Supporting outstanding student focused research degrees in English Literature


The English subject at Ulster University forms part of the School of English and History in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. It is a vibrant and diverse centre for the study of English literature and culture and hosts an active and thriving body of postgraduate students.

Individual scholars within the department are engaged in an extensive range of research fields which maintain and enhance the broader scholarly practice of English Studies across the globe, from Early Modern, Eighteenth Century and Victorian literature and culture, through to Modern, Contemporary, and Creative Writing, as well as Critical Theory.

Several of the researchers working in these areas also distinctively contribute to a significant focus on the study and intellectual endorsement of Irish Literature, which is also strongly and widely represented in the department’s teaching practice.

About this course

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The value of the department’s research as a whole is nationally and internationally recognised by the numerous monograph publications produced by English staff with scholarly presses, as well as the frequent output of articles in highly ranked academic journals. The department also regularly supports and hosts major conferences and symposia, as well as the appointment of eminent visiting scholars. This is most recently evident in the appointment of Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet, Paul Muldoon, as Visiting Professor (2010- 14) to the School of English and History. During 2011/12, Professor Muldoon delivered a series of creative writing workshops for the department’s undergraduate students, as well as a public reading of his work, and a lecture on the poetry of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop for the English Research Seminar series.

Research in the department is managed and administered by the Arts and Humanities Research Institute (AHRI). Staff in English comprise one of four Research Clusters, alongside History, Music, and Languages, which constitute the AHRI. The Institute encourages and sustains an energetic research culture across all four subjects and offers an inter- disciplinary environment to scholars working in a variety of different research areas. In order to consolidate existing links, attract further funding, and encourage collaboration across the Faculty within Irish Studies, the Institute launched the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies in 2013.


As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

How to apply

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

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Entry Requirements

You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Careers & opportunities

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Career options

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).


How to apply

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.

Once you have selected your chosen project from the lists available on the Faculty pages, you are advised to make contact with the named supervisor on the project as they will be able to guide you in writing your research proposal.

You should then apply using our online application system: ulster.ac.uk/applyonline

Fees and funding

A number of funded scholarships are available across the University each year for PhD projects. Applications for studentships will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate's qualifications, skills, experience and interests.

Sources of funding

Fees (per annum)

Full Time:

Home and EU £4260

Overseas £14210

Part Time:

Home and EU £1540

Home and EU (with External Sponsor paying fees) £2200

Overseas £8100

Distance Research Study (Home and EU) £6600

Research facilities and groups

Postgraduate supervision in English is available from all staff in the department and within individual members’ specialist areas of interest (see Staff Research Areas).


Postgraduate research facilities in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences have recently been upgraded to include a dedicated and shared postgraduate office suite on the Coleraine campus. The Central Library in Coleraine has also undergone recent refurbishment to include extensive computing facilities, as well as a range of specific study areas. In addition, the library has valuable holdings relating to book history, as well as archival resources pertinent to Celtic Studies, Irish and local writing.

Research Training

Postgraduate students embarking on a PhD/MPhil in English will be allocated two supervisors for the duration of their studies. As part of their course of study, students will also partake in internally accredited Research Methods modules run through the Research Graduate School. These modules are designed to offer both training in specific research methodologies pertinent to individual students’ research areas, as well as advice more generally on the practicalities of completing a higher degree by research. Students can, for example, opt to take modules which will assist them in writing up their thesis, preparing work for publication, presenting work at a conference, and preparing for their final viva examination.

Teaching Experience

In addition to this research training, all postgraduate students will be offered teaching experience in the second year (full-time) or fourth year (part-time) of their course of study. Students who take up this opportunity will be allocated paid teaching hours on modules run by the department. Much of this teaching experience comprises seminar tutoring on introductory first year modules, or second year modules which closely match the student’s own research area.

Research Seminar Series

The department of English also runs an English Research Seminar Series throughout semesters 1 and 2. Postgraduate students are invited to join staff at these seminars in order to further familiarise themselves with the range of research interests within the department, as well as engage in informal scholarly debate and dialogue with scholars from both within and without Ulster University. Postgraduate students will also have the opportunity of formally presenting their work at these seminars.

Postgraduate students within the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences are further asked to nominate representatives to serve on the Doctoral College PhD Researcher Forum. This provides all postgraduates with the opportunity of voicing any individual or collective concerns they might have relating to any aspect of their studies, as well as provide a forum for postgraduate students to comment on the broader research policies of the University which may concern them.

Staff research areas

Below is a full list of English staff members and their main research interests. Staff actively welcome and encourage enquiries from students hoping to pursue postgraduate study in their respective research areas and can be contacted via the email addresses supplied below.

Professor Richard Bradford


Professor of Literary History and Theory Literary Biography; Questioning Theory.

Dr Stephen Butler


Lecturer in contemporary British, American and World fiction; role of literature in a globalised multicultural landscape; representation of minority cultures and subcultures in literreature; interdisciplinary relationship between literature, philosophy and psychology; genre literature: crime writing, science fiction, fantasy

Dr Kate Byrne


Lecturer in Victorian Studies and Women’s Writing Nineteenth-Century Literature and Disease; the History of Medicine; Victorian Women’s Writing and the Body; the Gothic; Adapting Victorian Fiction for the Screen.

Dr Frank Ferguson


Lecturer in Irish Studies Ulster and Scottish Literature; Eighteenth- and Nineteenth- Century Literary Studies; Romanticism; Literary Antiquarianism; National Literary Identity Formation; Book History.

Dr Tim Hancock


Lecturer in Modernism Love Poetry; Poetry of Mina Loy; Modern Poetry and Autobiography; Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland.

Professor Jan Jedrzejewski


Professor in Victorian Studies Literature and Religion in Victorian Britain; Victorian Literature and the Visual Arts; Victorian Literature and Politics; Victorian Writers and Continental Europe; the Literature of Victorian Ireland; the Victorian Novel.

Dr Andrew Keanie


Lecturer in Romanticism Romantic Poets, including biography and criticism; T.S. Eliot.

Dr Kathleen McCracken


Lecturer in Creative Writing and American Literature Contemporary Irish Poetry; Contemporary Writing and Masculinity; Authorship and the Inscription of the Autobiographical/ Subjective; Beat Literature and its Legacy in Popular Culture; Native American Literature and Culture.

Dr Willa Murphy


Lecturer in Irish Studies and American Writing Nineteenth-Century Irish Novel; Nineteenth- Century American Writing; Irish Women’s Writing; Eighteenth- and Nineteenth Century Theology.

Dr Kevin De Ornellas


Lecturer in Renaissance Studies Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies; Early Modern Women’s Writing; James Shirley; Mid-Twentieth-Century Drama; Noel Coward; Arnold Wesker.

Dr Frank Sewell


Lecturer in Creative Writing Twentieth-Century Irish Poetry.

Dr James Ward


Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Studies Literature and Politics in the long Eighteenth- Century; Jonathan Swift; Waste, Refuse and Rubbish in Literature; Adaptations and Appropriations of Eighteenth-Century Texts in Fiction and Film.

Dr Kathryn White


Lecturer in Modern Irish writing in English; Samuel Beckett Studies; Literature and Cultural Identity; Literature and Gender.


Dr Frank Ferguson


tel. 028 70123577

For more information visit

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


'I loved the variety that the Ulster University English course afforded me, which allowed me to sample a great range of literature before I chose to specialise. I enjoyed my time studying English at Ulster University, so when I applied for my Masters and, later, my Doctorate it was naturally my first choice.'

Rebecca Agar

'I was really nervous when I first came to UU. I am a mature student, and thought I would feel really isolated. But the staff in the department were so welcoming and friendly and now, six years later, I'm on the last year of my PhD! Thanks UU!!!'

Carolann North