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Department of English Studies

Research by Dissertation

MA by Research 1 year Full-time/2 years Part-time - 50,000 words in length
MLitt 2 years Full-time/4 years Part-time - 70,000 words in length
PhD 3 years/Full-time/6 years Part-time - 100,000 words in length

Our research expertise includes Medieval poetry, drama, myth and romance; Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century English literature; American literature; Twentieth-century poetry and fiction, and critical theory. We especially encourage applications in the following fields: the Reception of Classical Texts; Medieval Literature and culture; Renaissance Literature; Romantic poetry, fiction, political writing and aesthetic theory; Victorian fin-de-siecle and Edwardian writing; Postmodernism, literary hermeneutics and ideas of authorship; Twentieth-century poetry and fiction by British, Irish and American writers.

  • You will be assigned a principal supervisor and an Advisor with whom you will work out your research programme. We will be pleased to discuss your interests with you before you apply.
  • You will be expected to meet regularly with your supervisor(s) to discuss your progress.
  • You will produce a piece of work of 5,000 words during your first year (during your second year for part-time students) which will be read by a member of staff other than your supervisor(s) as a check on progress.
  • You will be encouraged to work towards your goals to achieve completion within a given period.
  • Each July you will submit a joint annual progress report with your supervisor(s).
  • You will be examined by an internal and external examiner when you submit your thesis.

We encourage research students to attend conferences and to present papers, and the Department will provide some financial support for such activities whenever possible.

Entry Requirements

You will normally require a good honours degree (at least a 2:1) or its equivalent from a recognised University, and (for the MLitt or PhD) a Masters degree from a recognised University.

When submitting your application for one of our research programmes you will need to include a piece of written work approximately 1,200 words in length on a literary subject. This can be any piece of work you have completed during the last year or two.

We welcome applications from overseas students, who should be proficient in spoken and written English: normally a minimum of 7.0 in IELTS (with no component less than 7.0) or equivalent in other language tests accepted by Durham.

Application forms must be completed on-line.

How to Apply

Apply to study at Durham University.


The Department of English Studies is one of Europe’s leading centres for research in English literature and literary theory.

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