PhD/MPhil Creative Writing

  1. Course Variations
    Nomenclature Duration Mode Of Attendance
    Ph.D. 3Yr FT
    Ph.D. 6Yr PT
    M.Phil. 2Yr FT
    M.Phil. 4Yr PT
  2. Typical offer:
    UK 2.1

Course Overview


Swansea’s Creative Writing research programme offers a choice from a spectrum of skills and a research dialogue across genres, from poetry and fiction to dramaturgy and screenwriting. We are a closely bonded community of writers, each research student being supervised by a specialist writer-teacher. One-to-one meetings take place every 3-4 weeks, or at the student’s request. The corpus of research students meets in monthly staff-student Creative Writing Methodology Workshops.

The Swansea Writing Programme offers its graduate writers an apprenticeship, with the precious time to dedicate oneself to learning a craft which, for all its mysteriousness, works according to techniques and rules which may only be creatively broken when they have been thoroughly understood. Swansea is especially proud of the intellectual rigour of its programme and research culture. Our team includes teacher-writers of world class stature and long experience.

Key Features

Our PhD offers the experience of mentoring with a specialist writer-teacher, supported by a second writer-supervisor and, importantly, by the ground-breaking Creative Writing Methodology Workshop. The workshop is convened and presided over by the Research Director and attended wherever possible by all Creative Writing staff. Each workshop is led either by a staff member or by an individual student, who has the chance to receive valuable feedback from the members. Writing is circulated by all before sessions, to be discussed and annotated by members. 

We go to considerable lengths to match student with supervisor, to create an enriching and enduring writerly bond. It may be useful to acquaint yourself with Stevie Davies’s and Fflur Dafydd’s websites: and Supervisory meetings are logged and goals agreed each time. At the end of year 1 you attend a progression meeting with your supervisors and the Director of Postgraduate Research to discuss your research project. 

Students are asked to attend literary festivals and to report on them to the Workshop. They attend skills and training courses at College and University level. From the second year there are opportunities to teach undergraduate tutorials and seminars, for which students receive training and payment. Each has a budget (currently £200 per year) to attend conferences outside Swansea. 


Your project must be worked out in consultation with your supervisors. It is a good idea to enter discussions before applying and to draw up an initial proposal together (see contact details under 'How to Apply'.   However, all good topics develop over the course of your reading and supervisions and it is likely that your project will gradually gain definition and focus. At the end of your first nine months you present excerpts from the creative work, synopsis, bibliography and table of contents, plus a list of training courses, workshops and events attended, to a progression panel which makes recommendations for your future direction. 

Entry Requirements

PhD- A Master's in Creative Writing is desirable, but we are flexible on this: a Master’s in some other subject, or a 2.1 degree with publications, will be satisfactory. We accord great weight to the quality of the writing sample you send us: a couple of chapters of a novel, a succinct collection of short stories or poems; scenes from a drama script. This portfolio may be sent by email attachment to the Research Director at, before applying, if you would like to explore possibilities. In the case of British-based students, our conversation would include an informal interview. International applicants should have a minimum IELTS of 6.5 or equivalent. 

If you hold a qualification from a non-UK institution please see our academic entry requirements for International qualifications (non-EU) and EU qualifications (non UK).  If English is not your first language you will need an acceptable pass in an approved English Language qualification to make sure you get the full benefit from studying at Swansea. We consider a wide range of qualifications, including the Swansea University English Test, the British Council IELTS test (with a score of at least 6.5 and 6.5 in each component). A full list of acceptable English Language tests can be found at:

Applicants to this programme would normally be expected to meet the minimum entry requirements indicated above. The College/School reserves the right to ask for higher academic grades and qualifications. Admissions decisions take into account not only prior academic qualifications, but also factors including the standard of the research synopsis/proposal submitted by the applicant, their performance at interview (if required), intensity of competition for limited places and relevant professional experience (where appropriate).

How To Apply

Email Dr Alan Bilton, Creative Writing Research Director, at , for informal enquiries.

Apply online and track your application status at

You may enrol in September, January, April or July.

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU International
Ph.D. Full-time £4,345 £15,100
Ph.D. Part-time £2,172.50 £7,550
M.Phil. Full-time £4,345 £15,100
M.Phil. Part-time £2,172.50 £7,550

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3%.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

Note: The UK/EU fee is indicative pending confirmation from UKRI

If your course starts in January, April or July 2019 please refer to the 2018/19 fee costs on our tuition fees page.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

International students and part-time study: It is now possible for some students to study part-time under the Tier 4 visa route. This is dependent on factors relating to the course and your individual situation. It may also be possible to study with us if you are already in the UK under a different visa category. Please visit the University information on Visas and Immigration for further guidance and support.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

The tuition fees do not cover the costs of purchasing books or stationery, printing, thesis binding or photocopying costs.

There are no mandatory additional costs specified for this course.


The PhD in Creative Writing falls within the category of ‘Creative and Performing Arts’, which permits the thesis to take the form of a portfolio of original works, to be accompanied by a commentary, placing the portfolio in its intellectual context. The PhD in this area is understood to constitute research into a subject, research into a form, and research into the relation between them. This research discipline constitutes a practical, experimental and empirical mode of research, in which the creative work-in-progress is the central site of research, while the essay represents an analysis and elucidation  of and commentary on the choices made in that research.

The requirement is in two parts: a book-length creative work, and a critical essay.

The creative work may take the form of:

  • a novel, or
  • a collection of short fiction (which may be designed as a composite novel or may include or comprise work in the novella form), or
  • an anthology of poetry, or
  • a long poem, or
  • a play for stage or radio (or both), or
  • a work of creative non-fiction. 


  • A work of prose fiction or creative non-fiction should be approximately 80,000-100,000 words in length.
  • The critical essay should be up to 10,000 words in length.
  • An anthology of poems or a long poem should be up to 10,000 words in length  (i.e. roughly equivalent to a 50-poem collection).
  • A work of drama should take the form of a fully-realised two-act play, suitable for production, each act designed to last about one hour. 

Assessment 2 - Praxis and Gnosis

While the creative work is considered as the scholarly heart of the PhD, the critical essay should engage with the choices made in the creative work, addressing, for example: concept and process; drafts and revisions; questions of style (lexis, diction, voice or voices, setting, plot or fable, perspective or perspectives); theme; characterisation; the research undertaken for the book; historical and cultural context; where the work stands in relation to other works in the chosen genre and tradition; any other relevant issues.

The individual is not required to address all these issues in an equivalent way but to shape the essay in a fashion appropriate to the specific creative work. The essay demonstrates the candidate’s capacity to think critically on the processes involved in its conception, development and revision.

Submission of the thesis is followed by an oral examination of the thesis (viva) by two examiners who are not your supervisors, one of whom is external to the University. 

Further Key Features

The creative component of the degree should ultimately be of publishable standard. Our graduates have met with great publishing/ performing success. Our programme offers knowledge of and access to the publishing industry. We enjoy links with prestigious London agencies and national and international publishing houses. The publisher Parthian has its office is on our campus. Our annual Writers’ Day, in tandem with Creative Writing at the University of Wales Trinity St David, takes place at the Dylan Thomas Centre in June of every year.

Links with the performance industry are strong. Excerpts from postgraduate dramatic scripts are given professional performance at our annual Rough Diamonds theatre nights, and students enjoy visits to the BBC studios and from broadcasting and theatre professionals. Other intellectual and creative opportunities include regular postgraduate talks and discussions and the many readings and arts events (films, plays, concerts, exhibitions) available both on and off campus. We have a close relationship with the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. The Swansea Review is an online literary journal (, edited by Creative Writing staff.

Postgraduate Research

About 70 of the postgraduates currently studying at Swansea University’s Department of English Language and Literature [ELL] are researchers working on an MA, MPhil or PhD thesis. Each is supervised by two members of staff, 60% of whose own research publications were rated ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’ in the 2008 REF exercise.  We supervise interdisciplinary projects as well as traditional areas of the discipline - in language studies, creative writing, literature (from medieval to the present) and critical and cultural theory. If you have an idea for a research project, do get in touch and discuss it with us informally before applying.

Postgraduates often join a research centre, e.g. the Centre for Research into Gender and Culture (GENCAS) or the Centre for Research into Welsh Writing in English (CREW) where they work alongside other students and staff in dedicated research rooms. Students present their work in the friendly environment of our Research Institute’s annual postgraduate conference, ELL’s fortnightly research seminars, and the monthly workshop of the Creative Writing Programme. Our research environment was judged 100%  ‘internationally excellent’ by the 2008 REF, and research students help staff organize a lively programme of conferences, readings and performances on campus and in the city’s arts centres. As well as being inducted into academic research and dissemination, doctoral students have the opportunity to undertake undergraduate teaching to prepare them for an academic career.  We provide study stations with computers and postgraduate common-rooms, research training and the services of a research officer and subject librarian.

Quotes from previous students

What is it like being a research student at Swansea?

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a doctoral student at Swansea. As well as receiving excellent support from my supervisor, I was also part of a stimulating intellectual community made up of postgraduates and academics. The sense of camaraderie here was a very important factor for me. Since graduating, Swansea has proved to be a key stepping-stone in my career, leading to opportunities at other HEIs in Wales and a highly rewarding academic job at the Open University.” (Dr. Anthony Howell)

“I really enjoyed primary research - going to library manuscript archives and reading letters which were centuries old was always really exciting. I was also keen to understand new relationship structures through a historical context - the thesis certainly held a political importance for me.” (Dr Redfern Barrett)

 “In 2002 I happened upon a novel in my local library by Stevie Davies. Imagine my surprise when, in 2003, Stevie’s name appeared as Director of Creative Writing at Swansea University. I submitted some of my work and was accepted onto the MA in Creative and Media Writing. I stayed and braved a PhD, and, with Stevie’s patient and careful guidance, achieved what I had though impossible – a Doctorate in Creative Writing.”  (Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar, Lecturer in Creative Writing [])

REF 2014

What the Research Excellence Framework 2014 had to say about Postgraduate research in the Swansea Department of English Language and Literature …

  • The environment in the Department is‘conducive to producing research of mostly at least internationally excellent and at its best world-leading quality’
  • ‘Arrangements for postgraduates were deemed of world-leading quality’
  • There is clear evidence of the development of a research culture into which research students are fully integrated’
  • ‘Recruitment is strong’
  • ‘There are excellent arrangements for support, training and employability’.

Summing up: ‘The unit makes an outstanding contribution to the health of the discipline’.