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The Department of English, Institute of Gender Studies and Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences offer a vibrant, supportive and inclusive research community for students working on research projects in English Literature and/or Language, Creative Writing and Gender Studies. Our academic staff are active researchers and experts in their fields, and experienced research supervisors. Students are encouraged to attend and present at research seminars, symposia and training events within the Department, Faculty and University, and at national and international academic conferences. The Department has also hosted a range of successful international conferences, including the biannual Talking Bodies conference. Students are also welcome to join one or more of the University’s Research Institutes focusing on Culture and Society, Health and Wellbeing, Sustainability and Environment, and Regional Economy.

Research Areas

We are particularly keen to hear from students researching in the following areas:

  • Shakespeare
  • Romanticism
  • Nineteenth-century literature and culture
  • South African literature
  • Irish literature
  • American literature
  • Historical fiction
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Queer and disability representation in literature and on screen
  • Fanfiction
  • Fashion, costume and textiles
  • Crime writing
  • Children’s literature and Young Adult fiction
  • Creative writing (including flash fiction, short stories, novels, poetry, and scriptwriting)
  • Language typology, grammar and syntax
  • Language and power
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Historical linguistics
  • Sociolinguistics and discourse analysis

You can find out more about the research interests of our academic staff here.

Recent Projects 

Recent successfully completed PhD dissertations include: ‘From Fallen Woman to businesswoman: the radical voices of Elizabeth Gaskell and Margaret Oliphant’; ‘Novelty fades: science fiction and posthumanism’; ‘Industrial gentlemanliness: the fin-de-siècle adventure hero in text and image, 1870-1914’; ‘My friend, the queen: a historical novel’; ‘The literary places of Mary Cholmondeley and Mary Webb: independent women and walking the Shropshire countryside’.

Current students are researching topics including crime fiction, nineteenth-century sex workers’ clothing, mesmerism in Victorian fiction, representations in Indian literature of a Hindu-Muslim dispute over a sacred site, virtual reality, space and place in literature, representations of femininity in contemporary British and American TV comedy and drama, heteronormativity in Hollywood films, masculinity in heavy metal music, young adult fiction, flash fiction, and authors such as Charlotte Brontë, Angela Carter, Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith, and Émile Zola.

Entry Months

Research students can begin their programmes in October, February or May each year, and can study full time or part time.


As part of the application process students must identify a prospective supervisor and present a detailed research proposal. Please contact Professor Melissa Fegan ( to discuss the process and the availability of appropriate supervision before you apply.