PhD programme

The School of English is an ideal place to pursue PhD research. Our experts specialise in literature, language, linguistics, theatre, film and creative writing, and the interdisciplinary nature of the School provides unique opportunities for cross-departmental and collaborative research.

A group of students working together with hot drinks
Programme structure

The PhD programme in the School of English is a course of supervised independent research, leading to a thesis of around 75,000 words, and culminating in an oral examination (a viva).

It will take you three to three and a half years to complete a full-time PhD programme with us; part-time study lasts from six to seven years. 

The key feature of the PhD is that it is yours: the topic, planning, motivation, and thinking come from you. The PhD offers an exciting opportunity for you to push forward the boundaries of knowledge and to become an authority in your chosen field.

Creative writing

Our creative writing PhD program leads to a full-scale creative project, such as a novel, collection of short stories or poetry collection, accompanied by a 40,000-word critical project. 

The creative element must be complete and potentially publishable, whilst the critical element is a free-standing research project, with specific research question(s), methodology, and a set of primary and secondary texts for analysis. We welcome interdisciplinary, mixed media and multimedia projects, and are able to host complex projects with co-supervision from specialists in music, architecture, theatre and film.

The critical component makes up 40% of your PhD and typically comprises three chapters of 10,000 words, an introduction and conclusion.

The creative component makes up 60% of your PhD. As a guide, you would be expected to produce a full collection of stories or a novel, ranging in length from 60,000 - 80,000 words. For poetry, the submission needs to be a full collection of around 50 poems or equivalent.


Your research will be supported by a primary supervisor, an expert in the area of research, who facilitates your progress along the way. You can expect research supervision every four to six weeks.

You will have an additional supervisor whose role is to support your training and development and to guide your progress towards timely completion of your thesis.

The supervisory team is completed by a Personal Tutor whose role is to support your well-being.

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How to apply

What are the entry requirements?

  • A good first degree (2:1 or equivalent)
  • A Masters level qualification (Merit or equivalent)
  • English as your first language, or an overall IELTS grade of 7.5 with a minimum score of 7.0 in each component.

What do I need to submit?

You must submit a PhD Supporting Statement and Research Proposal, and a sample of your academic writing (6000-8000 words). You will also need proof of your previous degrees, two academic references, your English language certificates (if required), and a CV.

What is the process for applying?

Applications are made via an Online Application form. Before you apply, make sure you know about key deadlines.

Next steps to apply

Funding and fees

There are several scholarship and funding options available to PhD applicants interested in studying at the School of English, both from the University of Sheffield and from external funding bodies.

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Training and development

As a PhD student you’ll have access to a range of training and development opportunities to help you get the best out of your research and develop professionally. The School aims to create a research culture where your ideas can develop and flourish, and provide you with the facilities and support to complete your research project successfully.

How we support you

Research facilities

Students have access to the Graduate School Centre. The University Library subscribes to the major databases and peer-reviewed journals, and there is a regular free minibus to the British Library’s depository at Boston Spa. We also have strong links with Sheffield’s museums and theatres, contacts which we use in our research and teaching.

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Our research community

The School of English is a vibrant and welcoming research community of over 100 academic staff, postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers. We are home to several research centres, with many opportunities to hear from others and share your research.

Our postgraduate community and research culture

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