English Literature

PhD

Doctorate-level (PhD) study is an opportunity to expand upon your interests and expertise in a community that really values research; and to make an original, positive contribution to learning in literature and related fields.

Over the course of your PhD, you’ll be expected to complete an original body of work under the expert guidance of your supervisors leading to a dissertation of between 70,000 and 100,000 words (for a research-based project) or of an equivalent scale for work in creative writing.

We offer two PhDs: one in English Literature; and one in Creative Writing.

Working with colleagues elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and across the wider University, we are able to support research which crosses boundaries between disciplines and/or languages.

PhD in English Literature

Given the breadth and depth of our expertise, we are able to support students wishing to develop research projects in each of the main periods of English and Scottish Literature – medieval, renaissance/early modern, enlightenment, romantic, and the 19th century to the present.

We also have expertise in all genres of literary analysis – literary and critical theory, literary history, the history of the book, cultural studies, gender studies, postcolonial literature, and American Studies.

We are home to the Scottish Writing in the 19th Century project and network, the Centre for the History of the Book, and Scotland’s Early Literature for Children Initiative, and are collaborators in the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network.

Find out more about applying for our PhD in English Literature, including our guidance on writing a Research Proposal

PhD in Creative Writing

Aimed at students with a masters degree in Creative Writing, this programme works towards the production of a substantial, publishable piece of creative writing, accompanied by a sustained exercise in critical study.

Led by a team of well-published and prize-winning writers, we offer supervision in the central genres of poetry, prose fiction, and drama.

We have an in-house Writer-in-Residence, an annual Writing Prizes scheme, and a range of opportunities to learn from experts in the publishing industry.

Find out more about applying for our PhD in Creative Writing

What’s it like to be a PhD student here?

Photo of a storytelling evening

We are the oldest department of English Literature in the UK, based in a UNESCO World City of Literature.

You’ll be immersed in a world of literature and learning, with lots of opportunities to participate in our postgraduate community and Edinburgh’s literary life beyond your own project. Events range from talks by visiting speakers, work-in-progress seminars, reading groups, conferences, workshops and performances at the University, to poetry slams, book launches, and open mic nights across the city.

Highlights include the annual James Tait Black Prizes, Britain's oldest literary awards and the only prizes of their kind in the UK to be judged by established scholars and postgraduate students. Each year, around 20 of our PhD students get involved in judging hundreds of titles in Fiction and Biography. There's also the chance to be published in FORUM, a peer-reviewed journal for postgraduate students working in culture and arts, the online Inciting Sparks, or The Inkwell - the University of Edinburgh’s creative writing and arts magazine.

Our graduates tell us that they value LLC’s friendliness, the connections they make here and the in-depth guidance they receive from our staff, who are experts in their field. Between LLC, the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development, you’ll find a range of programmes and resources to help you develop your research skills, as well as having access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.

Find out more about literature collections in the University of Edinburgh libraries

News and features

Check out our English Literature news and features for interviews with the Lead Student Readers for the James Tait Black Prizes 2020, prize-winning staff, and our Writer-in-Residence.

Take me to English Literature news and features

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