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English Research Degrees - PhD

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
Course Code:
  • Full Time (3-4 years)
  • Part Time (4-7 years)
  • Distance Learning (4-7 years)
School of English
City Centre
English PhD School of English Student In Library

The School of English is keen to hear from serious researchers interested in pursuing a PhD. Normally we would expect a good MA in a relevant area as an entry requirement, but in certain cases this may not be appropriate. Our research degree coordinator is Dr Anthony Howe, and you are welcome to contact him with any enquiries. PhD applications tend to be taken more seriously where some thought has been given not just to the project, but also to the potential supervisor. There is an initial PhD enquiry form, which will be forwarded to Dr Howe for consideration. You’ll notice that it asks you whether you’ve thought about potential supervisors. Blanket applications, which leave this section blank, are often rejected. You may wish to contact one of our members of academic staff to discuss a potential project, and you are encouraged to do this. Applications, however, should be sent through official channels, beginning with the initial enquiry form.

We supervise doctoral work in a range of areas within English Studies, primarily:

The School does not directly fund PhD students, but funding is available for potential candidates through two main channels. 1) STEAM scholarships, which are funded by the University, and advertised (usually) on an annual basis. 2) through our participation in the M3C consortium (Birmingham University, BCU, Leicester University, De Montfort, Nottingham University, Nottingham Trent).

The School currently has PhD students funded by both of these sources, working in Linguistics, Literature, Creative Writing and Drama. You’ll find full M3C information here. For the latest STEAM opportunities, which are not always predictable in terms of timing, you are welcome to get in touch with Dr Howe.

Application Process

Before you apply, please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing a brief overview of your PhD research proposal and who you see as your potential supervisor(s) from the School of English. This gives us an opportunity to discuss and focus your PhD research before you make your final online application.

Send Initial PhD Enquiry

Entry Requirements

To apply for our English PhD research degree you should have, or expect to be awarded, a Masters degree in a relevant English literary or linguistic field from a British or overseas university.

Exceptional applicants without a Master's degree, but holding a first class Bachelors degree in English, may be considered dependent upon the academic coherence and promise of their research proposal, and its consonance with the academic expertise of the School.

We also welcome enquiries from potential PhD researchers without formal academic qualifications but with appropriate levels of professional experience.

Application Process

Before you apply, please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing a brief overview of your PhD research proposal and who you see as your potential supervisor(s) from the School of English. This gives us an opportunity to discuss and focus your PhD research before you make your final online application.

Send Initial PhD Enquiry

How to Apply

To apply for our English PhD research degree please follow the application process below, starting with your Initial PhD Enquiry.

Application Process

1. Initial PhD enquiry

Please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing your brief English PhD research proposal (max. 500 words), and/or any questions or queries you may have.

Send Initial PhD Enquiry

2. Review Enquiry

We will review your initial enquiry to ensure your research proposal compliments one of our PhD research interests and if so we will ask you to make a full application.

3. Complete full PhD online application form

Once we have received your full application it will be reviewed and potential students will be invited to attend an interview (either face to face or Skype).

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

4. Successful applications

Following the interview a decision will be made on your application and those who have been successful will receive a written formal offer from the university.

Start Dates and Enquiry Submissions

Our English PhD research degrees start in September, February and May each year.

Please send us your initial PhD enquiry at least three months prior to your preferred start date to allow enough time for you to progress through the PhD application process.

Need Help?

If you are unable to use the Initial PhD Enquiry or Online Application forms or require help or advice, please contact our Doctoral Research College.

Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

AHRC funding for UK/EU doctoral students

Birmingham City University is part of the Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. As part of the programme, postgraduate research studentships are available to arts and humanities doctoral researchers across six institutions, including fully funded PhDs. Find out more about Midlands3Cities.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years PhD £4,195 per year
Feb 2018 PT 4-7 years PhD £2,098 per year
Feb 2018 DL 4-7 years PhD £2,622 per year
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000 per year
Feb 2018 DL 4-7 years PhD £7,500 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Fully funded PhD studentships

You could get a fully funded PhD, plus get extra money for living expenses through the Midlands3Cities Arts and Humanities scholarships.

Find out more

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Postgraduate Open Event

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be held on Wednesday 26 April 2017, between 3pm and 8pm.

PG Open Evening

Our postgraduate open event offers you the chance to:

  • Meet with lecturers and other prospective students to discuss study options
  • Meet and chat with our current students
  • Obtain advice on fees and funding opportunities.

93 per cent of our graduates find work or further study within six months (DLHE). Explore your potential at our open evening.

Who is it for?

Whether you are coming to the end of your undergraduate studies, or have been in your job for a while and want to progress in your career or change direction, a postgraduate qualification gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Our graduates are already shaping the world in a variety of high-profile roles – and you could be next. Read some of our inspiring case studies.

For more information, visit our Open Days page or call our Course Enquiries Team on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

Book now
Book your place
Wednesday 26 April 2017

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Course Structure

Supervisors and Support

As an English PhD research student you will be guided through your programme of study by a team of supervisors.

Your supervisors will help you create your individual PhD research plan which, in your first few months, may include study for a research methods qualification: PG Cert Research Practice.

Your supervisory team will include a Director of Studies whose role it is to ensure that you are meeting targets and following the correct processes and systems for conducting English PhD research.

You will also be supported by a second supervisor (and sometimes a third) who will provide guidance based on their knowledge of your specific English PhD research interest.

You will meet with your supervisors on a regular basis to review your progress, receive advice and plan the next stages of your PhD research degree.

You will present your research developments regularly to supervisors and other members of your PhD research community at Birmingham School of English.

Modes of Study

Our English PhD research degree is offered full-time, part-time or by distance learning.

These three modes of study ensure that we can create a PhD research plan around your lifestyle needs, even if you are in full-time employment or overseas.

Full-time PhD Research: three years

As a full-time English PhD research student you will undertake much of your research on campus using the facilities at the School of English.

You will usually spend at least 37 hours per week engaged in research.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 36-43 months.

Part-time PhD Research: four years

You would chose part-time English PhD research if you opt to study whilst in employment or if full-time study is impractical.

You will be encouraged to use the campus facilities at the School of English when you can and may often work from home.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.

Distance Learning PhD Research: four years

Distance learning is possible, under carefully controlled circumstances, if you normally live outside of the UK but wish to conduct English PhD research with the School of English.

You will still be required to have some level of face-to-face engagement with us each academic year, often by conducting research on campus in Birmingham (UK).

Face to face research will be arranged for a period of time during the summer months, or at a mutually agreed time.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.

Dr Anthony Howe

Reader and Director of Graduate Research

Dr Anthony Howe hails from the North East of England and was educated at Liverpool and Cambridge; he has held posts at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

His main research focus is Romantic period poetry, but he has wider interests in literary theory, literary controversies, and the connections between poetry and philosophy. His recent monograph, Byron and the Forms of Thought, offers a provocative re-reading of Byron’s philosophical thought through an analysis of the poet’s varied use of literary form. He has published a number of essays on the Romantics and is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

He is currently working on a project about letter writing and Romantic poetics. He is keen to receive PhD proposals in the area of Romantic poetry, letters and poetics.


English PhD
  • If you have any questions or queries regarding our English PhD, or a PhD research proposal you would like to discuss with us, please send an initial PhD enquiry.
  • If you are unable to submit the initial PhD enquiry form, please email or call +44 (0)121 331 4132.


For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (10Mb).