PhD or MA by Research

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Key facts

Start dates

January 2024 / June 2024 / September 2024

Application deadline

It typically takes up to four months (five months for International and EU applicants) from application to enrollment on your programme. This is subject to all the necessary documentation being in place.



Course length

Full time: 1 year

Part time: 2 years


Located in a city with an unparalleled literary history and one that cherishes the power of the written and spoken word, the School of Education, Humanities and Languages is a place to be both inspired and inspiring.

Our teaching, learning and research is rooted in strong disciplinary foundations whilst encouraging bold interdisciplinary collaborations within the school, across Oxford Brookes University and beyond.

Staff in English offer supervision across a range of subject areas, and have an excellent track record of supervising PhDs and MAs by Research. We pride ourselves on the quality of our research and the support that we give to our postgraduate students.

The School of Education, Humanities and Languages is a vibrant and inclusive research community whose work is supported by a variety of research councils, charities and international agencies, among them the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust and the Wellcome Trust.

Three students sat together on sofas

Research expertise

Research supervision is offered in a variety of areas related to our expertise in English Literature, Language and Linguistics. We have particular strengths in:

  • Shakespeare Studies
  • Early Modern Literature and Drama
  • Eighteenth-Century and Romantic literature
  • ineteenth-Century Poetry
  • Modernism, American Literature and Culture
  • Contemporary Writing. 

Degree routes

All students enrol as probationer research students. During the first year you will formally register your research proposal for one of the below routes. 

The degree for which you register will depend on your academic qualifications and research experience. 

Additional details

The main research areas relevant to this degree are:

  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Ecology and Ecocriticism
  • Medicine, Science, Technology and Literature
  • Comparative Literature
  • Communities
  • Postcolonialism
  • Modernism
  • Early Modern Drama
  • The Contemporary Novel
  • Textual Scholarship and Editorial Practice
  • Theatre practice and Performance-as-Research
  • Creative Writing
  • Cognitive Poetics
  • Witchcraft and the Supernatural
  • Life Writing
  • Utopia and Utopianism
Female student reading a book

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Each research student in the Faculty will be allocated £700 (£350 for MA by Research students) towards the costs associated with specific research activities during the research programme.
  • Close supervision from experts in your chosen research area, including joint supervision across departments for interdisciplinary projects. 
  • Plentiful opportunities to present your work. Depending on your chosen subject you may have the opportunity to attend:
    • research seminars with presentations from high profile external guest speakers
    • specialist seminars organised by individual research groups and clusters
    • methodology workshops.
  • You will also be encouraged to submit publications to leading research journals.
  • You may have the opportunity to develop your teaching, mentoring and demonstrating skills by undertaking paid teaching activities for up to six hours a week. You may also be required to attend the Associate Teachers course which is run by the University Oxford Centre for Academic Enhancement and Development.
  • As a core part of the Faculty’s Doctoral Training Programme, the School offers also high quality research training and study facilities that can be accessed by both full-time and part-time students. PhD students can also apply for reader access to the Bodleian Library.
  • All our research students also become part of the University’s Graduate College, which runs a comprehensive programme of training sessions and workshops.

Learning and assessment

The MA by Research in English builds on the School’s expertise to give you a unique and clearly focused programme of study. You will have the opportunity to develop a high level of subject knowledge, together with the ability to develop and undertake independent research in your own particular area of interest.

The programme will be attractive to applicants seeking to pursue intellectual interests beyond first degree level for further personal or professional development. The MA route is also designed to prepare you to undertake further research at MPhil or PhD level.

At the heart of the MA by Research is the close working relationship between candidate and supervisor. While the final thesis must be the candidate’s independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic (if necessary), on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the final thesis. Supervisors and candidates meet frequently throughout the year, and not less than twice a term.

Three students talking as they walk

Learning and teaching

You will also receive training in research methods and skills appropriate to the stage they have reached and the nature of their work. This includes:

  • guidance on planning and writing your thesis
  • using bibliographic and archival resources (both electronic and printed)
  • handling research data
  • making conference presentations
  • preparing and submitting material for publication.


Assessment methods used on this course

You will embark on a substantial piece of independent research (an MA thesis of up to 30,000 words) guided by your supervisor in regular meetings. A shorter assessment of 5,000 words, conceived as a formative essay precedes the dissertation in the programme. A viva voce examination is held at the end.

After you graduate

Career prospects

We are passionate about fostering the careers of our researchers and ensure that they gain research skills training, leadership experience and teaching practice as part of the doctoral programmes we offer.

Bespoke careers advice is also embedded into our programme as we think this is a key element of your personal and professional development during your time with us.

How to apply

Entry requirements

Please see the specific entry requirement details in the degree routes section above.

If you choose to study full-time you must be able to devote a minimum of 35 hours per week over a 44-week year to your research. You should not undertake more than 20 hours per week paid employment or other commitments (including a maximum of six hours per week teaching, demonstrating, or other paid work directly related to your research training).

If you choose to study part-time you must be able to devote a minimum of 15 hours per week over a 44-week year to the programme of research.

You must also meet our residence requirements.

English language requirements

Applicants whose main language is not English must meet the Faculty’s English language requirements. The minimum IELTS score required for entry to the research degree programme is 6.5–7 overall. 

In addition, we require a minimum of 6.5 in each component of the test. We do not accept IELTS certificates that are over two years old. 

Application process

It is essential that you first check whether your specific research interests can be adequately supervised before submitting a full application. To do this please email the Research Administrator (hss-researchdegrees@brookes.ac.uk) your provisional research proposal. This should be 1500–2000 words in length and should include a title and a summary of the proposed subject area.

There is no specific format for research proposals but the following areas are usually covered:

  • introduction
  • evidence of background reading and knowledge/previous experience of research area
  • details of research methods proposed to carry out the project
  • the aims of the research project and any proposed hypotheses/outcomes
  • literature review
  • how your research project will make an original and independent contribution to knowledge.

If your area of research can potentially be supervised you will be encouraged to submit a full application via our online application system.

The Research Administrator will acknowledge receipt of your application by email. We strive to make a decision within one month of receiving your application. Please note, however, decisions may take longer during busier periods of the academic year.

Supporting documents

Please read through the list of supporting documentation that must be uploaded along with your application or emailed separately.

Tuition fees

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

International part time

International full time

International part time

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

International part time

2025 / 26
International full time

International part time

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

For International fees the following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

Home fees are set by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and are released approximately five months before the start of each academic year.

If you have any questions about fees, get in touch with the Research Degrees Team at rdt-researchdegrees@brookes.ac.uk.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

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