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Creative Writing Research PhD

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Overview

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

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 organise and participate in our thriving seminar and conference culture.

The core teaching team*on the PhD in Creative Writing includes prize-winning novelists, poets, and creative non-fiction specialists: Ruth Padel, Benjamin Wood, Edmund Gordon, Sarah Howe, Jon Day and Laura Feigel. Visting research fellows, including Andrew O'Hagan, may also contribute to teaching on the course.

Some of their most recent publications are:

  • Ruth Padel, Emerald (Chatto & Windus, 2018) 
  • Benjamin Wood, A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better (Scribner, 2018)
  • Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter (Chatto & Windus, 2017)
  • Sarah Howe, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015)
  • Jon Day, Cyclogeography (Notting Hill Editions, 2016)
  • Lara Feigel, Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing (Bloomsbury, 2018)
  • Andrew O'Hagan, The Secret Life: Three True Stories (Faber & Faber, 2017)

*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

Locations

 

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Course detail

Description

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. 

 

Course study environment

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).

Teaching

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:

Thesis Workshop
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:

Agents-in-Residence
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. 

Undergraduate Teaching
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.  

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 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.

Contact for information

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

Contact email

prospective@kcl.ac.uk

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 Two references are required with at least one academic. Professional references 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

The deadlines for applications is detailed below.

  • October 2019 entry – 26th July 2019 for International students and 30th August for Home/EU students

Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier.

Admission to our research programmes will initially be for the MPhil but we expect students to transfer to the PhD after between 12 and 18 months (or part time equivalent)  by agreement with their supervisor and the Departmental Postgraduate and Research Committee. This process is called the ‘upgrading’ and involves submission of a dossier followed by an informal interview with their second supervisor and another member of the Department. 

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.

Preparation courses

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/EU Tuition Fees 2018/19

Full time tuition fees: 

£5,000 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

Part time tuition fees:

£2,500 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

International Tuition Fees 2018/19

Full time tuition fees: 

£18,740 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

Part time tuition fees:

£9,370 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

UK/EU Tuition Fees 2019/20

Full time tuition fees: £5,300 per year

Part time tuition fees: £2,650 per year

International Tuition Fees 2019/20

Full time tuition fees:  £19,850 per year

Part time tuition fees: £9,950 per year

Students starting their programme in 2019/20 who are eligible to pay EU fees will pay the same rate of tuition fees as UK students. This will apply for the duration of their programme, but may be subject to change by the UK Government for subsequent cohorts from 2020/21.

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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