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Visiting Scholars

Policy and Procedure

1.  Introduction

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures welcomes applications from academics and practitioners to its Visiting Scholars Programme. The School is widely-acknowledged to be one of the leading Schools of Modern Languages and Cultures in the UK. The School’s reach spans Europe, the Arab world, Russophone Eurasia, Hispanic America and the Far East, and their mutual socio-cultural, intellectual and linguistic relations. The School federates expertise to generate innovative research practices and activities that cross historical, geographical and methodological boundaries. The School’s research focuses on the transnational study of literatures, cultures and histories. Translation – understood in its broad sense of transmission, interpretation and sharing of languages, ideas and histories – underpins the School’s collective practices. It has particular research strengths in the following areas: medieval and early modern studies, visual arts and culture and the relationship between the sciences and the humanities. Emergent areas of research are developed in the School’s collaborative research groups.

Visitors will have the opportunity to be involved in some of the activities within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and are encouraged to contribute to the School's research environment. Amongst the benefits, the visitor will be entitled to make use of the University's research facilities and libraries, in addition to attending seminars, lectures and other academic gatherings ordinarily closed to the general public.

2.  Visitor Programme Objectives

We would like the Academic Visitor Programme to contribute positively to the overall research and learning environment of the School. The aims of the Visitor Programme are to:

  • Offer external academics the opportunity to carry out research with a view to publishing their work;
  • Enhance the research community in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures through the active participation of visiting scholars in academic life at Durham, for example through the delivery of guest lectures or through their participation in research projects and centres;
  • Further develop and promote external research links with other universities, institutions and practitioners in the United Kingdom and overseas;
  • Provide staff and research students in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures with the opportunity to work with and learn from academics from outside Durham.

3.  Provision of Resources

The academic visitor will receive:

  • A University Card;
  • The sponsorship of a member of staff in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, who will meet with the visitor and provide guidance and advice when they arrive in Durham. It should be noted that it is up to the individual visitor to arrange this initial meeting with their sponsor;
  • Full access to the Durham University Library and all other University Library Services;
  • Access to electronic holdings, databases and journals;
  • Permission to attend lectures and seminars run by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (by arrangement);
  • Permission to join in the activities of the various discussion groups that are active during term time (by arrangement);
  • The visitor will receive the School’s weekly e-newsletter, so they are notified of any events that may be of interest or relevance;
  • The visitor is also welcome to attend other talks, lectures and events as appropriate;
  • Visiting scholars may identify themselves as 'Visiting Scholar, School of Modern Languages and Cultures' during their period at the School. Prospective visitors who wish to identify as Visiting Professors at Durham should consult the University's webpages on the conferment of honorary or visiting titles.

Unfortunately, the School of Modern Languages and Cultures is unable to offer office space to Visitors. However, Durham University does have good library provision with over 1,200 study spaces in the Bill Bryson Library and additional study spaces in our outstanding special collections centre at Palace Green Library, located in the World Heritage Centre. Durham University also provides wireless access points throughout the centre of Durham, to which visitors will have access. Academic visitors are therefore welcome to bring their own laptops with them, but must be aware that all laptops must have suitable and regularly updated anti-virus software, and must have up-to-date critical updates for Windows. Macintosh computers are also supported by the University’s IT department. An induction to using the libraries can be arranged by prior arrangement. Guidelines are also available.

4.  Visitor Contribution

Depending on the length of their visit and the nature of their research, visitors are expected to contribute actively to academic life in the School, in particular through participating in research seminars relevant to their research. The following is a list of other ways in which a visitor can make this contribution:

  • Invite or organise a reciprocal visit to your own institution for a member/members of the School or graduate students;
  • Participate in the organisation of an event (seminar, workshop, conference) within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures;
  • Contribute to teaching through the provision of a special seminar, specified modules or similar activity (by arrangement with the Module Leader of that module or seminar);
  • Participate actively in one of the research groups (by arrangement with the Convener of that research cluster).

5.  Duration

Visiting Scholars may be based at Durham for a period from a week to a year. We give preference to applications for visits of up to three months, though we will consider applications for longer stays in order to allow Scholars to engage in research with academics working in related fields. Applicants are strongly encouraged to plan their stay to cover at least part of an academic term, in order to maximise their exposure to the research community at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Members of the School may be less available outside of term-time.

6.  Sponsorship

Although the academic visitor will be independent and responsible for his or her own research activities and work agenda whilst in Durham, the School of Modern Languages and Cultures considers it a priority that visiting scholars be welcomed into our research community and be integrated as much as practicable in the work of the School. The expectation that visiting scholars contribute actively to the research environment at Durham is met through the provision of a sponsor.

Prospective visiting scholars must identify a possible sponsor and contact them prior to submitting an online application to be a visiting scholar in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Once that sponsor has been identified, applicants should ask the sponsor for a brief statement of support (no more than one A4 page or about 250 words). The sponsor should indicate clearly that they are familiar with the applicant's work and support the application, and that they undertake to act as the applicant's sponsor during their research stay. Sponsors should also indicate how they might promote the active participation of the visiting scholar at Durham and email this information to

It is up to the applicant to identify a prospective sponsor and to contact that person, to request a statement of support. No application will be considered without a statement of support from a member of staff in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures indicating their willingness to support the application. Upon arrival at Durham, the visiting scholar's sponsor will introduce the scholar to other members of the research community at Durham who work in similar areas of research, will invite visiting scholars to any research clusters or other events being organised by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, and will otherwise be available to provide some assistance to visiting scholars. The sponsor should also facilitate the visiting scholar's active contribution to research in the School (see Section 4, 'Visitor's Contribution', above). It may come to pass that a sponsor may not be present for the duration of a scholar's research stay. In such situations, the sponsor and the academic visitor will be responsible for approaching and identifying a second academic sponsor who might continue to provide support in their absence.

7.  Financing

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures does not provide a salary or other payments to visitors. Visitors should apply for research funding schemes through their own home institution or equivalent. The academic visitor will be responsible for their own travel, accommodation and maintenance costs. Scholars are responsible for ensuring that they have the correct travel documentation, including visas.

8.  Visas and Work Permits

The School of Modern Languages can supply an official letter confirming acceptance as an Academic Visitor that can be used to support any application that made, but unfortunately the School cannot assist the applicant with an application for a visa or work permit for the purpose of the visit.

9.  Reporting

Visitors will be asked to provide the School of Modern Languages and Cultures with a short biography and a statement of what they intend to do during their visit prior to their arrival. This information will then be posted on the School's website. This information can be amended upon request. At the end of their stay, visitors will be asked to provide a short report to be attached to their web profile, providing a brief account of any research or other activities undertaken and how they have contributed to the School during their stay. In addition, the School requests that any visitor who uses their visit for research purposes, and subsequently publishes material arising from this research, send the School a copy or off-print of any book, article or any other publication which results.

10.  Application Procedure

Applications will be accepted at any point during the year and will not be restricted to University term time. The following documents will be required in the application:

  1. A completed the online Visiting Scholars Application form;
  2. A curriculum vitae, including a list of publications;
  3. A brief Statement of Support from Contact Person in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and the name(s) of any members of the School's staff with whom you have previously had academic contact. The statement of support must indicate how the visiting scholar will contribute to research in the School (see Section 6, 'Sponsorship', above) and should be sent by email to

Because of the large number of applications we receive each year, the School of Modern Languages and Cultures is unable to accommodate all those who express interest in visiting for research purposes. In selecting applicants for Visiting Scholar status, the School Research Committee considers the nature of the applicant's proposal, the expected duration of their research, prior academic experience and the contribution that the visit will make to the research environment of the School.

Application does not guarantee acceptance, and we can only offer places within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures to visitors under the sponsorship of a staff member. It is important to note that there are times during the academic year when there may not be a suitable member available to act as sponsor, and therefore we may have to refuse such an application. Approved applicants will be informed in writing of their visiting status, along with confirmation of the dates of the visit and information with regard to practical elements of being an academic visitor.