PhD Supporting Statement

Every PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield is required to submit a supporting statement and research proposal prior to acceptance onto the programme.

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Supporting statement and research proposal

Applicants for the PhD Programme must submit a supporting statement and research proposal as part of their application.Jump to research proposal for Creative Writing PhDs

The standard supporting statement and research proposal has three sections:

  • Your background. 
  • Your research proposal 
  • Why studying for a PhD with us is right for you.

Section 1: Your background

In this section (maximum 250 words), you should summarise your most significant attainments.

  • List any qualifications (achieved and in progress), specifically noting overall grades (achieved or predicted) at masters and undergraduate level.
  • Please also note any work experience directly relevant to the PhD research, and any prizes/awards and other relevant achievements.

Section 2: Your research proposal

Project Title This must be brief and clear, encapsulating the central aim of the project.

Project Summary (maximum 100 words). This should briefly describe the project in such a way that someone who is not a subject specialist can understand the topic area, the aims, and the value of the research.

Project Description (maximum 1500 words + bibliography). This should offer a clear account of your proposed PhD project.

  • outline the main aims of your research, with an explanation of the central topic and your key research questions; explain what is original about your project
  • offer a critical discussion of the most relevant existing literature, referring to the key works in the field; explain how your project will develop and extend knowledge in this area
  • provide a proposed methodology and explain how the thesis will be organised; explain how your proposal offers a systematic response to the topic. If necessary, note any specifically relevant resources available at Sheffield and any others that would be required.
  • Provide a bibliography of any works cited.

Section 3. Why studying for a PhD at the University of Sheffield is right for you

In this section (maximum 400 words) you should explain why you want to study for a PhD with us. Tell us what you hope to gain from your studies (for example, any specific training you will need, or how PhD study will help you meet your career aspirations). Also tell us why you think the School of English at the University of Sheffield is ideal for your project. Here, you might talk about the research and supervision expertise available, key research resources, or other support we can provide.

Next steps


Creative Writing research proposal 

The research proposal for the Creative Writing PhD is distinct from the proposal for other programmes, but you should also submit sections 1 and 3 of the supporting statement as detailed above.

The research proposal for this PhD should be a maximum of 1,500 words, outlining both the creative and critical sides of the project. 

You should outline the research questions you will address in each chapter of the critical component, how these fit into the wider project, and the texts and secondary source material that you plan to use. For example, if the overall topic is the Cold War in fiction, with a chapter that focuses on the Berlin airlift as represented in fiction, you would include:

  • A list of authors and key texts
  • The archives that might be consulted
  • The critical approach you plan to take, e.g. Adorno or feminist-materialist historiography
  • The specific research question you plan to answer, e.g. how haunted by fascism is Berlin in these texts?

You should also indicate the projected themes of the novel, collection of stories or poems. You should say what kinds of research the writing will entail, and give a description of the structure, with subsections, subtopics, and as full an abstract as you can - though clearly, this will be exploratory.

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