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PhD & MPhil in English Literaturee



Programme overview

MPhil: a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree.  Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a 25,000 word dissertation. Students may have the option to audit units from our taught Masters courses if they are relevant to their research.

PhD: a research project undertaken across three years (full-time, plus a writing up period), culminating in an 80,000 word thesis. As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to teach units themselves from their second year of study onwards.

Research in the Department of English brings the core values of our discipline – textual scholarship, critical and theoretical analysis, and contextual knowledge – to the dynamic and changing field of English literary studies. We cover the full chronological range, from the medieval to the contemporary period, with many colleagues engaged in interdisciplinary research.

We are proud of our expertise in medieval and early-modern literature, in Romantic and Victorian literature, in modernism, and in contemporary writing in English. The department is notable for its breadth of research in English poetry across the periods, and our range of specialist interests includes literary theory, the history of book, literature and science, literature and medicine, literature and the environment, digital humanities, women’s writing and gender studies, queer writing, postcolonial literature, Black British writing, 20th-century American literature, the Gothic tradition, and Welsh and Anglo-Welsh writing.

In these and other areas we foster doctoral research both within the department and in collaboration with other departments at Northampton and beyond, including in art history, medical sciences, philosophy, history, politics, drama, classics, theology and modern languages.

Course Level:


Degree awarded: Master of Science


MPhil: one year full-time;
two years part-time
PhD: three years full-time;
six years part-time

Entry requirements

  • 2.1 or above (or international equivalent) undergraduate degree. Your degree can be in any discipline but you must have studied a subject with quantitative content.
    We do not require GMAT
      Research groups

      We see postgraduate study as a vital component of our research culture, with students bringing their own ideas and initiatives to fruition and engaging in research conversations with their fellow students and academic staff.

      Postgraduates take part in organising conferences and study days, play leading roles in the faculty-based online journal Harts and Minds, and are active in research clusters and reading groups.

      The successful completion of an innovative research project, with the guidance of demanding and stimulating supervisors, remains at the heart of postgraduate study. We aim to deliver that outcome, but we also want your experience to be enriched by wider academic contacts and by focused, helpful professional development.

      All of the department’s researchers have interests that coincide with (but are not limited to) the following areas:

      • Medieval
      • Early Modern to 1780
      • Romantic and Victorian Literature
      • Modernism
      • Contemporary Literature
      • American Literature
      • Global Literatures
      • Literature, Science and Medicine
      • Poetry and Poetics
      • Creative Writing

      The department leads the Northampton Poetry Institute, which draws on the department’s established strength in this field, and members of the department are active in the faculty’s interdisciplinary research centres, including Health, Humanities and Science, Environmental Humanities, Material Texts, Black Humanities and Medieval Studies. The centres bring together scholars from different disciplines to share their research, devise innovative research projects and give interdisciplinarity a real basis in academic practice.

      The departmental research seminar, which meets throughout the academic session, is the principal forum for academic staff and graduate students to present and discuss their recent research. At each session there is a mix of speakers from outside Northampton, graduate students and members of staff. Two annual lectures – the Churchill Lecture and the Tucker-Cruse Lecture – also bring distinguished scholars from outside the University; many other events are organised within the Faculty of Arts and across the University by the Institute for Advanced Studies, a major forum for interdisciplinary research.

      Entry requirements

      MPhil: An upper second-class degree or international equivalent. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

      PhD: A master’s qualification, or be working towards a master’s qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master’s qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.


      A large number of graduates from this programme develop careers in higher education or work on high-level research projects in the field of English literature; some graduates take up careers in freelance writing and editing.