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PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies - Q3P0

Our department was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, and the 2017 QS World University Rankings placed us in the top 20 English departments in the world. Our staff are renowned experts across a broad spectrum of specialisms: 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.

If you are considering applying to our PhD programme please read the information on this page carefully. The Department's Director of Graduate Studies is Dr Emma Francis and you should contact her in the first instance with all queries relating to the course. She can be reached at

What is a PhD?

The PhD is a demanding but intellectually and personally fulfilling degree. The final dissertation, which will be up to 80,000 words, is expected to make an original contribution to knowledge and can be undertaken for a variety of reasons: as preliminary training for an academic career, 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.

A PhD in English is largely a self-determined project, and a crucial part of the process is identifying, before you start, a viable research topic that you will complete within three years (full-time) or five years (part-time).

Our entry requirements

Previous Study

Students may be considered for the doctoral programme if they hold, or are currently studying for, an MA (or international equivalent) in a relevant discipline, with a final mark (or predicted final mark) of 65 or above. They should normally also have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject.

English Language Proficiency

In some cases - for instance, where a student's previous degrees were taken in a language other than English - the university will require you to take a language test. See our Graduate Admissions page for further details on language requirements.

Students starting a PhD need a very high level of written language competence. We require:

  • IELTS Band C (an overall score of 7.5 or above, with no more than two component scores at 6.5/7.0 and the rest at 7.5+).
  • We also accept TOEFL Band C (108 overall, with no component below 23).

If you are in any doubts about your language eligibility, please discuss this over email with Director of Graduate Studes.

PhD students who have not already taken the MA in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies 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.

The application

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

(1) The formal application

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 no more than 4500 characters, including spaces (approx. 750-800 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.

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. The Graduate School 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 upload your supporting documents with your application, but if you encounter any technical diffculties 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.


You may apply for a place on the PhD program from 1st August 2018.

If you are interested in FUNDING and SCHOLARSHIPS, please scroll down this page, as well as refer to the University of Warwick Graduate School website for different deadlines. Here is a summary of existing deadlines:

M4C/AHRC and Wolfson scholarships (open to UK and EU students)--14 January 2019

Chancellor's International Scholarships--18 January (

EU Scholarships--6 March

Warwick Monash Alliance--6 March

For further information about PhD funding, you can email the PG Funding Officer Dr. Rashmi Varma (

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.

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 phone or skype.
  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 accept anyone). If we cannot offer you a place, the Graduate School 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 the Graduate School 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/TOEFL score. You’ll also be asked to indicate whether you intend to accept or decline the offer.

The Graduate School 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).


Scholarship Applications for M4C (Midlands 4 Cities) Consortium Are Now Open!

UPDATE! News alert @ 8th November 2018

If you are a potential PhD student looking for scholarship funding for the academic year beginning 2019/20, please note that there is an M4C Scholarship application workshop running in the Oculus on Saturday 17th November 2018 from 1pm. (University of Warwick campus). Competition for the scholarships is fierce and you are advised to attend one of these workshops to improve the chance of a positive outcome. Please sign up here.

There are four being held across the Midlands4Cities consortium so if you are not able to make the one at Warwick University, you can attend any of those running elsewhere. More details are here.

This funding call is for UK/EU students

The Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick is inviting applications from students whose research interests connect with our fields of expertise across all periods and genres, and include topics such as poetry and poetics, medical humanities, religion and literature, eighteenth and nineteenth-century studies, early modern, medieval studies, feminist theory, digital humanities, postcolonial, American studies, world literatures, devolutionary British fiction, translation studies, psychoanalysis, critical theory, ecocriticism, science fiction, theatre and performance, queer and critical race theory, among others.

The deadline for M4C funding applications is 14 January 2019 (noon), by which time students must have applied for a place to study and have ensured that two academic references are submitted using the Midlands4Cities online reference form.

For full details of eligibility, funding, research supervision areas and CDA projects, and for dates of our November application writing workshops, please visit or contact

About M4C:
The AHRC-funded Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C) brings together eight leading universities across the Midlands to support the professional and personal development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. M4C is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, University of Warwick, Coventry University, University of Leicester, De Montfort University, Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham.

M4C is awarding up to 80 doctoral studentships for UK/EU applicants for 2019 through an open competition and 11 Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDA) through a linked competition with a range of partner organisations in the cultural, creative and heritage sector.

Application Writing Workshop on Saturday, November 17th at the University of Warwick (Oculus Building OCO.03) 1 pm-4 pm

You can register here:

In addition, there are a number of scholarships available for both Home/EU and international applicants, through a variety of University schemes:

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.

Why Warwick?

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
Large library at the heart of campus

The University library's Rare Books and Special Collections include 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 satisfactorily with their research there are opportunities to gain valuable teaching experience across a variety of undergraduate modules.