Creative and critical writing PhD Creative and critical writing PhD

If you are considering writing an extended creative work, UEA can offer three-year supervision, rich archival, artistic and library resources, the expertise of novelists, poets, translators, memoir writers and academics, many of whom work across several genres and whose work is interdisciplinary in nature, as well as the opportunity to study and write within one of the most eminent and internationally esteemed Creative Writing programmes in the world and one of the oldest and most literary cities in Britain.

Students who enroll on this programme submit a thesis of between 80,000 and 100,000 words (the length of poetry collections is negotiated between the student and the supervisory team) which is made up of two related parts - one creative, one critical. The ratio between the creative and the critical components varies between 50:50 and 80:20, and the creative part is usually the longer. The two parts should relate to each other in mutually illuminating and original ways. 

The intellectual discipline involved in writing a novel or a collection of poetry or a script is considerable, whether it has to do with researching a subject, editorial analysis of a draft, or the question of deciding on an appropriate form. While we expect the critical essay to be intellectually disciplined, carefully researched and informed by scholarship, as we would expect of an academic PhD, we also encourage our Creative-Critical PhD students to experiment with voice, form and rhetorical modes so as to challenge long-established critical conventions.

Students who undertake the PhD at UEA come from many different backgrounds. All will have had considerable experience in Creative Writing. A few are established novelists or poets or playwrights who want to undertake a particular project within the academy, drawing on the resources of libraries and reading groups and the mentorship of writers and academics of the highest calibre. Others seek to complete a PhD so that they can apply for Creative Writing teaching positions in universities to help support a writing life. Others will be looking for employment in publishing or editing. At UEA your supervisory team will try to ensure that the PhD programme is tailored to your professional interests and aspirations as well as ensuring that you flourish and develop as a writer. 

The emphasis we place on the relationship between the creative and the critical components is designed to ensure that you develop as an intellectual as well as a writer, that you continue to develop your understanding of your own writing as part of a literary critical tradition and are able to write confident and articulate essays about your own work and that of others. If the critical thesis you want to write crosses disciplinary boundaries - and many do because we encourage it - we will do our best to assemble a supervisory team that provides expertise across those boundaries.

We usually have around 80 PhD students in the School at any one time and more than half of these are Critical-Creative PhD students, which creates a lively, supportive and creative atmosphere in which students read for each other. All students are required to attend a Research Skills training programme and to present their works-in-progress to the dedicated Creative-Critical PhD seminar. Students also have the opportunity to attend certain MA classes within the School.

To study for a Creative and Critical Writing PhD at UEA you do not need to be published, but you should already have gained a Creative Writing MA, MLitt or MFA. Places on the programme are awarded on the quality of the proposal and sample of writing, the track record of the student and the availability of a supervisory match.

Further information on the wider creative and critical research culture in the School, and details on how to apply for the PhD programme, can be found here.