Research Degrees

The School of English offers excellent supervision for postgraduate research in an array of subjects in English Literature, English Language and Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Literary-Linguistics, Creative Writing, and Theatre and Performance.

The School has over forty staff, each of them internationally renowned in their field of expertise and with many years of experience in research supervision. You can find out more about the research areas covered in the School, and about some of the topics being studied by our current postgraduate researchers here:

What is a PhD?

A PhD is a piece of original research, which makes significant contributions to scholarly debates. What our research degrees offer, in other words, is a truly exciting opportunity for you to push forward the boundaries of knowledge, and to become an authority in your chosen field.

The PhD is usually examined by a thesis of around 75,000 words, the research and writing of which usually takes a minimum of three years (six years part-time), and an oral examination (a viva) on this work. Some of our PhD programmes, such as those in the area of Theatre and Performance, also offer the possibility of a practice component to the PhD examination.

As a research student in the School of English, you will be assigned two supervisors (one primary and the other secondary) to guide you through your project. In addition, you can expect regular meetings co-ordinated by the Director of Graduate Studies to help you assess your progress and to see what the School can do to help make your research more productive. All postgraduate research students are eligible to apply for financial assistance to help them attend conferences and carry out other research-related activities outside the University.

Research Training and Skills Development

As well as being given the opportunity to develop teaching skills and acquire teaching experience, postgraduate researchers in the School of English also participate in the Doctoral Development Programme in order to refine and build on their research skills and subject-specific knowledge. In consultation with their supervisors, students formulate a programme of research training and support which is tailor-made to their needs.

Our graduates go into higher education, teaching, management and consultancy, advertising, writing, and all branches of the arts – especially theatre, film and publishing. We will equip you with the necessary analytic, evaluative, and presentation skills to succeed in your chosen field.

Entry Requirements

We normally expect that an applicant for our PhD programmes has passed, or is currently completing, an MA or equivalent.

Our standard English language requirements for all PhD applicants are set at the University’s Advanced level tariff: an overall IELTS grade of 7.5 with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component. 

You can also make an online application for all our PhD programmes here:

See Online application

Find out more

The University holds a number of postgraduate open days and other opportunities to find out more about postgraduate study at Sheffield.

See Postgraduate open days.

You can also read more general information on research degrees, fees, funding, accommodation and the application process on the University's prospective postgraduate web pages:

General information about research degrees


The University of Sheffield have a wide range of scholarships available to postgraduate applicants. Further information on these is available here:

The deadline for funding applications is normally around December each year and you will need to be holding an offer from us to be eligible to apply for funding.

White Rose AHRC scholarship applicants will need to have made an application for a place on a PhD programme, but can apply for the scholarship scheme before the formal offer a PhD place has been made.

For further information about research degrees in all areas of English Language and Linguistics, please contact:

Jackie Elkington, Graduate Admissions Secretary
Tel: +44 (0)114 2220211

For further information about research degrees in all areas of English Literature, please contact:

Emma Bradley, Graduate Admissions Secretary
Tel: +44 (0)114 2220241