English Literature PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates

April 2023
July 2023
October 2023
January 2024
Part-time - 8 years

Start dates

April 2023
July 2023
October 2023
January 2024

Why choose this programme

We perform innovative and world-leading research across literature, writing and linguistics.

We’re part of the interdisciplinary School of Literature and Languages, which has research-active staff who are at the forefront of knowledge in English literature, creative writing, film studies, translation studies, theoretical and applied linguistics, and literary and cultural studies.

Our research concentrates on a range of periods, themes and subjects, including:

  •  medieval literature 
  •  Shakespeare and the Renaissance 
  •  romanticism 
  •  Victorian and 19th-century literature 
  •  modern and contemporary literature 
  •  creative writing 
  •  film studies. 

Our diverse mix of subject specialities mean that we are a vibrant and imaginative community with lots of opportunity for intellectual exchange.

We’re 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*). REF is the UK’s system for independently assessing the quality of research in higher education institutions. Our submission to REF included contributions from the Guildford School of Acting (GSA).

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

Our English Literature PhD 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 progress. 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 the first year of your PhD, 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.

Assessment

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.

Research support

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.

Research themes

  • Women's writing (especially medieval women's writing, early modern women's drama and Victorian women writers) 
  • Medieval romance 
  • Romanticism 
  • Victorian studies 
  • Modernism and modernity 
  • Travel and mobility 
  • Western and global esotericisms 
  • Sexuality and queer theory   
  • Postmodern and post-postmodern writing 
  • Contemporary Fiction 
  • Transnational literature. 

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Literature and Languages.

Research facilities

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. 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 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.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a good first degree (a minimum 2:1 or equivalent) and an MA in a relevant topic.

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).

 

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, are subsequently confirmed as having PhD.

Fees

Start date: April 2023

Full-time

UK
£4,596
Overseas
£18,100

Part-time

UK
£2,298
Overseas
£9,100

Start date: July 2023

Full-time

UK
£4,596
Overseas
£18,100

Part-time

UK
£2,298
Overseas
£9,100

Start date: October 2023

Full-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£18,600

Part-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£9,300

Start date: January 2024

Full-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£18,600

Part-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£9,300

For fees payable in 2022/23, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October 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 2022 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.

Funding

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

How to apply

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.

More 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 regulations, 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 generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2022/2023 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.

Disclaimer

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.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions

Contact Admissions Team

Address

University of Surrey
Guildford
Surrey GU2 7XH