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

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 3 years
  • Part-time: 5 years

Tuition Fees (2015/16)

£4,635 (FT) £2,315 (PT)
£16,690 (FT) £8,500 (PT)

Application deadlines

Scholarship applicants:
1 January 2015

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.

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:


Research in literature covers the full chronological range of English and American Literature, from Anglo-Saxon and Medieval texts to the work of living writers.

Research areas

Some specialisms among members of staff in which the department would particularly welcome applications are:
  • The History of the English Language
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • London in Literature
  • 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
  • Freud and Psychoanalysis in Literary Culture
  • Homosexuality and Literary History
  • Literature and Technology in Late 19th-century and Early 20th-century Literature
  • Victorian and Edwardian Writings on Sexuality and Adolescence
  • Contemporary Poetry
  • English Grammar
  • English Language


AHRC grants are available for UK/EU English PhD applicants who are applying to start a research degree in 2015. Applications are made directly to the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP), 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 James Phillips.

Three Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships in the Humanities are normally available for PhD students starting in 2015 in the areas of language, history and literature. The Wolfson Scholarship, like the AHRC grant, provides full funding including living expenses for three years. The intention is that Wolfson Scholarships will be awarded to outstanding students who demonstrate the potential to make an impact on their chosen field and are awarded solely on academic merit.

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

Wolfson Scholarships

£27,000 (3 years)
UK, EU, Overseas students
Based on academic merit

More scholarships are listed on the Scholarships and Funding website


Recent graduates have taken up academic posts at the Universities of Oxford, Nottingham and Greenwich and at UCL.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Lecturer, Queen Mary (University of London) (2014)
  • Lecturer, University of Reading (2013)
  • Junior Research Fellow, University of Oxford (2013)
  • Teaching Fellow, UCL (2013)
  • Sessional Instructor, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia (2011)


As the UCL English Department has been the highest-ranked English Department in the country for the last three years, 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 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. The Department of 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.

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 the range of materials available for study in the UCL and University of London libraries, studying in central London allows research students access to the widest possible range of material for study, including at the British Library (around ten minutes' walk from the department).
Distinguished research in the field of English Language is supported by the presence of the Survey of English Usage within the department, which has recently undertaken the large-scale AHRC-funded project Creating a web-based platform for English language teaching and learning.

Other collaborative partnerships include: the 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.

Student / staff ratios › 31 staff › 86 taught students › 60 research students

Department: English Language & Literature

Degree reviews

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
Staff review

"The excellence of the English Department, the location in London, and the progressive history and outlook of the institution all attracted me to take up my position at UCL. It's also impossible to overstate how invaluable it is to be situated just down the road from the British Library, with its exceptional collections of early printed books and manuscripts. Senate House Library is also an excellent research resource."

Professor Helen Hackett

I contribute to the PhD programme in English, and to the Early Modern Studies MA.
Professor of English
Staff review

"I feel enormously privileged to be in a department that boasts such stellar colleagues, especially those who specialise in the early modern period (1500–1800) and whose research interests and chronological expertise are closest to my own. I have particularly valued opportunities to collaborate with, learn from, or even just discuss literature with these colleagues, in what strikes me as a genuinely amiable, egalitarian department. We are lucky to have, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, some of the brightest, sharpest students of literature, and it has been a joy to teach – and, at times, be taught by(!) – them. "

Dr Chris Stamatakis

English MPhil/PhD, Early Modern Studies MA
Lecturer in Renaissance English Literature

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
1 January 2015
Research degrees typically start in September, but may start in January if necessary. 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 we advise applicants check that we have a member of teaching staff who could potentially supervise your project before applying formally. There is no application deadline for the course, although applicants who wish to start in September 2015 should ensure that they submit completed applications by mid-July at the latest, in order to give us enough time to process the application.
Applicants who are interested in applying for AHRC funding must submit completed applications (including references) by 1 January 2015.

For more information see our Applications page.

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