School of English

Poetry as Practice - MA



The Poetry as Practice MA is a creative writing programme for advanced poetry practitioners.

Your project will be an extended creative project, consisting of between 30 and 40 poems, or, in the case of long poems, between 420 and 560 lines, or, in the case of prose poems, between 30 and 40 pages.  

This sequence of poems will be accompanied by a critical, or theoretical essay of between 8,000 and 10,000 words, and a bibliography of works you have used to research your creative and critical work. The final assessment of the MA will be by examination of the coursework and, where necessary, by viva voce examination.

You are welcome to approach the Director of Creative Writing with proposals, or to discuss with him ideas that might be in the early stages of development, as well as discuss proposals with the tutors listed below.  Areas of current interest for members of staff are: journal poetry, translation, avant-garde poetry, avant-garde performance poetry, political poetry, feminist poetry and poetics.

There are three members of staff available to work with students: Dr Simon Smith, Patricia Debney and Dorothy Lehane.

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.


Study support

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.

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.


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 managemen

Entry requirements

A first or upper second class honours degree from a UK university (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject. Candidates will also have a demonstrable background in poetry which may include professional experience or a taught MA programme. Candidates will be required to submit a sample of published or unpublished writing of excellent quality in order to be considered for this programme.

General entry requirements

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

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

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

There are five active research centres that are based within the School of English:

Centre for Modern Poetry

The Centre for Modern Poetry is the hub of practice and research for students and staff working in modern and contemporary poetry and poetics. It brings together world-leading scholars, acclaimed poets and postgraduate students, sharing research and hosting internationally renowned events throughout the year to create a rich environment for the study, discussion, circulation and creation of poetry.

Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research

The University of Kent is distinctive among British Universities in having attended to postcolonial literatures and British Black and Asian writing from its foundation in 1964. Since its inception the Centre has built an international reputation as a research leader in postcolonial studies. It was the first University to offer a BA in African and Caribbean Studies, and now offers a BA in English with Postcolonial Literatures. It has hosted major international conferences, including the Silver Jubilee Conference of the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Societies (ACLALS) in 1989, sponsored a leading critical and creative journal in Wasafiri, and welcomed many visiting writers and scholars from all over the world, including Africa, India, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century

Kent's Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century was the first eighteenth-century studies centre to be established in southern England. Since 2007 the Centre's members have worked across the period 1640-1830, approaching this historical moment from various and complementary methodological and (inter)disciplinary perspectives.

Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Writing

This Centre promotes research in this area by seminars, postgraduate reading groups, poetry readings, colloquia and conferences. The Centre is an outwardly focused research and teaching collective, which delivers several public lectures each academic year. The Janet Montefiore public lecture attracts distinguished researchers in the fields of gender, sexuality, and queer theory and is held annually during the spring term.

Centre for Creative Writing

At Kent we are committed to high quality literary fiction, and the most exciting and experimental contemporary poetry. We love great literature and don't see any reason why our students should not aspire to produce it. We are excited by writing that changes the reader and, ultimately – even if it is a very small way – the world. We love writing that is full of ideas, but that is also playful, funny and affecting. You will find at Kent a place where – with a focus on leading contemporary authors and poets – you will immerse yourself in literature that challenges and inspires.

In addition to these are also two faculty-based research centres which also have strong input from the School:

Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies

A thriving community of 80 enterprising, supportive graduate students study for research degrees and benefit from the Centre's involvement in the prestigious EU-funded Erasmus Mundus doctoral programme, 'Text and Event in Early Modern Europe' (TEEME). Based in the historic city of Canterbury, we have close relationships with Canterbury Cathedral and the Canterbury Archaeological Trust which allow our students access to a wide range of unique historical, literary and material evidence.

Centre for American Studies

a teaching and research Centre dedicated to the study of the United States and Latin America. We offer a series of undergraduate programmes (with the option of a year or semester abroad), as well as postgraduate taught and research degrees. With a vibrant community of Americanists drawn from Politics, History, English, Film Studies and Latin American Studies, we offer a truly interdisciplinary approach to the study of the USA and Latin America.

Students are encouraged to make links with centres both within and beyond the School.

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.

Dr Simon Smith: Reader in Creative Writing

Creative writing; poetry in translation, Latin and French; poetry reviewing; experimental fiction; critical theory; theory of creative writing. 


Patricia Debney: Reader in Creative Writing

Creative writing (prose poetry, short fiction); auto/biography; translation and adaptation; collaborative/interdisciplinary work; feminist theory; psychoanalytic theory.


Dr Nancy Gaffield: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

The border between language and literary studies: stylistics approaches to creative writing; contemporary poetry as practice, including the text both written and performed; the role of the reader as co-producer of meaning; the use of poetic forms. 


Enquire or order a prospectus



Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

School website

Open days

We hold regular Open Events at our Canterbury and Medway campuses. You will be able to talk to specialist academics and admissions staff, find out about our competitive fees, discuss funding opportunities and tour the campuses.

You can also discuss the programmes we run at our specialist centres in Brussels, Athens, Rome and Paris at the Canterbury Open Events. If you can't attend but would like to find out more you can come for an informal visit, contact our information team or find out more on our website.  

Please check which of our locations offers the courses you are interested in before choosing which event to attend.


The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at:

*Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department for Education or Research Council UK) permitted increases are normally inflationary and the University therefore reserves the right to increase tuition fees by inflation (RPI excluding mortgage interest payments) as permitted by law or Government policy in the second and subsequent years of your course. If we intend to exercise this right to increase tuition fees, we will let you know by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which we intend to exercise that right.

If, in the future, the increases to regulated fees permitted by law or government policy exceed the rate of inflation, we reserve the right to increase fees to the maximum permitted level. If we intend to exercise this extended right to increase tuition fees, we will let you know by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which we intend to exercise that right.


School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 17/01/2017