Postcolonial Studies research group

Outdoor cinema on a beach in the Middle East

Major research projects in Postcolonial Studies at Manchester include Contemporary Arab Cinema, a British Academy-funded project involved in the mapping, critique, and analysis of contemporary Arab film (particularly from Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine).

This project continues to expand the profile of Arab cinema in the UK, hosting screenings, question-and-answer sessions, lectures, conferences, workshops, and postgraduate masterclasses.   


The University of Manchester maintains a strong track record of internationally recognised scholarship in Postcolonial Studies. Particular strengths include Arab women writers and Arab cinema; postcolonial theory; popular culture of the middle east; the literatures and cultures of modern Ireland; modernism and empire.

Books published or edited by researchers in postcolonial studies include:

  • Cosmopolitan Criticism and Postcolonial Literature
  • Contemporary Arab Women Writers: Cultural Expression in Context
  • Literature, Migration and the War on Terror
  • Modernism and Empire
  • The Cambridge Companion to Rudyard Kipling
  • Arab Cultural Studies
  • The Literature of the Irish in Britain
  • Drawing Conclusions: A History of Anglo-Irish Relations
  • Ireland since 1690: A concise history
  • Ireland Beyond Boundaries: Mapping Irish Studies in the Twenty-First Century
  • Modern Irish Autobiography: Self, Nation and Society
  • Ireland: Space, Text, Time
  • Contemporary Irish Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories
  • Postcolonial Locations: New Issues and Directions in Postcolonial Studies
  • Multispecies Modernity: Disorderly Life in Postcolonial Literature
  • Changing Public Perception and Creative Practice Around the Migrant Experience in Britain
  • Journal of Postcolonial Writing

Postgraduate study


The MA Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures at Manchester is among the most comprehensive and wide-ranging of its kind in the UK. Among its particular strengths are the opportunity to study colonial, African-American and Irish writing alongside other postcolonial options; a multi-media focus that enables students to examine literature, culture, historical contexts, and film; an interdisciplinary approach that allows students to take courses in other disciplines; a focus on cutting-edge theoretical and conceptual work (including work that questions the utility of the term 'post-colonial'.

  • MA Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures at Manchester

Past and present modules on the Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures MA include:

  • Postcolonial Cultures
  • Gender, Identity and Community
  • England, Identity and Writing
  • The Empire and After, 1918-1990
  • Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory
  • The Irish and Scottish Migrant Imagination
  • Art and Ethnography
  • Gender and Postcolonial Theory
  • Colonial Modernity and the Public Sphere
  • South Asian and/or Middle Eastern Art and Architecture
  • British Colonialism and its Legacy in Burma
  • Is America Postcolonial?

Prospective students should note that not all modules are available in all years. 

Postgraduate research

We welcome applications from research students interested in working in the following areas:

  • Modernism and empire
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Popular Culture of the Middle East, including cinema and music and television
  • Arab Women Writers
  • Feminism in the Arab World
  • Contemporary Japanese Women Writers
  • Gender and Postcolonial Theory
  • Irish literature, including the diaspora
  • South Asian writers
  • Colonial cities
  • Postcolonial middle ages
  • Australian Writing

If you are interested in pursuing a master's course or PhD research in colonial/postcolonial studies, please contact Anastasia Valassopoulos:


To find out more about the research interests and specialisms of our academic staff, visit their profiles:


The University of Manchester Library has excellent holdings in postcolonial studies, including key critical and theoretical works and numerous specialist journals. Both the main library and the Lenegan Library in the Martin Harris Centre maintain a good selection of world cinema and South Asian films. At the John Rylands Library Deansgate, holdings of particular interest to Postcolonial studies include the Carcanet Press Archive. Here you can find bookfiles and correspondence related to the poetry of, among others, Chinua Achebe, Sujata Bhatt, Mahmoud Darwish, Lorna Goodison, Les Murray, Vikram Seth, Orhan Pamuk, Octavio Paz, Jose Saramago and Ghan Singh.

Resources for archival research in postcolonial studies include:

  • East India Company Papers;
  • India Empire Collection;
  • First editions of Darwin's Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle (1839), The Zoology of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle (1839-43) and On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859-66), all in original cloth;
  • Persian Manuscripts between the early 13th century AD and the 19th, and the subject range is wide, including: volumes on the history of India, the Mogul Empire and Indian local history; and works on law, philosophy, medicine, natural history, geography, cosmography, occult science, astronomy and astrology. There are numerous calligraphic and lavishly illustrated texts and decorated bindings;
  • The collection of Japanese books and manuscripts, assembled by the 25th Earl of Crawford in the 1860s and '70s. Many of the books derived from the collections of some of the most famous japanologists of the 19th century, and a few can be traced back to the collection of Isaac Titsingh, who lived in Japan in the 18th century and who is considered by many to be the founder of modern japanology. The archive includes works on history, biography, poetry, drama, anthropology and topography, with dictionaries, directories of samurai, encyclopaedias and maps, in Japanese, Dutch and English. Among them are four volumes of annotated drawings of plants and insects;
  • Military Papers of Major General Eric Edward Dorman : Date range: 1926-1969. The archive contains correspondence relating to the war in the Western Desert, 1940-1942, and to various works published after the war concerning the Desert Campaigns and other aspects of the Second World War; notably on the Arab-Israeli conflict;
  • Thomas Munro Papers Date range: 1765-1883. Papers of Sir Thomas Munro (1761-1827), who held various posts in the colonial administration of India, served as brigadier-general during the third Maratha War (1817-18) and was appointed Governor of Madras in 1819. The collection includes 19 autograph letters by Munro, printed documents related to Indian affairs of the time, several memoranda, copy letters and extracts, and an autograph note by Lord Roberts concerning Sullivan's son. Munro's letters give detailed accounts of the problems of administration and revenue collection in India and display an intimate knowledge of the country, but they also include detailed descriptions of Munro's military activities in the third Maratha War. The majority of items are dated between 1814 and 1826.


Manchester has hosted a number of conferences and workshops on the Postcolonial research field, including:

  • a 2008 symposium on Postcolonialism and Ecocriticism;
  • a 2013 workshop on ethnographic film;
  • several events exploring the intersections between modernism and postcolonialism;
  • a 2019 Postcolonial Studies Association Conference.  

The department also hosts a Postcolonial Studies Reading Group which meets once a month during term-time to discuss key texts in postcolonial theory, criticism, and literature. 

Visit our events section to find out more about upcoming and past events.