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PhD in Literary Practice (2024 Entry)

Literary Practice student at the University of Warwick

Find out more about our PhD in Literary Practice.

Take time to write your novel, poetry, short stories or non-fiction under the supervision of our published, prize-winning writers.

The Warwick Writing Programme, founded in 1996, is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in Europe and was ranked first by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.

Course overview

Creative writing is beginning to take its place in the academy across Europe as well as in the Anglophone world. Taking a doctorate in a creative practice is a way of qualifying for a teaching and/or research career in higher education in the UK or elsewhere. You might also be interested in this degree if you want not only to complete a novel, short story, poetry collection or work of creative non-fiction under the supervision of well-known writers and teachers, but also to situate your own writing practice in relation to literary traditions, theories and new developments.

PhD theses, albeit in creative form, will be founded on rigorous research, reflection and participation in academic life.

We offer our PhD students the attention of our best writers and scholars; a place in our real and virtual spaces where writers at all stages of their careers listen and speak to each other; and all the artistic and scholarly resources of a world-leading university located between several exciting cities.

Further information on the PhD in Literary PracticeLink opens in a new window is available on the Warwick Writing Programme websiteLink opens in a new window.

Teaching and learning

The structure of the PhD

Over 3 or 4 years (full-time) or up to 7 years (part-time), you will write a thesis of between 80,000 and 100,000 words, consisting of two parts:

(i) an original creative work (a novel, a collection of stories, a collection of poetry, a work or collection of creative non-fiction) which must have been undertaken during the period of registration. Work undertaken prior to registration on the PhD course cannot be submitted as part of the thesis.

(ii) a critical essay demonstrating the cultural and intellectual context of the creative work. The ratio between the creative and the critical components will vary, but the creative part will in all cases be the longer; the standard ratio of creative to critical work will be 80:20. Variations on the 80:20 ratio may be negotiated, usually by writers of poetry, novellas or short story collections.

The essay is a work of non-fiction prose that will be evaluated for its literary form as well as for the research presented. In some cases it may be desirable for a student to write a scholarly essay in academic prose, but generally we prefer the essay to take other forms. In all circumstances the essay should be no less than 20,000 and no more than 40,000 words (excluding references, appendices, and bibliography), according to the appropriate ratio, and must be of doctoral standard.

Parts (i) and (ii) of the research project must be comprehensively and convincingly integrated and the complete submitted project must reach the required standard of a PhD as outlined in the School and the University’s standard regulations.

Screenwriting: 90-120 pages for the creative submission and 20-40k for the critical component.

Poetry: Poets submitting 90-94 pages aim for 25-30k for the essay while those submitting 95-100 pages should aim for 20-25k of essay.

Teaching and supervisions

Each student will have one or two supervisors, at least one of whom will be among the teaching staff of the Warwick Writing Programme. You will meet with your supervisors, together or separately, at least once a month during the teaching year (if full-time) or twice a term (part-time). These meetings should normally be in person but may sometimes be conducted remotely when convenient to both parties.

You will also have a personal tutor, whose role is pastoral. There is no taught component of this degree, but each student is invited to a one-to-one meeting with our subject librarian to explore resources for his or her project. Students will participate in the online research skills modules, seminars, talks and events provided for and by research students in the School.

General entry requirements

Minimum requirements

Applicants should normally hold a BA (classmark 2:1 or First or the international equivalent thereof) and an MA/MFA/MPhil in a subject related to the proposed doctoral project with a grade of at least 65 or the international equivalent thereof.  

Evidence of publication would be preferred but is not essential. We require two references from people familiar with your work and, if English was not the medium of instruction for your previous degrees, an IELTS score of at least 7.5 or equivalent. 

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to vary these conditions for applicants who are able to demonstrate compelling evidence of advanced writing experience and an awareness of the critical requirements of creative writing practice in an academic environment. This would require the submission of both creative and critical writing reaching at least the standards of MA-level work. 

Places on the PhD are awarded following a holistic assessment of the application, which includes consideration of the applicant’s academic qualifications, the strength and originality of the proposal (including the critical component), the quality of the writing sample(s) submitted, and the availability of suitable supervisors. 

English language requirements

You can find out more about our English language requirementsLink opens in a new window. This course requires the following:

  • Band C
  • IELTS overall (Academic) score of 7.5 and component scores.

International qualifications

We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.

For more information, please visit the international entry requirements pageLink opens in a new window.

Additional requirements

There are no additional entry requirements for this course.

Our research

The Warwick Writing Programme is able to offer supervision in the writing of novels, short stories, poetry, works of non-fiction, in the area of screenwriting, and in certain hybrid and interdisciplinary forms. We also have substantial expertise in the field of literary translation.

Find a supervisor

Find your supervisorLink opens in a new window and discuss with them the area you'd like to research.

It is recommended that you approach your preferred supervisor before submitting your application. Our supervisorsLink opens in a new window include Tim Leach, Maureen Freely, David Morley, Gonzalo C. Garcia, Nell Stevens, Lucy Brydon, Dragan Todorovic and Jodie Kim. We welcome interdisciplinary projects and will try to arrange co-supervision beyond the Writing Programme where it is desirable and possible to do so.

You can also see our general University guidance about finding a supervisor.Link opens in a new window

Research proposal guidance

You should prepare a succinct 500-word proposal in the first instance, indicating:

  • What you intend to write (e.g. novel, screenplay, poetry collection)
  • Which research questions you intend to explore
  • What the relationship is between your work and current literary practice
  • How the critical component of your thesis will relate to the practice element

A sample of creative work (5,000 – 10,000 words of prose or 20 – 25 single-spaced pages of poetry) should accompany all applications and should be in the genre proposed for PhD study.

Places on the PhD will be awarded on the basis of the quality of the creative sample submitted, the strength and originality of the proposal (including the critical component), and the availability of suitable supervisors. Places will be offered in line with standard School and University practice that suitably qualified academics normally act as primary supervisors for no more than a certain number of projects at any time.

Read more about our research proposal guidance.Link opens in a new window

Tuition fees

Tuition fees are payable for each year of your course at the start of the academic year, or at the start of your course, if later. Academic fees cover the cost of tuition, examinations and registration and some student amenities.

Find your research course fees

Fee Status Guidance

We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Students will be classified as Home or Overseas fee status. Your fee status determines tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available. If you receive an offer, your fee status will be clearly stated alongside the tuition fee information.

Do you need your fee classification to be reviewed?

If you believe that your fee status has been classified incorrectly, you can complete a fee status assessment questionnaire. Please follow the instructions in your offer information and provide the documents needed to reassess your status.

Find out more about how universities assess fee status

Additional course costs

As well as tuition fees and living expenses, some courses may require you to cover the cost of field trips or costs associated with travel abroad.

For departmental specific costs, please see the Modules tab on the course web page for the list of core and optional core modules with hyperlinks to our Module Catalogue (please visit the Department’s website if the Module Catalogue hyperlinks are not provided).

Associated costs can be found on the Study tab for each module listed in the Module Catalogue (please note most of the module content applies to 2022/23 year of study). Information about module department specific costs should be considered in conjunction with the more general costs below:

  • Core text books
  • Printer credits
  • Dissertation binding
  • Robe hire for your degree ceremony

Scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and financial support

Find out about the different funding routes available, including; postgraduate loans, scholarships, fee awards and academic department bursaries.

Living costs

Find out more about the cost of living as a postgraduate student at the University of Warwick.

Department content block about careers

Warwick Writing Programme

Welcome to the Warwick Writing Programme, an internationally acclaimed writing programme that attracts writers and literary translators from across the globe. If you join us you will immerse yourself in contemporary and experimental narratives, including screenwriting, literary translation, gaming, spoken word and fieldwork.

We foster and maintain excellent creative industry links and networks to enable our students to achieve their career ambitions. We are closely involved with The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, whose recent winners have included Raymond Antrobus, Adam Weymouth and Sally Rooney. We are also the home of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.

Our teaching staff of novelists, poets, non-fiction writers, screenwriters and literary translators includes A.L. Kennedy, Tim Leach, Nell Stevens, Maureen Freely, Gonzalo C. Garcia, David Morley, Lucy Brydon, Dragan Todorovic, and Jodie Kim. 

Find out more about us on our website.Link opens in a new window

Our courses

How to apply

The application process for courses that start in September and October 2024 will open on 2 October 2023.

For research courses that start in September and October 2024 the application deadline for students who require a visa to study in the UK is 2 August 2024. This should allow sufficient time to complete the admissions process and to obtain a visa to study in the UK.

How to apply for a postgraduate research course  

After you’ve applied

Find out how we process your application.

Applicant Portal

Track your application and update your details.

Admissions statement

See Warwick’s postgraduate admissions policy.

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Throughout the year we attend exhibitions and fairs online and in-person around the UK. These events give you the chance to explore our range of postgraduate courses, and find out what it’s like studying at Warwick. You’ll also be able to speak directly with our student recruitment team, who will be able to help answer your questions.

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