Creative Writing

Cardiff was one of the first universities in the UK to offer a PhD in Creative Writing, and over two decades we have prepared graduates for careers as writers and in the publishing industry.

The PhD Creative Writing programme is for students and writers wishing to complete a substantial creative work of marketable quality.

Our own MA in Creative Writing provides an ideal basis for students wishing to undertake a PhD. Alternatively, in certain cases PhD students attend the first two terms of the MA course, and submit the assessed essays, before proceeding to full-time work on the thesis.

Distinctive features

  • The School has a dynamic interdisciplinary research culture with a variety of seminar series.
  • The School offers a wide selection of research training opportunities, including a thesis workshop and reading groups.
  • PhD students are encouraged to publish.
  • The School has a dedicated suite for its research students with computing facilities, networked information and access to email and Internet.
  • As from their second year, students have the opportunity for teaching on the School’s undergraduate degree programmes, and receive mentoring sessions from a full-time member of staff.
  • The School makes funding available each year for PGR students who wish to attend conferences/undertake library or archive visits in order to assist with their PhD studies.
  • PhD students are encouraged to participate in the Open Mic session organised for the MA in Creative Writing, and to attend workshops and readings given by visiting writers.
  • PhD students are also encouraged to attend the annual writer’s retreat at Gregynog Hall, a country mansion with a distinguished artistic heritage that is set in glorious countryside in mid-Wales.

Key facts

Mode of study Full-time, part-time
Qualification PhD
Full-time duration PhD 3 years
Part-time duration PhD 5 years
Start dates January, April, July, October

Our PhD students in Creative Writing are producing dynamic work across a range of (hybrid) genres from experimental poetry and short stories to radio and film scripts, ambitious novels and challenging creative non-fiction. They are supported by supervisors who are experienced, published writer-academics. Students are encouraged to engage with hybrid genres as well as established modes and forms.

Examples of current PhD topics are below:

  • ‘The Myth and its Registration’
  • ‘The Gwerin and the Crachach: A Novel’
  • ‘Modest Venus: Experiments in Seeing’
  • ‘World of appearances: defining a post-projective method in contemporary poetics’
  • ‘The representations of Italy in contemporary English Literature’
  • ‘Poetic Grief: Writing the Death of an Addict’
  • ‘Root and Branch: Direction in the Urban Novel in Contemporary Welsh Fiction in English’.

Skills developed

The skills gained on the PhD in Creative Writing provide graduates with the opportunity to produce a book-length work of literature perfected to a publishable standard, as well as offering an excellent grounding in academic research and dissemination. There is also the possibility for doctoral students to undertake some undergraduate teaching during the course of their programme.  It is an ideal preparation for those wishing to pursue careers in freelance writing and academia, as well as careers in teaching, publishing, arts management and administration, public relations and journalism.


A list of staff working  within Creative Writing can be found here.


The PhD programme involves the  preparation of an original piece of creative work – a novel, collection of  poems or short stories – and a critical commentary.

Candidates for the PhD Creative Writing will submit one of the following:

  • Prose (novel, short  story, work of creative non-fiction or play/film script) - the creative portion  and critical commentary will not normally exceed 100,000 words with the  critical commentary comprising not less than 20,000 words
  • Poetry, a  collection of poetry, prose poetry or micro-fiction amounting to around 60  pages, with an accompanying critical commentary of not less than 20,000 words
  • An integrated  Creative/Critical submission of no more than 100,000 words.

"Positioned at the interface of different traditions, methodologies, theoretical approaches, disciplines and practices, our pioneering research engenders challenging and fascinating questions for our staff and, through our PhD supervision and research-led teaching also for our students are all levels." Professor Alison Wray, Director of Research in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy.

The School’s research is recognised internationally for its excellence and was ranked in the top ten for the quality of its English Language and Literature research, including Creative Writing, in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2014).

Cardiff University has recently joined the world's top 100 universities for the study of English Language & Literature in the 2016 QS World University Rankings.

Research environment

The School takes the training of research students very seriously, providing the facilities and supervisory guidance to help each student flourish intellectually and work productively. The School has a dedicated suite of PhD research rooms with excellent networked IT facilities. Each student has a travel budget and a contribution to photocopying costs, as well as free printing facilities. We regularly check with students what training they need, and ensure that it is provided. Our PhD students can apply to get teaching experience with us, and our unique ‘Learning to Teach’ programme is accredited by the Higher Education Academy. The School holds a yearly conference to allow PhD students the opportunity to share work with their peers in a supportive and stimulating multi-disciplinary environment. The Arts and Social Studies Library is well-stocked with books and academic journals in all our subject areas, electronic resources, and specialist collections such as Cardiff Rare Books, a rich collection of over 14,000 items ranging from fifteenth-century incunabula to twentieth-century fine press books.

In a competitive jobs market, our students are encouraged and supported in building up the skills that will make them employable, whatever their career direction. We value the rich experience of our many overseas students, and actively attend to their specific needs in relation to their cultural context of study and the demands of writing elegantly in a second language.

Job roles: Editor, EFL Teacher, English Teacher, Lecturer, PR Officer, Writer, Head Teacher

Employers: Oxford University Press, London Film School, Palgrave MacMillan, Universities from Cork (Ireland) to Wisconsin State (USA), Virgin Media, Literature Wales, Visit Wales


The School will be offering bursaries worth one year of the Home/EU fee on a competitive basis for 2016-17. To be eligible for a bursary, applicants must have secured a place on a PhD programme

The School welcomes enquiries from applicants who are considering applying for funding for a PhD Creative Writing from the SWW-DTP for 2017-18. Please contact with your enquiry.

Name Deadline
Ursula Henriques Scholarship 31 May 2018

Tuition fees

UK and EU students

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

In addition to the application form, research proposal and supporting documents we also require copies of recent creative work, the word count of which will depend very much on the genre of work produced but we would expect approximately 3,000 words of prose or 10-15 poems.

Applicants should include a research proposal (approx 1000 words), 2 academic references, a sample of creative writing, copies of BA and MA degree certificates and a transcript of the marks.

For further information and guidelines for Personal Statement or supporting material please click here.

Applications are welcome from graduates with at least a 2:1 at undergraduate level (in any academic discipline) and an MA in (preferably) Creative Writing or English Literature.

You are recommended to email the postgraduate administrator at with your research proposal and a sample of creative work prior to making a formal application.

English language requirements

The School welcomes applications from students outside the United Kingdom. For non-native speakers of English, an IELTS overall score of 7.5 with at least 7.0 in each sub score is essential.

Please read our English language requirements for more details.


Administrative contact(s)

ENCAP Postgraduate Admissions

Administrative contact


Apply now
Tuition fee discount of £3,400 for eligible Welsh and EU students starting a master’s degree in September 2018.

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