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Join an English Literature department with wide interests and world-leading archives, which is ranked in the top 150 worldwide for English Language and Literature (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2021).

As an English Literature doctoral student at Reading, you will become part of our dynamic research environment and work alongside a thriving group of postdoctoral researchers.

We offer flexible modes of study to fit your needs. You will take part in seminar series, reading groups and teaching opportunities and enjoy access to a range of archives and special collections, including unique and original texts.


Research facilities

You will have access to the University’s outstanding archival collections, ranging from the internationally famous Samuel Beckett archives to the Publisher’s Archives to the Children’s Literature Special Collection.

Our Library houses papers and manuscripts of several twentieth-century poets, a large collection of historical children’s books, and an impressive rare book collection.

We also house the Archive of British Publishing and Printing, which includes records of literary publishers such as Chatto & Windus and the Hogarth Press. We also have the world’s leading Samuel Beckett archive, containing manuscripts, letters, memoranda and book materials.

Major research resources, such as the British Library in London and the Bodleian in Oxford, are within easy reach.

Find out more about our Special Collections and resources

There is something very exciting about handling an author's materials. There's something very tactile about them and I have taught using them myself - Beckett is quite High Art and yet you can see a beer stain on the manuscript! 
Will Davies, BA English and Classics graduate and PhD student

Recognised experts

Our academic staff are recognised experts in their fields and award-wining authors and poets. 

We offer a broad range of expertise in terms of both periods, topics and approaches, which means that supervision can be arranged to cover both specialised and interdisciplinary PhD research.

In the most recent survey (2021) of how PhD students rated their supervision, an overwhelming majority of 85% gave the top rating of ‘very satisfactory’ for their supervision, placing the department among the most highly rated of the University.

Learn more about our staff and their areas of expertise

Our research groups

As a department, we pursue internationally recognised research across the historical spectrum.

Our distinctive strengths lie in the areas of Book and Publishing Studies, Poetry and Poetics, Recovered Voices and Minority Perspectives, Samuel Beckett Studies, Medical Humanities and Early Modern Literature.

Many of our academics and researchers are actively involved in collaborative and interdisciplinary research centres and groupings.

Find out more about these research centres and groups

Our doctoral community

We have an active PhD community with students undertaking research on a wide range of topics.

If you undertake your degree with us you'll automatically become a member of the Doctoral and Researcher College, a large, diverse community of doctoral students across the University.

Learn more about the wider postgraduate community at Reading

Teaching opportunities

We can support you to gain teaching experience and prepare for an academic career.

As a PhD student, you are offered the opportunity to prepare for becoming an academic teacher both through the Doctoral and Researcher College ‘Preparing to Teach’ programmes and through the Department.

In the Department, we offer a best practice model where PhD students shadow the Part one module seminars of an experienced tutor for a year. This is in advance of any teaching the PhD student may do themselves. This opportunity is subject to availability.


How we support you

You'll receive support from our Department as well as the Graduate School, which is the University of Reading's hub for all doctoral activity.


Our stories

Read stories from our staff, students, and alumni to find out what it's like to study English Literature at the University of Reading.

Life in the Department

As a postgraduate research student in the Department of English Literature at Reading, you will be part of a large and vibrant community.