Research course

The Contemporary Novel: Practice as Research

Institution
University of Kent · School of English
Qualifications
MA by researchPhD

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent) and, normally, a taught MA qualification.

Months of entry

September

Course content

The School of English has a strong international reputation and global perspective, apparent both in the background of its staff and in the diversity of our teaching and research interests.

Our expertise ranges from the medieval to the postmodern, including British, American and Irish literature, postcolonial writing, 18th-century studies, Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, Victorian studies, modern poetry, critical theory and cultural history. The international standing of the School ensures that we have a lively, confident research culture, sustained by a vibrant, ambitious intellectual community. We also count a number of distinguished creative writers among our staff, and we actively explore crossovers between critical and creative writing in all our areas of teaching and research.

Our reputation for research excellence was confirmed in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2008) in which our research was recognised to be world-leading. The University of Kent is a research-led institution, which means that the research that the academics are engaged in continues to inform their teaching, and that you, as a student in the department, are at the centre of a dynamic and thriving academic environment.

This is an innovative and exciting programme in which you focus on writing a full-length, literary novel of between 90,000 and 150,000 words. While the aims and objectives remain the same as on any other PhD programme in the humanities, for example, you are expected to contribute new knowledge of some sort, and to explore original, contemporary research questions, you are expected to achieve almost all of this in the novel itself. There is no long critical piece attached to this PhD programme. Instead, you produce a 3-5,000-word essay that works like a preface to your project, linking your concerns with others’, demonstrating your awareness of theme and locating your work within/without one or more traditions etc. You also need to produce a full bibliography.

All UK universities and relevant funding councils and bodies (including REF panels) now support the idea that literary novels are research outputs in their own right and in themselves make significant contributions to knowledge. The idea that a novel might ‘know’ something about war that a piece of historical research could not know (in the case of Art Spiegelman’s MAUS, for example), or that philosophy can be undertaken in fiction (as in the work of Borges) is one that we have been embracing at Kent for several years now. Our PhD programme brings us right up-to-date with the ways in which novelists function in universities. You need to do a lot of critical thinking, reading and research and then turn it into contemporary fiction. You have a supervisory team to read your work and help you with thinking, research, plotting, editing, characterisation, pace, dialogue and so on.

As a research student, you meet regularly with your supervisor, and have the opportunity to take part in informal reading groups and research seminars to which students, staff and visiting speakers contribute papers. You also benefit from a series of research skills seminars that run in the spring term, which gives you a chance to share the research expertise of staff and postdoctoral members of the department.

As a basis for advanced research, you must take the School and Faculty research methods programmes.

Department specialisms

Research in the School of English comes roughly under the following areas. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups, and individual staff have interests that range more widely. Eighteenth Century Nineteenth Century American Literature Creative Writing Medieval and Early Modern Modern Poetry Postcolonial

Information for international students

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. http://www.kent.ac.uk/ems/eng-lang-reqs/index.html Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways. See http://www.kent.ac.uk/international-pathways/

Fees and funding

Please visit our

funding web pages

for the most current information and application details.

Qualification and course duration

MA by research

part time
24 months
full time
12 months

PhD

part time
60 months
full time
36 months

Course contact details

Name
School of English
Email
english@kent.ac.uk
Phone
+44 (0)1227 823054