English Literature

PhD in English Literature

The Department of English Literature has a very large and vibrant community of students engaged in PhD study.

Candidates for the degree of PhD pursue a research project for a period of not less that 36 months if studying full-time, or 72 months part-time.

Leather book spines (Shakespeare)

The outcome of the research is embodied in a thesis of between 70,000 and 100,000 words written by the candidate. A doctorate will be awarded if the thesis is judged to be of an appropriate standard, and the research makes a definite contribution to knowledge. A PhD is the highest postgraduate degree awarded by the University.

PhD Opportunities in English Literature

The department is 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 and 20th centuries - along with 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. It also encourages interdisciplinary projects across the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and also throughout the University and the City of Edinburgh.

As well as working closely with expert supervisors who are leading scholars in their particular fields to complete an individual project of original research, you will be provided with full training in a range of research skills. The University’s Institute for Academic Development also offers training in a range of professional skills. In later years, suitably qualified PhD students are offered the opportunity to teach undergraduate classes.

Doctoral students in the Department also have opportunities to attend a wide range of reading groups, papers by visiting speakers, seminars and conferences organised by the Department, School and University; they also organise their own reading and discussion groups, ‘work-in-progress’ seminars and conferences. They contribute to, and edit, the journal Forum.


PhD students are also invited to act as part of the judgement team for the prestigious James Tait Black Prizes, the UK’s oldest, and most distinguished, literary awards.

James Tait Black Prize

Before composing your research proposal, please read the guidance here:


You can apply online for this programme.


For further details, or if you have any queries, please contact Dr Tim Milnes

Dr Tim Milnes

Senior Lecturer

  • English Literature
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details



Room 2.06
50 George Square

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