Skip to main content Skip to navigation

PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies

Develop your research career with Warwick

A PhD is undertaken for a variety of reasons: as preliminary training for an academic career; as an advanced degree that may contribute to a future career in other sectors; or simply as an exciting and rewarding pursuit in its own right. Your final dissertation, which will be up to 80,000 words, is expected to make an original contribution to knowledge.

Studying at Warwick means joining a supportive and world-leading network of experts. Our staff are specialists across a broad spectrum of topics: see our staff profile pages for more information, and our current PhD and MPhil students to give you a sense of the projects currently being pursued in our department.

Our department was ranked in the top 10 in the UK in the Research Excellence FrameworkLink opens in a new window, and the 2024 QS World University Rankings placed us in the top 30 English departments in the worldLink opens in a new window. Find out more about our history and who we areLink opens in a new window.

Our warm and vibrant research community is one of the largest in the UK, with around 110 postgraduates every year. We offer a full calendar of seminars, symposiums and conferences, with a busy diary of speakers from around the world. We also offer funding for postgraduate study, and career development support during your time here.

You will study alongside ambitious scholars and researchers at the forefront of their fields. We want you to harness your intellectual ambitions and interests, and bring your own distinct personal experiences and circumstances to bear on your work.

Key facts

Qualification: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Duration: 4 years full time, 7 years part-time

Next intake: October 2024


Apply now

At the start of the academic year, you will be welcomed by our department. You will work with your supervisor to create a calendar plan for the year that is bespoke for you and your studies.

Each year, your work will also be read and assessed by other academic staff in your field. The final goal of the research degree is the production of your thesis. You will write 80,000 words (excluding footnotes, bibliography and appendices) on a topic of your choice; and be examined by an internal and external examiner in a viva.

Find out more about degrees:

Research themes at Warwick

We particularly welcome research applications in these research areas.


As a research student, your closest contact will be with your supervisor, or co-supervisors, who will meet with you regularly to discuss your work. The supervisory relationship is at the heart of your research. Your supervisor(s) are experts in their field who will guide you throughout your degree and will agree upon a programme of reading, research and writing with you.

You can ask any academic from our department to be your supervisor. See our staff pages for more details and to see whose research interests align with yours.

You will also be able to seek advice from our Director of Graduate Studies, who oversees our research students; and participate in sessions organized by our PG Professionalization Officer, who organizes seminars on employment in both the academic and non-academic sectors. With your peers, you will have the chance to participate in seminars, conferences, reading groups, and symposia; and you will be encouraged to apply for internal funding to support research trips and participation in academic events outside of the university.

Research expertise

Our department was ranked in the top 10 in the Research Excellence FrameworkLink opens in a new window, and the2024 QS World University Rankings placed us in the top 30 English departments in the world.Link opens in a new window

Our staff are renowned experts across a broad spectrum of specialisms.

Thriving research groups

Our Department is home to several thriving research groups, including Comparative Religions and Literatures (CoRAL) and the Warwick Research Collective (Materialist Studies in World Literature). We have close ties to the Centre for Philosophy, Literature and the Arts, the Eighteenth Century Centre, the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies, and many other ongoing research projects and collectives.

International conferences

Our Department is regularly home to major national and international conferences, most recently The Descent into the Classical Underworld, Imperial Cultures of the United States, and Peripheral Postcolonialities.

Large library at the heart of campus

The University library's Rare Books and Special Collectionsinclude early editions of Smollett, Swift, Scott, and Goethe, and is home to the Modern Records Centre.

Regional and national connections

The University campus is approx. 15 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, home to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the largest publically-available collection of Shakespeare material in the world. We are also just over an hour from London, home to world-class museums, galleries, and the British Library - the largest library in the world.

A lively graduate culture

You will get a chance to present your work at our annual Postgraduate Symposium. Our graduate students are an important part of our teaching faculty, and for those progressing well with their research, there are opportunities to gain valuable teaching experience across a variety of undergraduate modules.

A postgraduate English degree is a key route into Higher Education, research, and academic careers, which often require postgraduate qualifications. As part of English’s postgraduate community, you will join a department that values its graduate students and encourages them to become part of our thriving research culture.

The average mean salary for all postgraduates from Warwick is £39,500 per annum, and 93.7% are currently in work and/or further study (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education).

Recent graduate destinations for postgraduate courses:

Barclays Bank; Civil Service Ministry of Justice; Corus Hotels; Coventry University; Deloitte; International Institute for Environment and Development; NewsQuest Media Group; Oxfam; Pan Macmillan; PepsiCo; Royal National Lifeboat Institution; Royal Opera House; Royal Town Planning Institution; TeachFirst; The Burlington Magazine; The Sun; The Times; University of Worcester; V&A Museum; Yale University Press.

Positions of our recent graduates from postgraduate courses:

Account Executive; Business Consultant; Community and Events Fundraising Assistant; Compliance Office; Content Executive; Editorial Assistant; English Teacher; Foreign Rights Assistant; Workshop Director; Writer and Researcher; Innovation and Enterprise Consultant; International and Business Performance Assistant; Journalist; Junior Account Executive; Marketing Manager; Publishing Assistant; Research Analyst; Social Media Analyst; TV Researcher; TV Runner, University Lecturer.

What personal and professional development opportunities and support are available?

  • One-to-one academic mentoring support from your dissertation supervisor and personal tutors
  • Support from the Centre for Arts Doctoral Research Excellence
  • Opportunities to publish in PG student journals (Exchanges and Feminist Dissent)
  • Postgraduate student conferences (Postgraduate Symposium, PG Arts Research Festival, and Café Academique, Arts Out: Annual Faculty of Arts Festival)
  • Student societies (including the Warwick Literature Society)
  • Masters Skills Program, Researcher Development ProgrammeLink opens in a new window, Transferable Skills Program
  • Arts Faculty workshop series
  • Project, research and placement funding

Entry Requirements

You must hold, or be currently studying for, an MA or international equivalent in a relevant discipline, with a predicted or final mark of 65 or above. You should normally also have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject.

If you have not already taken an MA at Warwick, you may be required to take part in the ‘Foundation Module’ of the taught MA. This will not be formally assessed but will ensure that you have acquired the necessary skills for further research.

English Language Requirements

Band CLink opens in a new window

IELTS overall score of 7.5, minimum component scores of two at 6.5/7.0 and the rest at 7.5 or above.

We also accept TOEFL Band C (108 overall, with no component below 23).

See our Graduate Admissions page for further details on language requirements.

Your research proposal

This is the most important part of your application and you should take the time to hone it carefully.

Your proposal should make specific reference to the texts, authors, and/or themes that you will tackle, the theories or concepts that you will employ, and situate the project within current critical work in the area. You might cite a few secondary works which have interested, inspired, or provoked you. This is not the place for a personal statement about your past career or future aspirations. We recognise, of course, that all projects change and evolve during the process of doctoral study, and that it's difficult to define a project in advance of carrying it out. For us to assess your application and identify possible supervisors, however, it is crucial for us to have a clear idea of the scope and subject of your project.

We strongly recommend that you take the time to look at the profiles of our staff who work in your research area in order to identify a potential supervisor or supervisors for your project. It can really help applicants to have corresponded with potential supervisors before submitting their formal application.

Successful applicants are assigned a supervisor and advisory mentor (who offers academic and pastoral support) from amongst the academic staff of the Department. On occasion, it may be appropriate for a student to have two supervisors, sometimes with their second supervisor being in another department.

Course Fees

See Student Finance

Scholarships 2024/25 Entry

There are a number of scholarships available for both Home and international applicants, through a variety of University schemes. Like all applications for funding awards they take some time and effort to complete, so please begin early by identifying a potential supervisor(s) and writing a research proposal. Please note that most scholarship require candidates to have applied for a place at Warwick to be eligible for competition entry.

  • Chancellor's International ScholarshipsLink opens in a new window - Closed. For overseas fees students (inc. currently enrolled Year One PhD students) Deadline: 14 December 2023 23:59 (GMT)
  • Midlands4Cities - Closed. For candidates of any nationality. Closing Date: 10 January 2024 (noon UK time). Online writing workshop on 18th November 2023 (10-1). Sign up:
  • China Scholarship Council (CSC) / University of Warwick Scholarships : Closed. For PhD applicants and first year PhD students who meet the CSC criteria. Open on 10 November 2023 for entry in Autumn 2024. Closing Date: 18 January 2024 23:59 (GMT)

  • Monash Warwick Alliance Joint PhD ScholarshipsLink opens in a new window - for candidates of any nationality and fee status. Successful applicants will spend 2 years at Warwick and 1 year at Monash University, Australia. Closed. Closing Date: 11 January 2024 23:59 (GMT)
  • EUTOPIA PHD Scholarships - joint scholarships with partner institutions across Europe. Available to enable promising researchers to be jointly supervised in order to complete their PhD. Closed for entry in Autumn 2023. Watch this space for 2024.
  • Race XChange - open 1 Scholarship to fill, awarded to PhD applicants developing leading research on improving access and participation for minority ethnic students in postgraduate research in the UK. Rolling deadline until filled
  • Sanctuary Scholarships - a range of scholarships to enable refugees to progress to access doctoral funding. Closed. Closing Date: 26th Feb 2024 23:59 (GMT)

The Department will nominate outstanding applicants for these awards.

For the Monash Warwick scholarship there is a separate application form, which can be found here.

You should indicate on your application which, if any, scholarships you wish to be considered for.

Additional Course Costs

Students are expected to buy the set primary texts for each module they study.

Find out more about fees and funding on the University website.

The application consists of two parts: a formal application form and the supporting documents.

(1) The formal application

You may apply for a place on the PhD program from October 2023. The application is completed and submitted via the University's postgraduate online application form. The form will ask you to include, amongst other things:

  • Your personal and contact details
  • Your academic qualifications
  • Details of your referees; they will be contacted automatically once you submit your application
  • Scholarships/prizes already awarded, and further academic details
  • A research proposal of 500 words. Please remember to give your project a provisional title. Please note that this will also count as your application for funding if you are nominated. This should situate a topic within a particular chronological or thematic area, and should make specific reference to bodies of theoretical knowledge, texts, or authors which will be studied. You should also locate the topic within current critical work in this area, perhaps citing a few recent secondary works which have interested, inspired or provoked you. This is not the place for a personal statement about your past career or future aspirations. We recognise, of course, that all projects change and evolve during the process of doctoral study, and that it is difficult to define a project in advance of carrying it out. However, it is very important, when assessing applications, for us to have a clear idea of your project, which will enable us to identify possible supervisors.

Please indicate on the application form if you have entered into any discussions with staff members of our department about possible research, or if there is someone who would particularly like to work with. This enables us to deal with your application more quickly.

You will also be asked to upload your academic transcript(s) AFTER you have submitted your online form. Admissions will contact you by email and provide a link to a page where you should upload an electronic copy of your transcript.

(2) Supporting documents

You should be able to upload your supporting documents with your application, but if you encounter any technical difficulties please send them directly to the Director of Graduate Studies.

  • A CV, listing all related academic achievements.
  • A sample of your recent written work; this should be an essay or dissertation chapter, ideally from your MA work, but can be a strong piece from your BA.

If you require a printed copy of the postgraduate application form please e-mail, remembering to include your postal address, or telephone them on +44 (0) 24 7657 23648. Consult the University's Graduate Prospectus for guidelines on the application process and frequently asked questions.

Our admissions process

  1. Applications are initially evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies and by at least one other staff member.
  2. Those applications that meet our entry requirements are then passed to a potential supervisor.
  3. If this member of staff is interested in supervising your project they will arrange to interview you by Teams or Zoom.
  4. A decision will be made after this interview has taken place.

Admission is dependent upon:

  • satisfactory academic qualifications
  • satisfactory English language competence
  • the identification of a suitable and feasible research project
  • an agreement to supervise the project by suitable staff member(s).

We normally expect to make a decision on applications within four weeks of receipt (although bear in mind that we often have to wait for reference letters to be uploaded before we can formally review your application). If we cannot offer you a place, Admissions will formally write to you, and we may also get in touch to explain why.


If we can offer you a place, we will notify you by email informally, and Admissions will write to you with a formal offer.

Conditions of offer may be attached, such as passing at 65 or above the MA which you are currently taking, or a satisfactory IELTS or other accepted English language test score. You will also be asked to indicate whether you intend to accept or decline the offer.

The Doctoral College Office will provide you with information about accommodation and (if relevant) about the International Office. It is sensible to establish informal contact with your prospective supervisor via email or letter well ahead of arrival, and to arrange a date for a first meeting. Note that when you come to Warwick, you will be registered initially as an MPhil student. During the course of your studies, you will be formally upgraded to PhD registration after a monitoring procedure (see full details of this in the department’s MPhil/PhD Handbook, in the section Monitoring Progress).