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PhD Programmes – University of Reading

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  • "Perhaps the greatest reading pleasure has an element of self-annihilation. To be so engrossed that you barely know you exist." Ian McEwan

PhD Programmes

Postgraduate Research in English Literature

As a postgraduate research student in the Department of English Literature at Reading, you will be part of a large and vibrant community. You will work alongside a thriving group of postdoctoral researchers who recently completed their PhDs.

An introduction to the Department

The Department of English Literature is a dynamic research environment into which graduate students are integrated through seminar series, reading groups and teaching opportunities.

World-leading research

Our academic staff are recognised experts in their fields and we are extremely pleased that, in the latest Research Excellence Framework assessment (2014), out of a 90% staff entry, 25% of our research outputs were considered world leading. A further 51% of our work was judged to be internationally excellent.

Find out more on our research pages

We have active collaborations with other departments within the University, for example English Language and Applied Linguistics and History.

What we offer

PhD in English Literature

This PhD programme can accommodate any interests which relate to those of the researchers in the Department of English Literature, including American Literature, Medieval and Early Modern Literature, Children's Literature, Samuel Beckett Studies, Book History, Nineteenth-century, Twentieth-century and Contemporary Literatures, Post-Colonial Literature and Global Literatures (in English or English translation), as well as Creative Writing (please note that PhDs on Children's Literature or Creative Writing are still also awarded the degree formally as a 'PhD in English Literature' in this Department). In all of the areas of research, a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches are welcomed, including a focus on archival work in relation to the University's outstanding archives, which include the Samuel Beckett archives, the Children's Literature Special Collection and many publishers' archives.

PhD in Comparative and Intercultural Studies

This PhD programme accommodates researchers with a background in literary studies, culture studies or linguistics, with knowledge of cultures and languages in addition to English, and with an interest in comparative and intercultural studies. Research projects within this programme can include comparative literature and cultural transfer, cross-linguistic comparison of discourses and language use as well as intercultural communication. It is underpinned by related research expertise of staff in and across the Departments of English Literature, English Language and Applied Linguistics, and Languages and Cultures.

Study Options

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over 3-4 years and part-time over 4-6 years. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading or working away.


Over the course of your PhD you will also be involved in opportunities to communicate your work and network with other researchers, present a seminar, speak at conferences and workshops, and visit or host researchers from elsewhere.


In the first two years of your degree course, you will benefit from a programme of relevant postgraduate courses which will be agreed between you and your supervisor/s as well as a programme of transferable skills organised by the Graduate School.

The Graduate School

All postgraduate research students automatically become members of the University-wide Graduate School. The Graduate School provides training, professional development, study space, advice and administrative support in a dedicated building for the postgraduate research community at Reading.


Our PhD students go on to work in academia as postdoctoral researchers, but also quickly find employment in fields such as teaching, advertising and media, or other communications and public relations careers.

"Doing a PhD at Reading, you always have staff and other PhDs to ask questions, learn from and importantly have a bit of a laugh with now and again. I really have felt that no question is a stupid question. My supervisors have been absolutely great throughout my PhD, with regular meetings, useful advice, lots of encouragement, and help with keeping calm when life gets stressful!"

 - Nicola Thorn

The Graduate School

Reading provides an excellent environment and atmosphere for PhD research students.

Contact us

Ms Marina Krouski

Postgraduate Research Administrator

See what's currently being researched

Find out about campus from current researchers

Find out why our current researchers chose Reading

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