Our department is home to a vibrant and diverse postgraduate cohort, with members from many African countries, and sometimes beyond. We take pride in offering excellent Honours training and MA and PhD supervision in a supportive environment. Our postgraduates are at the heart of the research culture we foster in the department and we provide numerous opportunities for engagement and participation. There are weekly research seminars on Thursdays between 12.00-13.00, strategic writing workshops which address academic writing and article publishing, and several reading groups which students can join on a voluntary basis.

Moreover, the Honours students present their long research papers at a small conference at the beginning of the second semester; our MA students present their research projects at a proposal workshop, and our PhDs are encouraged to organize a postgraduate conference, where each student presents a paper, followed by an open question session. These fora have proven very useful in helping students to focus their arguments and build confidence in their public speaking skills. We also encourage participation in local literary events and regularly organize tickets and transport to the Franschhoek Literary Festival and the Open Book Festival in Cape Town. Our links to the other universities in the Western Cape and elsewhere in the country are well established and we encourage our postgraduate students to participate in conferences and symposia that are offered at other institutions.

Honours Prospectus 2024

For more information about our postgraduate programmes please contact:

HONOURS: Dr Jeanne Ellis:
MA: Dr Riaan Oppelt:
PhD: Prof Sally-Ann Murray:


PhD in English Studies

PhD coordinator: Professor Sally-Ann Murray:

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

Masters in English Studies