You will outline a specific creative project, for completion within 3 years (full-time), and will also be able to identify critical concerns and interests related to your creative practice. The final submission is a document which is divided between the creative piece and a related critical document (the weightings are listed below).
PhD submission will usually entail:
For prose: a creative document (50 – 80%) of either long-form prose/novel, or a collection of short-form prose/stories supported by a critical paper (20–50%) of a similar length to a critical literary PhD submission (around 80,000 to 100,000 words)
For poetry: a creative document of collected poems or a single work with a developed critical thesis (around 50,000 words)
For scriptwriting (for film and live performance): a single project or a collection of multiple shorts should be of comparable length and commitment as the prose element, with a critical element between 20-50% of the overall submission.
Other creative formats (for example a script for a graphic novel) will follow the poetry or prose model, with a 20–50% split for the critical element.
The submission will be of publishable quality (meaning both elements, creative and critical, will be ready for submission to an editor / agent).
The creative and critical elements will entail considered independent research and development. The creative document will be original work of significant, publishable quality which demonstrates an understanding of craft, genre, and form. The critical document will present a structured and developed argument which demonstrates an awareness of context, and discuss, where relevant, critical and creative processes.
You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by Distance Learning.
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.
Why study this course
Here at Birmingham we are in a unique position: Creative Writing is aligned to the English literature and language divisions and the PhD is part of a portfolio of creative writing courses which have a strong reputation.
You will be working with published writers in a thriving research-active environment across a range of disciplines, including poetry; short-story; novel writing; and screen-writing. We also encourage new and diverse forms of writing and aim to develop craft, including research and editing skills, to support the creative project. The course team are experienced in helping you to theorize your approaches to your writing and research processes.
Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham takes place within a community of writers and scholars, which includes active researchers in all areas and disciplines. There are a number of presentations and events staged by the School and by the Creative Writing team, alongside a vibrant arts and writing community in Birmingham City and the West Midlands. We encourage our students, at all levels, to be active within the university and the broader community, and to participate in readings, festivals, and events, both regionally and nationally.
Fees and funding
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are currently as follows:
Home / EU £4,090 full-time; £2,045 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 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.
Learn more about entry 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
You may wish to
register your interest with us
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Making your application
To apply for the Creative Writing Programme please follow the ‘PhD in Department of English’ pathway in the application process that follows.
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.
For all applicants:
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