The School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing encompasses a wide range of creative and critical activities, and it is this conjunction of criticism and creativity which characterises its unique approach to the study of literature and writing. We also actively encourage interdisciplinary projects. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, 65% of the School's research was rated as ‘world leading' or ‘internationally excellent' in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
Research and supervision
We welcome applications for research degrees at three levels: Masters by Research, MPhil and PhD. Please also visit the Research Groups page and the People pages for more information on individual academics' specialist research areas.
Medieval and Early Modern Writing
The Medieval and Early Modern Research Group is the focus for an exciting range of research, including medieval and early modern biography and life writing, English medieval and early modern writers in Europe, early modern drama and theatricality, the carnivalesque and the history of dialogue. Medieval and early modern forms of temporality – the engagement with and reformulation of the classical past, the issue of periodization between medieval and early modern itself, humanism and proto-humanism, and the ways in which authorship and authority are redefined in the medieval and early modern periods – constitute a recurrent thematic interest across the Group's research.
Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature
The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Research Group encompasses a wide and eclectic range of different research specialisms within the period. In addition to critically renowned work on Romanticism and post-Romanticism, gothic literature, Victorian fiction, nineteenth-century poetry, and nineteenth-century life writing, members of the group have also produced innovative and compelling research on nineteenth-century writing and science, Romanticism and colonialism, poetics and translation, as well as major work on individual authors and artists, including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Matthew Arnold, William Hazlitt, George Eliot, Richard Wagner, and Henry James.
Modern and Contemporary Writing
The School has an extremely strong research culture in the areas of 20th- and 21st-century poetry and prose. Thematic interests in Modernism, mid-century writing and postwar literature encompass innovative work on censorship discourses, affect and trauma, transnational responses to Soviet Communism and German fascism as well as human rights issues. Our research in contemporary writing involves work on the novel, on poetry and on aspects of critical practice. We have particular research interests in poetics, in contemporary critical theory, in sound and music, in the essay and in the theory and practice of creative-critical writing.
This doctorate grows out of the MA in Literary Translation, and can be one of two types, though some overlap is possible. The first type is a scholarly study of the theory and practice of literary translation. The second type is based on an original literary translation, accompanied by a critical essay, possibly including a scholarly introduction and notes or commentary, which explores the process of translation while maintaining a dialogue with current research. We welcome research proposals for either type, and based on translation from (or into) any language and any literary genre. Please contact The Academic Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, Dr Duncan Large.
Creative and Critical Writing
The School has enjoyed an unchallenged reputation in creative writing since the foundation of its MA in Creative Writing in 1970. We were the first British university to offer a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing. The School can offer outstanding mentoring and supervision in the following areas: the novel, the short story, poetry, play-writing or screenplay. We have particular strengths in the historical novel, crime writing and in poetry. Candidates who enrol on this PhD present a substantial and original piece of creative writing accompanied by a critical essay which engages with historical, philosophical, literary and/ or aesthetic elements of the creative work. Where the critical project requires it, we are able to establish cross-disciplinary supervisory teams.
For any enquiries please contact Dr William Rossiter.
The School offers a PhD in Life Writing. We have particular research interests in the areas of 19th-century and early 20th-century writers and welcome applicants who are interested in writing biographically in those periods. Depending on the proposed subject, it may be possible to offer joint supervision with the School of History or American Studies. Applications are also welcome from those who wish to incorporate a degree of memoir writing into their Life Writing PhD. Students wishing to produce a life writing project can register under the English Literature programme or under the Creative and Critical Programme.
Research students are fully integrated in the research culture of the school which hosts a wide-ranging research seminar with our own and visiting speakers. The school is also home to the British Centre for Literary Translation and the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts.
The Graduate School in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities offers a wide range of relevant training programmes. These include interdisciplinary seminars on methodology, archival work, research ethics, copy editing, pedagogy, and employability as well as specific seminars for creative-critical research students. We also help fund the creation, publication and distribution of magazines. We aim to provide most of our research students with experience of undergraduate teaching, usually towards the end of their period of study.
David Almond, Naomi Aldermann, Margaret Atwood, Trezza Azzopardi, Tash Aw, John Boyne, Angela Carter, Amit Chaudhuri, Tracey Chevalier, Anne Enright, Bernardine Evaristo, Giles Foden, Adam Foulds, Rachel Hore, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Jean McNeal, Andrew Miller, Andrew Motion, Denise Riley, Michèle Roberts, Lorna Sage, WG Sebald, Ali Smith, Rebecca Stott, George Szirtes, Henry Sutton, Rose Tremain, and Timberlake Wertenbaker are among a growing number of writers who have studied, taught or teach at the University. The Spring and Autumn Literary Festivals and other events attract a wide range of authors to the University.
Enquiries, funding and how to apply
The School welcomes research enquiries from prospective students. Your email should include the following materials as a basis for discussion:
- a 500-word research proposal;
- an academic CV listing relevant education and professional experience;
- a 3,000 – 5,000-word sample of recent critical writing;
- if relevant, a recent substantial sample of your creative writing or translation.
Contact the following adacemics:
- Dr Petra Rau, the School's Postgraduate Research Director, for the PhD programme in Literature
- Dr Duncan Large, the Academic Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation for the PhD in Literary Translation.
Information on funding and studentships for 2015/16 can be found under the studentship tab on the Arts and Humanities Faculty’s Graduate School Page.
For admissions enquiries and general information contact the PGR Office:
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591709