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 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). 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 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. For this reason we require a Creative Writing MA, or demonstrable experience in your discipline which should be clearly demonstrated in your application. 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.
Making an application
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 advance 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).
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, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).
For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our
distance learning website.
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.