The School of Language & Literature takes pride in its high standards of supervision, and the friendly, yet professional, relationships established between staff and students. Students may register either for full-time or part-time study. For a PhD, the normal period of study is 36 months full-time or 60 months part-time.
The English Department offers opportunites for research in the literature and language of the British Isles and America from the earliest written sources to the present day. The Department especially welcomes inquiries from students interested in research in the following areas:
- Early Modern Literature
- Enlightenment and Romantic Literature
- Victorian Literature
- Scottish Literature
- American Literature
- Irish Literature
- Modernist Literature
- Post-War and Contemporary Literature
- Women's Writing
- Language and Linguistics
On acceptance, you will be assigned a supervisor for your three years of study; in certain cases, to ensure maximum subject coverage, you will be allocated a second supervisor. The supervisor will advise you on a topic which can be satisfactorily completed within the specified time and within the specified word limit. He or she will give guidance about planning the research programme and about literature and sources, and will help determine what training in research skill sand methods you require. Supervision is, of course, a two-way process, and it is important that each side agrees that the work schedule is a reasonable one. Accordingly, an agreed agenda should be set at the end of each supervisory session for tasks to be undertaken before the next meeting. It is important that you both agree on a schedule of meetings, as well as on both a research topic and a timetable for the conduct of your research. You should expect your supervisor to assess your work, offer constructive criticism, and arrange appropriate deadlines.
Training and Integration
To ensure that your work gets off to an excellent start, the College of Arts and Social Science runs a compulsory two-day Induction Course which takes place close to the start of term. Here you will receive lectures on issues relating to postgraduate study and thesis preparation, and you will have the opportunity for discussions with your peers and members of staff. To ensure that your training is as comprehensive as possible, the School of Language & Literature runs a twelve-week Postgraduate Training Programme which offers a practical grounding in the skills necessary for your research (editing, note-taking, online resources, presentation skills). This is an important means of integrating with the School, and with fellow students, and is a central part of the first year's work. Although this module is compulsory, it may be possible to secure exemptions from some of the training seminars if you submit transcripts from another institution demonstrating proficiency in these areas, or if you can demonstrate your expertise to the satisfaction of the course co-ordinator. At the end of this course we provide a Needs Assessment , so that if you require further tuition, such as field work, language skills or IT training, the Head of School may award the appropriate funding.
The School of Language & Literature runs a Postgraduate Forum , a series of regular informal seminars at which postgraduate students present work (papers, reviews, discussion documents, thesis chapters). At this Forum, you will be encouraged to take part in discussions on a wide range of academic topics, and you will be able to make social contact with students and staff from across the School. Active participation at these events, as well as at the various social functions organised by the School, is an important part of the postgraduate experience.
Every six months you will be required to complete an assessment form in conjunction with your supervisor. You will be able to discuss any issues arising from this at the Postgraduate Monitoring Committee meeting, which will be attended by yourself, your supervisor, the Head of School, the Postgraduate Officers and any other relevant members of staff. This meeting is to ensure that research progress is maintained and that the supervision process is going well.
By the end of your second semester, you will be required to submit a piece of work of 10,000-15,000 words. This will be read by the supervisor and one other member of staff. A joint report on the quality of the work will be submitted to the School's Postgraduate Monitoring Committee, and if the quality is deemed unsatisfactory then the Committee, after full discussion with you, may recommend downgrading or discontinuance of study.
At the end of the first semester of your second year, you will be required to give a 20-minute presentation to the members of staff and your peers. Your supervisor will give you advice on the content and delivery beforehand. You will have to write up this presentation and submit it to your supervisor for comment by the end of the following month. A report will be sent to the School's Postgraduate Monitoring Committee. Once again, if the quality is deemed unsatisfactory then the Committee, after full discussion with you, may recommend downgrading or discontinuance of study.
Each of these measures is designed to ensure that you maintain good progress during your period of study. You will receive advice and support from your supervisor prior to each of these tasks, and the Committee will provide you with guidance and constructive criticism at every stage.