Triangle

Research overview

Nottingham is a fantastic place to study creative writing. From readings to workshops, to guest lectures, we have a wide range of literary and cultural activities on offer. Since 2015, we've also been a UNESCO City of Literature, offering an annual programme of literary events.

You will join a friendly and supportive research community, which provides the opportunity to:

  • Meet established and emerging writers at our ‘Off The Page’ event series
  • Write for Impact, the university magazine
  • Take part in the Nottingham Poetry Exchange’s open-mic sessions, magazine, and reading group
  • Write or direct for Nottingham New Theatre
  • Join the Creative Writing Society: write for Firefly magazine, or share your podcasts and blogs
  • Get editing experience through The Letters Page online journal, working with award-winning writer Jon McGregor

You are also welcome to attend presentations, guest speaker events and reading groups, hosted by our interdisciplinary Research Centres.

Creative Writing PhD student, James Aitcheson, discusses doing a PhD as a published author:

Watch the video >

Course content

A PhD in Creative Writing is mainly made up of independent study, with supervision meetings spread throughout the year.

There are no taught credits attached to a PhD, although it is compulsory for full-time students to attend the Arts Faculty Researcher Skills training programme. Some PhD students also choose to audit masters modules taught by their supervisors where appropriate, though this is not compulsory, nor does it involve any formal assessment.

Part-time students are expected to attend some face-to-face meetings in the school during the course of their PhD. Although most supervision meetings can be held via Skype etc, students are asked to attend the induction sessions during welcome week if possible, and have their first supervision meeting and at least one supervision a year face-to-face with their supervisory team.

Part-time students are required to attend/take part in all required research training, attend PG seminars where possible and one PGR symposium over the period of their registration. Wherever possible the final viva examination will be face-to-face.

Assessment

You will complete a written thesis of up to 100,000 words, with expert support and advice from your academic supervisor(s). You will also take a verbal examination called a viva voce where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.

A creative writing thesis will mainly consist of your own original creative work. This could be a novel, a manuscript of poems, a collection of short stories, a play, or another form of creative output.

Your thesis will also include a critical analysis of your creative work, which you will situate within a theorised or analytical context.

A PhD thesis should not normally exceed 100,000 words in length. It is expected that the creative element would usually comprise 50,000-70,000 words. The critical analysis component will normally be 15,000-30,000 words in length.

What is the thesis pending period?

All periods of registration are followed by a period of writing-up (called the Thesis-Pending Period) when tuition fees are not paid and students are writing up their thesis. You can find information about this in the university's Quality Manual.

Annual review

All PhD students take part in annual review assessments to ensure that their project is progressing satisfactorily. An annual review usually consists of a written report.

For full-time students, the first year is probationary (first two years for part-time students), and the first year annual review involves a viva with an independent internal assessor.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

QualificationPhD
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) and a masters degree at Merit level or above.

Applicants without a masters degree who can demonstrate equivalent expertise should contact the School of English.

QualificationPhD
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) and a masters degree at Merit level or above.

Applicants without a masters degree who can demonstrate equivalent expertise should contact the School of English.

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.

Applying

You will be required to provide a PhD proposal with your application, which will set out the structure of your project.

The basis of a good proposal is usually a set of questions, approaches, and objectives which clearly outline your proposed project and what you want to accomplish. The proposal should also clearly demonstrate how you are going to accomplish this.

A PhD proposal should be a minimum of 1000 words. There is no upward limit for proposals, although successful proposals are often not much longer than about 2000-3000 words. You should consider:

  • the methodologies that you will use in your project (as appropriate)
  • the necessary resources and facilities you will need to carry out your project

It is also helpful to include:

  • a summary of any further research experience, in addition to your academic qualifications.
    This could include work undertaken at undergraduate or masters level, or outside the educational system
  • the name of the supervisor who may supervise the project (see the full list of supervision areas in the school)

Find out more about how to write a research proposal.

You may find it helpful to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply

Fees

QualificationPhD
Home / UK4,625 per year
International20,000 per year

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for 'home' fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Funding

M4C logo

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

  • funding
  • enhanced support and training
  • expert supervision
  • excellent networking opportunities

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Apply to become an M4C student at the University of Nottingham

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Support

Regular supervision

You will have a team of at least two supervisors. Full-time students will meet with their supervisory team at least 10 times each year (six times for part-time students).

Your supervisors will help you to realise your research project and to guide you through your research. Many students will also attend conferences and publish papers in conjunction with their supervisors, to gain valuable experience and contacts in the academic community.

Professional development

Research students in the School of English benefit from:

  • Opportunities to teach in the school and develop related skills
  • Student-led fortnightly research seminars and an annual symposium
  • Research networks created by the research centres and individual research projects
  • Research council-funded international research exchange visits with leading universities
  • Co-authorship with members of staff
  • Dedicated staff-postgraduate reading groups
  • Support for participation in international conferences and seminars

Postgraduate seminars and conference attendance

A fortnightly seminar series is run by and for the postgraduate students in the school during term time. The seminars provide a forum for students to share work in progress with staff and peers, to hear from invited speakers, and to explore key academic and career topics in a supportive atmosphere.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

English PhD - dedicated study space

Our research students benefit from dedicated office space with networked PCs, social and communal space, and kitchen facilities.

Careers

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

This course will develop key transferable skills:

  • writing skills
  • creative thinking and problem solving
  • planning and researching written work
  • presentation skills
  • editorial and proofreading skills
  • negotiation skills

As a result, our graduates enter a wide range of careers. These include:

  • publishing
  • editorial/technical writing
  • marketing and PR
  • education - primary, secondary and higher education
  • national government
  • not-for-profit organisations

For postgraduate taught students from the School of English: 

  • 97.4% are in work or study 15 months after graduating
  • 81.6% are in graduate level work or study 15 months after graduating 

Source: University of Nottingham derived figures from HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey of the Class of 2017/18 (Open Data Release 23rd June 2020)

Spencer Jordan Creative Writing
The ability to create compelling stories and poetry is one of the most wonderful and liberating skills we can possess. During your PhD you will get to push yourself as a practitioner, exploring new techniques and approaches under the supervision of a published writer.
Dr Spencer Jordan, Programme Director

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 14 October 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.