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Creative Writing and Practice-based PhD

Emma Conway, 'Shima/Island', 2012dachri_zoi2MAPPconnor_katy
The English Department supports a significant body of postgraduate students developing Practice-based PhDs, in which a component part of the research involves producing a body of creative work.

We currently have students developing novels, poetry collections, plays and creative work involving experimental poetic practices across disciplines and through a wide range of media. This creative component is coupled with the submission of a written critical component.

The relationship between the creative and critical work varies depending on the specific project, but can involve writing a critical reflection on the creative work and process of generating it; critically engaging with the work of related writers or artists; forwarding practical and/or theoretical lines of inquiry initiated by the creative practice, and so forth.  

The Department welcomes applications for Practice-based PhDs from persons interested in pursuing this mode of research. Please see details of staff involved in supervision (including areas of interest) on the Creative Writing and Practice-based Research Page.

Current Postgraduate Research Students

Click here to see details of our current postgraduate research students in Creative Writing and Practice-based Research.

Conferences

Each year we run a conference in November for our Postgraduate researchers. There is a Faculty conference for practice-based students. Student-led events, including conferences, are also held each year.

Royal Holloway is the lead member of the TECHNE London and South-East Doctoral Research Consortium. Students wishing to study in the Department of English commencing in September will be able to apply to TECHNE for a doctoral award by submitting an application to the department. 

General Information

We welcome applications from students who have or are about to obtain an MA or MFA in a related discipline. We also expect students to have achieved at least a 2:1 or equivalent in their first degree. 

We accept applications from non-standard applicants who can demonstrate experience and aptitude, including persons from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and creative practitioners who may not have had a traditional academic career.

Overseas applicants should have a degree of equivalent standard and must possess an excellent level of competence in spoken and written English. (Required IELTS scores are 7 overall with 7 in writing, and no remaining subscore to be below 5.5 if the applicant requires a student visa.)

Students are initially registered for an MPhil degree and transfer to PhD on satisfactory completion of the upgrade process. Full-time PhD students are expected to complete their degree in three years (with a fourth and final year for writing up).

Potential Supervisors

We recommend that you consult the Creative Writing and Practice-based Research Page and look through the research profiles of our academic staff involved in supervision. It is worth determining whether your research interests resonate with any of the specific areas of interests outlined and, if so, to emphasise this in your application.

You may consider sending a preliminary research proposal to a potential supervisor ahead of completing your formal application. In addition to this preliminary proposal, you may also choose to send your writing sample. Sending out material in this manner will offer you a sense of whether your proposed area of research matches the specific expertise and interests of any potential supervisor(s) with whom you might like to work. Alternatively, should you decide to go straight into the formal application procedure, your proposal will be circulated to all potential supervisors for consideration. 

Research Proposal

Although there is no set model for how to put together your research proposal, the following is a basic outline of what you might include:

  • Synopsis of both creative and critical components;
  • Research questions and contribution to knowledge; 
  • Background to research, including key literature;
  • How the proposal relates to this context;
  • Methods and approaches used (for both creative and critical components);
  • Draft timetable;
  • Indicative bibliography.

Applications Procedure for PhD in Creative Writing & Practice-based Research

Please visit our TECHNE Applications and Funding page for information on the applications procedure for PhD in Creative Writing and Practice-based Research.

ARHC Studentships and College Studentships

Those intending to study for a PhD in the Department of English are able to apply for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships and for College Studentships. Please visit our TECHNE Applications and Funding page for more information on how to apply. College studentships are offered to unsuccessful TECHNE applicants before other applicants are considered. Funding for non-EU overseas students is limited to a very small number of fee waivers allocated by the Faculty. Please note that the Departmental deadline for TECHNE applications is midnight on Friday 13 January 2017 (ahead of the main TECHNE deadline of 29 January). References must be received in advance of the TECHNE deadline.

Further Enquiries

Please direct any further enquiries about Postgraduate Research in the Department of English to Dr Will Montgomery (Director of Graduate Studies).

The following is a list of books, articles and websites with information relating to Creative Writing and Practice-based PhD's:

Aquilla, P. and M. Pallotta-Chiarolli. 'Truth or Fiction: Writing Narrative in Research.' Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses. Vol. 1, No. 1. April, 1997

Bannerman, Chris. ‘Reflections on practice as research: the university, the artist, the research endeavour’, Digital Creativity 15:2, 2003, pp. 65-70

Barrett, E. and B. Bolt. Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry. London: I B Tauris, 2007.

Butt, M. 'Creative Writing Research Degrees: Range and Rigour'.New Writing: International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing. Vol. 6: 1, 2009. pp. 53 - 56.

Dearing, R. (ed.) Higher Education in the Learning Society. N.p. [UK]: The National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, 1997. [the so-called "Dearing Report"] [accessed July 2000].

Douglas, A., K. Scopa and C. Gray. 'Research through practice: positioning the practitioner as researcher.' Working Papers in Art and Design. Vol. 1, Nov. 2000.

Frayling, C. et al (eds.) Practice- based Doctorates in the Creative and Performing Arts and Design. N.p. [UK]: UK Council for Graduate Education, 1997

Harper, G. ‘The Creative Writing Doctorate: Creative Trial or Academic Error?’ New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing. Vol. 2: 2, 2005. pp. 79-84.

Hughes, R. 'The Poetics of Practice-Based Research Writing.'Journal of Architecture. Volume 11. Issue 3. June 2006. pp. 283 - 301.

Johnstone, M. 'You do what?  The Interdisciplinary Potential of the Creative Writing PhD.' The Playful Paradox: Creative Writing on Campus 2009. [Proceedings of the conference held  at the University of Bedfordshire on 23rd May 2009.] http://cwparadox.wikidot.com/papers

Knowles, J. G. and A. L. Cole. Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues. Sage, 2008.

Krauth, N. and T. Brady, eds. Creative Writing: Theory Beyond Practice. Teneriffe: Post Pressed, 2006. 

Meehan, M. ‘Cross-Examination and Critique: Creative Writing as Analysis.’ International Journal of the Humanities. Vol. 3: 9, May 2009. pp. 191-197.

Smith, H. and R. Dean. Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts. Edinburgh UP, 2009.

Sheppard, R. 'Poetics as Conjecture and Provocation'. New Writing: International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing. Vol. 5: 1, 2008. pp. 3-26.

Smith, Hazel and Dean, Roger T (eds). Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009

Stewart, R. 'Practice vs Praxis: Constructing Models for Practitioner-Based Research.' Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses. Vol. 5, No. 2. October, 2001.

Q: What is a Practice-based PhD?
A practice-based PhD creates new knowledge by means of practice. For those who come to a practice-based PhD with an already fully-formed creative practice, this may entail drawing out a research question or investigation from your existing practice.  For others this may entail devising a research question or area of interest and then devising the most appropriate practice-based methodology for pursuing it.  In either case, it entails an intrinsic connection between theory and practice; creative work and critical writing.  For additional information on the practice-based PhD see the 'Related Resources' section on this page.

Q:  What does a Creative Writing or Practice-based PhD at Royal Holloway entail? 
We currently have students developing novels, poetry collections, plays and creative work involving experimental poetic practices across disciplines and through a wide range of media. This creative component is coupled with the submission of a written critical component.  The relationship between the creative and critical work varies depending on the specific project, but can involve writing a critical reflection on the creative work and process of generating it; critically engaging with the work of related writers or artists; forwarding practical and/or theoretical lines of inquiry initiated by the creative practice, and so forth.  

Q:  What qualifications do I need to have?
We welcome applications from students who have or are about to obtain an MA or MFA in a related discipline.  We do, however, recognise that Creative Writing and related practitioners may not have a traditional academic career and so accept applications from non-standard applicants who can demonstrate relevant experience and aptitude.

Q:  Is there a deadline for applying?
Applications will be considered at any time of the year. However, if you intend to apply for AHRC funding or certain RHUL awards, you need to apply by the deadlines as advertised for the these awards. See information with relevant deadlines on the main Postgraduate Research Page.

Q:  What materials do I need to submit with my application?
In addition to any documents required by the college, you will need to submit the following:

  • If you are applying for an AHRC scholarship, an AHRC application form from the College website.
  • If you are applying for an RHUL scholarship, a Scholarship Form.
  • Two samples of written work in English including:
    • a) one sample of critical work (up to 5000 words) 
    • b) one sample of creative work such as a short piece of fiction (up to 5000 words), a small portfolio of poems (up to 15 pages) or documentation of related practice (e.g. performance, installation, sound, time-based and new media, book works) as appropriate.
  • Research proposal (up to approx. 2000 words).

Q:  Who will supervise me?
Candidates will be matched with appropriate supervisors upon acceptance to the program.  However, we recommend that you look at the list of potential supervisors on the Creative Writing and Practice-based Research page to see if there is a specific person that you think you would like to work with.  It may be worth contacting this person with your proposal in the first instance.

 

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