Creative Writing PhD
Study modes: Full-time, Part-time
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:
- Dr Jane Alexander - Fiction
- Dr Lynda Clark - Fiction
- Dr Patrick Errington - Poetry
- Dr Miriam Gamble - Poetry
- Dr Alan Gillis - Poetry
- Nicola McCartney - Drama
- Dr Jane McKie - Poetry
- Dr Allyson Stack - Fiction
- Kim Sherwood - Fiction
- Alice Thompson - Fiction
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
Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, Computing Labs, and dedicated PhD study space in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).
These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.
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.
Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:
English language requirements
Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.
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.
- C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
- PTE Academic: total 70 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.
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 (non-MESC).
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:
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:
Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.
PhD Creative Writing - 3 Years (Full-time)
PhD Creative Writing - 6 Years (Part-time)
|Programme start date||Application deadline|
|9 September 2024||30 April 2024|
Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.
Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:
|Round||Application deadline||Places awarded by|
|1||24 November 2023||15 December 2023|
|2||30 April 2024||14 June 2024|
You must submit two references with your application.
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: