PhD in Creative Writing

The PhD in Creative Writing usually takes the form of a major creative project ('a book length work' of up to 80,000 words) in the student’s chosen literary form, plus a critical/reflective thesis of 20,000 words.

Increasingly, students are embarking on PhDs that synthesise creative and critical elements and with this in mind, variations on the basic 80/20 ratio can be negotiated, depending on available supervisors. The most obvious alternative is a 50/50 creative/critical division, but it should be borne in mind that the creative component has to achieve a 'fully-realised work of literature', (which means students embarking on a 50/50 PhD are usually short story writers or poets and not novelists). In such cases, a student would normally have two supervisors ('joint supervision') – one drawn from English studies and one from Creative Writing. 

The nature of the creative work will necessarily vary from case to case, but can be explored through any literary form after agreement has been reached with a specialist supervisor. The reflective thesis might range from an intensive focus on personal creative practice and process to reflection that makes reference to a much wider field of creative literature or critical/theoretical writing.

The essence of the PhD in Creative Writing is research through creative practice and this practice should be seen as the core of your 'original contribution to knowledge' as defined in the PhD regulations. The creative and critical elements of the PhD are not separately realised elements: ideally they form a dynamic process and should represent a dialectic that shapes the final submission to the examiners.

A student may study as a traditional campus student, having regular face-to-face meetings with their supervisory team, or they may research as a distance student and communicate with their supervisors through our postgraduate online learning environment (moodle). Increasingly, students choose to modulate between these two forms of study throughout their degree.

Students wishing to pursue a project that uses interview as a research methodology or incorporates community arts projects, collaborative or spontaneous work (such as verbatim theatre or site specific arts development) or work with 'live participants' should discuss their work with a prospective supervisor prior to application and should develop a proposal which acknowledges the University’s code of practice for ethical research.