Postgraduate Opportunities in English Literature

This online chat event is designed to inform prospective postgraduate students about the postgraduate programmes available in the Department of English Literature.

The Department of English Literature encourages you to explore the pleasures of reading and studying literature in a community of outstanding scholars and students. The postgraduate and research community in the department is an active one, with conferences, reading groups and events run by the postgraduate students as well as academic staff.

Dr Chris Mourant (Co-Director of the Centre for Modernist Cultures and Admissions Tutor for the MA Literature and Culture), Dr Matthew Ward (Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Admissions Tutor for PhD English Literature) and Roxanne McLean-Evans (part of the Postgraduate Recruitment Team in the College of Arts and Law) are available from 14:00-15:00 to answer any questions you might have about the courses and studying in the department.

Six of our postgraduate mentors have studied English Literature:

You are welcome to ask them any questions you have about what it’s like to work in the Department.

More information about postgraduate study in English Literature

View related Virtual Tour

Speaker profiles

  • Dr Chris Mourant

    Chris is Director of the Centre for Modernist Cultures and Admissions Tutor for the MA Literature and Culture. (Live Q&A 14:00-15:00)

  • Dr Matthew Ward

    Matthew is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Admissions Tutor for PhD English Literature. (Live Q&A 14:00-15:00)

  • Roxanne McLean

    Roxanne is part of the Postgraduate Recruitment Team for the College of Arts and Law. (Live Q&A 14:00-15:00)

Q&A Archive

These were the questions asked during the Postgraduate Opportunities in English Literature live event.

We’ve come to the end of our Q&A session today. Thank you very much to everyone who took part – I hope we managed to be of assistance and provide the information that you were looking for.

We will hold many more of these virtual open day events over the coming months so please check now and again to see what we’ve got lined up for the future. If you’d like to visit our campus (in real life!), our next Postgraduate Open Day will take place on Wednesday 20 March 2019. We also run bespoke campus tours throughout term time and Cafés at which you can meet current students.

Assmaa asked:

I can’t come up with a detailed new topic for my PhD ( just an idea, but not yet detailed plan) and so I can’t get the approval of a supervisor. And I must apply before 1st of March. Is there any way to get some help? I had my MA in Anglo Welsh poetry. Thanks a lot.

Matthew Ward replied:

Dear Assmaa,

Thanks for your interest in studying with us. As you know, the research proposal is an essential part of the application process – not just for us to ensure you’re in a position to undertake further study, but for you as well to have a clearly mapped out project. Part of this, as you say, is ensuring a supervisor feels the project can move forward at this stage. Have you approached anyone in the Dept? What area of Anglo-Welsh poetry do you want to work in? March 1st is obviously fast approaching now, and so it might be very difficult to get this done in time. In light of this, I’d encourage you to take the time that applying next year would bring you, to work on a detailed proposal, and begin to make contact with staff members who might be interested in supporting your application.

With all best wishes for your future studies,

Kerstin asked:

Hello, I am struggling with coming up with ideas for the research proposall for a PhD in English Lit by research as my MA was completed over 20mywars ago and I have been away from Academia. I know this is a very broad question, but do you have any ideas/tips on how to narrow down ideas? Thank you.

Matthew Ward replied:

Dear Kerstin,

Thanks for your interest in studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham. I appreciate it can be hard working out the research proposal, particularly after some time away from study. The best advice I can give you is to think more and read more in areas you’ve been fascinated by in the past. Is there a particular period, or writers, or topic you’ve enjoyed and think you need to do more work on? Then I’d encourage you to keep reading in that area and try to find where there might be gaps in critical work that your PhD would offer a contribution to – that might be something built on what others have done, or it might be something you feel is missing. Then I’d look to find a supervisor who might be a good fit for that work, and make contact with them with a preliminary draft of your proposal.

All that said, it’s probably helpful to say that research proposals are always somewhat contingent, by which I mean we all realise that you’ve not fully worked out what it is you’ll be doing and don’t have all the answers just yet. The important thing is to show you’ve done plenty of reading in your area and have been thinking about the sorts of questions this raises and that you’ll be pursuing in your studies.

I hope that’s helped a little. All good wishes for your future research.

Kerstin asked:

Thanks, Roxanne. Is the timeframe for attending the campus for distance Laverne’s flexible? Based on my work schedule, cortina months -such as June – would work best.

Roxanne replied:

Hello Kerstin,

The visits are organised by our Graduate School, so they will circulate the standard dates to incoming students and explore alternatives where needed. We find that a number of students attend in January if September doesn’t suit. We do recommend that students attend the main visits if possible, to get the experience of meeting one another, as well as meeting academic staff and using campus facilities, but understand that this isn’t always possible.


Kerstin Feindert asked:

Hello, I am interested in a PhD by Research via distance learning; 1- I am wondering whether students are required to be on campus for a specific amount of time and if yes, for how long and when exactly during the year. 2) I am a EU citizen and I am worried about how fees will be affected by Brexit. I know everything is still in flux, but do you have any ideas how fees for EU students might be handled after March? thank you!

Roxanne replied:

Hello Kerstin,

Distance learning PhD students are required to visit the University once per full year of study – every year for full-time students, and every other year for part-time students – and each visit is two weeks long. The majority of students visit at the start of term, so from late September/early October, and flights and accommodation for these visits are paid from the standard course fees. Distance learning students are also generally required to be present on campus for the viva voce, which is also funded from course fees.

At present, we can confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2019-20 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law.

I hope this helps,