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English MPhil/PhD

One of the highest-ranking English departments in the UK, UCL English provides excellent opportunities for PhD students to study in the heart of literary London, with access to vast quantities of resources and research materials, and a high number of academic staff working on a diverse range of specialist research topics.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2018

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years

Tuition fees (2018/19)

£5,060 (FT) £2,530 (PT)
£19,580 (FT) £9,850 (PT)

Application dates

Scholarship applicants
Close: 31 December 2017

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

An undergraduate degree in English Literature or a related subject is a pre-requisite for this programme, and a UK Master's degree in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard will normally be required.

Research degree students are expected to start in September, but may request to start in January if there are exceptional reasons to do so. Applications for 2018 entry open in September 2017. Applicants who wish to be considered for funding must have submitted a complete application by 5 January 2018.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:


The department has specialists in every period of English and American literature, as well as English language, and offers a full programme of research colloquia – at which papers are given by invited speakers and graduate students themselves – research methods seminars, and career development workshops. Students from the department have participated as visiting scholars at Yale as part of the UCL-Yale Collaborative Partnership. Students have automatic access to an incomparable range of archives and libraries, including Senate House Library and the British Library, both of which are nearby.

Research areas

We offer expertise in a huge range of literary topics. Some areas in which the department would particularly welcome applications are:

  • Old and Middle English literature and manuscript studies
  • Relations between English and insular and continental French writings from the 13th to the 15th centuries
  • Post-medieval bibliography and palaeography
  • History of the book, textual and editorial theory and practice in all periods
  • Shakespeare studies, including Shakespeare’s London
  • The literature of the Elizabethan court
  • Women writers of the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Classicism in 17th and 18th-century literary culture
  • Literature and science in the 17th and 18th centuries
  • Revolutionary Writings in the Romantic period
  • Homosexuality and literary history
  • Literature and technology in late 19th and early 20th-century literature
  • Victorian and Edwardian writings on sexuality and adolescence
  • Modernism
  • Contemporary poetry
  • Postmodern fiction
  • London in literature/urban literature
  • English grammar
  • English language
  • The history of the English language
  • Corpus linguistics

You can read about our staff research interests here.

More information can be found on the department website: English MPhil/PhD


AHRC grants are available for UK/EU English PhD applicants who are applying to start a research degree in 2018. Applications are made directly to the London Arts and Humanities Partnership, who administer the awarding of AHRC funding at UCL. AHRC funding covers all fees, as well as providing a stipend for living expenses, for three years. If you have any questions about the application process please contact Clare Stainthorp.

Three Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships are available for PhD students starting in 2018 in the areas of language, history and literature, providing full funding including living expenses for three years.

The Graduate Research Scholarship covers fees and provides a living allowance for Home/EU students. There is also an overseas equivalent, the Overseas Research Scholarship.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Wolfson Scholarships

£28,000 (3 years)
Based on academic merit

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Curator, British Library
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge
  • Lecturer in Renaissance Literature, University of Exeter
  • Novelist, Faber and Faber
  • Secondary School Teacher (English), Sutton Valence School


As one of the highest-ranked English departments in the UK, UCL English graduates are particularly well regarded by employers, both within academia and in the wider world.

The department offers many graduates the opportunity of doing a limited amount of teaching, either of seminars or tutorials or both. PhD students organise a one-day conference each year; many of the papers delivered at the conference are published in Movable Type, the department's graduate-led online journal. There are regular Graduate Research Seminars, where current students can present their work to academic audiences.


There are countless opportunities for UCL research students to work with a range of leading experts in literary fields, as well as having access to the excellent UCL Careers. We maintain strong relationships with our alumni, who are happy to advise current students on their future career plans. UCL English has its own Graduate Common Room where students can meet informally. The comparatively small size of the postgraduate research cohort fosters a sense of community amongst the PhD students, and there are many departmental events where current students have the opportunity to interact with fellow researchers.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

As one of the most respected academic institutions in the world, UCL is an excellent place to study for a PhD. As well as access to the UCL and University of London libraries, studying in central London allows students access to the widest possible range of material for study. The comparatively small size of the department (around 45 research students and 60 taught postgraduate students) creates a friendly, inclusive research environment, with close contacts between staff and students, an excellent research methods course, and many collaborative research partnerships.

Other collaborative partnerships include:

  • UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges, which explores all kinds of intercultural exchange in the period 1450–1800
  • Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire, a project in conjunction with Birkbeck, the British Film Institute, the Imperial War Museum and the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum to create a digital archive of British colonial cinema spanning the 20th century, and organise scholarly investigations of these materials
  • Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, which develops archive-based research projects of relevance to the period 1500–1800 and supports projects that pilot innovative methodologies and practices.

The PhD has an excellent academic employment rate upon conclusion, with many former UCL English students going on to academic jobs in top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, and here at UCL.

Department: English Language & Literature

Student / staff numbers › 33 staff
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: English Language & Literature
85% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

What our students and staff say

Staff review

"At the moment I am trying to gather together everything that I have ever known for the 18th century volume of the Oxford English Literary History. "

Professor John Mullan

English MPhil/PhD
Professor of English

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Application deadlines

Scholarship applicants
31 December 2017

We recommend that applicants look at our list of staff on the UCL English website before submitting an application. Whilst potential supervisors are unable to accept a PhD student without a formal application form, we attach great importance to the match between supervisors and students, so please do check that we have a member of teaching staff who could potentially supervise your project before applying.

Applicants who are interested in applying for AHRC funding via the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) must submit completed applications (including references) by 31 December 2017 (you will also need to complete a LAHP application for: see www.lahp.ac.uk for details).

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

Contact information

Page last modified on 4 December 2017 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing



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