English Literature PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

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Our principal areas of research expertise include Medieval English (for example, Old English, Chaucer, Langland, Lollard writing, Reformation writing and medievalist writers such as Tolkien ); Early Modern English (for example, Brown, Daniel, Donne, Johnson, Marlowe, Middleton, Shakespeare, Spenser); Restoration, 18th century and the Romantics (for example, Swift, Goldsmith, Johnson, Wordsworth, Pope); and 19th and 20th century research (for example, J.G.Ballard, Conrad, Dickens, T.S.Eliot, Michael Field, Wyndham Lewis, Zadie Smith).

Course fact file

Type of Course: Distance learning, doctoral research

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: PhD – 3 years full-time; 6 years part-time; MLitt - 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time; MA by Research – 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Start date: January or September

Details

The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a dissertation of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision.

The MLitt involves undertaking research on a chosen topic leading to the preparation of a thesis of 60,000 words.

The PhD – the most advanced research degree – leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice and under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff.

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, there is a compulsory annual visit to campus (every two years for part-time PhD students) - please see our frequently asked questions about distance learning to find out more.

Profiles of our current English Literature doctoral researchers

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are currently as follows:

  • Home / EU £4,052 full-time; £2,026 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,195 full-time; £6,597.50 part-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Learn more about postgraduate tuituion fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Birmingham Masters Scholarship Scheme

For 2015 entry the University has 224 new £10,000 scholarships available for Masters students from under-represented groups. These scholarships have been jointly funded by the British Government; the allocation of the awards, which is the fourth highest in the UK, further cements Birmingham?s place amongst the very best higher education institutions for postgraduate study. The application deadline is 31 July 2015.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

For applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode only:

As part of the application process for the distance learning study mode, we will ask you to provide evidence to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study for a PhD by Distance Learning. Please be prepared to provide evidence, and details, of the following:

  • Examples of your postgraduate research experience and ability to work independently e.g. papers/presentations at professional and academic conferences or publications in professional journals or previous completion of an independent research project, etc.
  • Full reasons (academic and personal) for registering for the distance learning mode of study rather than by standard full or part-time on-campus options. In particular, how you will be able to carry out your project in your chosen location.
  • Access to local library facilities (where needed)
  • Access to IT facilities
  • Access to communications, including e-mail and visual communication media e.g. Skype and Facetime
  • Access to facilities to support any study-related disability (where appropriate)

You can upload this information at the time of application - when asked to provide supporting documentation - or via your applicant portal once you have submitted your application.

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Research interests of staff

The following summary indicates our principal areas of research expertise. Please view our staff profiles for further possible research topics.

Our work in Medieval English ( for example, Old English, Chaucer, Langland, Lollard writing, Older Scots literature, Reformation writing and medievalist writers such as Tolkien) extends through medieval literature into concerns with editing, print production, bibliography, manuscript studies, and non-manuscript verbal cultures of the Middle Ages; and also with relations between medieval verbal and visual cultures.

In the Early Modern area (for example, Daniel, Donne, Johnson, Marlowe, Middleton, Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton) our specialisms in dramatic and non-dramatic writing extend into the reception of early modern writers in later periods and today, and run alongside our work on cultures of manuscript, print and 17th century women’s writing.

In Restoration, 18th century and Romantics (for example, Rochester, Behn, Swift, Pope, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Johnson, Wordsworth, Goldsmith) we focus on reading literary works in their historical and cultural contexts, with special interests in the editing of texts, in prose fiction, in language and lexicography, in the reception of Shakespeare, early modern and medieval literature, and in gender.

In 19th century, 20th century, and contemporary (for example, James, Harriet Wilson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Conrad, Ford, Wyndham Lewis, Woolf, Dorothy Richardson, T. S. Eliot, Kerouac, J. M. Coetzee, Zadie Smith, Don Delillo) we are particularly interested in the late Victorian period, Modernism and the contemporary and we utilise a number of thematic and theoretical approaches (including historiography, cultural theory, postcolonialism, cultures of reading, digital theory).

The research themes of materiality of the text (for example, textual editing, history of the book, media history) and gender (for example, women writers, relevant theoretical approaches) can be pursued across all these periods.

Employability

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Birmingham?s English Literature postgraduates develop a range of skills including presentation, communication and analytical skills, as well as the ability to work independently, think critically and develop opinions.

Over the past five years, over 90% of English Literature postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our graduates go on to further study or academia, while others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations including accounting, the charity sector, teaching, local government, law, publishing and media. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Birmingham Museums Trust; Bloomsbury Publishing; Civil Service; Coventry Arts and Heritage Trust; House of Commons; and University of Kent.