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Creative Writing Research PhD

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The PhD in Creative Writing at King’s is a practice-led course, incorporating taught elements and aspects of professional development. It is designed to cater for talented, committed writers who are looking to complete a book-length creative work for publication and sustain a long-term career in writing. 

Key Benefits

Our unique programme offers students:

  • a varied, structured framework for the development of their creative work, with regular feedback from experienced author-lecturers in the department through supervision and workshops
  • purposeful engagement with professionals from the publishing and performance industries throughout the course, building potential routes to publication
  • valuable teaching experience in creative writing at HE-level through our Graduate Teaching Assistantship scheme
  • practical experience in public engagement, through curating and chairing public literary events at King’s
  • a community of fellow writers and collaborative projects

English Department

Department of English - Research recognised (REF 2021) with 90 per cent overall rating for either ‘world leading’ (4*) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*) research and 100 per cent at 4* and 3* for research environment.

We have over 100 doctoral students from all over the world working on a wide range of projects. Together with our community of postdoctoral fellows, our early career researchers both organise and participate in our thriving seminar and conference culture.

The English department is home to award-winning novelists, poets, essayists, biographers, non-fiction authors, and literary critics, who supervise creative projects at doctoral level within their specialisms.

Works by our staff have won or been shortlisted for a number of literary accolades, including: the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize, the Man Booker Prize, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, the Costa First Novel Award, the Costa Poetry Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Commonwealth Book Prize, the Biographers’ Club / Slightly Foxed First Biography Prize, the U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award, the CWA Gold Dagger Award, the European Union Prize for Literature, the RSL Encore Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Letters, le Prix du Roman Fnac, le Prix du Roman Etranger, and the Kiriyama Prize. Many of the creative writing staff are Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature. 

Their most recent publications are:

  • Ruth Padel

Daughters of the Labyrinth (Corsair, 2021) – fiction

Beethoven Variations: Poems on a Life (Chatto & Windus, 2020) – poetry

Emerald (Chatto & Windus, 2018) – poetry


  • Benjamin Wood

The Young Accomplice (Penguin Viking, 2022) – fiction

A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better (Scribner, 2018) – fiction


  • Edmund Gordon

The Invention of Angela Carter (Chatto & Windus, 2016) – creative non-fiction


  • Sarah Howe

Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015) – poetry


  • Lara Feigel

The Group (John Murray Press, 2020) – fiction

Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing (Bloomsbury, 2018) – creative non-fiction


  • Jon Day

Homing: On Pigeons, Dwellings, and Why We Return (John Murray Press, 2019) – creative non-fiction


  • Andrew O'Hagan

Mayflies (Faber & Faber, 2020) – fiction

The Secret Life: Three True Stories (Faber & Faber, 2017) – creative non-fiction

*may vary according to research leave and availability. 

King's Alumni

The list of King’s alumni not only features many acclaimed contemporary authors—Michael Morpurgo, Alain de Botton, Hanif Kureishi, Marina Lewycka, Susan Hill, Lawrence Norfolk, Ross Raisin, Alexander Masters, Anita Brookner, and Helen Cresswell—it also includes major figures in literature, such as Maureen Duffy, Arthur C Clarke, Thomas Hardy, Christopher Isherwood, BS Johnson, John Keats, W. Somerset Maugham, and Virginia Woolf.

Key information

Duration Expected to be MPhil two years FT, three years PT; PhD three years FT, four-six years PT; September to September

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Further details

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Department Department of English



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Course detail


Our postgraduate writing students are given a supportive environment in which to enhance their technique, to explore the depths of their ideas, to sustain their creative motivation, and to prepare them for the demands of the writer’s life beyond the College.

At King's we know that writing well requires self-discipline and an ability to work productively in isolation; but we also appreciate that postgraduate writers thrive when they are part of a community of fellow authors, an environment of constructive criticism and shared endeavour.

That is why we offer our PhD students the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced practitioners. They will have frequent opportunities to interact and collaborate with peers and forge lasting connections within London’s writing industry.

Students will be expected to attend the quarterly Thesis Workshop, and also to take an active part in curating literary events at King’s, including the Poetry And… quarterly reading series. They will be invited to apply for positions teaching undergraduate creative writing modules as part of the Department’s Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) scheme.

After three years (full-time) or six years (part-time), students are expected to submit either:

  • a novel or short story collection
  • a poetry collection
  • a full-length work of creative non-fiction

In addition, they are also required to submit an essay (up to 15,000 words) that examines their practical approach to the conception, development, and revision of their project, and which explores how their creative work was informed by research (archival, book-based, or experiential).


Course study environment

PhD in Creative Writing students are taught through one-to-one sessions with an appointed supervisor in their chosen specialism (fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry) as well as through quarterly thesis workshops. They are also appointed a second supervisor whose role is to offer an additional perspective on the work being produced.

We place great emphasis on pastoral care and are a friendly and welcoming department in the heart of London. Our home in the Virginia Woolf Building offers many spaces for postgraduate students to work and socialise. Studying in London means students have access to a huge range of libraries from the Maughan Library at King’s to the Senate House Library at the University of London and the British Library.


Our PhD Creative Writing students are taught exclusively by practicing, published writers of international reputation. These include:

  • Benjamin Wood (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing)
    Supervises projects in fiction.
  • Ruth Padel (Professor of Poetry)
    Supervises projects in poetryfiction, or creative non-fiction.
  • Edmund Gordon (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing)
    Supervises projects in fiction and creative non-fiction.
  • Sarah Howe (Lecturer in Poetry)
    Supervises projects in poetry.
  • Jon Day (Senior Lecturer in English)
    Supervises projects in creative non-fiction and fiction.
  • Lara Feigel (Professor of Modern Literature)
    Supervises projects in creative non-fiction and fiction.
  • Andrew O’Hagan (Visiting Professor)

 *Teaching staff may vary according to research leave and availability.

Our programme also incorporates the following taught components:

Thesis Workshop

A termly writing seminar for the discussion and appraisal of works-in-progress. These are taught on a rotational basis by all members of the creative writing staff, so that students get the benefit of hearing a range of voices and opinions on their work throughout the course.

The Writing Life

A suite of exclusive guest talks and masterclasses from leading authors, publishers, and editors, in which students receive guidance from people working at the top level of the writing industry and learn about the various demands of maintaining a career as a writer.

Other elements of professional development are included in the degree:


Candidates in fiction or creative-nonfiction will meet and discuss their work in one-to-one sessions with invited literary agents, who are appointed to yearly residencies. These sessions offer writers a different overview of the development of their project: not solely from the standpoint of authorial technique, but with a view towards the positioning of their writing within a competitive and selective industry. Poetry candidates will meet and discuss their work with invited editors from internationally recognised poetry journals and presses.


Undergraduate Teaching

Through our Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) training scheme, our PhD students can apply to lead undergraduate creative writing workshops in fiction, creative non-fiction, and/or poetry, enabling them to acquire valuable HE-level teaching experience that will benefit them long after graduation.


Reading Series

Our students are required to participate in the curation of literary events at King’s. They are also responsible for curating Poetry And…, a quarterly reading in which leading poets illuminate the powerful connections between poetry and other disciplines. Students will develop skills in public engagement by chairing discussions and may also perform excerpts of their own writing.

Postgraduate training

There is a range of induction events and training provided for students by the Centre for Doctoral Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the English Department. A significant number of our students are AHRC-funded through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) which also provides doctoral training to all students. All students take the ‘Doctoral Seminar’ in their first year. This is a series of informal, staff-led seminars on research skills in which students can share and gain feedback on their own work. We run a series of ‘Skills Lunches’, which are informal lunch meetings with staff, covering specific topics, including Upgrading, Attending Conferences, Applying for Funding and Post-Doctoral Awards, etc. Topics for these sessions are generally suggested by the students themselves, so are particularly responsive to student needs. We have an Early Career Staff Mentor who runs more formal workshops of varying kinds, particularly connected to career development and the professions.

Through our Graduate Teaching Assistantship Scheme, doctoral students can apply to teach in the department (usually in their second year of study) and are trained and supported as they do so.

Contact for information

Postgraduate Admissions, Admissions Office
tel: +44 (0) 20 7848 1649 fax: +44 (0) 20 7848 7200

Contact email

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Minimum UK requirements   Admission to the PhD in Creative Writing at King’s is based primarily on the quality of the applicant’s creative writing sample and the viability of the project proposal.

All applicants for the PhD in Creative Writing at King’s should hold a Bachelor's degree with first class honours in a related subject area or an MA or MFA in Creative Writing with a Pass. 

So as not to disadvantage talented applicants from non-traditional academic backgrounds, we may also admit on the basis of the demonstrable quality of an applicant’s writing sample and/or project proposal (subject to successful interview with the candidate). These candidates will be expected to possess an undergraduate qualification.
International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band C Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


Application procedure

Before submitting an application, it is best to make informal email contact with a potential supervisor. Please consult the ‘People’ section of the English department's website for details of staff expertise and publications. You can gain an initial response to the viability of your proposal, ask for any further details about the course of study, and find out if there are places still left on the course.

If you are unsure who to contact, please get in touch with the Postgraduate Research Lead on english@kcl.ac.uk

Personal statement and supporting information

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

Research Proposal Yes

A 2000 word (maximum) outline of your intended creative project and your approach to completing the work over three years (or part-time equivalent)

Personal Statement Yes

A one-page personal statement that details your previous writing experience, your reasons for applying to the course, and your long-term writing ambitions

Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
Writing Sample Yes

Applicants in fiction or creative non-fiction must also submit:

  • a 5000 word (maximum) creative writing sample

Applicants in poetry must also submit:

  • a portfolio of up to 20 poems/15 pages of single-spaced poems.
Other Optional You may also wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of your application.

Course intake

Five candidates are accepted onto the PhD in Creative Writing each year

Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible as we may need to request further information from you to assess your application. This is also important if your application is successful and you are required to meet any offer condition, and/or you need a Student Visa to study here at King’s.

The final application deadlines are detailed below; on these dates, the programme will close at 23:59 (UK time) and we will open for the corresponding intake in 2023 soon after the same intake has passed in 2022.

· October 2022 entry – 29 July 2022 for Overseas fee status and 26 August 2022 for Home fee status

Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier than the application deadlines listed above.

Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

International Foundation

Fees and funding

Many of our incoming students apply for AHRC funding via the London Arts and Humanities Partnership. Please see their website (www.lahp.ac.uk) for more detail of deadlines, application procedure and awards available. Also the ‘Student Funding’ section of the Prospectus will give you more information on other scholarships available from King’s.

UK Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees: 

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

Part time tuition fees:

£2,910 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

International Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees: 

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

Part time tuition fees:

£10,935 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

UK Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees: 

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

Part time tuition fees:

£2,910 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

International Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees: 

£22,230 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

Part time tuition fees:

£11,115 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)


EU Students starting their programme in the academic year 2021/22 will pay international tuition fees. 

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.


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Next steps

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