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Postgraduate research courses in English

St Andrews was one of the first universities in the world to teach English literature and is consistently ranked as one of the United Kingdom's pre-eminent universities. Today, with around 30 members of permanent staff, the School of English prides itself on its friendliness and common enthusiasm for great literature.

In the School, you will be part of a welcoming and lively academic community of approximately 80 postgraduates based in the School's centre for research students. You will be invited to take part in the regular research events which see distinguished visiting academics and creative writers lead seminars, lectures and workshops. You can also participate in the School's Postgraduate Forum, which brings postgraduates together to present and discuss their on-going work.

Open book with paperweight

Research degrees

The School of English offers the following research degrees:

  • PhD (Doctorate), normally of three years duration leading to a thesis of no more than 80,000 words and an oral examination.
  • MPhil, normally of two years duration. The first year comprises the taught components of an MLitt, and the second a thesis of no more than 40,000 words. Applicants who already hold a suitable Masters or MLitt degree may be eligible for admittance directly to the second year of an MPhil degree.
  • MSt (Res), a research-based Masters degree. The MSt (Res) is a one-year research degree in which you are expected to complete a thesis of no more than 30,000 words. It is an excellent opportunity to spend a shorter time in a research environment either for a standalone degree or as preparation for a PhD.
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA), a postgraduate programme which allows students to complete a substantial piece of creative work. It is also the standard international qualification for those who wish to teach Creative Writing.

    The School offers the following creative writing MFA programmes:

    • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing
    • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Playwriting and Screenwriting

All applicants are normally expected to start in September each year as the School does not operate a rolling entrance programme across the year. All entrants arrive in Orientation Week and should attend the relevant research skills module in their first semester.

Life at St Andrews

All the School's postgraduate students are based in the School of English centre for research students, 66 North Street, a lovely early 19th-century building. Set in its own garden in the middle of town, minutes from the School of English and just across the road from the University Library, 66 North Street provides a bright, peaceful, convivial working environment. There are shared offices, two study rooms equipped with computers, kitchen and a common room which is used regularly for seminar discussions, conversation, and lunches.

The School makes every effort to help its postgraduates develop their academic careers. Postgraduate students within the School are encouraged to organise and host conferences here at St Andrews. Students may gain valuable experience working as research assistants to individual members of staff, and research postgraduates in their second year or above may be invited to work as teaching assistants.

St Andrews is one of only three universities outside of the USA which are included in the Folger Institute consortium, and several of the School's postgraduates have attended events there with the financial support available to the consortium's members.

Visiting days

The University organises visiting days at various points during the year - more information is available on the University's visiting days page.


School of English

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2668