The focus of doctoral research is of great significance for the development of an academic discipline and the potential for innovation. A significant number of PhD graduates however expect to be employed as university teachers, and the correlation between competence needs as suggested by the undergraduate curriculum and PhD research appears to be weak. Based on library catalogue data and digital archives, this study investigates interrelations between the initial research orientation of individual scholars and the development of English as a university subject in Sweden. Dissertation topics 1950-1999 indicate a gradual shift from a dominance of linguistics in the earlier decades to a dominance of literary studies towards the end of the period. Dissertations in the field of English-language literature between 2000 and 2019 demonstrate a growing interest in literatures outside England and the United States, a predominance of studies of prose and a move towards contextual modes of criticism centred on social or political theories. Studies of modern or contemporary literature dominate greatly whereas there are few dissertations on older literature. Undergraduate course plans and literature lists for 2020 from the major research universities show a strong connection between first-term literature courses and current research, as indicated by the topics of PhD dissertations from the first two decades of the twenty-first century. The teaching of older literature is not supported by new research to the same extent, however, which means that it may become increasingly difficult to ensure the close links between research and study programmes stipulated in the Swedish Higher Education Act (1992:1434).