ESSE Doctoral Symposium

As of 2017 an ESSE Doctoral Symposium will be organized every year. In even years, the Symposium forms part of the biennial ESSE Conference; in odd years, it is attached to the annual ESSE Board Meeting. Doctoral Symposia are currently planned for Thessaloniki, Greece on 28-29 August 2017, Brno, Czech Republic in 2018, Wrocław, Poland in 2019 and Lyon, France in 2020. The Symposium gives more concrete and recognizable form to the biennial ESSE Doctoral Sessions that were organized during the ESSE Conferences in Istanbul, Turkey (2012), Košice, Slovakia (2014) and Galway, Ireland (2016).

The Symposium is designed to provide a platform for PhD students who are writing their theses in English Studies and are at least in the second year of their doctoral studies at the time of the Symposium in question. Participants have the opportunity to make a brief presentation of their work in progress in one of three areas, known as strands: English Language & Linguistics, Literatures in English, and Cultural & Area Studies. The purpose of each presentation is to set out the issues addressed or the hypotheses tested in the doctoral research, the results so far obtained, and above all the methodology applied, with the aim of gaining feedback from highly reputed scholars in the field and from peers. Each presentation lasts 15 minutes, followed by 15 minutes’ discussion. Participants attend all the presentations in their own strand and take active part in the discussions. During the Symposium there are extensive opportunities for informal contact with other participants and with the academics present.

Each strand of the Symposium is coordinated by two experts (known as Convenors). Their tasks are, in advance of the Symposium, to make a selection from the applications received and, during the Symposium, to respond to the presentations and to chair the ensuing discussions. The Convenors are highly experienced and knowledgeable research leaders whose opinions will be of the greatest value to the participating PhD students. The identity of the Convenors for each year’s Doctoral Symposium is announced well before that year’s deadline for applications.

Applications to participate

To participate in a Doctoral Symposium, a PhD student must submit an application by the end of February of the respective year (full details will be advertised in good time by the host institution). That application must (a) indicate which strand the candidate wishes to be placed in, (b) briefly summarize the candidate’s PhD project and (c) include a letter from the candidate’s PhD supervisor giving the (working) title of the dissertation and confirming that the student is working under his/her supervision and has completed at least his/her first year of PhD studies.


Candidates must be members of a National Association affiliated to  ESSE, or else their supervisor must be such a member. In countries where  departments rather than individuals are members, the department in  which the PhD work is being carried out must be a member of the National  Association.

Financial support

Candidates whose application has been approved may apply for financial support, to a maximum of €500. Eligible expenses are airfares, ground transportation costs and accommodation. Full details will be announced by the host institution.

Other activities

In even years, participants in the Doctoral Symposium should also register for the ESSE Conference and may take part in all the events (seminars, panels, etc.) that make up the programme of that Conference. In odd years, a programme of additional activities is put together for the participants in the Doctoral Symposium.

General enquiries

General enquiries about the ESSE Doctoral Symposium should be addressed to the Coordinator, Professor J. Lachlan Mackenzie (VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands) at

Link to information about the 2017 Doctoral Symposium: