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MPhil & PhD in English, Comparative Literature or Linguistics

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

Course overview

We offer MPhil and PhD research programmes in English (including American Studies), Comparative Literature or Linguistics for full or part-time study.

Find out more about our staff and their specialisms and expertise, and the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

The Department of English and Comparative Literature consists of some 40 scholars and creative writers whose work is acknowledged and cited internationally.

We offer a stimulating environment for undertaking postgraduate research in English Literature (including American Literature and literary theory), World Literature, Comparative Literature, Linguistics, and Creative Writing.

We particularly encourage cross- and interdisciplinary research in emerging fields of study and creative practice.

As well as working with scholars and writers of international standing, you will have the opportunity to play an active role in a vibrant research environment which includes the Richard Hoggart Lectures in Literature and Culture, the annual Goldsmiths Prize for bold and innovative fiction, and specialist seminars and colloqia offered by the Goldsmiths Writers' Centre, the Goldsmiths Literature Seminars (GLITS), the Goldsmiths Linguistics Seminars (GoldLingS), and the e-journal, GLITS-e.

Assessment is by thesis and viva voce.

Find out more about research degrees 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.

Contact the department

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

Department

English at Goldsmiths is ranked:
2nd in London for creative writing*
18th in the UK for the quality of our research**
In the world’s top 100 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

*Guardian University Guide League Tables 2017
**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
***QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017

Skills & careers

Skills

Carrying out a research degree will help you 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, and to assimilate and evaluate competing arguments

Careers

Our graduates have gone on to pursue careers in:

  • publishing
  • journalism
  • public relations
  • teaching
  • advertising
  • the civil service
  • business
  • industry
  • the media

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 example, 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

Laura Burns

Laura Burns is a poet and performer working with written and oral texts.

Laura Burns is a poet and performer working with written and oral texts. Her work draws on traditions of storytelling, sound poetry and spoken text in dance and performance.

She is currently working on a PhD looking at language and poetics in relationship to environmental crisis and perceptions of human and non-human agency. Her work - poetry, non-fiction and reviews - has been published by English PEN, Tears in the Fence, Under the Radar, The Interpreter's House, Bath Literary Festival, Swindon Poetry Festival, Earthlines, Exeunt, SARMA, This is Tomorrow.

Among performances further afield and across the country, she has performed at the Soho Theatre, Rich Mix and Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival. 

Cat Coldstream

Currently working on her memoir which reflects on her spiritual journey and the life of her father.

Catherine Coldstream is working on a memoir which combines reflections on her own spiritual journey with recollections of her father, the painter William Coldstream.

In it she explores the ways in which grief and memory can construct identity and influence the narratives that shape our lives.

She studied Theology at Oxford, and gained a Distinction in her MA in Creative Non-Fiction from UEA. She is interested in philosophy, religion, and the arts, and plays viola in a string quartet.

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area, of at least high merit standard. We normally also expect an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard.

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 with a 7.0 in writing

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

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 

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

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 & Comparative Literature normally offers a range of fee waivers for this programme, as well as additional support for its students.

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