UCL English


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 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 23 July 2021

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£5,525 (FT)
£2,765 (PT)
£22,230 (FT)
£11,190 (PT)

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 Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

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. Applicants who wish to be considered for AHRC/ LAHP funding must have submitted a complete application by 8 January 2021.

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

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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, with an outstanding record of world-leading research (REF 2014).

There is a full programme of research seminars (at which papers are given by invited speakers and graduate students), a research methods workshops, and career development events. Several 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.

Please note that all doctoral students at UCL are considered to be on an MPhil programme until they ‘upgrade’ to PhD status in the second year of their studies. The English department does not offer a standalone research master's programme and nor is it possible to be admitted as a PhD student directly.

Research areas

We offer expertise in a wide range of topics within the field of English literature and language. 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 thirteenth to the fifteenth 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 sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
  • Classicism in seventeenth and eighteenth-century literary culture
  • Literature and science in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  • Revolutionary Writings in the Romantic period
  • Homosexuality and literary history
  • Literature and technology in late nineteenth and early twentieth-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

About this degree

Additional costs

Additional costs may include expenses such as books, stationery, printing or photocopying, and conference registration fees.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


AHRC grants are available for UK/EU English PhD applicants who are applying to start a research degree in 2021. 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 Jose Prego.

Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships are available for UK/EU PhD students starting in 2021 in the areas of language, history and literature, which provide full funding including living expenses for three years.

UCL's Graduate Research Scholarship covers UK/EU fees and provides a living allowance for Home/EU students. There is also a competitive overseas equivalent, the Overseas Research Scholarship.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship

UK rate fees, a maintenance stipend, conference costs and professional development package (3 years)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

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



As one of the highest-ranked English departments in the UK, UCL English graduates are particularly well regarded by employers (within academia and in the wider world), with many former UCL English students going on to academic jobs in top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, and here at UCL.

The department offers graduates the opportunity to teach tutorials and seminars. PhD students organise a one-day conference each year and many of the papers delivered go on to be published in Moveable Type, the department's graduate-led online journal. There are regular Graduate Research Seminars, where current students 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, and all students have access to the excellent UCL Careers service. 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.

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 creates a friendly and inclusive research environment, with close contact between staff and students. An excellent research methods course faciliates the development of key skills.

Collaborative research partnerships include:

  • UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges
  • Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire (in conjunction with Birkbeck, the British Film Institute, the Imperial War Museum, and the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum)
  • Centre for Editing Lives and Letters
  • The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Department: English Language & Literature

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.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

Application deadlines

All applicants
23 July 2021

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 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 8 January 2021 (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

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Page last modified on 9 November 2021