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  1. Research degrees
Study at City

PhD / MPhil English

City’s PhD English allows you to develop as an independent researcher while studying in a vibrant research environment in the heart of London.

Key information

Start date

Admissions normally take place in September/ October each year.


Full-time: 2-4 years

Part-time: 4-7 years



Full-time: £4,680 per year

Part-time: £2,340 per year


Full-time: £12,480 per year

Part-time: £6,240 per year


The PhD English programme provides you with academic and professional opportunities to develop as an independent, creative and original scholar who is capable of contributing to knowledge and research at the forefront of the discipline. You will work closely with a supervisory team, whose areas of expertise align with your chosen topic of research. You will benefit from working in a vibrant research environment that provides access to resources and development opportunities such as research seminars, lecture series, visiting scholars and speakers, peer interaction and support, and London’s outstanding research and cultural facilities.

The PhD English aims:

  • To support students to develop as independent, creative and original scholars who are capable of contributing to discipline-specific knowledge and research
  • To enable students to take responsibility for their own learning and research output
  • To provide students with access to resources and development opportunities in a vibrant research environment
  • To produce scholars who are able to support, collaborate with and lead colleagues using a range of teaching, communication and networking skills to influence scholarly practice in the discipline
  • To enable students to think critically about literary scholarship to produce innovative research and create new knowledge.


Entry requirements

Applicants should normally

  • Hold a 2.1 Honours BA qualification or equivalent
  • Hold an MA qualification with Merit or an equivalent qualification
  • Have studied English, Comparative Literature, Theatre and Drama, Film and Media Studies, Creative Writing, Humanities, Publishing or other relevant subject
  • Non-traditional applicants may be considered if they can demonstrate substantial research experience or evidence of relevant professional experience or publication

English requirements

If your first language is not English, you will be expected to demonstrate Level 7.5 proficiency in the IELTS English language test.

Visa requirements

International Students (EEA and Non EEA) coming to study in the UK, may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study. The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

  • EEA nationals joining the programme in 2020 and EEA nationals joining from January 2021
  • Students on courses of more than six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

For more information see our main Visa page.


You will initially register as an MPhil/PhD student. After the completion of a minimum period of registration, you will be eligible to submit an application for upgrading to PhD status. Progression to PhD registration is not automatic, but contingent on the satisfactory outcome of a review process. Subject to successful upgrade, your doctoral studies will conclude with the submission of a PhD thesis of 75,000-100,000 words, which makes an original contribution to the field, satisfies peer review and merits publication. You will attend a viva voce examination in front of at least two examiners, at least one of whom will be external to City. For full details about City’s PhD programme structure, please see the Guide for Research Students.

Your progress and training needs are regularly assessed during your studies. During the programme, you will participate in a range of activities, including meetings with supervisors, departmental research seminars, research student seminars, research student meetings, research studies workshops, and national/ international meetings and conferences. In your first year you will be expected to engage with the generic and subject-specific training offered at Graduate School, SASS and departmental levels. In subsequent years you will attend specialist training sessions offered by the Graduate School and the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

The PhD English programme requires substantial commitment. You are ordinarily permitted a maximum of four years to complete the full-time programme and up to seven years to complete the part-time programme. Full-time students are expected to dedicate themselves fully to their research, while part-time students should expect to spend at least the equivalent of two days per week on their research.

Funding options

Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans

The Government has introduced a new Postgraduate Doctoral Loans scheme which can provide a loan of up to £25,000 over three years to support study for a doctoral degree. A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study and can be used alongside any other forms of support you may be able to receive, for example from industry or business or through your PhD supervisor.

Find out more about Postgraduate Doctoral Loans



Each research student has a supervision team composed of at least two research-active members of staff. Your supervisors will direct your research activities, monitor your progress, provide detailed feedback on written work and advise you on your professional development.


You are encouraged to develop your skills in key areas of researcher training. You will agree a training programme annually with the Senior Tutor for Research or your supervisors. In your first year, you will engage with the generic and subject-specific training offered at the Graduate School and at departmental levels. In subsequent years, you will attend specialist training sessions offered by the Graduate School and the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. PhD students who teach benefit from access to specialist training.

City’s Graduate School offers institution-wide research-related activities to contribute to researcher development.

Research Environment

Research students constitute an important and active part of the English Department’s research culture. The Department runs a regular series of interdisciplinary research seminars for all members of staff and research students. The research students in the Department also have an established seminar programme of presenting their work to each other in an informal and supportive atmosphere. Students also benefit from access to London’s world-class research and cultural facilities.

How to apply

The admission of research students is dependent upon many factors, one of which is the expertise currently available in the Department. Potential applicants should therefore check the current research interests of staff members before making an informal enquiry. If appropriate supervisory expertise is available, potential applicants should initially approach the Department’s Senior Tutor for Research, Dr Minna Vuohelainen ( before submitting a formal application.

Apply for PhD English (part time September entry)

Apply for PhD English (full time September entry)

We accept applications on an ongoing basis for entry normally in September/ October. To apply, you should submit the following documents:

  • The Online Research Degree Application Form
  • A research proposal of no more than 2000 words that succinctly outlines the aims and scope of the proposed project, your methodological approach and the project’s original contribution to knowledge
  • Copies of degree certificates and transcripts
  • Two academic references or contact details for two academic referees
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable)

Find out more about how to prepare your research proposal.

Please note that we will not consider incomplete applications.

Find out more about the application process at City.