We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

Home > English home > Prospective students > Postgraduate research
More in this section Postgraduate research

Postgraduate research

generative constraints conferencenederberg_anneliegenerative constraintsfinal1

The Royal Holloway English Department has an international reputation for advanced research. We have an excellent record of PhD completion and a thriving postgraduate community. 

Currently we have around 50 PhD students researching topics across the full range of English literary studies, Creative Writing, and Poetic Practice. 

Royal Holloway has excellent research facilities, including electronic resources and the largest library in the University of London.

There is considerable opportunity for research students to work together at Royal Holloway; doctoral students participate in and lead a variety of research seminars, including the Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar, the Shakespeare Reading Group, the Nineteenth-Century Reading Group, the London 19th Century Studies seminar, and the Finnegans Wake Research Seminar. Encouragement and support is given to students who wish to present their work at or run conferences. Creative writing and practice-based students also find numerous platforms to disseminate their work. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences runs a lively series of seminars, workshops and lectures for practice-based students. Discipline-specific research training is available through departmental, Faculty and College programmes (see Training tab below).

Students are supervised in the Department for the degrees of MPhil and PhD, awarded by the University of London. Applications for funding should be made through the TECHNE scheme (see Funding tab below). 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).

To determine if your topic can be supported, please browse our Research pages.  

It is possible to study either full- or part-time. If you wish to find out about the feasibility of your research or creative project, an informal enquiry can be made to the Director of Graduate Studies Dr Will Montgomery.

Graduate conference

This year's event will take place on Friday 4 November 2016 at Senate House in central London. Please contact Will Montgomery if you wish to attend.

Royal Holloway is the lead member of the TECHNE London and South-East Doctoral Research Consortium, which offer doctoral and masters awards for those commencing study in September. Students wishing to study in the Department of English will be able to apply to TECHNE for a doctoral award by submitting an application to the department. Please see the TECHNE Applications and Funding page for further information on the application procedure for TECHNE funding as well as other College studentships. 

General Information

We welcome postgraduate applications from students who have or are about to obtain an MA in an appropriate subject, but candidates with degrees in other subjects or with relevant publications will be considered. We usually expect students to have achieved at least a 2:1 or equivalent in their first degree. 

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). Part-timers have twice the time to complete their degree.

Potential Supervisors

We recommend that you first consult the staff research pages 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, if you plan to do a practice-based PhD, also choose to send a 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. Cross-departmental supervision is available for viable interdisciplinary projects.

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;
  • Research questions and contribution to knowledge; 
  • Background to research, including key literature;
  • How the proposal relates to this context;
  • Methods and approaches used;
  • Draft timetable;
  • Indicative bibliography.

Applications Procedure for PhD in English Literature

Please visit our TECHNE Applications and Funding page for information on the applications procedure for PhD in English Literature.

AHRC 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 allocated to the strongest unsuccessful TECHNE applicants, as defined through our ranking system. Funding for non-EU overseas students is limited to a very small number of fee waivers allocated by the Faculty. There are currently no maintenance funds available for non-EU overseas students. Please note that the departmental deadline for TECHNE applications is midnight on Friday 13 January 2017 (ahead of the main TECHNE deadline at the end of the month).

Further Enquiries

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

College Training

The College offers a full platform of generic skills training through the Postgraduate Research Student pages. There is also full Practice-Based PhD Programme run by the Faculty. 

Department Training

The English Department runs a series of Research skills seminars. Relevant training sessions run by other departments and instituitons such as the Institute for English Studies will be advertised.


The faculty runs a series of interdisciplinary seminars, workshops and lectures for practice-based students.


Advice and pastoral support is initially by your supervisor (advice on the content and direction of your PhD), your advisor or relevant Director of Graduate Studies (pastoral matters), or the departmental administrator (admin queries), and also by various facilities in the college.

See also our page with Information for Current Students in Postgraduate Research for full information on training and support provided.

Click here for details of our current postgraduate research students:

Books by recent PhD students

  • Yael Levin, Tracing the Aesthetic Principle in Conrad's Novels (Palgrave, 2008)
  • Rodney Rosenquist,  Modernism,  the Market, and the Institution of the New  (CUP, 2008)
  • Michael Wainwright, Darwin and Faulkner's Novels: Evolution and Southern Fiction (Palgrave, 2008)
  • Kumiko Mukai,  Hawthorne 's Visual Artists and the Pursuit of a Transatlantic Aesthetics  (Peter Lang, 2008)
  • Jane Grogan, Exemplary Spenser (2009) awarded the Isabel G. MacCaffrey Prize by the International Spenser Society
  • Jinny Colby, Brett Easton Ellis: Underwriting the Contemporary (Palgrave, 2011)
  • Michael Wainwright, Faulkner's Gamble: Chess and Literature (Palgrave, 2011)
  • Jessica Langer, Postcolonialism and Science Fiction (Palgrave, 2011)
  • Neema Parvini, Shakespeare's Histories: Beyond Historicism (Edinburgh, 2012)
  • Neema Parvini, Shakespeare & Contemporary Theory: New Historicism & Cultural Materialism (Continuum, 2012)
  • Andrew Purrsell, co-ed., Within the Tides (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad, 2012)
  • Neema Parvini, Shakespeare's History Plays: Rethinking Historicism (Edinburgh University Press, 2012)
  • Neema Parvini, Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory: New Historicism and Cultural Materialism (Bloomsbury, 2012)
  • Michael Wainwright, Toward a Sociobiological Hermeneutic: Darwinian Essays on Literature, (Palgrave, 2012)
  • Farah Karim-Cooper, Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama (Edinburgh University Press, 2012)
  • Farah Karim-Cooper and Tiffany Stern (eds), Shakespeare's Theatres and the Effects of Performance, The Arden Shakespeare (Bloomsbury, 2013)
  • Sam Halliday, Sonic Modernity (EUP, 2013)
  • Farah Karim-Cooper and Andrew Gurr (eds), Moving Shakespeare Indoors: Performance and Repertoire on the Jacobean Stage (Bloomsbury, 2013)
  • Jane Grogan, The Persian Empire in English Renaissance Writing, 1549-1622 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
  • Elizabeth English, Lesbian Modernism and Genre: Censorship, Sexuality and Popular Fiction (EUP, 2014) 
  • Neema Parvini, Shakespeare and Cognition: Thinking Fast and Slow Through Character (Palgrave, 2015)
  • Neema Parvini, Shakespeare and New Historicist Theory (Bloomsbury, 2016)
  • Sean McEvoy, Shakespeare: The Basics, third edition (Routledge, 2016)
  • Sean McEvoy, Tragedy: The Basics (Routledge, 2016)
  • Dan O’Gorman, Fictions of the War on Terror: Difference and the Transnational 9/11 Novel (Palgrave, 2015)
  • Farah Karim-Cooper, The Hand on the Shakespearean Stage  (Bloomsbury, 2016)
  • Sam Gilchrist Hall, Shakespeare's Folly: Philosophy, Humanism, Critical Theory,  (Routledge, 2016)
  • Michael Wainwright, Game Theory and Minorities in American Literature (Palgrave, 2016)
  • Sean McEvoy, Theatrical Unrest: Ten Riots in the History of the Stage, 1601-2004

    (Routledge, 2016)

  • Emilia Borowska, The Politics of Kathy Acker: Revolution and the Avant-Garde  (EUP, forthcoming 2017)


Emily Dickinson Desk

Kurokawa Kisho, 'Helix City', 1961

Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar

Shakespeare reading group thumb

Shakespeare Reading Group

Finnegans Wake - image of pages

University of London Finnegans Wake Research Seminar

Practice-based PhD Performance, Elephant and Castle 2011

RHUL Practice-based PhD Programme


Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback