Creative Critical Writing PhD


In the history of critical thought resort to literary procedures is a key feature in developing arguments and formulating original ideas.

Examples include: Montaigne, Vasari; Diderot, Pope; Coleridge, Baudelaire; Nietzsche; Adorno, Benjamin; Wyndham Lewis, Eliot, Breton; Barthes, Cixous, Sebald, Kundera; John Berger, TJ Clark.

This PhD pathway provides the opportunity to develop innovative research ideas in a variety of forms not restricted to conventional academic prose, allowing form to play its active part in the development of content. Discursive forms that may be offered include: the essay, in various lengths; the dialogue; biography; travel writing; the self-reflexive diary or critical journal; the translation. The interplay of visual and verbal elements in the use of the page may also be used.

This PhD research allows A&H students to investigate form and content in dialogue with each other rather than in isolation; and to investigate practically as well as analytically the discursive forms in which the material they study is produced.

The pathway will appeal to students seeking to produce research aimed at an academic audience but not restricted to it.

Publishers frequently encourage critical analysis developed in a variety of arresting and approachable ways.

Students thinking of careers in the media will also benefit from producing PhD material accessible to a diverse audience.


Applications from current pre-upgrade students in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, to transfer to this pathway may be considered by their supervisors with immediate effect.

Current PhD regulations apply in all matters including: upgrade; word limit (minimum and maximum); critical apparatus, which here will be taken to include an introduction of 15,000-20,000 words specifying the field, situating the doctoral work critically and explaining the form of writing chosen or developed in response.

Current supervision regulations apply, particularly with regard to primary and secondary supervision. In addition supervision of each dissertation will be overseen by a panel consisting of both supervisors and the convenor of the pathway.

Where the convenor is one of the supervisors, a further panel member will be drawn from other supervisors in the pathway, or from other related pathways. Further members may be co-opted onto individual panels if the nature of the project requires it.


Material submitted for the PhD in this pathway may consist of work in any of the forms described above, or other related ones, and in any combination. Decisions on the form of the submission will be taken in consultation with the supervisors and ratified at the moment of upgrade.

This pathway complements but is distinct from various other PhD pathways and programmes in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities: PhD with documentary; PhD in translation; practice-led as well as practice-based PhD programmes in the Slade.

This distinct pathway involves the integration of creative and critical practice, rather than a parallel approach. At the same time opportunities exist for interaction between all these various pathways, as well as with SSEES. The pathway also interacts with PhD research in the Bartlett.

Training in the research required for this pathway is usually offered as part of the A&H Research Training Seminars provided by the Graduate School.

Other Seminars

Students may also be interested in the following courses and seminars:

Bartlett School of Architecture

PhD Research Conversations

Work-in-progress seminars for new MPhil/PhD students with a strong creative focus. See also the Annual PhD Conference and Exhibition, open to all graduate students at UCL with a strong focus on creative production.

Contact either Professor Jonathan Hill or Dr Barbara PennerĀ 

Site-Writing: Theorising Practices MA Course

This course may be audited by students on this pathway.

Contact Professor Jane Rendell.

Slade School of Fine Art

Creative Thesis Writing MPhil/PhD seminars

Contact Dr Sharon Morris or Dr Hayley Newman.



Ms Patrizia Oliver
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 7024


Professor Timothy Mathews
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 3080

Page last modified on 30 jul 13 17:16