The course provides a supportive environment in which to enhance your creative writing technique, to explore the depths of your ideas, to sustain your creative motivation, and to prepare you for the demands of the writer’s life beyond university.
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.
We offer our PhD students the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced practitioners, as well as give them frequent opportunities to interact and collaborate with peers, to forge lasting connections within London’s writing industry, to develop their editorial skills and teaching experience.
PhD students are expected to attend the quarterly Thesis Workshop, and also to take an active part in curating literary events at King's, including an annual public lecture by a high-profile author and the "Poetry And..." quarterly reading series.
We place great emphasis on pastoral care and are a friendly and welcoming department. 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.
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.
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 evaluative essay (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).
Our postgraduate writers are taught exclusively by practicing, published writers of international reputation. These currently include:
- Ruth Padel (Professor of Poetry)
- Benjamin Wood (Lecturer in Creative Writing)
- Edmund Gordon (Lecturer in Creative Writing)
- Sarah Howe (Lecturer in Poetry)
- Jon Day (Lecturer in English)
- Lara Feigel (Reader in Modern Literature)
- Andrew O’Hagan (Visiting Senior Research Fellow)
Teaching staff may vary according to research leave and availability.
Uniquely, our course also incorporates taught components:
A quarterly 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, literary agents, 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.
Four other elements of professional development are included in the degree:
PhD students in fiction or creative non-fiction can 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 PhD students will meet and discuss their work with invited editors from internationally recognised poetry journals and publications.
Through our Graduate Teaching Assistant training scheme, our PhD students can apply to lead undergraduate creative writing workshops in fiction and/or poetry, enabling them to acquire valuable Higher Education-level teaching experience that will benefit them long after graduation.
Annual Lecture and Reading Series
Our students are required to participate in the curation of literary events at King’s, including an annual public lecture by a high-profile author. They are also responsible for curating "Poetry And...", a quarterly reading in which leading poets illuminte 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.
Editing a Literary Journal
Our students have the opportunity to learn about the processes required to compile, edit and publish a literary journal by shadowing editors at a leading London-based publication.
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 are given the opportunity to teach in the department (usually in their second year of study) and are trained and supported as they do so.