English Literature

The PhD programme in English Literature at Cardiff offers the opportunity to pursue doctoral research in a range of canonical and newly-emergent areas of study, from a focus on traditional authors and periods to more recent developments in the fields of cultural theory, gender criticism, eco-theory and digital humanities.

The  programme is distinguished by the provision of a number of key engagement  platforms for research intended to foster conversation between students at all  levels and across disciplines. These engagement platforms and public seminars include:

  • CEIR (Centre for Editorial  and Intertextual Research)
  • CRECS (Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century  Seminar)
  • MEMORI (Medieval and Early Modern Research Initiative)
  • Cardiff  Poetry Experiment and Cardiff Book Talk.

Additionally, the School of English Literature, Communication and Philosophy runs a student-led annual postgraduate research conference for English Literature, Creative Writing, Critical and Cultural Theory and Philosophy, intended to  foster interdisciplinary debate and develop individual research and  employability skills, all of which we see as key to the success of the PhD programme in English Literature at Cardiff.

Programme aims

To offer knowledge and expertise to take you on to a role in Higher Education, or employment requiring high-level skills in research or advanced subject knowledge.

Distinctive features

  • A highly successful programme with a flourishing postgraduate community
  • A dynamic interdisciplinary research culture with a variety of seminar series running throughout the academic year
  • A wide range of research training opportunities, including a thesis workshop programme
  • 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 or undertake library archive visits that are related to their PhD studies.

Key facts

Mode of study Full-time, part-time
Qualification PhD, MPhil
Full-time duration 3 years (PhD), 1 year (MPhil)
Part-time duration 5 years (PhD), 2 years (MPhil)
Start dates January, April, July, October

Skills developed

The School enables students to develop professional discipline-specific skills, and to share work-in-progress, through its fortnightly English Literature thesis workshop, with more generic training provided via the research programmes run by the Doctoral Academy. At the end of their candidatures, doctoral students at Cardiff have gained the capacity for independent and innovative critical thinking and possess a rich array of transferable skills.

These include:

  • advanced communication in a variety of written and oral contexts
  • sophisticated analysis of a range of complex research materials
  • organization and synthesis of findings
  • assimilation, evaluation and distillation of competing arguments.

'I’m particularly struck by our communal interest in what goes on at the interface of different traditions, methodologies, theoretical approaches, disciplines and practices. It gives Cardiff a particular entry into cutting-edge research that continually engenders new and interesting questions both for our staff and, through our PhD supervision and our research-led teaching, also for our students at all levels.' (Prof 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 Critical and Cultural Theory and 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. Read in full here.

Research Areas

We offer expert supervision across the chronological and theoretical range of the discipline, with particular strengths in the following areas:

  • book history
  • children’s literature
  • critical and cultural theory
  • cultural history
  • digital humanities
  • editing theory and practice
  • film and adaptation
  • gender and sexuality studies
  • historicism (new-Elizabethan, neo-Gothic, neo-Medieval, neo-Victorian, counter-Romantic)
  • illustration studies
  • Irish studies
  • (literary) translation/literature in translation
  • literature and the environment
  • literature and the law
  • manuscript culture
  • medical humanities
  • medieval cultural studies
  • modern drama
  • postcolonial studies
  • Welsh writing in English
  • women’s writing.

More information about staff and their research areas is available on the School's website.

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 offers bursaries worth one year of the Home/EU fee on a competitive basis. For more information contact encap-pg@cardiff.ac.uk.

The School welcomes enquiries from applicants who are considering applying for funding for a PhD English Literature from the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership for 2017-18.

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.

Admission process

We offer three entry points for our research degree: 1 October, 1 January and 1 April.

Applications are welcome from graduates with at least a 2:1 in English Literature (and/or relevant discipline) and an MA in English Literature (and/or a relevant discipline).

You are recommended to email the postgraduate administrator at encap-pg@cardiff.ac.uk with your research proposal prior to making a formal application.

In addition to the application form, research proposal and supporting documents, we also require an essay on a literary topic of your choice (around 4000 words, in English).

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.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

English language requirements


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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