4 years full time, 6 years part time
Choose to start in September 2017, January 2018 or May 2018


From Medieval and Renaissance writing to the 18th century to the present, from the novel to poetry to modernism, postmodernism and the contemporary scene – we're strongly committed to the interdisciplinary study of literature.

English was ranked 9th in the UK in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF). We’re one of the largest graduate communities in the country, with over 200 students and more than 50 faculty. You’ll benefit from expert supervision, teacher training and research workshops, as well as a lively annual roster of symposia, conferences and guest lectures.


Areas of study

You have the opportunity to look at literature in relation to philosophy, visual culture and the history of ideas. Your project could focus on:

  • postcolonial theory
  • feminist theory
  • gay and lesbian criticism
  • queer theory
  • recent developments in psychoanalytic, Marxist, poststructuralist and ‘new historicist’ criticism.

PhD or MPhil?

You can choose to study for a PhD or an MPhil. PhD and MPhil degrees differ in the length of the course and therefore in the extent of the research work you can undertake and incorporate in your thesis.

  • An MPhil typically takes three years full time and four years part time. You’ll conduct an independent piece of research but in less depth than for a PhD. You will graduate with the degree title Master of Philosophy.
  • A PhD typically takes four years full time and six years part time. You will undertake a piece of research that makes a substantial original contribution to knowledge or understanding in your chosen field.

If you choose an MPhil, you might be able to change to a PhD during the course of your studies.

My thesis is on representations of the Romantic child in 20th-century literature – working within a close-knit research community has played an invaluable role in the development of my ideas.”Katherine Kruger
English PhD

How to apply

If you’d like to join us as a research student, there are two main routes:

Find out how to apply for a PhD at Sussex

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to work on your research full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. For details about part-time study, contact us at


Explore our research interests and find a potential supervisor.

  • Faculty profiles

    Dr Richard Adelman
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: Aestheticism, Critical Theory and Marxism, Dramatic monologue, Eighteenth-century culture, Gothic, Idealist aesthetics, labour, Political economy, Repose, Romanticism, Victorian culture

    View profile

    Dr Sara Jane Bailes
    Reader in Theatre & Performance Studies

    Research interests: Theatre and performance studies

    View profile

    Prof Peter Boxall
    Professor of English

    Research interests: Modernist and contemporary writing

    View profile

    Dr Natalia Cecire
    Lecturer in English & American Literature

    Research interests: American Studies, English and American literature, Feminist theory, History and Philosophy of Science, Modern and contemporary American poetry

    View profile

    Prof Sara Crangle
    Professor of Modernism and the Avant-Garde

    Research interests: Abjection, Affect Studies, Archives and Editing, Avant-Gardism, Bataille, Bathos, Dada, Everydayness, Experimental Poetry, Futurism, Gertrude Stein, Grace Lake/Anna Mendelssohn, High and Late Modernism, James Joyce, Levinas, Mina Loy, Nietzsche, Phenomenology, Satire, Virginia Woolf, Wyndham Lewis

    View profile

    Dr Sue Currell
    Reader in American Literature

    Research interests: American History, American Studies, Cultural History, English and American literature, Twentieth Century Literature

    View profile

    Dr Alistair Davies

    Research interests: English

    View profile

    Dr Denise Decaires Narain
    Senior Lecturer in English

    Research interests: Caribbean women's writing

    View profile

    Prof Matthew Dimmock
    Professor of Early Modern Studies

    Research interests: English literature 1500-1700, History, Islam, Otherness, Prophet Muhammad

    View profile

    Prof Andrew Hadfield
    Professor of English

    Research interests: Travel writing

    View profile

    Dr Andrea Haslanger
    Lecturer in 18th Century English Literature

    View profile

    Dr Doug Haynes
    Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Visual Culture

    Research interests: Affect Theory, American Modernism, American Visual Art, Critical Theory, Economic Theory, Fictions of Threat, Ideas of pornography, Ideas of security, Marxism, Modern and contemporary American literature, Postmodern Literature, Psychic phenomena as types of literature, Thomas Pynchon

    View profile

    Prof Margaret Healy
    Professor of Literature and Culture

    Research interests: medical humanities, Renaissance studies, Shakespeare

    View profile

    Prof Tom Healy
    Professor of Renaissance Studies

    Research interests: Renaissance studies

    View profile

    Dr Michael Jonik
    Lecturer in English and American Literature

    Research interests: African American literature and culture, American Philosophy, American Studies, Continental Philosophy, Critical Theory, Critical Theory and Marxism, Deleuze, Early American Literature, Emerson, English and American literature, Foucault, Henry James, History of science, Intellectual History, Melville, Nineteenth-Century American Literature, psychoanalysis, systems theory, Systems Theory; Control, The Transatlantic Enlightenment, Theory of mind, Thoreau

    View profile

    Prof Daniel Kane
    Professor of American Literature and Culture

    Research interests: Modern and contemporary American poetry, Popular Music, US cinema and popular culture

    View profile

    Prof Maria Lauret
    Professor of American Literature and Culture

    Research interests: 20th C Americanisation in the US, African American literature and culture, Alice Walker, American feminism, American immigrant literature, American immigration, Bharati Mukherjee, Junot Diaz, multilingual literature, Richard Rodriguez

    View profile

    Prof Vicky Lebeau
    Professor of English

    Research interests: cinema and childhood, image and text, NHS in literature and culture, psychoanalysis

    View profile

    Dr John Masterson
    Lecturer in World Literatures

    Research interests: 20th and 21st Century Literature and Art, African American literature and culture, African diasporas, American immigrant literature, apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, English and American literature, Literary And Cultural Theory, Literature of Exile, Migrant and Diasporic Literature, Postcolonial Literature, Postcolonial Literature and Culture, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, postcolonial studies, South and Southern Africa, World literatures

    View profile

    Dr William McEvoy
    Senior Lecturer in English

    Research interests: Contemporary Theatre, Playwriting, Site-specific theatre and performance, Theatre and Ethics, Theory and criticism, Writer-director relationship

    View profile

    Dr Rachel O'Connell
    Lecturer In Post 1350 English Literature

    Research interests: disability, Gender And Sexuality Studies, Queer studies, Queer Theory

    View profile

    Dr Catherine Packham
    Senior Lecturer in English

    Research interests: Adam Smith, Eighteenth-century culture, Erasmus Darwin, Gender and Sexuality, History of political economy, History of science, Mary Wollstonecraft, Political economy, Scottish Enlightenment, Vitalism

    View profile

    Dr Chloe Porter
    Lecturer in English Literature

    Research interests: Art Theory & Aesthetics, Early modern drama, Early modern material culture, English literature 1500-1700, John Lyly, Materiality, Renaissance studies, Renaissance visual culture, Shakespeare, word and image debates

    View profile

    Dr Jason Price
    Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Theatre and Performance

    Research interests: Activist Performance, Aesthetics and Politics, Comedy, Contemporary Theatre, Dramaturgy, Marxism, Performance Histories, popular culture, Popular Theatre, Puppet Forms, Site-Specific and Public Art, Theatre and Community

    View profile

    Prof Nicholas Royle
    Professor of English

    Research interests: English and American literature

    View profile

    Mr Martin Ryle
    Reader in English

    Research interests: Modernism in late nineteenth century fiction

    View profile

    Dr Minoli Salgado
    Reader in English

    Research interests: Biopolitics, Creative Writing, Human Rights Discourse, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Salman Rushdie, South Asian Literature in English, Terror and Transnational Writing, Trauma studies

    View profile

    Prof Lindsay Smith
    Professor of English

    Research interests: Visual perception in the 19th century

    View profile

    Dr Samuel Solomon
    Lecturer in Creative and Critical Writing

    Research interests: Contemporary Poetry, Creative and critical writing, Feminist theory, Gender and Sexuality, Literary And Cultural Theory, Marxism, Modernist and contemporary writing, Print Culture

    View profile

    Dr Bethan Stevens
    Lecturer in English and Creative & Critical Writing

    Research interests: Book Illustration, Creative and critical writing, Historical Fiction, Modernism, Museum Studies, popular culture, The History of Printmaking, The Long Nineteenth Century, The Novel, The Short Story, Victorian culture, Word and Image Theory

    View profile

    Prof Keston Sutherland
    Professor of Poetics

    Research interests: Contemporary Poetry, Critical Theory, Marx, Philosophy, Poetics, psychoanalysis, Romanticism, Samuel Beckett, Wordsworth

    View profile

    Dr Pam Thurschwell

    Research interests: adolescence in literature, English and American literature, Henry James, Literary And Cultural Theory, psychoanalysis, The supernatural (19th/20th century)

    View profile

    Dr Katie Walter
    Senior Lecturer in Medieval English Literature

    Research interests: Medieval English literature, Medieval literary theory, Medieval medicine, Reading practices, Reginald Pecock, The body, The senses, Vernacular theology, William Langland

    View profile

    Prof Marcus Wood
    Professor of English

    Research interests: Medical, Religious and literary traditions in late medieval England

    View profile

    Dr Tom Wright
    Senior Lecturer in English

    Research interests: American History, American Studies, Cultural History, English and American literature, Media & Communication Studies, Multimedia - sound, Nineteenth century literature and culture, Victorian literature

    View profile

Entry requirements

A Masters degree in a literary subject or another discipline relevant to your chosen area of research.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each section.

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our PhD degrees.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Scholarships and fees

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters Loan

MPhil students might be eligible for a Postgraduate Masters Loan. This is not available for students registering for a PhD.


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Part-time work

We advertise around 2,500 part-time jobs a year so you can make money and gain work experience. We have a special scheme to employ students on campus, wherever possible.

Find out more about careers and employability

How much does it cost?

Fees for self-funding students

Home: £4,195 per year

EU: £4,195 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £4,195 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Our fees follow the indicative fee level set nationally by Research Council UK and may be subject to change.

Contact us