We perform fresh, innovative, world-leading research across literature, writing and linguistics, and have been ranked as one of the top ten English departments for undergraduate degrees in the UK by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017 and the Guardian University Guide 2018.
We’re at the forefront of new knowledge in fields including literature, translation, language, linguistics, creative writing, and film studies. With a strong focus on research and writing in international contexts, we can provide you with a network of research links and support for your professional or academic career.
Our research in modern and contemporary writing is diverse, and includes both literary-critical and creative work. Our approach to contemporary writing encourages the connection between creative artists and literary critics and theorists. 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; medical humanities; literature and the body; questions of literary and political freedom; and distinctions between ‘genre’ and ‘literary’ fiction.
Our diverse mix of subject specialities means we’re a vibrant and imaginative community with lots of opportunity for intellectual exchange.
Our PhD in English will train you in critical and analytical skills, research methods, and knowledge that will equip you for your professional or academic career. It normally takes around three or four years to complete our full-time PhD.
You’ll be assigned a primary and secondary supervisor, who will meet with you regularly to read and discuss your work and make sure that 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 guidance and support of your supervisors. As you go into your second and third year, you’ll gradually learn to work more independently, and your supervisors will guide you on how to present at conferences and get your work published.
After 12-15 months, you’ll submit a substantial piece of work for a confirmation examination. The 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. Following submission of your completed thesis, a viva will be conducted by a panel of one or more external examiners as well as an internal examiner.
You’ll also be able to take advantage of a wide range of services to support and develop your writing and research skills, including the University’s Researcher Development programme. In addition to a number of excellent training opportunities offered by the University, our PhD students can take additional subject-specific training and take part in the School’s ‘Cultures in Contact’ seminar series, which provides a valuable opportunity to meet visiting scholars whose work connects with our own research strengths across literature, theory, and creative writing.
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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).