Literary and Cultural Studies PhD
Why choose this programme
Research in literary and cultural studies brings together researchers from across the School of Literature and Languages to examine pressing social and cultural issues. These include:
- Social and cultural networks
- Cities and urban culture
- Embodiment and the practice and politics of movement
- Queer studies and subversive space
- Medical humanities
- Transnationalism and its limitations.
We’re part of the interdisciplinary School of Literature and Languages, which has research-active staff in English literature, creative writing, film studies, translation studies, theoretical and applied linguistics, and literary and cultural studies.
We’re a member 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.
Our projects have examined areas such as the international reception of British artists, publishing and activism networks in Latin America, and French migration and anarchist movements.
Here at Surrey, you’ll join a cosmopolitan, multilingual and multicultural community of students and scholars, and we see our research students as being a core part of the School.
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 ranked the School of Literature and Languages 10th in the UK 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
This is a programme which will take you on a research journey across cultures. You will develop your own research methodologies to navigate contemporary or historical cultural issues relevant to your project. This might involve archival study, action-based research or field work, as well as literary and cultural analysis.
Research in areas such as gender and sexuality, medical humanities, mobilities and urban studies, creative collaborations and the visual arts, contemporary and historic film, and environmental or political activism, will be supported by expert academics working at the cutting edge of fields such as these. Your research may focus on the intersections between different cultures and languages, or it may take a deep dive into a particular cultural or literary phenomenon.
As a researcher in literary and cultural studies you will become an expert in your project area through in-depth research and advanced analytical skills. You will be fully supported by academic supervisors to engage with current research and to advance the importance of cultural understanding in our globally networked world.
You’ll be assigned two supervisors, who you’ll meet with monthly to discuss your progress. Your supervisors will guide you through your PhD and will give you feedback and advice on your work.
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, publishing in journals, and applying for academic jobs.
It normally takes three to four years of full-time study or six to eight years of part-time study to complete our PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies. You’ll take a confirmation viva at 12-15 months (or 24-30 months part-time) and then be assessed by a thesis and viva examination.
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.
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).
- Latin American literary and cultural studies
- Transnational history and its methodologies
- Franco-British political and cultural exchanges of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Literature and Languages.
You’ll be allocated desk space within the School of Literature and Languages, and you’ll also be able to take advantage of our common rooms for socialising and networking with other students and staff.
Our close proximity to London also means that the British Library and many other important archives and institutions 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 other events, which provides a valuable opportunity to meet visiting scholars whose work connects with our own research strengths across literature, cultural studies and creative writing.
A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
Applicants are expected to hold a good bachelors degree and/or masters degree (2:1 or equivalent) in languages (with a literary or linguistic background), or in related subject areas is required.
For other topics, a good bachelors degree (2:1 or equivalent) and an MA in a relevant topic is required.
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category and at least 7.0 in the writing component.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
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.