Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the
Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
A research degree in creative writing involves an original writing project in combination with critical work.
Whether your project involves poetry, fiction, theatre, screenwriting, or another form such as psychogeography,
you will benefit from expert supervision by experienced writing practitioners and be part of an active and
interdisciplinary research community that will challenge you intellectually and artistically.
We regularly invite writers to give talks and readings as part of our
Writers at Essex series as well as to lead
master classes with our students. Recent visitors have included Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, our Essex Professor of Poetry from 2010 - 2013.
Our Department runs weekly research seminars with speakers invited from the UK and abroad and we often
host major conferences and symposia. Our research students also organise and present at our annual PhD conference.
A variety of scholarships and funding for postgraduate study is available.
We offer a range of options for PhD study in creative writing.
PhD Creative Writing
The minimum durations for our PhD Creative Writing are three years of full-time study or six years part time.
Assessment is on the basis of either:
- a novel or collection of short stories (30,000-100,000 words) plus
critical commentary (35,000-40,000 words)
- or a collection of poems (50-100 pages, the length of a standard
collection of poetry, approximately 10,000-20,000 words) plus critical
commentary (35,000-40,000 words)
Your critical commentary typically addresses the originality and artistic relevance of your creative work, as well as areas such as genre mode and tradition,
stylistic and theoretical contexts, research, and the process of composition, development and revision.
We normally require a good BA honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. You need to demonstrate a capacity to produce a
creative project and conduct independent research, and are required to submit a detailed project proposal and creative writing sample. You attend regular
supervisory board meetings throughout your doctoral study where the progress of your work is assessed.
Read the full course description on our course finder:
PhD Theatre Studies (Playwriting)
The minimum durations for our PhD Theatre Studies (Playwriting) are three years of full-time study or six years part-time.
Assessment is on the basis of an original full-length play or equivalent short plays (70-100 pages or 70-150 minutes playing time, approximately
20,000-30,000 words) plus critical commentary (40,000 words).
Your critical commentary typically addresses the originality and artistic relevance of your playwriting, as well as areas such as performance and
staging, genre mode and tradition, stylistic and theoretical contexts, research, and the process of composition, development, and revision.
We normally require a good BA honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. You need to demonstrate a capacity to
produce an original playwriting project and conduct independent research, and are required to submit a detailed project proposal and playwriting sample.
You attend regular supervisory board meetings throughout your doctoral study where the progress of your work is assessed.
Read the full course description on our course finder:
We accept PhD students in all areas in which our academic staff are researching and working:
Our Centre for Creative Writing staff and research interests include:
- Elizabeth Kuti
- playwriting, contemporary playwrights, the long eighteenth century
- Jonathan Lichtenstein
- stage writing, contemporary theatre
- Dr Adrian May
- creative writing, performance poetry, songs, myth and folklore
- Dr Chris McCully
- creative writing, poetry, memoir-writing, old English metrics
- Professor Philip Terry
- creative writing, poetry, Oulipo
Our department offers a broad range of research expertise and we welcome applications for doctoral study involving joint
supervision with literature, film studies,
drama and theatre studies.
Current PhD theses
Our list of current doctoral researchers shows the wide range of
critical and creative practice projects being carried out in our department.
AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership
The University of Essex is a member of CHASE: Consortium for the Humanities and the
Arts South-East England, which has over 375 fully-funded PhD studentships to award
over the next five years funded by the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) and the seven CHASE partner institutions.
Applicants for doctoral study in creative writing at Essex can apply to CHASE for AHRC studentships through
our department and we will work closely with you on your application.
New PhD students often take our postgraduate
Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis
module as an introduction to both practical and theoretical aspects of research study in literature, film, theatre studies,
and creative writing. You are also welcome to sit in on other MA modules relevant to your research with the approval of the seminar teacher.
Professional teaching experience
We employ many of our research students as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). These paid positions are
valuable opportunities for professional development and give you experience of teaching and marking essays
at undergraduate level, a significant advantage when applying for academic positions.
Professional skills development
Our University’s Proficio scheme helps to develop your
skills and knowledge and increase your employability potential for careers in academia and industry by
providing specialist training across a range of areas including researching and managing your PhD,
presenting your work, and getting published.
Languages for All
Reading texts in their original language can be a real advantage for postgraduate research.
Our University’s Languages for All scheme allows
you to study a language alongside your course at no extra cost.
Fees and scholarships
Find about our fees and scholarships. If you would like any further information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be
available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.
Our academic staff
Our academic staff are internationally recognised for their expertise across literature, film, creative writing and drama. Find out more by reading their staff profiles.
Proficio is our innovative doctoral training scheme. Our University gives you funding to spend on
a variety of courses, from research skills to personal development and career management.