Creative Writing PhD
Why choose this programme
We belong to the interdisciplinary School of Literature and Languages, which has research-active staff in English literature, film studies, translation studies, theoretical and applied linguistics, and literary and cultural studies as well as creative writing.
Our research in modern and contemporary writing includes both literary-critical and creative work. In particular, we explore:
- The work of living writers
- The tradition and future of innovative writing
- The environment and climate change
- The nature of publishing as an innovative and radical political enterprise
- Literature and the body.
Our diverse mix of subject specialities mean that we are a vibrant and imaginative community with lots of opportunity for intellectual exchange.
We are part of TECHNE, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded doctoral training partnership, which provides access to comprehensive academic and professional training programmes, as well as the possibility of funding for your studies.
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 ranked the School of Literature and Languages 10th for research impact, with 75% of our case studies rated as having outstanding impacts, in terms of reach and significance (4*). Our submission to REF included contributions from the Guildford School of Acting (GSA).
What you will study
Our Creative Writing PhD will train you in critical and analytical skills, research methods, and knowledge that will equip you for your future career. It normally takes between three to four years to complete our full-time PhD.
You’ll be assigned two supervisors who will meet with you regularly to read and discuss your work and make sure you’re on track. For us, writing is essential for understanding and developing new perspectives, so you’ll be submitting written work right from the start of your course.
In your first year, you’ll refine your research proposal and plan the structure of your work with the support of your supervisors. As you go into your second and third year, you’ll work more independently, and your supervisors will guide you on how to present at conferences and get your work published.
As a doctoral student in the School of Literatures and Languages, you’ll receive a structured training programme covering the practical aspects of being a researcher, including grant-writing, how to publish in journals, and how to applyfor academic jobs.
After 12-15 months, you’ll submit a substantial piece of work for a confirmation examination. The confirmation examination will be conducted by two internal members of staff not on your supervisory team and will give you the opportunity to gain additional guidance on your research-to-date.
Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate careers and employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
We’ll support and develop your writing and research skills, through our Researcher Development Programme, additional subject-specific training, and by meeting visiting scholars including our writers and poets in residence. Our Creative Writing PhD students also often take part in regular readings and events such as the New Writers Festival and Surrey Poetry Festival.
South East Doctoral Training Arc (SEDarc) studentship
Studentships are awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal.This competition-funded studentship is available to UK and International students and includes full UK or International fee waiver and stipend at UKRI rates.
Techne studentship 2024
This competition funded studentship is available to UK and International students. Studentships are awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal.Full UK or International fee waiver and stipend at UKRI rates (currently £18,622).
- Experimental poetry
- Historical prose fiction
- Literary prose fiction
- Contemporary commercial fiction
- Genre prose fiction.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Literature and Languages.
You’ll be allocated shared office space within the School of Literature and Languages and have full access to our library and online resources. Our close proximity to London also means that the British Library and many other important archives are within easy reach.
The University offers excellent training opportunities and a range of research seminars and events. These provide a valuable opportunity to meet visiting scholars whose work connects with our own research strengths across literature, theory, and creative writing.
Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper second-class (2:1) UK degree and an MA in a relevant topic.
In exceptional cases, students with a good first degree will be considered for creative writing where there is a substantial or promising creative portfolio.
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).
Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors before they submit an application via the website. Please refer to section two of our application guidance.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Selection is based on applicants:
- Meeting the expected entry requirements
- Being shortlisted through the application screening process
- Completing a successful interview
- Providing suitable references.
Start date: April 2024
Start date: July 2024
Start date: October 2024
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
Start date: January 2025
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than September will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.
View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.
Read our application guidance for further information on the application process.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and procedures, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.