Our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies offers supervision for PhD Literature in all fields of staff research interest, which includes a wide range of expertise in different literatures and in varying approaches to literature, covering most aspects from early modern to modern writing in English and a number of other languages. The Department’s research strengths include Early Modern literature, Romanticism, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, US and Caribbean literature, postcolonial literature, modern, postmodern and contemporary (twentieth- and twenty-first century) literature, eco-criticism and nature writing, black and black diaspora writing, travel writing, First World War writing, literature and human rights, science fiction, and the post-human.
A number of our graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers. Other past students are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.
We also offer an MPhil and a Masters by dissertation in this subject.
Please note, part-time research study is also available.
Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, you will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff.
The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Initially, your supervisor will help you develop your research topic and plan.
Twice a year, you will have a supervisory board meeting, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.
If you are studying within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, then you will have access to a range of exceptional facilities to enhance your learning and research, including our Lakeside Theatre.
Over the past three decades, our Lakeside Theatre at our Colchester Campus has been established as a major venue, known for a commitment to new writing for the stage. Not only do many professional touring companies bring their productions of new plays here but there has been a wealth of new work produced by our own staff and students.
An essential element of our Lakeside Theatre’s programme has been the opportunity it has given students to write or direct new plays, as well as redefine classics and re-discover neglected masterpieces.
A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers.
Other past research students are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.
You will need a good Masters degree, or equivalent, in a related subject. Some applicants may be accepted on the basis of an outstanding honours degree. A well-developed research proposal is also essential.
You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
From the first day of your research within our Department, we encourage you to plan your work so that you can expect to submit your thesis for examination by the end of three years. Aside from strong financial reasons to do this, it is wise to limit the scale and scope of what you can achieve in a set period of time. Indeed, to work within limits allowed by the time available is part of the exercise of research itself.
A typical first year of undertaking research within our Department would involve developing a statement in which you will define the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for the thesis completion. During this year, you will start collecting your primary and secondary research material according to your chosen topic and timeline. Your typical second year should involve continuing to investigate and write. In this second year (or the end of your third year, if studying part-time), your first supervisory board of the year will be your Confirmation Board. This will review the evidence to confirm whether or not you should progress and whether your work is at PhD level. After confirmation of your status, you should undertake further substantial research and writing over the next 12 months.
In a typical third year, you should complete the writing of your draft chapters and move to revise your work into a final version ready for submission.
Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, your PhD thesis is generally completed within three to four years and has a length of around 80,000 words.
Your PhD is awarded after your successful defence of your thesis in an oral examination, in which you are interviewed about your research by two examiners, at least one of whom is from outside Essex.
£16,230EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.
We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.
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At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.
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