Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

English - MA, PhD

2018

Staff supervise research in most areas of English and associated studies, and have expertise in the following areas: theory, modernism and postmodernism, 18th and 19th-century studies, women’s writing, literature and visual arts, Shakespeare and the Renaissance, early modern literature and culture, medieval studies, American literature, postcolonial literature and modern poetry.

2018

Overview

About the School of English

The School of English has a strong international reputation and global perspective, apparent both in the background of its staff and in the diversity of our teaching and research interests.

Our expertise ranges from the medieval to the postmodern, including British, American and Irish literature, postcolonial writing, 18th-century studies, Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, Victorian studies, modern poetry, critical theory and cultural history. The international standing of the School ensures that we have a lively, confident research culture, sustained by a vibrant, ambitious intellectual community. We also count a number of distinguished creative writers among our staff, and we actively explore crossovers between critical and creative writing in all our areas of teaching and research.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 has produced very strong results for the School of English at Kent. With 74% of our work graded as world-leading or internationally excellent, the School is ranked 10th out of 89 English departments in terms of Research Intensity (Times Higher Education). The School also received an outstanding assessment of the quality of its research environment and public impact work.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of English was ranked 10th for research intensity and 15th for research power in the UK.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 95% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Careers

Many career paths can benefit from the writing and analytical skills that you develop as a postgraduate student in the School of English. Our students have gone on to work in academia, journalism, broadcasting and media, publishing, writing and teaching; as well as more general areas such as banking, marketing analysis and project management.

Study support

As a research student, you meet regularly with your supervisor, and have the opportunity to take part in informal reading groups and research seminars to which students, staff and visiting speakers contribute papers. You also benefit from a series of research skills seminars that run in the spring term, which gives you a chance to share the research expertise of staff and postdoctoral members of the department.

As a basis for advanced research, you must take the School and Faculty research methods programmes.

Postgraduate resources

The Templeman Library is well stocked with excellent research resources, as are Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. There are a number of special collections: the John Crow Collection of Elizabethan and other early printed texts; the Reading/Raynor Collection of theatre history (over 7,000 texts or manuscripts); ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online); the Melville manuscripts relating to popular culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the Pettingell Collection (over 7,500 items) of 19th-century drama; the Eliot Collection; children’s literature; and popular literature. A gift from Mrs Valerie Eliot has increased the Library’s already extensive holdings in modern poetry. The British Library in London is also within easy reach.

Besides the Templeman Library, School resources include photocopying, fax and telephone access, support for attending and organising conferences, and a dedicated postgraduate study space equipped with computer terminals and a printer.

Conferences and seminars

Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops. The School also plays a pivotal role in the Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, of which all graduates are associate members. The Institute hosts interdisciplinary conferences, colloquia, and other events, and establishes international links for all Kent graduates through its network with other advanced institutes worldwide.

School of English postgraduate students are encouraged to organise and participate in a conference which takes place in the summer term. This provides students with the invaluable experience of presenting their work to their peers.

The School runs several series of seminars, lectures and readings throughout the academic year. Our weekly research seminars are organised collaboratively by staff and graduates in the School. Speakers range from our own postgraduate students, to members of staff, to distinguished lecturers who are at the forefront of contemporary research nationally and internationally.

The Centre for Creative Writing hosts a very popular and successful weekly reading series; guests have included poets Katherine Pierpoint, Tony Lopez, Christopher Reid and George Szirtes, and novelists Abdulrazak Gurnah, Ali Smith, Marina Warner and Will Self.

The University of Kent is now in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Benefits from this affiliation include free membership for incoming students; embedded seminar opportunities at the ICA and a small number of internships for our students. The School of English also runs an interdisciplinary MA programme in the Contemporary which offers students an internship at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. They also edit several periodicals including: Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities; The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: 600-1500; The Dickensian; Literature Compass; Oxford Literary Review; Theatre Notebook and Wasafiri.

Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

Entry requirements

MA

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent).

PhD

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent) and, normally, a taught MA qualification.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Research in the School of English comes roughly under the following areas. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups, and individual staff have interests that range more widely.

Eighteenth Century

The particular interests of the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century converge around gender, class, nation, travel and empire, and the relationship between print and material culture. Staff in the Centre pursue cutting-edge approaches to the field and share a commitment to interdisciplinary methodologies.
The Centre regularly hosts visiting speakers as part of the School of English research seminar programme, and hosts day symposia, workshops and international conferences.

Nineteenth Century

The recently established Centre for Victorian Literature and Culture provides a stimulating and distinctive research environment for staff and students through seminars, conferences and collaborative research projects. The MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture is the only MA of its kind in the UK, and both the MA and the Centre places a particular emphasis on Victorian literature and culture associated with Kent and the south-east.

American Literature

Research in north American literature is conducted partly through the Faculty-based Centre for American Studies, which also facilitates co-operation with modern US historians. Staff research interests include 20th-century American literature, especially poetry, Native American writing, modernism, and cultural history.

Creative Writing

The Centre for Creative Writing is the focus for most practice-based research in the School. Staff organise a thriving series of events and run a research seminar for postgraduate students and staff to share ideas about fiction-writing. Established writers regularly come to read and discuss their work.

Medieval and Early Modern

The Faculty-based Canterbury Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies has a distinctive brand of interdisciplinarity, strong links with local archives and archaeological trusts, and provides a vibrant forum for investigating the relationships between literary and non-literary modes of writing in its weekly research seminar.

Modern Poetry

The Centre for Modern Poetry is a leading centre for research and publication in its field, and participates in both critical and creative research. Staff regularly host visiting speakers and writers, participate in national and international research networks, and organise graduate research seminars and public poetry readings.

Postcolonial

Established in 1994, the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research has acquired an international reputation for excellence in research. It has an outstanding track record in publication, organises frequent international conferences, and regularly hosts leading postcolonial writers and critics. It also hosts a visiting writer from India every year in association with the Charles Wallace Trust.

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor David Ayers: Professor of Modernism and Critical Theory

Anglo-American Modernism; European Avant-Garde; literature and culture of the Americas; critical theory and philosophy; Russian Revolution and the Cold War.

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Professor Jennie Batchelor: Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies

Eighteenth-century literature; gender; women’s writing; fashion; visual and material culture; influence and intertextuality studies and 18th and early 19th-century periodicals and magazines.

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Dr Stella Bolaki: Senior Lecturer in American Literature

Multi-ethnic American literature (especially with a focus on migration/diaspora and transnational approaches); the Bildungsroman; gender theory; life writing and illness/disability; medical humanities. 

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Professor Peter Brown: Professor of Medieval English Literature

Chaucer and other late-medieval English writers; contextual aspects of medieval culture, including historiography; the visual arts; dreams and space.

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Dr Michael Collins: Senior Lecturer in American Literature

Nineteenth-century print culture, theatre, American studies and New York intellectual history; performance theory; new historicist and/or transnational methodologies.

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Dr Rosanna Cox: Lecturer in Early Modern Studies

Milton; 16th and 17th-century literature and culture; gender; political writing; intellectual history. 

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Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid: Reader in English and Environmental Humanities

Nineteenth-century literature and culture, especially representations of nature and the environment, time, history, queer theory; sublimity; ecology and psychogeography.

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Dr Sarah Dustagheer: Lecturer in Early Modern Literature

Early modern drama and literature, Shakespeare, playwriting, performance, theatre space and spatial theory.

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Professor David Herd: Professor of Modern Literature

Twentieth-century poetry and poetics; American literature; the avant-garde; the politics of migration.

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Dr Ben Hickman: Senior Lecturer in Modern Poetry

English and American experimental poetry of the 20th century; new American poetry; Anglo- American poetic relations; the dynamic between poetry and political action.

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Dr Sarah James: Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature

Late-medieval literary, visual and religious culture; vernacular theology; hagiography; manuscript studies. 

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Dr Declan Kavanagh: Lecturer in 18th-Century Literature

Eighteenth-century poetry; satire; political writing; masculinity; Irish literature; queer theory; gay, lesbian and transgender writing and culture; phobia in literature; disability studies.

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Professor Bernhard Klein: Professor of English Literature

Early modern literature and culture; Irish studies; travel writing and cartography; maritime history and culture. 

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Professor Donna Landry: Professor of English and American Literature

Eighteenth-century literature, culture, and empire; colonial discourse and postcolonial theory; Middle Eastern, especially Turkish, literature; Ottomanism and Enlightenment; travel writing; queer theory; animal studies; sea and desert studies; historical re-enactment. 

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Dr Sara Lyons: Senior Lecturer in Victorian Literature

Nineteenth-century literature and culture; Victorian poetry and critical prose; fin-de-siècle aestheticism and decadence; the interrelations between literature, religion, secularism in the long nineteenth century.

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Dr Ariane Mildenberg: Senior Lecturer in Modernism

Modernist poetry; Wallace Stevens; Gertrude Stein; Virginia Woolf; the kinship of method and concern between phenomenology and modernist literature and art; the interaction of contemporary philosophy with theology; the relationship between modernism and postcolonial writing; translation of Scandinavian poetry.

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Dr Will Norman: Reader in American Literature and Culture

Twentieth-century American literature and culture; European and American modernism; Vladimir Nabokov; models of high and low culture in the mid-20th century; critical theory; American crime fiction and transatlantic studies.

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Dr Alex Padamsee: Lecturer in English and American Literature

Postcolonial literature and theory; South Asian literatures; British writing on India; race, empire and colonisation in 19th and 20th-century British literature; partition and trauma studies.

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Professor Wendy Parkins: Professor of Victorian Literature

Victorian modernity; gender and sexuality in the 19th century; the Victorian novel (especially Dickens, Gaskell, Collins); literature of the fin-desiècle period; aestheticism and William Morris. 

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Dr Ryan Perry: Lecturer in Medieval Literature

The axis between literary criticism and codicological analysis; the application of new critical approaches to manuscript study, borrowing from disciplines such as anthropology and focusing on the situation of texts within their synchronic material contexts.

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Dr Alex Preston: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

The modern novel; the ways that literature has responded to the violence of the 20th century; short stories.

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Professor Catherine Richardson: Professor of Early Modern Studies

Early modern drama, literature and cultural history; relation between textual and material culture, especially clothing and the household; oral and literate cultures.

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Dr Robbie Richardson: Lecturer in 18th-Century Literature

Eighteenth-century British and transatlantic literature and culture; history and literature of British empire; museum studies; material culture; Indigenous studies; postcolonial and critical race theory; cultural studies.

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Professor Caroline Rooney: Professor of African and Middle Eastern Studies

African and Middle Eastern literature, especially Zimbabwean and Egyptian; colonial discourse and postcolonial theory; the Arab Spring; liberation literature and theory; terror and the postcolonial; global youth cultures, especially hip-hop and spoken word; contemporary visual arts; sea and desert studies; queer theory; psychoanalysis.

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Dr Derek Ryan: Lecturer in Modernist Literature

Virginia Woolf studies; modernism; animal studies; posthumanism; theory; philosophy and literature.

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Professor David Stirrup: Professor of American Literature and Indigenous Studies

First nations and Native American literature; 20th-century North American literature; the American and Canadian Midwest; border studies.

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Dr Juha Virtanen: Lecturer in Contemporary Literature

Twentieth century literature and theory; contemporary literature; American and British poetry after 1945; intersections between poetry, performance, visual arts, and socio-polital discourses. 

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Professor Catherine Waters: Professor of Victorian Literature and Print Culture

Victorian literature and culture, especially fiction and journalism; Dickens; Sala; George Eliot; literature and gender.

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Dr Sarah Wood: Reader in English Literature and Literary Theory

Creative critical writing; 19th and 20th-century poetry and fiction, especially Robert Browning and Elizabeth Bowen; writing and visual art; literary theory; deconstruction, especially Derrida; psychoanalysis; continental philosophy.

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Dr Clare Wright: Lecturer in Medieval Literature

Medieval drama and performance; audiences; embodiment, corporeality, movement and memory; religious and devotional culture; performance theory; cognitive theory and neuroscience; space and place.

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Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for Home/EU PG Research programmes have not yet been set by the Research Councils UK.  This is ordinarily announced in March. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

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My supervisors are brilliant. They are very supportive of everything I do and their feedback is invaluable.

Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

The School has a wealth of expertise that you can tap into, which is particularly valuable.