgraduate student reading philosophy

Institute of Philosophy

The Institute's aim is to promote and facilitate high quality research in philosophy, making it available to the widest possible audience both inside and outside the UK's academic community.

PhD study in Art History

The Warburg Institute

The Warburg Institute is one of the world’s leading centres for studying the interaction of ideas, images and society. It is dedicated to the survival and transmission of culture across time and space, with a special emphasis on the afterlife of antiquity.

Other areas of research

We are home to ground-breaking research initiatives at the forefront of discoveries in these areas: our London Research and Policy Partnership (LRaPP) brings researchers across the Federation together to work with City Hall on London’s recovery agenda; our Refugee Law initiative is the only academic centre in the UK to concentrate specifically on international refugee law and has its own clinic providing pro bono legal advice for refugee clients; and our Digital Humanities Hub, at the heart of transformative projects, the latest being the ‘Congruence Engine’ that brings Britain’s industrial heritage alive using the power of AI, one of the five projects awarded under the AHRC’s £14.5m scheme, Towards a National Collection.

Engaging the public in the latest developments in research is important to discoveries for the future that recognise the importance of the humanities and are align with society’s values. The University is committed to working with wider society to make sure people feel confident to engage with and contribute to research and innovation. As part of that drive, we are home to the UK’s only national Festival of Humanities Research, the Being Human Festival, currently operating in 51 British towns and cities but increasingly being adopted as an international model.   

Research knows no geographic boundaries, and the research conducted at our Institute in Paris continues to provide an important link to researchers across Europe who collaborate on shared challenges, such as urban experience and the 21st century city, while our unique expertise in online, distance and transnational education in 200 counties provides exceptional insight into pedagogic techniques in the digital world, including in our Centre for Online and Distance Education.

BA in International Politics with French Studies

University of London in Paris (ULIP)

ULIP specialises in humanities-led work in fields ranging from Urban Studies, to Colonial and Postcolonial History and Culture, Contemporary Visual Culture, Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, International Politics, with particular interest in areas relating to climate policy, critical race and gender studies and migration studies.

The Institute is a small inter-disciplinary centre where you will be able to undertake doctoral research towards a University of London degree while benefitting from the outstanding resources of Paris and beyond.

Person in Red Pants Sitting on Couch Using Macbook

Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE)

The Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE) is a University of London initiative to support research and innovation in flexible distance teaching, learning and assessment.

CODE supports a community of practice, promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing and provide a focus for the development of high quality teaching and research in open and distance learning throughout the University of London.

A student researching in Senate House library

London Research & Policy Partnership

The LondonRaPP is a new partnership aimed at promoting greater joint working between London government and London’s academic research community.

The partnership finds its context in broader movements to foster closer relations between universities on the one hand and local communities, cities and regions on the one hand – the ‘civic universities agenda’ – and to encourage universities to help use their expertise and organisational resources to address pressing public policy challenges.