Research course

Creative writing

Open University · Department of English

Entry requirements

A strong academic and creative record, usually evidenced by an MA in Creative Writing and relevant publications.

Months of entry


Course content

The Department of English supports research in contemporary writing and PhD study focused on creative writing. This research activity is closely associated with the department’s Contemporary Cultures of Writing Research Group and Wasafiri, the Arts Council-funded magazine of international contemporary writing based at the OU. The core activity in this type of PhD study is the creation of a book-length work of literature and an accompanying critical reflective thesis, which elucidates the research and creative strategies involved in the making of the work. In this way the essence of the Creative Writing PhD is research through creative practice. The final creative work emerges from and embodies the research questions, decisions and discoveries made in the course of producing the work.

We welcome applications from candidates suitably qualified and with appropriate writing experience and ability. We expect well structured proposals which set out specific research questions and clearly outline creative and critical approaches. A substantial writing sample is also required. If you would like to discuss your ideas informally before submitting an application, please contact the department.

Potential research projects

PhD students may write in any of the major forms:
  • Fiction - novel and short stories
  • Life writing
  • Poetry
  • Script for stage, radio or screen.

Current/recent research projects

  • Grace at the Edge of the World, a novel, and The Blue Road: memory, imagination, family history and the influence of contemporary Irish writing in the genesis of a novel.
  • The Longest Fight: a novel, and Getting into the Ring: an investigation of archetypes of the boxing hero, the creative influences of boxing reportage, and the role of personal memories in historical fiction.
  • Freethinkers, a novel, and Inventing history: how do research, imagination and memory fuse creatively in the writing of an historical novel?
  • An A-Z of The Weatheralls: investigating deafness, language and memory through the writing of a novel.

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

- Fiction – novel and short stories - Life writing - Poetry - Script for stage, radio or screen.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months
part time
72 months

Course contact details

Dr Fiona Donaghan
+44 (0)1908 652092