School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MPhil/PhD English

We offer a rich and warm postgraduate culture in English and creative writing at the University of Plymouth, based in fellowship and scholarly interaction with the other departments in the Faculty, especially history and the history of art. We offer full or part-time PhD and ResM independent study supervision.

English and creative writing staff have published widely, and the subject had outstanding results in the last Research Assessment Exercise (over 70% was ranked at 3* or 4*, internationally excellent and/or world leading, making our outputs per staff amongst the best in the UK).

Course details

  • Overview
  • This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject. If you aspire to a research career this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake.

    You will be guided by a small supervisory team of academic experts under the direction of a Director of Studies. Even if you already have a masters degree, you will normally be registered as a ‘MPhil/PhD’ candidate and may apply to transfer to ‘PhD’ status around 10–22 months after registration, based on your progress to date. 

    You will be expected to fully engage with skills development and training and to present your research in a range of scholarly contexts.

    Your PhD will be assessed via submission of either a written thesis (approximately 80,000 words), or one that combines critical writing with artistic, creative and/or professional practice, and a viva voce (an oral examination).

    For full details of what doing a PhD entails at the University of Plymouth, please visit our postgraduate research degrees pages

    Core modules
    • GSRENGL4 Research English

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Masters degree or equivalent from a UK higher education institution in a relevant subject.

Applicants normally have to supply a research proposal, personal statement, and occasionally evidence that they are prepared to undertake the proposed project. This may include a portfolio, or a sample of critical writing, depending on their area of study.

Other UK or overseas qualifications may also be accepted – with academic reference

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page. 

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. This course is in Band 1 for fees purposes.

If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional one year writing up period.

If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for four years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional 'writing up' period of up to two years.

You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.

Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

In addition to completing the online application form (which includes space for a personal statement), you must also upload a research project proposal of no more than 1000 words in total. Your research proposal should outline your general topic, your key aims and the research question/problem you are addressing, your proposed methodology, key definitions/thinkers/discourses/practitioners you are drawing upon and an explanation of why this topic is significant or important.

Your personal statement should briefly explain why you have chosen to apply to our programme and what you feel you can offer our research community.

You will also need to submit a sample of your critical writing (3000 words maximum) and, if relevant, evidence of your ability to undertake the practice-led research you are proposing (e.g. a DVD, portfolio, links to website, reviews, catalogue, etc.). It should take no longer than 30 minutes to view all the visual material that you provide.

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Our community

Draw on the expertise of staff in areas from Restoration literature to utopias of the mind, from early European encounters with native Americans, to women in the First World War, or work with our internationally successful creative writers.

Among others, at present we are supervising creative writing projects inspired by and working with Nepalese women’s poetry, and one exploring the relationship between woods, memory and place. 

Critical projects include phenomenology in Virginia Woolf’s writing, trauma in Holocaust studies, and William Blake’s construction of a spiritual self.

You will be invited to be part of a community that is sustained by multiple research seminar series, cross-disciplinary collaboration and outward-facing engagements: from The Arts Institute lecture series to our work with city creative writing groups, from our commitment to the digital humanities, to our involvement with Plymouth's massive new History Centre across the road.

We particularly welcome doctoral research in the following areas:

  • Literature from 1600 to the present
  • Literary and cultural exchange between Britain and
  • New England
  • Writing and the environment
  • Creative writing
  • Early modern literature
  • Writing and literature of the ‘long’ 18th century
  • Modern and post-modern literature
  • Life writing and creative non-fiction.

English and creative writing research

Our staff have published extensively and internationally across a diverse range of fields in literary criticism and creative writing.

We are part of a thriving community of researchers covering arts and humanities disciplines, supported by the University's Arts Institute.

Academic staff