MPhil & PhD in Creative Writing

  • Length
    3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time
  • Department
    English and Comparative Literature

Course overview

The inter-relationship between theory, scholarship and the creative process is key to the Goldsmiths MPhil/PhD in Creative Writing.

You'll be expected to combine your own creative writing – whether poetry, fiction or life writing – with research into the genre or area of literature in which you are working, to gain insight into its history and development, and to engage with relevant contemporary debates.

This might be genre in the more traditional sense, for example satire, fictional autobiography, verse drama, or particular traditions to which you feel your work relates, for example projective verse, postmodernist fiction, or Caribbean poetics.

This element of the PhD – the critical commentary – will constitute around 30 per cent of the final work; the major part – 70 per cent – will be a creative work of publishable standard: a novel, memoir, book of poems or collection of stories, for example.

Assessment is by thesis and viva voce.

Former PhD students include Bernardine Evaristo, whose Jerwood Fiction Uncovered-winning book Mr Loverman was written, in part, at Goldsmiths. 

North American applicants especially should note that the British system does not include preparatory taught classes or examinations as part of the MPhil/PhD programme, except for an initial course in research methods.

Find out more about research degrees at Goldsmiths

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Maria Macdonald


English at Goldsmiths is ranked:
18th in the UK for the quality of our research**
In the world’s top 150 universities for English language and literature***

English and Comparative Literature

Cervantes. Bukowski. Dostoevsky. Self. From classical literature and linguistics, to creative writing and contemporary fiction, we take a critical and creative approach to the discipline.

As a department we’re interested in a field of enquiry that extends from Old English to 21st-century literatures in English, French, Spanish and Italian. So you can study texts and films across a variety of periods and genres.

We’re engaged

We have a dedicated Writers’ Centre that encourages new writing and stimulates debate about all forms of literature. And we award the annual Goldsmiths Prize (for “fiction at its most novel”), which brings critically acclaimed writers like Ali Smith and Eimear McBride to campus.

We’re nurturing

We may be one of the largest departments at Goldsmiths but that doesn’t mean you won’t get personal support. Learn from our approachable team of academic staff and become part of the student-run English Society.

We’re vibrant

As one of the first departments in the UK to offer creative writing, you’ll be part of a hub of literary excellence – our graduates have gone on to win prestigious awards from the Orange Prize for Fiction to the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

Find out more about the Department of English and Comparative Literature

**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
***QS World University Rankings by subject 2015


Department of English & Comparative Literature have a wide range of research specialisms; find out more about our staff and their research interests.

Skills & careers


You'll develop transferable skills, including:

  • enhanced communication and discussion skills in written and oral contexts
  • the ability to analyse and evaluate different textual materials
  • the ability to organise information
  • the ability to assimilate and evaluate competing arguments


  • Publishing
  • Journalism
  • Public relations
  • Teaching
  • Advertising
  • The civil service
  • Business
  • Media

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

Research training programme

Training in research methods and skills is provided both by the department and Goldsmiths' Graduate School. This begins with an intensive week-long induction in the first week of enrolment and continues later in the first term with a series of seminars focussing on the specific challenges of literary and linguistic research projects. The department will also inform you about any research training seminars or study-days offered elsewhere in the University of London (for exmaple, by the Institute of English Studies or the Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study) or beyond, such as at the British Library. The specific training requirements of your project will be assessed, and guidance provided on specialist seminars and conferences to attend, which can be supported where possible by assistance from departmental funds.

Student profiles

Yoanna Pak

Currently researching representations of Koreans in conflict in first generation, second generation and western literature. 

Yoanna Pak completed her MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths in 2014.

As a Canadian-born Korean writer, she has a deep interest in inter-generational and cultural co-operation.

She is currently researching representations of Koreans in conflict in first generation, second generation and western literature. Her PhD is the continuation of her first novel which focuses on a Korean Vietnam War veteran and his Canadian born children.

Tom Lee

Tom's story ‘The Current’ was shortlisted for The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the largest prize for a single short story in the world. 

Tom Lee’s PhD project focuses on the short story form: it will comprise a collection of eight stories followed by a close textual analysis of five stories by writers whose work has been significant in his own development.

A number of the stories in the collection have already been published, including ‘The Current’, which was shortlisted for The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the largest prize for a single short story in the world.

His first collection of stories, Greenfly, begun on the MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths (2000-2002), was published by Harvill Secker in 2009. 

Sophie Hardach

Author of two critically acclaimed novels, one of which was chosen as one of the Waterstones 11 best debuts of 2011.

Sophie Hardach is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages, about Kurdish refugees, and Of Love and Other Wars, about pacifists during World War Two.

The former was chosen as one of the Waterstones 11 best debuts of 2011.

Also a journalist, she worked as a correspondent for Reuters news agency in Tokyo, Paris and Milan and has written for a number of publications including the Atlantic, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. She is currently writing a novel about art forgers, German expressionism and Nazi-looted art.

See more profiles for this programme

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 7.0 (including 7.0 in the written test)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you'll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • Contact details of a second referee
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • Details of your research proposal

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to get in touch with the programme contact, listed above. It may also be possible to arrange an advisory meeting.

Before you start at Goldsmiths, the actual topic of your research has to be agreed with your proposed supervisor, who will be a member of staff active in your general field of research. The choice of topic may be influenced by the current research in the department or the requirements of an external funding body. 

If you wish to study on a part-time basis, you should also indicate how many hours a week you intend to devote to research, whether this will be at evenings or weekends, and for how many hours each day.

Research proposals

Along with your application and academic reference, you should also upload a research proposal at the point of application. 

This should be in the form of a statement of the proposed area of research and should include: 

  • delineation of the research topic
  • why it has been chosen
  • an initial hypothesis (if applicable)
  • a brief list of major secondary sources

How detailed a research proposal are we looking for on the application form? 
Obviously what you put on the form and exactly what you end up researching may be rather different, but in order to judge whether or not to offer you a place, the Department needs to know whether you have the broad outlines of a viable project. This means:

  • a project that is both worthwhile and interesting, but not over-ambitious
  • a project that can realistically be achieved within the confines of PhD on a full-time (4 years typically) or part-time (6 years maximum) basis
  • we need to be sure that you have thought about it carefully and are fully committed to the research
  • we need to be sure that you understand what is involved in doing a PhD
  • your research proposal should give us enough information to be able to interview you (if you are in the UK) or reach a decision as to whether to admit you if you are not based in the UK

When to apply 

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application by the deadline they've specified. 

Selection process 

If your degree is in an unrelated field, you may be considered subject to a qualifying interview and/or submission of sample essays.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

AHRC studentships.

The Department of English and Comparative Literature sometimes offers fee waivers for this programme.

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