Creative Writing PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Start date
Flexible – September or January encouraged
Duration
PhD – 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning, Doctoral research
Fees

Full-time annual tuition fee 2020/21:
UK/EU: £4,380
International: £17,880
More detail.

At Birmingham, we are in a unique position: Creative Writing is aligned to both Film and the Departments of English Literature and English Language and Applied Linguistics, allowing you to benefit from our breadth of expertise.

This PhD aims to support you in the development of a long-form piece of creative writing, or a sequence of related works.

You will outline, in detail, 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 that is divided between the creative piece and a related critical document.

Your 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). A novel, for example, should be somewhere between 60,000 to 80,000 words. The critical paper can be between 20,000 to 40,000 words. This would be discussed with your supervisor throughout your study.

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 creative document will be an 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.

AHRC funding for UK/EU PhD students

The University of Birmingham is part of the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C DTP), offering Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD studentships for campus-based programmes across the eight M4C DTP partners. These include a number of Collaborative Doctoral Award opportunities. Each studentship includes full research fees, a substantial maintenance grant and additional research training support. Applications are open until 12 noon, 14 January 2020.

Find out more

You can study our Creative Writing PhD by distance learning. Our distance learning website contains useful information, including frequently asked questions, student experiences and details of the funded visit to Birmingham.

At Birmingham, you also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your research activity.

I’ve enjoyed studying at the University of Birmingham’s state of the art green campus with its spacious library and welcoming multicultural environment. The close interaction between students and supervisors has kept my research progress on track and constantly improving.

Hui-Han

Why Study this Course?

  • Work with published writers: 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
  • Develop your craft: We also encourage new and diverse forms of writing and aim to develop craft, including research and editing skills, to support your creative project. The course team are experienced in helping you to theorise your approaches to your writing and research processes.
  • Creative community: You will work alongside 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 and the West Midlands. We encourage our students, at all levels, to be active within the community and to participate in readings, festivals, and events, both regionally and nationally.
  • Preparation for teaching: The research degree is of value for writers who wish to engage with research in academia, for preparation for teaching in Higher Education, and offers dedicated time and support to complete a significant creative project.
  • World-leading research: The department celebrated excellent results in the latest Research Excellence Framework: 34% of research at the University of Birmingham for English Language and Literature was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’. A further 53% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,380 full-time; £2,190 part-time*
  • International: £17,880 full-time; £8,940 part-time

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2020.

Fee status

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


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Funding opportunities

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.

How To Apply

A strong application should include:

  • A detailed description of the creative project (about two pages, with references, where possible, to other supporting texts)
  • A description of the likely critical enquiry (which outlines the links between your creative project and the critical enquiry which will inform the development of the creative project).
  • Examples of creative work (please include examples which are within your discipline, so if you want to write poetry, please include poems, if you want to write a novel, then a section of a novel, etc.,.)
  • A brief statement explaining why you are interested in undertaking research with us at Birmingham. Many projects are achievable without needing a PhD, so it is helpful to see why you are interested in working within academia. It is also useful to see how this new project develops from previous projects, or relates to other creative and critical enquiries. This can be speculative.
  • A decision on whether the period of study is to be full- or part-time (it is possible to adjust this once you are undertaking the research degree). If you are interested in Distance Learning, and if your application is successful, you will be asked to complete a form in which you provide details about your access to other resources and online support. Your supervisor will help you complete this prior to your being officially accepted.

Please note: The PhD is a demanding and rewarding period of advanced creative and academic independent study. It is also a terminal degree, and we require that applicants have either successfully completed a Creative Writing MA, or can demonstrate experience within their discipline. Unlike the MA, the PhD does not typically include group workshops and seminars. A strong application will demonstrate your current ability and experience within your creative discipline (so if you wish to write a film script, but have written novels, you would need some evidence of ability and knowledge in writing for film).

Application deadlines

Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 July 2020.

Distance learning students will attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 July 2020. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

Before you make your application

Full details of our requirements can be found on our Applications page.

As part of the application for admission onto our MJur, MPhil and PhD programmes, you must prepare a research proposal outlining your proposed area of study. For more information, please see our guidance on how to write a research proposal.

Please also see our additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making 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

Our Standard Requirements

The creative and critical elements will entail considered independent research and development. For this reason, we can only consider applications from applicants who have successfully completed an MA in Creative Writing, or candidates who can demonstrate composite professional experience (which includes publishing). This should be clearly demonstrated in your application. For the PhD, you must demonstrate how the research project relates to your current creative practice.

Please note: check the staff profiles prior to application to make sure that your proposal is within an area that we can support. We will be unable to support a research project which falls too far outside of our own field of research and teaching.

For the application we require:

  • a detailed outline describing the planned creative project
  • an outline of the potential critical enquiry and how it relates to the creative project (this can be less detailed than the description of the creative project)
  • a statement about your reasons for considering a research degree
  • examples of creative work
  • a short resume or CV
  • two references from people who are familiar with both your creative and critical abilities

The application will be reviewed by the department in several stages. If there is an interested and available supervisor we will ask you form an interview, which can happen online.

International students

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.


IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 in Listening, 22 in Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): PTE Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

International Requirements


The Department is home to a number of award-winning writers and our research into the aesthetic, historical and theoretical contexts of literature is complemented by our strong traditions in creative practice as research.

Please contact a staff member working in your area of interest in the first instance: Find a supervisor in Creative Writing.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Over the past five years, more than 96% of Creative Writing postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Postgraduates in the Department of Film and Creative Writing develop a range of skills including: the ability to lead and participate in discussions; critical thinking, and an appreciation of different theoretical contexts; the ability to develop opinions and new ideas; and an aptitude for thinking and working creatively with others. While some graduates go on to careers in related industries - such as writing, media and television - others have used their transferable skills to pursue roles such as advertising, teaching, and in the heritage and cultural sectors.