Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Research degrees

Female student facing to the left adjusting the lens of a film camera on a tripod

Theoretical exploration and creative innovation

As a postgraduate research student in our department, you will be part of a large and active research community where graduate students and staff work together in a creative and intellectually challenging environment.

We are a uniquely interdisciplinary department, running weekly research seminars with speakers across different disciplines invited from the UK and abroad.

Our research students organise and present at our annual PhD conference and 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.

A research degree allows you to produce original research on a subject of your choice and, depending on your chosen research subject, can also include a creative practice component.


Explore our research degrees
Why choose us?
  • Three-quarters of our research is rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014)
  • Internationally recognised research specialisms across literature, film, creative writing and drama
  • Leading academic specialists, as well as writers, poets, playwrights, filmmakers and journalists talk about their work in our weekly research seminar series
Apply for a CHASE studentship

The Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE), is one of 11 Doctoral Training Partnerships funded by the AHRC in the UK and offers a world-leading environment for doctoral research and education.

Find out more

So, what do we have to offer?

A range of areas for research supervision

Our department offers a broad range of research expertise and we welcome applications for doctoral study in all areas in which our academic staff are researching, within the general fields of creative writing, drama and theatre, film studies, journalism and literature.

Some of our current research student topics include the evolution of African-American oral poetry, memory and time in contemporary Art House cinema, contemporary feminist performance in the UK and its engagement with contemporary gender theory, and representations of political violence in contemporary Middle Eastern fiction.

Professional development

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 it comes to applying for academic positions.

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 funding for specialist training across a range of areas, including researching and managing your PhD, presenting your work and getting published.

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.

“The LiFTS department encourages prospective PhD researchers to apply for all available streams of funding. The support from my department has been a huge part of my reason for staying at Essex to continue to PhD study. From the administrators in the general office, to the lecturers, and my supervisors – each one has helped to nurture my confidence and development. The LiFTS department is a very special place that nurtures discovery, no matter how old you are, in a way that only creativity can.”
Ruth Raymer PhD Creative Writing