Postgraduate study

Creative Writing PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Creative Writing

The PhD in Creative Writing offers committed and talented writers the opportunity to study Creative Writing at the highest level.

Supported by an expert supervisory team you will work independently towards the production of a substantial, publishable piece of creative writing, accompanied by a sustained exercise in critical study.

The academic staff you will be working with are all active researchers or authors, including well-published and prize-winning writers of poetry, prose fiction and drama. They include:

We encourage you to share your research and learn from the work of others through a programme of seminars and visiting speakers.

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

We also offer access to opportunities provided by the Sottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities.

Our postgraduate journal, Forum, is a valuable conduit for research findings and provides an opportunity to gain editorial experience.

A UNESCO World City of Literature, Edinburgh is a remarkable place to study, write, publish, discuss and perform prose, poetry and drama.

Take a PhD with us and you will be based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) in the historic centre of this world-leading festival city.

Our buildings are close to:

  • National Library of Scotland (where collections include the Bute Collection of early modern English drama and the John Murray Archive)
  • Edinburgh Central Library
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • Writers’ Museum
  • Traverse Theatre

We have strong links with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which annually welcomes around 1,000 authors to our literary city.

There are lots of opportunities to write and share your work, from Forum to The Selkie, which was founded by Creative Writing students in 2018 to showcase work by people who self-identify as underrepresented.

Around the city, you’ll find library readings and bookshop launches, spoken word gigs, cabaret nights and poetry slams, including events run by celebrated publishing outlets, from Canongate and Polygon / Birlinn to Luath Press, 404 Ink, Taproot Press and Mariscat.

You will have access to the University’s many literary treasures, which include:

  • William Drummond library
  • Lewis Grassic Gibbon library
  • Hugh MacDiarmid library
  • Norman MacCaig library
  • W.H. Auden collection
  • Corson collection
  • works by and about Sir Walter Scott
  • Ramage collection of poetry pamphlets

The Centre for Research Collections also holds a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays. These have been put together by the 19th century Shakespearean James Halliwell-Phillipps, the correspondence of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle (the focus of one of the major editorial projects in Victorian studies of the last half-century), and the extensive Laing collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts.

You will also have access to letters and papers by - and relating to - authors including:

  • Christopher Isherwood
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • John Middleton Murry
  • Walter de la Mare
  • Edwin Muir
  • George Mackay Brown
  • Compton Mackenzie

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK masters degree, or its international equivalent, in creative writing, normally with distinction.

We may also consider your application if you have equivalent qualifications or experience. For additional information please refer to the pre-application guidance in the 'How to apply' section.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 70 overall with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

There are a number of scholarship schemes available to eligible candidates on this PhD programme, including awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Please be advised that many scholarships have more than one application stage, and early deadlines.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start dates Application deadlines
12 September 2022 31 July 2022
9 January 2023 31 October 2022

If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

Pre-application guidance

Before you formally apply for this PhD, you should look at the pre-application information and guidance on the programme website.

This will help you decide if this programme is right for you, and help us gain a clearer picture of what you hope to achieve.

The guidance details the writing samples you should send us as part of your application (either fiction or poetry, along with a shorter sample of your academic writing).

It will also give you practical advice for writing your project summary – one of the most important parts of your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH