PhD in English Studies

PhD coordinator: Associate Professor Tina Steiner:

Doctoral study in the English Department is possible in a range of topics in literary and cultural studies as well as in creative writing. The PhD requires committed, independent research and supervisors work closely with students during all stages of the study. The department provides structured support to students especially in the initial stages when the proposal is being crafted. To see our research expertise visit the staff profiles on our website We have well-established research expertise in, for example: African literature, particularly South African and East African literary studies; studies in nineteenth century literature and its re-imaginings; cultural, oceanic and eco-critical studies; film studies and script writing; contemporary creative non-fiction and literary journalism; poetry; life writing; studies of trans-Atlantic black writing and networks, creative writing; translation studies; postcolonial literature and theory; queer literature and culture; English literature and pedagogy; and narrative theory.

The department offers two forms of the PhD:

1. A full-thesis PhD (English Studies)

An 80 000-word academic thesis.

2. A PhD (English Studies) with a focus on Creative Writing or Literary Translation

The PhD has two components: an original work of creative writing/ literary translation in a particular genre or mix of genres, and a reflexive, critical commentary that relates to the creative /translation work. The scope, form and weighting of each of the components is established in discussions between supervisor/s and student.

Entrance Requirements:

A minimum of 65% for the MA degree in English Studies or a cognate discipline is required. For the creative writing/translation PhD, additional evidence of achievement in the proposed field is needed. We prefer our students to be full-time residential students, where possible.

How to apply:

If you are interested in doing a PhD in the English Department at Stellenbosch University, you need to two things:

  1. Send an email to the coordinator, giving us a brief outline of your intended topic, a paragraph on your MA research, and attach a copy of your CV and MA transcript. AND
  2. Fill out an online application via central Administration:

Incomplete applications will not be considered.


The English Department unfortunately is not in a position to fund students for doctoral study.

Stellenbosch University administered bursaries are available to certain students, see the postgraduate office website: for more information. We would also like to take this opportunity to encourage all interested students to apply for funding from the National Research Foundation ( before the internal closing date(s) as advertised on the postgraduate office website.

Important links and resources

PhD proposal format:

Faculty policy documents and forms (for higher degree students and supervisors):

Institutional research-related policy documents, including responsible research conduct and plagiarism:

Information relating to ethical clearance, meeting dates and online application:

Information relating to the submission of theses or dissertations on SUNScholar:

This version 4 June 2020