PhD in Creative Writing

The PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster is enabled via face-to-face supervision and the Virtual Learning and Research faclities, allowing students to study from anywhere in the world and to modulate between different forms of support if necessary. Our constituency of students is therefore transcultural in identity and support ranges from face-to-face supervision on campus to distance learning through electronic means. Read about PhD Supervision in Creative Writing.

The Challenge of the Creative Writing PhD

A doctoral award is the highest award that the UK Higher Education system can confer. It is usually seen as a pre-requisite to an academic career and should be anticipated as an extremely challenging and demanding programme of study. Students accepted onto the programme need a strong creative and academic track record, usually including published work; supervisors will be widely published, experienced academics, and regarded as experts in their field.

The PhD in Creative Writing is still relatively new to the academy and brings with it special challenges since it privileges creative output over critical reflection, whilst combining the two. Research in Creative Writing is achieved through praxis as well as through more formal or traditional critical strategies. Critical reflection may also be approached through aspects of creative writing practice in the most adventurous doctoral theses.

Students should expect to have all their ideas and pre-conceptions challenged during doctoral study and to embark upon a relationship with their supervisor that is intensely demanding, both intellectually and emotionally. This is especially true of the Creative Writing PhD where there is an inevitably close emotional connection to the creative work being critiqued. It is important that a strong structure exists for such a relationship and that both supervisors and students have a clear understanding of what to expect from the process.


What Our Students Say

  • “The Creative Writing PhD at Lancaster has offered me a fantastic opportunity to explore the craft and context of my writing in depth. The apotheosis of Graham Mort’s excellent supervision is not only the fact that I am now published, but that his influence is continuing to shape my my new creative work.”

    Ray Robinson, PhD 2006, shortlisted for James Tait Black Memorial Prize
  • “The process at Lancaster goes way beyond the bounds of honing something into commercial acceptability. Many were the times I thought the job was complete only to be told to dig deeper, to go further. Without the PhD process, the novel would not have become the completed whole I now feel it to be.”

    Professor Martin Goodman, PhD 2007, prize-winning author and Director of the Philip Larkin Centre
  • “I wanted to be part of a community of writers from around the world. Lancaster University is fulfilling this… I have learned so much this week about the challenges, hopes and dreams facing the Nigerian and Ugandan students. I will take their aspirations and poetry back to my country to share.”

    Student, DLMA Summer School 2011
  • “The fact that students come from such diverse countries enriched the week greatly…I am going away with the perspectives of so many different people and some concrete ideas for my work, to do with creating other worlds and voices.”

    Student, DLMA Summer School 2010