School of English

Please do not apply for PhD or M.Litt. study in the School before you have followed the instructions detailed in the ‘How Do I Apply?’ section of this webpage.  

School Description:

The School comprises more than twenty permanent members of teaching staff, and a substantial number of Postdoctoral Fellows, Teaching Associates, Research Associates and Teaching Assistants. There are over 100 visiting students each year, and around 30 students who are reading for research degrees. Despite large numbers of students, the School maintains a strong commitment to small group teaching and to individually directed research.
The School of English is committed to leadership in the development of English Studies as a vigorous, multidisciplinary subject. We are a School which attracts postgraduates of the highest quality, which is committed to building on our already vibrant culture of excellence in teaching and research, and which has at its core our firmly held belief that research and teaching are intimately connected and mutually stimulating.


Taught M.Phil. Programmes
The School has four taught M.Phil. programmes. Further information about these programmes can be found here:

Research Programmes
The School of English has a vibrant research culture, with opportunities in a wide range of subjects and areas. We especially welcome applications in: medieval and renaissance literature, eighteenth-century literature, Irish Studies, American literature, popular literature, creative writing, Victorian literature, postcolonial literature, Old English, and children’s literature. Research opportunities in all areas are considerably enhanced by Trinity Library. As well being a copyright library, it holds manuscripts and special collections that can form the basis of research projects, particularly in the early period, in Irish writing and in children’s literature.

Our research culture places special emphasis on the individual researcher, though we also encourage forms of research collaboration where this is appropriate. The School of English provides doctoral training through provision of a structured programme of research and study.

The School of English welcomes applications for two research degrees: the M.Litt. and the Ph.D. Both involve a student working closely with one or more supervisors to undertake an original independent research project, resulting in a dissertation thesis. The M.Litt. normally takes two years and the dissertation is up to 60,000 words. The Ph.D. takes up to four years and the dissertation is up 100,000 words. As well as the more conventional research dissertation, we offer the Ph.D. in Literary Practice, which comprises of an original piece of creative writing and a critical essay. We also have a Distance Ph.D. programme, to enable students to pursue a research degree remotely. Further details can be found on our School website.

As part of their structured PhD programme, students are expected to undertake taught modules during their PhD (a minimum of 10 ECTS and a maximum 30 ECTS within the first 18 months of enrolment). Research students must also take a compulsory School of English module in postgraduate professional development during their first year. While our research students work closely with their supervisor, their development of independent and original thought is crucial to the research process. When their work is established, research students may provide teaching in the School in areas cognate to their research.

PhD in Literary Practice
The Ph.D. in Literary Practice is aimed at those interested in undertaking a combination of creative and critical writing at doctoral level. Further information about this programme can be found on our School’s postgraduate research website.

Non-Resident PhD Programme
The Non-Resident Ph.D. programme allows students to undertake a research degree within the School of English remotely. Further information about this programme can be found on our School’s postgraduate research website. Please note that prospective applicants can only proceed with their application once they been granted permission to do so by the School’s Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning.

How Do I Apply?
The School receives many postgraduate research admissions and supervision inquiries each year. To facilitate the efficient processing of these initial expressions of interest we require prospective PhD and M.Litt. applicants to fill in an inquiry template. This template, along with everything you need to know about making an application to the School (including dates and funding information), can be found on our School website - click here and scroll down to the heading ‘Admissions Information’.

It is strongly advised that you develop your proposal in consultation with a relevant staff member, rather than applying online without contacting the School beforehand. If a staff member is interested in your initial project outline and has supervision capacity, they may ask you for further information and they may subsequently agree to work with you as you develop your proposal. Information about the required formatting and details required from a PhD or M.Litt. proposal can again be found on our webpage.


The School regularly hosts visiting lecturers and writers and organizes international conferences and symposia. Research students are always involved in the organization of these events and frequently will present research papers. The postgraduates also organize weekly research seminars, and all research students are expected to contribute to and attend these events.
As well as fostering individual research, we also help students develop a profile that will make them strong candidates for academic posts. Recent Ph.D. graduates hold permanent lectureships and prestigious post-doctoral fellowships at universities in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US.

Eva Burke, Recent PhD Graduate:
"I began my PhD at the School of English in September 2016 after having done the M.Phil. in Popular Literature in 2014-2015, so I’ve been part of the School of English for almost six years. My PhD focused on the domestic noir fiction of Gillian Flynn, and my supervisor was Dr. Clare Clarke. My experience as a PhD student at the School of English was incredibly formative. I had the opportunity to present my research at staff-postgraduate seminars, published my work in the Trinity Postgraduate Review, and co-organised a successful symposium at the Trinity Long Room Hub with my supervisor. In the second year of my PhD, I started working as a teaching assistant in the School of English, organizing and running tutorials within the school. I’ve learned so much from my involvement with teaching within the school; the academic and administrative staff have been really supportive and I’ve found that engaging with students as they navigate the curriculum is a really valuable experience. I’m so grateful for the encouragement and support that I’ve found within the School of English, and for the opportunities it has given me."

Dr Jenny Daly, Research Strategy Office, Office of the Dean of Research, Trinity College Dublin.
"The time I spent doing my PhD in the School of English was the most fulfilling and intellectually stimulating experience I could ever have hoped for. Having the time and space to work on my research while being supported by an excellent mentor was an immense privilege, but it also prepared me for life beyond the PhD. The research and communication skills that I developed during the PhD are invaluable to me in my career now as a Research Strategy Officer and are, I believe, essential attributes for anyone working in academic administration. Coming from an Arts and Humanities background also enables me to bring a different critical perspective to an area that is so important for everyone in the university."

Sarah Cullen, Recent PhD Graduate:
"Working at the intersection of race, gender and literature in my thesis, I found Trinity College Dublin to be an excellent space for such an undertaking. With support from specialists in relevant fields, opportunities to present at and engage with international conferences, and discussion with enthusiastic peers from the School of English, its environment is highly conducive to producing original research."

Janice Deitner, Current PhD Researcher in the School:
"As a PhD student in the School of English at Trinity I get to be a part of a dynamic and encouraging community of researchers and scholars, both within the School and in the wider college population. My academic supervisor is an important part of this community, providing essential guidance while encouraging me to forge my own path. As a part of the structured PhD, I have been able to investigate topics beyond my expertise that have positively influenced my thinking. In general, the support of Postgraduates by the School of English has given me the space to explore, challenge, and develop my own ideas within a variety of academic arenas while also providing me with avenues and resources to expand my knowledge and understanding."

In exceptional circumstances it may be possible to register retrospectively. Applicants wishing to be considered for retrospective admission should contact the Graduate Studies Office by emailing