PhD Creative Writing / Programme details

Year of entry: 2024

Programme description

Watch Alicia talk about studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester
David Hartley, a PhD research student in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester presents his research as an 'elevator pitch'.

Our PhD Creative Writing programme gives you the opportunity to work on a significant piece of creative writing while developing your research skills.

You will benefit from creative supervision by an experienced poet or fiction writer and draw on the range of expertise within the University to find a supervisor for your critical element. 

There are two elements to the programme. The first is a creative element that can be a novel or a collection of short stories of up to 100,000 words, or a book-length collection of poetry of up to 60 poems.

The PhD also has a critical element, which is a piece of literary or cultural criticism of 30,000 to 50,000 words maximum.

Special features

Find out more about the Graduate School

Centre for New Writing

Undertake our PhD Creative Writing programme and you will become part of the University's Centre for New Writing, which has been championing contemporary fiction, poetry and creative writing since 2007 and is home to writers including Jeanette Winterson, Kamila Shamsie, Ian McGuire, Kaye Mitchell, Jason Allen-Paisant, Beth Underdown, Honor Gavin, Frances Leviston, Horatio Clare and John McAuliffe, and Luke Brown.

Graduate School

All of our postgraduate students become members of the Graduate School when you start at Manchester. It has dedicated facilities for students and offers opportunities to collaborate with other postgraduates.

Additional programme information

Equality, diversity and inclusion  is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. 

We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. 

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

All appointments are made on merit. 

The University of Manchester and our external partners are fully committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Teaching and learning

The PhD will require you to develop your research skills and, to this end, you will be able to undertake a research skills audit and attend seminars and workshops on research methods in the first year.

In this way, you will participate in training seminars across the field of arts, languages and cultures, which will develop useful research, teaching and IT skills.

You will also attend seminars in relation to publication, authors' rights etc, which will be particularly useful to students of creative writing.

Specialised research training, and a wider postgraduate research culture within which your work will develop, is given through a programme of writing workshop masterclasses in which students take it in turns to have their writing workshopped by the other Creative Writing PhD students, supervisors and visiting writers from outside the institution.

Coursework and assessment

The PhD will normally consist of an extended and original piece of creative work and a shorter piece of literary or cultural criticism on a related subject.

The creative element could be a novel, a collection of poems, or collection of short stories. For fiction writers, the word length of this section will normally be around 80,000 words (there is a maximum word length of 100,000 words).

The critical component will involve a critical study of a subject related to the creative work, usually 30,000 to 50,000 words in length. This may involve any of the currently debated topics in English and American Studies as they relate to your creative work. For example, you might explore particular thematic or generic preoccupations in the work of other writers, or investigate some of the wider literary, theoretical, or poetic contexts into which your writing fits. Please note that the critical element is not a commentary on your own work or a self-reflective essay on your own creative processes; it is a piece of literary or cultural criticism of the type you would undertake if you were working towards a PhD in English Literature.

See what our current PhD students are working on.


Alan Gilbert Learning Commons Fly Through

Manchester is home to one of the UK's five National Research Libraries - one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK and widely recognised as one of the world's greatest research libraries.

Find out more about libraries and study spaces for postgraduate research students at Manchester.

We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe - supporting world-class teaching and research. There are extensive computing facilities across campus, with access to standard office software as well as specialist programmes, all connected to the campus network and internet.

Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

The Graduate School offers dedicated state of the art facilities to research students, including common rooms and workstations.

Find out more about facilities for our English Literature and Creative Writing students.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: