English Literature Research Paper Topics

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This guide, centered on English literature research paper topics , serves as a comprehensive resource for students seeking to delve deep into the diverse epochs, authors, and themes that have shaped English literary tradition. Navigating the intricate tapestry of English literature offers scholars a multitude of avenues for exploration. From the mystique of medieval tales to the introspective narratives of modernism, this guide not only provides a plethora of English literature research paper topics but also offers insights on choosing the ideal topic, structuring the research paper, and harnessing the unmatched writing services of iResearchNet. Dive in to unravel the rich heritage of English literature and discover the myriad opportunities it presents for academic exploration.

100 English Literature Research Paper Topics

Diving into English literature is like embarking on a journey through time and culture. From ancient ballads to modernist narratives, it offers a vast panorama of themes, styles, and societal reflections. Below is a comprehensive list of English literature research paper topics spanning across different eras and genres:

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Medieval Literature

  • The significance of chivalry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight .
  • The Christian and Pagan elements in Beowulf .
  • Courtly love in The Knight’s Tale from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales .
  • Dream visions in Pearl and Piers Plowman .
  • The role of fate and providence in The Consolation of Philosophy .
  • The art of storytelling in The Decameron vs. The Canterbury Tales .
  • The Seven Deadly Sins in Everyman .
  • The evolution of the English language: Old English vs. Middle English.
  • Religious allegory in The Second Shepherd’s Play .
  • Women and femininity in the Lais of Marie de France .

Renaissance and Elizabethan Age

  • Shakespeare’s portrayal of power in Macbeth .
  • Love and beauty in Sonnet 18 .
  • The idea of the “New World” in The Tempest .
  • The virtues in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene .
  • Magic and science in Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.
  • The pastoral settings of As You Like It .
  • The politics of gender in Twelfth Night .
  • Revenge and madness in Hamlet .
  • John Donne’s metaphysical poetry and its innovation.
  • The darker side of the Renaissance: The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster.

The Restoration and the 18th Century

  • The satirical world of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels .
  • Class struggles in Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders .
  • Alexander Pope’s critique of society in The Rape of the Lock .
  • Aphra Behn and the emergence of the woman writer.
  • The wit and wisdom of Samuel Johnson’s essays.
  • The rise of the novel: Richardson vs. Fielding.
  • Sentimentality and society in Sterne’s Tristram Shandy .
  • Politics and plays: John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera .
  • Women, education, and literature: Mary Wollstonecraft’s ideas.
  • The mock-heroic in English literature.

Romantic Period

  • Nature and transcendence in Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey .
  • The Byronic hero in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage .
  • Shelley’s Ozymandias and the ephemeral nature of power.
  • The Gothic romance of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights .
  • George Gordon Lord Byron and the Romantic antihero.
  • The visionary world of William Blake’s poems.
  • The exotic and the familiar in Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
  • Keats’s exploration of beauty and mortality.
  • The industrial revolution’s reflection in literature.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the dangers of ambition.

Victorian Era

  • Charles Dickens and his critique of Victorian society.
  • The challenges of morality in Thomas Hardy’s novels.
  • The bildungsroman in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre .
  • The plight of women in George Eliot’s Middlemarch .
  • Oscar Wilde’s wit and irony in The Importance of Being Earnest .
  • The debate on science and religion in In Memoriam A.H.H by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
  • The mystery and suspense of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • The “Woman Question” in Victorian literature.
  • The realism of Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire.
  • Gothic elements in Dracula by Bram Stoker.
  • The fragmented narrative of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse .
  • T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and the disillusionment of the post-war era.
  • The struggles of the working class in D.H. Lawrence’s novels.
  • The impact of World War I on English poetry.
  • James Joyce’s revolutionary narrative techniques in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man .
  • E.M. Forster’s exploration of social and racial themes.
  • The critique of colonialism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness .
  • W.B. Yeats and the Irish literary revival.
  • The emergence of the stream-of-consciousness technique.
  • The Jazz Age and decadence in the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Gothic Tradition

  • Origins of Gothic fiction: Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto .
  • The supernatural and macabre in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
  • Ann Radcliffe’s influence on the Gothic novel.
  • The role of the Byronic hero in The Vampyre by John Polidori.
  • Duality of human nature in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde .
  • The haunting atmospheres in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
  • Gender and sexuality in Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu.
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s influence on English Gothic literature.
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker: Themes of sexuality and fear of the unknown.
  • The Gothic novel as a reflection of societal fears and anxieties.

The Angry Young Men Era

  • Social criticism in John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger .
  • Exploring masculinity in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe.
  • The disillusionment of post-war Britain in The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner .
  • The class struggle in Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim .
  • Existential themes in John Wain’s Hurry on Down .
  • Feminine perspectives in the era: Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey .
  • The critique of academia in The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury.
  • The Angry Young Men and their influence on modern theater.
  • The transformation of British literature in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • The lasting legacy of the Angry Young Men movement in contemporary literature.

Postmodern British Literature

  • Metafiction in Julian Barnes’s Flaubert’s Parrot .
  • The playfulness of language in Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses .
  • Intertextuality in Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit .
  • The fragmented narrative in Graham Swift’s Waterland .
  • Reality and fiction in Ian McEwan’s Atonement .
  • Gender and postcolonial themes in Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve .
  • The exploration of identity in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth .
  • The deconstruction of traditional narrative in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
  • Postmodern gothic in The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
  • Magical realism in The Porcelain Doll by Julian Barnes.

Contemporary English Literature

  • The multicultural London in Brick Lane by Monica Ali.
  • Exploring family dynamics in On Beauty by Zadie Smith.
  • The concept of time in Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam .
  • The role of history in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall .
  • The exploration of love and loss in Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending .
  • Postcolonial Britain in Andrea Levy’s Small Island .
  • The challenges of modern life in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity .
  • The evolution of the English detective novel: Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories .
  • The legacy of the British Empire in The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.
  • The digital age and its influence on literature: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon.

English literature boasts a rich and varied tapestry of themes, periods, and genres. This comprehensive list is a testament to the dynamism and depth of the field, offering a myriad of research avenues for students. As they venture into each topic, they can appreciate the nuances and complexities that have shaped the literary tradition, making it an invaluable component of global culture and heritage.

English Literature and the Range of Topics It Offers

English literature, encompassing the vast historical, cultural, and artistic legacy of writings in the English language, boasts a rich tapestry of narratives, characters, and stylistic innovations. From the earliest Old English epic poems to the reflective and multifaceted postmodern novels, English literature offers an expansive array of topics for analysis, discussion, and research. The depth and breadth of this literary tradition are mirrored by the diverse range of English literature research paper topics it can inspire.

The Medieval Foundation

Diving into the early origins of English literature, we encounter works like Beowulf , an Old English epic poem of heroism, fate, and the struggle against malevolent forces. Medieval English literature, characterized by religious texts, chivalric romances, and philosophical treatises, sets the stage for the evolution of narrative styles and thematic explorations. The rich allegorical narratives, like Piers Plowman or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight , present intricate societal and spiritual commentaries that still resonate with readers today. These works invite inquiries into the socio-religious dynamics of medieval England, the evolution of the English language, and the literary techniques employed.

Renaissance and Enlightenment: A Burst of Creativity

The Renaissance and Elizabethan Age saw the emergence of revered playwrights like William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, whose dramas, whether tragedies, comedies, or histories, plumbed the depths of human emotion, politics, and existence. The genius of Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Othello , juxtaposed against Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus , provides a fertile ground for investigating themes of ambition, betrayal, love, and existential angst. Moreover, with poets like Edmund Spenser and his epic The Faerie Queene , English literature expanded its horizons, both thematically and stylistically.

The subsequent Restoration and the 18th century ushered in a period of social and literary change. With authors like Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope, satire became a powerful tool to critique society and politics. Furthermore, the emergence of the novel, as exemplified by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela , offered researchers a chance to explore the evolving societal values, gender norms, and narrative techniques.

Romanticism, Victorian Era to Modernism: A Spectrum of Emotion and Thought

The Romantic period, marked by poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats, celebrated nature, emotion, and individualism. In contrast, the Victorian era, with novelists like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and the Brontë sisters, addressed societal change, morality, and industrialization. Both periods are a goldmine for English literature research paper topics around the individual vs. society, the role of nature, and the exploration of the self.

Modernism in English literature, with heavyweights like Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot, revolutionized narrative structure and thematic depth. Works from this era, such as To the Lighthouse or The Waste Land , demand analysis on fragmented narrative, stream of consciousness, and the introspective exploration of the human psyche.

Contemporary Reflections

Contemporary English literature, shaped by postcolonial, feminist, and postmodern influences, gives voice to a plethora of perspectives. Authors like Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, and Julian Barnes tackle issues of identity, multiculturalism, history, and reality versus fiction. Such works present a plethora of avenues for research, from analyzing the postcolonial identity in Rushdie’s narratives to the intricate tapestries of familial and societal dynamics in Smith’s novels.

Concluding Thoughts

In essence, English literature is an evolving entity, reflecting and shaping societal, cultural, and individual values and challenges over the centuries. For students and researchers, the wealth of English literature research paper topics it offers ranges from historical and linguistic analyses to deep dives into thematic cores and stylistic innovations. Whether one wishes to explore the chivalric codes of medieval romances, the biting satires of the 18th century, the emotional landscapes of Romanticism, or the fragmented realities of postmodern narratives, English literature provides an inexhaustible reservoir of research opportunities.

How to Choose an English Literature Topic

Choosing a research paper topic, especially within the expansive field of English literature, can be a challenging endeavor. The centuries-spanning literature offers a treasure trove of stories, themes, characters, and socio-political contexts that beckon exhaustive exploration. As such, students often find themselves at a crossroads, wondering where to begin and how to narrow down their choices to find that one compelling topic. Here’s a detailed guide to streamline this process:

  • Align with Your Interests: Dive into periods, genres, or authors that genuinely intrigue you. If Victorian novels captivate your imagination or if Shakespearean dramas resonate with you, use that as your starting point. Genuine interest ensures sustained motivation throughout your research journey.
  • Evaluate Academic Relevance: While personal interest is vital, ensure your chosen topic aligns with academic goals and curriculum requirements. Some English literature research paper topics, while intriguing, might not offer substantial academic value for a particular course or level of study.
  • Seek Familiar Ground (But Not Too Familiar): Leverage your previous readings and coursework. Familiarity offers a foundation, but challenge yourself to explore uncharted territories within that domain. If you enjoyed Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice , maybe delve into its feminist interpretations or comparative studies with other contemporaneous works.
  • Embrace Complexity: Opt for English literature research paper topics that lend themselves to multifaceted exploration. Simple topics might not provide enough depth for comprehensive research papers. Instead of a general overview of Romantic poetry, explore the portrayal of nature in Wordsworth’s works versus Shelley’s.
  • Historical and Cultural Context: Literature isn’t created in a vacuum. Understand the historical and societal backdrop of a literary work. This context can offer a fresh perspective and can be an excellent lens for your research.
  • Contemporary Relevance: How does a particular work or literary period converse with today’s world? Exploring the modern implications or relevance of classic works can be both enlightening and academically rewarding.
  • Diverse Interpretations: Embrace English literature research paper topics open to various interpretations. Works like George Orwell’s 1984 or Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot can be analyzed from political, psychological, existential, or linguistic viewpoints.
  • Consult with Peers and Professors: Engage in discussions with classmates and seek advice from professors. Their feedback can provide new perspectives or refine your existing topic ideas.
  • Read Critiques and Literary Journals: Academic journals, critiques, and literary analyses offer insights into popular research areas and can help you identify gaps or lesser-explored aspects of a work or period.
  • Flexibility is Key: As you delve deeper into your research, be open to tweaking or even changing your topic. New findings or challenges might necessitate slight shifts in your research focus.

Choosing the right research topic in English literature requires a blend of personal passion, academic relevance, and the potential for in-depth exploration. By aligning your interests with academic goals, and being open to exploration and adaptation, you pave the way for a fulfilling and academically enriching research experience. Remember, the journey of researching and understanding literature can be as enlightening as the end result. Embrace the process, and let the vast ocean of English literature inspire and challenge you.

How to Write an English Literature Research Paper

Penning an English literature research paper is a task that demands meticulous planning, a deep understanding of the subject, and the ability to weave thoughts coherently. English literature, with its vast and rich tapestry, offers endless avenues for exploration, making it both an exciting and daunting endeavor. Below are step-by-step guidelines to craft a compelling research paper in this domain:

  • Understanding the Assignment: Before diving into the research phase, ensure you fully understand the assignment’s requirements. Is there a specific format? Are certain sources mandatory? What’s the word count? This foundational clarity sets the stage for efficient research and writing.
  • Preliminary Research: Start with a broad exploration of your topic. Read general articles, introductory chapters, or review papers. This will give you a general overview and can help narrow down your focus.
  • Thesis Statement Formulation: Your thesis is the backbone of your research paper. It should be clear, precise, and arguable. For instance, instead of writing “Shakespeare’s plays are influential,” you might specify, “ Macbeth illustrates the dire consequences of unchecked ambition.”
  • Diving Deeper – Detailed Research: With your thesis in hand, dive deeper into primary (original texts) and secondary sources (critiques, essays). Libraries, academic databases, and literary journals are treasure troves of valuable information.
  • Organize Your Findings: Use digital tools, index cards, or notebooks to categorize and annotate your findings. Grouping similar ideas together will make the writing process smoother.
  • Drafting an Outline: An organized structure is essential for clarity. Create an outline with clear headings and subheadings, ensuring a logical flow of ideas. This will serve as a roadmap as you write.
  • Introduction Crafting: Your introduction should be engaging, offering a glimpse of your thesis and the significance of your study. Remember, first impressions count!
  • Literary Analysis: Delve into the text’s intricacies – symbols, themes, character development, stylistic devices, and historical context.
  • Critiques and Counter-arguments: Discuss various interpretations of the text, and don’t shy away from addressing dissenting views. This lends credibility and depth to your paper.
  • Comparative Analysis (if applicable): Compare the chosen work with others, drawing parallels or highlighting contrasts.
  • Maintaining Coherence and Transition: Each paragraph should have a clear main idea and transition smoothly to the next, maintaining the paper’s flow and ensuring the reader’s engagement.
  • Conclusion Crafting: Reiterate your thesis and summarize your main findings. Discuss the broader implications of your study, potentially suggesting areas for further exploration.
  • Citing Your Sources: Always attribute ideas and quotations to their original authors. Depending on the assigned format (MLA, APA, etc.), ensure that in-text citations and the bibliography are correctly formatted.
  • Revision and Proofreading: Once your draft is complete, take a break before revisiting it. Read it aloud to catch awkward phrasings. Check for grammatical errors, consistency in argumentation, and clarity in presenting ideas. Consider seeking peer reviews or utilizing editing tools.
  • Seek Feedback: Before final submission, consider sharing your paper with a mentor, professor, or knowledgeable peer. Their insights can be invaluable in refining your research paper.

Writing an English literature research paper is as much an art as it is a science. While meticulous research and structured writing are crucial, allowing your passion for literature to shine through will elevate your paper. Remember, literature is about exploring the human experience, and as you dissect these masterpieces, you’re not just analyzing texts but delving into profound insights about life, society, and humanity. Embrace the journey, and let every step, from research to writing, be a process of discovery.

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For any student of English literature, the voyage through various eras, authors, and their imaginative universes is both exhilarating and overwhelming. Each period, from the mystical narratives of the Middle Ages to the raw modernism of the 20th century, has its distinctive character, themes, and voices. However, writing a research paper on such vast and diverseEnglish literature research paper topics can be challenging. This is where iResearchNet steps in, bridging the gap between intricate literary exploration and top-notch academic writing.

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At iResearchNet, our primary goal is to support and elevate your academic journey in English literature. With a blend of profound literary knowledge and impeccable writing skills, we bring to life the narratives, themes, and voices of the past and present. So, whether you’re venturing into the allegorical world of The Faerie Queene or analyzing the post-colonial undertones in Wide Sargasso Sea , with iResearchNet, you’re not just getting a paper; you’re obtaining a piece of scholarly art.

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English literature, a tapestry woven with tales of heroism, love, tragedy, and introspection, spans over centuries, capturing the essence of an evolving nation and its people. From the ethereal romance of the Arthurian legends to the stark realism of the 20th century, the literary works of England are a testament to the country’s rich cultural and historical legacy.

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latest phd research topics in english literature

latest phd research topics in english literature

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latest phd research topics in english literature

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latest phd research topics in english literature

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  • Our research concentrates on a range of periods, themes and subjects, spanning Medieval literature, Shakespeare and the Renaissance, Romanticism, Victorian and 19th-century literature, Modern and contemporary literature, creative writing and film studies. 
  • We’re part of  TECHNE , an  Arts and Humanities Research Council  (AHRC)-funded doctoral training partnership, which provides access to comprehensive academic and professional training programmes, as well as the possibility of funding for your studies. 
  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 ranked the School of Literature and Languages 10th for research impact in the UK, with 75% of our case studies rated as having outstanding impacts, in terms of reach and significance (4*). Our submission to REF included contributions from the Guildford School of Acting (GSA).

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

Our English Literature PhD will train you in critical and analytical skills, research methods, and knowledge that will equip you for your professional or academic career. It normally takes around three or four years to complete our full-time PhD.

You’ll be assigned a primary and secondary supervisor, who will meet with you regularly to read and discuss your work and progress. For us, writing is essential for understanding and developing new perspectives, so you’ll be submitting written work right from the start of your course.

In the first year of your PhD, you’ll refine your research proposal and plan the structure of your work with the guidance and support of your supervisors. As you go into your second and third year, you’ll gradually learn to work more independently, and your supervisors will guide you on how to present at conferences and get your work published.

After 12-15 months, you’ll submit a substantial piece of work for a confirmation examination. The confirmation examination will be conducted by two internal members of staff not on your supervisory team and will give you the opportunity to gain additional guidance on your research-to-date. The final two years of your PhD will be devoted to expanding and refining your work ready for submission of the final thesis.

As a doctoral student in the School of Literature and Languages, you’ll receive a structured training programme covering the practical aspects of being a researcher, including grant-writing, publishing in journals, and applying for academic jobs.

Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.

Research support

The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College , which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate careers and employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.

In addition to a number of excellent training opportunities offered by the University, our PhD students can take additional subject-specific training and take part in the School’s research seminars and events. These provide a valuable opportunity to meet visiting scholars whose work connects with our own research strengths across literature, theory, and creative writing.

latest phd research topics in english literature

Research themes

  • Women's writing (especially medieval women's writing, early modern women's drama and Victorian women writers)
  • Medieval romance
  • Romanticism
  • Victorian studies
  • Modernism and modernity
  • Travel and mobility
  • Western and global esotericisms
  • Sexuality and queer theory
  • Postmodern and post-postmodern writing
  • Contemporary fiction
  • Transnational literature.

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our  academic staff  within the School of Literature and Languages.

Research areas

Edwin Gilson profile image

Edwin Gilson

A real highlight for me was having an article published in a well-known journal in my field. This came out of a chapter I wasn’t expecting to write at the start of the thesis, on a novel I read during the PhD.

latest phd research topics in english literature

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a good first-class UK degree (a minimum 2:1 or equivalent) and an MA in a relevant topic.

International entry requirements by country

English language requirements.

IELTS Academic:  7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).

Application requirements

Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors before they submit an application via the website. Please refer to section two of our  application guidance .

After registration

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants:

  • Meeting the expected entry requirements
  • Being shortlisted through the application screening process
  • Completing a successful interview
  • Providing suitable references.

Student life

At Surrey we offer the best of both worlds – a friendly campus university, set in beautiful countryside with the convenience and social life of Guildford on your doorstep.

Start date: October 2024

Start date: January 2025

Start date: April 2025

Start date: July 2025

  • Annual fees will increase by 4% for each year of study, rounded up to the nearest £100 (subject to legal requirements).
  • Any start date other than September will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

Apply online

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, please provide details of the project instead of a research proposal.

Read our application guidance for further information on applying.

To apply online first select the course you'd like to apply for then log in.

1. Select your course

Select the course you wish to apply for.

To apply online sign in or create an account.

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF) .

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to follow our policies and procedures , student regulations , and terms and conditions .

We provide these terms and conditions in two stages:

  • First when we make an offer.
  • Second when students accept their offer and register to study with us (registration terms and conditions will vary depending on your course and academic year).

View our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, as a guide on what to expect.

This online prospectus has been published in advance of the academic year to which it applies.

Whilst we have done everything possible to ensure this information is accurate, some changes may happen between publishing and the start of the course.

It is important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer .

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions

University of Surrey Guildford Surrey GU2 7XH

English Literary Studies

  • Studying English at UCT
  • Why English Literary Studies?
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  • Current MA Students
  • Current PhD Students
  • ELL1013F Literature: How and Why?
  • ELL1016S Image, Voice, Word
  • ELL2000F Cultures of Empire, Resistance and Postcoloniality
  • ELL2001S Literature and the Work of Memory
  • ELL3000F Movements, Manifestos and Modernities
  • ELL3001S Contemporary Literary Studies
  • Departmental prizes
  • Academic support
  • Welfare support
  • ELL4001H Research Essay/Project (Full Year)
  • ELL4061F Theory in Practice
  • ELL4062S Literary Criticism and the Archive
  • Applying for the degree of Honours in English Literary Studies
  • Master's Electives
  • Research Master's in English Literature
  • Applying for the degree of Master of Arts in English Literary Studies

PhD in English Literary Studies

  • Navigating your PhD: procedures and milestones
  • Recent PhD Graduates
  • Applying for a PhD in English Literary Studies
  • PhD research proposal guidelines
  • Research overview
  • UCT Writers Series archive
  • Current news
  • News archive
  • Frequently asked questions

Course convenor

A/Prof Polo Moji ( [email protected] )

The Department of English  Literary Studies supervises research degrees in a broad range of areas, from Early Modern to contemporary literature and theory. We specialise particularly in writings of and from South Africa and Africa and work closely with prospective students to develop a thesis topic that reflects their interests and allows them to make a substantive and innovative contribution to their research area.

Once accepted, students are assigned one (sometimes two) supervisor(s) who will offer them consistent intellectual support and guidance. In addition students are encouraged to take part in the intellectual life of the department and are given opportunities to attend workshops and seminars as well as teach and present on their own research. On occasion (in keeping with our increasingly interdisciplinary approach) we offer co-supervision with another department.

We appreciate that a PhD is an extremely serious undertaking and as such we read all applications closely and consult with colleagues to ensure that we have adequate supervisory capacity for your project. We encourage all applicants to read our staff’s research profiles  in order to gauge the interface between their research interests and the specialisations of our teaching staff.

Many of our graduates have gone on to be leading researchers in their fields, teaching and holding senior management positions at major universities both locally and globally.

How to apply

The University of Edinburgh home

  • Schools & departments

English and Scottish Literature

Writing a research proposal for the PhD in English Literature

You apply for the PhD in English Literature through the University’s online Degree Finder. Here is our guidance on how to write an effective application.

The two elements of an application that are most useful to us when we consider a candidate for the PhD in English Literature are the sample of written work and the research proposal.

You will probably choose your sample of written work from an already-completed undergraduate or masters-level dissertation or term-paper.

Your research proposal will be something new. It will describe the project that you want to complete for your PhD.

Your research proposal

Take your time in composing your research proposal, carefully considering the requirements outlined below. Your proposal should not be more than 2,000 words .

PhD degrees are awarded on the basis of a thesis of up to 100,000 words. The ‘Summary of roles and responsibilities’ in the University’s Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students stipulates what a research thesis must do. 

Take me to the Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students (August 2020)

It is in the nature of research that, when you begin, you don’t know what you’ll find. This means that your project is bound to change over the time that you spend on it.

In submitting your research proposal, you are not committing yourself absolutely to completing exactly the project it describes in the event that you are accepted. Nevertheless, with the above points in mind, your research proposal should include the following elements, though not necessarily in this order:

1. An account of the body of primary texts that your thesis will examine. This may be work by one author, or several, or many, depending on the nature of the project. It is very unlikely to consist of a single text, however, unless that text is unusually compendious (The Canterbury Tales) or unusually demanding (Finnegans Wake). Unless your range of texts consists in the complete oeuvre of a single writer, you should explain why these texts are the ones that need to be examined in order to make your particular argument.

2. An identification of the existing field or fields of criticism and scholarship of which you will need to gain an ‘adequate knowledge’ in order to complete your thesis. This must include work in existing literary criticism, broadly understood. Usually this will consist of criticism or scholarship on the works or author(s) in question. In the case of very recent writing, or writing marginal to the established literary canon, on which there may be little or no existing critical work, it might include literary criticism written on other works or authors in the same period, or related work in the same mode or genre, or some other exercise of literary criticism that can serve as a reference point for your engagement with this new material.

The areas of scholarship on which you draw are also likely to include work in other disciplines, however. Most usually, these will be arguments in philosophy or critical theory that have informed, or could inform, the critical debate around your primary texts, or may have informed the texts themselves; and/or the historiography of the period in which your texts were written or received. But we are ready to consider the possible relevance of any other body of knowledge to literary criticism, as long as it is one with which you are sufficiently familiar, or could become sufficiently familiar within the period of your degree, for it to serve a meaningful role in your argument.

3. The questions or problems that the argument of your thesis will address; the methods you will adopt to answer those questions or explain those problems; and some explanation of why this particular methodology is the appropriate means of doing so. The problem could take many forms: a simple gap in the existing scholarship that you will fill; a misleading approach to the primary material that you will correct; or a difficulty in the relation of the existing scholarship to theoretical/philosophical, historiographical, or other disciplinary contexts, for example. But in any case, your thesis must engage critically with the scholarship of others by mounting an original argument in relation to the existing work in your field or fields. In this way your project must go beyond the summarising of already-existing knowledge.

4. Finally, your proposal should include a provisional timetable , describing the stages through which you hope your research will move over the course of your degree. It is crucial that, on the one hand, your chosen topic should be substantial enough to require around 80,000 words for its full exploration; and, on the other hand, that it has clear limits which would allow it to be completed in three years.

When drawing up this timetable, keep in mind that these word limits, and these time constraints, will require you to complete 25–30,000 words of your thesis in each of the years of your degree. If you intend to undertake your degree on a part-time basis, the amount of time available simply doubles.

In composing your research proposal you are already beginning the work that could lead, if you are accepted, to the award of a PhD degree. Regard it, then, as a chance to refine and focus your ideas, so that you can set immediately to work in an efficient manner on entry to university. But it bears repeating that that your project is bound to evolve beyond the project described in your proposal in ways that you cannot at this stage predict. No-one can know, when they begin any research work, where exactly it will take them. That provides much of the pleasure of research, for the most distinguished professor as much as for the first-year PhD student. If you are accepted as a candidate in this department, you will be joining a community of scholars still motivated by the thrill of finding and saying something new.

Ready to apply?

If you have read the guidance above and are ready to apply for your PhD in English Literature, you can do so online through the University of Edinburgh's Degree Finder.

Take me to the Degree Finder entry for the PhD in English Literature

If you've got any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Aaron Kelly by email in the first instance.

Email Dr Aaron Kelly

Department of English and Related Literature

PhD in English and Related Literature

Work in an intellectually invigorating environment and be supported by supervisors who are experts in their field.

Be inspired to reach your research ambitions in an intellectual and supportive community at the forefront of English research.

Your research

The diversity of our staff’s research interests means that we are well-positioned to supervise research in any field of literature, from the Middle Ages to the present day, including literature in languages other than English, and literary works in translation.

We also have distinctive expertise in practice-led teaching and research, including archival work and printing. The PhD in English and Related Literature is available on a full-time or part-time basis.

Under the guidance of your supervisor, you'll complete a thesis of up to 80,000 words. A typical semester will involve a great deal of independent research, punctuated by meetings with your supervisor who will be able to suggest direction and address concerns throughout the writing process. You'll be encouraged to undertake periods of research at archives and potentially internationally, depending on your research thesis.

Throughout your degree, you'll have the opportunity to attend a wide range of research training sessions in order to learn archival and research skills, and a range of research seminars organised by the research schools, which bring speakers from around the world for research talks and networking. There is also internal funding available if you wish to propose research events and symposia/conferences.

[email protected] +44 (0) 1904 323366

Related links

  • How to apply
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  • International students
  • Life at York

You also have the option of enrolling in a PhD in English by distance learning, where you will have the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. You will attend the Research Training Programme online in your first year and have supervision and progression meetings online.

You must attend a five-day induction programme in York at the beginning of your first year. You will also visit York in your second and third years (every other year for part-time students).

Apply for PhD in English and Related Literature (distance learning)

Top ten department

We're a top ten research department according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

35th in the world

for English Language and Literature in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023.

Athena Swan Bronze

We're proud to hold an Athena Swan Bronze award in recognition of the work we do to support gender equality in English.

latest phd research topics in english literature

Explore funding for postgraduate researchers in the Department of English and Related Literature.

latest phd research topics in english literature

Supervision

Explore the expertise of our staff and identify a potential supervisor.

Research training

You'll receive training in research methods and skills appropriate to the stage you've reached and the nature of your work. In addition to regular supervisory meetings to discuss planning, researching and writing the thesis, we offer sessions on bibliographic and archival resources (digital, print and manuscript). You'll receive guidance in applying to and presenting at professional conferences, preparing and submitting material for publication and applying for jobs. We meet other training needs in handling research data, various modern languages, palaeography and bibliography. Classical and medieval Latin are also available.

We also offer training in teaching skills for students who wish to pursue teaching posts following their degree. This includes sessions on the delivery and content of seminars and workshops to undergraduates, a structured shadowing programme, teaching inductions and comprehensive guidance and resources for our graduate teaching assistants. Our teacher training is directed by a dedicated staff member.

You'll also benefit from the rich array of research and training sessions at the Humanities Research Centre .

latest phd research topics in english literature

Course location

This course is run by the Department of English and Related Literature.

You'll be based on  Campus West , though your research may take you further afield.

We also have a distance learning option available for this course.

Entry requirements

For doctoral research, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve a first-class or high upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualification) and a Masters degree with distinction. 

The undergraduate and Masters degrees should be in literature, or in a related subject that is closely tied to the proposed research project. 

Other relevant experience and expertise may also be considered:

  • Evidence of training in research techniques may be an advantage.
  • It is expected that postgraduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
  • Publications are not required and we don't expect applicants to have been published before they start their research degrees.

Supervisors interview prospective research students to ensure good supervisory match and to help with funding applications.

The core deciding factor for admission is the quality of the research proposal, though your whole academic profile will be taken into account. We are committed to ensuring that no prospective or existing student is treated less favourably. See our admissions policy for more information.

Apply for the PhD in English and Related Literature

Have a look at the supporting documents you may need for your application.

Before applying, we advise you to identify potential supervisors in the department. Preliminary enquiries are welcomed and should be made as early as possible. However, a scattershot approach – emailing all staff members regardless of the relationship between their research interests and yours – is unlikely to produce positive results. 

If it's not clear which member of staff is appropriate, you should email the Graduate Chair .

Students embarking on a PhD programme are initially enrolled provisionally for that qualification. Confirmation of PhD registration is dependent upon the submission of a satisfactory proposal that meets the standards required for the degree, usually in the second year of study.

Find out more about how to apply .

English language requirements

You'll need to provide evidence of your proficiency in English if it's not your first language.

Check your English language requirements

Research proposals

In order to apply for a PhD, we ask that you submit a research proposal as part of your application.

When making your application, you're advised to make your research proposals as specific and clear as possible. Please indicate the member(s) of staff that you'd wish to work with.

Your research proposal should:

  • Identify the precise topic of your topic and communicate the main aim of your research.
  • Provide a rigorous and thorough description of your proposed research, including the contributions you will make to current scholarly conversations and debates.
  • Describe any previous work you have done in this area, with reference to relevant literature you have read so far.
  • Communicate the central sources that the project will address and engage.
  • Offer an outline of the argument’s main claims and contributions. Give a clear indication of the authors and texts that your project will address.
  • Include the academic factors, such as university facilities, libraries resources, centres, other resources, and / or staff, which have specifically led you to apply to York.

What we look for:

  • How you place your topic in conversation with the scholarly landscape: what has been accomplished and what you plan to achieve. This is your chance to show that you have a good understanding of the relevant work on your topic and that you have identified a new way or research question to approach the topic.
  • Your voice as a scholar and critical thinker. In clean, clear prose, show those who will assess your application how your proposal demonstrates your original thinking and the potential of your research.
  • Your fit with York, including the reasons for working with your supervisor and relevant research schools and centres.
  • Above all, remember that there isn’t one uniform way to structure and arrange your research proposal, and that your approach will necessarily reflect your chosen topic.

Careers and skills

  • You'll receive support in applying to and presenting at professional conferences, preparing and submitting material for publication and applying for jobs.
  • You'll benefit from training in handling research data, various modern languages, palaeography and bibliography. Classical and medieval Latin are also available. The   Humanities Research Centre   also offers a rich array of valuable training sessions.
  • We also offer training in teaching skills if you wish to pursue a teaching post following your degree. This includes sessions on the delivery and content of seminars and workshops to undergraduates, a structured shadowing programme, teaching inductions and comprehensive guidance and resources for our graduate teaching assistants.
  • You'll have the opportunity to further your training by taking courses accredited by Advance HE:   York Learning and Teaching Award (YLTA)   and the   York Professional and Academic Development scheme (YPAD) .

Find out more about careers

latest phd research topics in english literature

Discover York

latest phd research topics in english literature

We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

latest phd research topics in english literature

Discover more about our researchers, facilities and why York is the perfect choice for your research degree.

latest phd research topics in english literature

Graduate Research School

Connect with researchers across all disciplines to get the most out of your research project.

Find a supervisor

Explore our staff expertise

Find out all you need to know about applying to York

Find funding to support your studies

  • Harvard Library
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Literature: A Research Guide for Graduate Students

  • Get Started
  • Find a Database
  • Research Dos & Don'ts

Welcome! This guide is maintained by Odile Harter , the library liaison to the departments of Comparative Literature and English. Here you'll find:

Get Started - a to-do list for new graduate students

Find a Database - how to locate the best search engines for your field or project

Research Dos & Don'ts - tips to help you be productive and efficient

All of which supplement Literary Research in Harvard Libraries , where you will find my favorite tools and strategies to:

  • Get Organized - access, organize, and cite
  • Find Background - from simple encyclopedia entries to detailed guides and histories
  • Find Scholarship and Criticism - top sources and search strategies
  • Literary Theory - deceptively tricky to search for!
  • Foreign Language Literatures - if you're working with languages other than English

Photo of Odile Harter (links to Odile's staff page)

Odile Harter

Research & Pedagogy Librarian

Email Odile

  • Next: Get Started >>

Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which allows anyone to share and adapt our material as long as proper attribution is given. For details and exceptions, see the Harvard Library Copyright Policy ©2021 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College.

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English Literature: Resources for Graduate Research

How to use this guide, literary research: background & context, find books and articles in jumbosearch, recommended web resources.

  • Articles on Your Topic
  • Books on Literary History, Theory, Criticism & More
  • Novels, Poems & Other Primary Texts
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  • Reviews, Essays & More
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  • Citing Your Sources This link opens in a new window
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latest phd research topics in english literature

Welcome to the Tisch Library guide to resources for the graduate study of literature in English. Use the table of contents to find definitions, topic overviews, books, articles, and more that will help you with your research. 

If you don't find what you are looking for or need help navigating this guide or any of the resources it contains, don't hesitate to contact the author of this guide or Ask a Librarian .

Want to learn more about the background and context of literary scholarship? Below is a selection of resources that can help you to develop a better understanding of literary research, including the discourses of critical theory.

  • A Dictionary of Critical Theory This is the most wide-ranging and up-to-date dictionary of critical theory available, covering the whole range of critical theory, including the Frankfurt school, cultural materialism, gender studies, literary theory, hermeneutics, historical materialism, and sociopolitical critical theory. Entries clearly explain even the most complex of theoretical discourses, such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, deconstruction, and postmodernism.
  • Critical Terms for Literary Study Each essay in this collection provides a concise history of a literary term, critically explores the issues and questions the term raises, and then puts theory into practice by showing the reading strategies the term permits.
  • Key Terms in Literary Theory This book provides precise definitions of terms and concepts in literary theory, along with explanations of the major movements and figures in literary and cultural theory and an extensive bibliography.
  • Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics is a comprehensive reference work dealing with all aspects of its subject: history, types, movements, prosody, and critical terminology.
  • A History of Femnist Literary Criticism This book offers a comprehensive guide to the history and development of feminist literary criticism and a lively reassessment of the main issues and authors in the field.
  • The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism presents a comprehensive historical survey of the field's most important figures, schools, and movements. It includes alphabetically arranged entries and subentries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods. In print in the library's reference collection (PN81.Z99 J64 1994)
  • Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Contains the complete text of the OED's 20-volume Second Edition and 3-volume Additions Series plus Historical Thesaurus of the OED. Also includes draft material from the current OED project, representing the latest progress towards a completely revised and updated Third Edition. The OED online can be used to perform simple searches for word definitions, or for full-text searching of all OED's definitions, etymologies and quotations through the Search function.

Want to discover everything that Tisch Library has on your topic?  Try searching for your topic in JumboSearch, which simultaneously searches across all of the library's resources, including: books from the library catalog: journal articles in databases, online and in print; research guides on your topic; digital files from the Archives; and much, much more!

Search by Keyword, Title, Subject, or Creator

There are a lot of great resources on the web where you can find information about English Literature as well as online primary texts (stories, poems, plays, and novels) and recordings of literature being read aloud. Have fun exploring!

  • Center for the Humanities at Tufts The Center for Humanities at Tufts fosters interdisciplinary humanities work in comparative literature, comparative religion, world history, philosophy, anthropology, and the arts, to innovate new research and reflection.
  • Bulfinch's Mythology Provides the complete text of the standard guide to Western mythology.
  • Early Modern Literary Studies Online journal devoted to English literature of the 16th and 17th Centuries.
  • Eighteenth-Century Resources Covers all of the significant and reliable online resources that focus on the (very long) eighteenth century--from Milton to Keats.
  • Encyclopedia Mythica Award-winning internet encyclopedia of mythology, folklore, and religion. Here you will find everything from A-gskw to Zveda Vechanyaya, with plenty in between.
  • Harry Ransom Center Digital Collections The Harry Ransom Center is an internationally renowned humanities research library and museum. Its extensive holdings provide a unique record of the creative process of writers and artists, deepening our understanding of literature, photography, film, art, and the performing arts.
  • Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages & Renaissance Iter is a not-for-profit partnership dedicated to the advancement of learning in the study and teaching of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700). Access medieval and Renaissance resources featuring the Iter Bibliography, Iter Italicum, bibliographies of Milton and English women writers, and its full-text journal collection.
  • The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies From Georgetown University, medieval studies links arranged by topic.
  • Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature Life, works, essays, quotes and works for authors from Middle English, Renaissance and 17th-Century literature.
  • PennSound Listen to poetry read aloud, author talks and more at this comprehensive site from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Poet's Corner The collection covers roughly 7,000 works by about 800 poets, including some of the best known works in the English language, as well as many obscure and forgotten works that are well worth reading.
  • Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net (RaVoN) is an International Refereed Electronic Journal devoted to British Nineteenth-Century Literature.
  • The Victorian Web Information on a variety of topics in the Victorian period, including a timeline, information on genre and technique and author-related links.
  • Voice of the Shuttle Extensive humanities database broken down into precise categories by period and theme.
  • Westminster Detective Library It is the mission of the Westminster Detective Library to catalog and make available online all the short fiction dealing with detectives and detection published in the United States before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891).
  • Next: Articles on Your Topic >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 2, 2024 3:34 PM
  • URL: https://researchguides.library.tufts.edu/EnglishGraduateResources

Areas of expertise

Faculty members in Waterloo English have research expertise in a wide variety of fields that span literature, rhetoric, professional communication, and digital media.

From admission to dissertation. Tips on making the PhD journey happy, productive and successful

How to Choose a PhD Research Topic in English Literature

How to Choose a PhD Research Topic in English Literature

To pick a right topic for research in English Literature during PhD is something a huge task. There are many topics out there for a good research. Here are my tips on how to rightly choose a PhD research topic in English Literature

  • Choose the right poet or author that interests your topic.
  • Ask PhD. supervisor the relevance of the poet to research.
  • Search for some areas of research taken in the past.
  • Choose a new topic that was not researched in the past.
  • Check if sufficient Primary Sources are available or not.
  • Try to take help from professors around you.
  • Buy some books that are relevant to English Literature.
  • Read for some days about the research topic.
  • Read more literary theories and apply them to your PhD topic.

The proven way to choose a research topic in English Literature is to ask your professor on what they have researched upon while they had been doing their Ph.D. After this, you have to search for new trending topics at the present time. If someone has got an award or Nobel prize, Take that person and it is always best. Every year there are awards given to the authors who contributed well to English Literature. Choose a topic from them.

First, choose the right author to research

You’re about to choose an author to research for your Ph.D. in English literature.  This is important and so you should take your time doing.  You want to ensure the author is someone who is interesting and intriguing for everyone in the literary academic world.  The words of the author need to be words that will make you think, question and analyze.

Start off broadly, looking at a number of authors.  Slowly narrow down your search. You need to connect to the author – how is his or her work significant, why does it appeal to you, will it appeal to academics, is there enough to write on, and is he or she relevant.  Look at how much work he or she has written and made quite sure you can get your hands on the books.

Relevance is important. We live in a time where gender is a top priority, as is history, politics, art, feminism, sexism, the way stories are told and who tells them.  Your Ph.D. is going to be based on this author.  His or her words need to be relevant, perhaps controversial and significant.  This author needs to be engaging and someone whose work you can engage with.

Learn more about the books of the author

As an academic, reading and research are the two most important thing you are going to do.  You need to read as much as you possibly can, not just on the author of your choice, but all the books written by the author of your choice.  Reading is something that you learn from but also something that stimulates you and gives you your own writing style.

The more you can learn about the author, the better you can come up with a research topic in English literature.  Read as many of his or books as possible, but also, read books or articles that have been written about the author.  After a while, you will start to feel like you know and understand the author.  This is what you want.  The more you read, the more knowledgeable you become, in every aspect.

If you cannot find the books – some may be obscure – spend time in libraries.  Libraries are in fact very conducive to writing a Ph.D. – something about the bookshelves, space, the solitude and of course, the history.    Remember, you want to find angles or information on the author that is new.  Look online, look in libraries and don’t feel shy to ask your lecturers if they have books for you to borrow.

Learn more about the author’s personal life

You may already know that what an author writes about does not have to reflect his or her personal life.   Which means when you are researching an author, you do not only want to learn about his or her written words?  These words are important.  But so are their personal words.  Personal lives give you a good insight into the author too.  If he or she had children, did they work alone, how did they die?

When we say personal words, we also mean personal life.  Because the written word is different to the ‘living word’, an author can have many personas.  Perhaps they write about sexuality in a very open way yet in real life, are deeply conservative.  This makes for an interesting Ph.D.  Knowing how the author lived out her personal life is very important.

You are going to have to delve into realms of information to learn about an author’s personal life.  This is going to be interesting for you, and for your reader.  In today’s world of fake news, you also need to be very careful.  Double check your sources, always, to ensure you are getting and then choosing out the correct information.  Read, and then read some more.

Read thoroughly all the novels for ten days

This may seem extreme to you, but we have already said that a successful Ph.D in English Literature is about reading and research.  You’ve chosen your author and you’ve written out a list of his or her books.  Now, you are going to curl up in a corner somewhere, or at your desk, and read.  We’ve already said it but the more you read, the more you learn.

Spend the next ten days reading. This way you are immersing yourself in the author’s words, subjects, feelings, emotions, history, religion, characters, sexuality, gender and more.  The more you read, the more you will start to understand your chosen author and to feel and think the way the author did or does. Remember, reading not only educates you, but it also inspires you.

Make notes as you read.  Choose a pen or highlighter and highlight those passages that make you really think.  Cross-reference paragraphs, characters, emotions or metaphors.  Take note of anything you find important or astonishing or unusual or surprising.  Go back to your notes.  Your very Ph.D. may relate to your first few notes.  Keep all your reading material too; one day you are going to need it.  All Ph.D. students seem to buy new bookshelves!

Write down the summaries on your own

The best way to understand something, and to remember something, is to write.  The more you write, the easier things will stick in your head.  Read a book, or a few chapters, and then write your own summaries.  Chances are your time is limited, which is why summaries are good.  Also, when you write a summary, things start becoming clearer and you may have an epiphany.

If the book you are reading has 15 chapters, perhaps summarize after every chapter.  This is a personal choice – and of course, it depends on the books – but more summaries are better than less.  Summarize in your own words and you will find that through summaries, you find your own style too.  Cross-reference your summaries to the books you are reading.

When we say write, you may enjoy writing and you may enjoy typing.  This is personal.  Academics can generally be seen in front of their computers, hammering away at their keyboards.  Type if you like, but sometimes writing with a pen and paper can actually get your creative juices flowing in a different way.  Writing makes you think and gives you the ability to see things in a fresh way too.  Always write, as much as you can.

Take a course on literary theories

There are many online literary theory courses that you can choose and we would suggest you sign up for one.  The literary theory may seem academic and overwhelming but once you understand it, you’re on your way to writing a successful and highly revered Ph.D.  Take a look and see how many prestigious universities offer courses on literary theory.  That way you will see how important it is to do one.

A literary theory course will change the way you think about language, literature, society, and identity.  A course will help you hone your critical reading skills and to understand theoretical terms such as postcolonialism, deconstruction, and Marxist criticism.  A literary theory course will arm you with all the skills that you will need to dissect, criticize, analyze and understand your author, subject or topic you are researching.

There are many literary theory courses and you need to find one that will help you with your subject.  A literary theory course will help you understand how you should approach literature, criticism verse theory, structure, analysis, and psycho-analysis of the subject and the author.  You can choose to do one literary theory course and do it in your own time.  There are many online courses; do one for a successful Ph.D.

Learn to relate those theories to each other

You’re writing a Ph.D. which is a huge step.  You are going to bring in various literary theories which means not only do you need to understand the various literary theories, but you need to know how they all relate to one another.  For a Ph.D. to be successful, you need to discuss, analyze, criticize and be open for debate.  You also need to be open to criticism.

Take a look at the various literary theories.  There are traditional literary theories and also formalism and new criticism. There are Marxism and critical theory and then there’s structuralism and post-structuralism.  You are likely comfortable with some theories, and others not so much.  Remember, fellow academics are going to question your theories and criticize you.  Criticism is not always bad.  It is academic criticism and it is there for a reason.  Your research needs to be complete.

Again, a literary theory course can help you.  Depending on your subject and author of choice, depends on which theories you will need to bring in.  There are others – including new historicity and cultural materialism, ethnic studies and post-colonialism criticism.  You need to relate them to one another.  A course may help you to pick a good topic for PhD English literature.

Now think about how the author followed theories in novels

It’s important to note that in the academic world there are often many complex perspectives regarding literary theories.  You need to read about your chosen author and have a look at how he or she followed literary theories in their books.  Was there consistency?  Was there a specific literary theory that was followed?

Sometimes the theories are simple and easy to follow.  Sometimes there is a single theory or theme in a book.  Sometimes theories are mixed, or many sides are given.  You need to be able to read, review, analyze and understand the theories your author chose to follow.  And your research needs to be so good, that fellow academics can analyze too and have brainwave moments from your writing.

Reading needs to be engaging, no matter the kind of reading.  It also needs to make you think. Reading should stimulate.  Sometimes, more than one theory is applied so that there are conflicting views, ideas, debate, and discussion.    Take a look carefully at the author you are researching, their books, and the ideas that are put forward.  Do they follow the theories you have been learning about?  If so, which one or which ones.  Do you have any theories of your own?

Choose one theory that pins your interest

You may find some literary theories more exciting than others.  Perhaps post-colonialism is your thing, or Marxist criticism excites you. The trick is not to get too tied down to one theory, too soon.  Read, read again, make notes, summarize and review.  And look at various literary theories.  You are going to find that some theories absolutely fascinate you and others you find irrelevant.  Make notes and slowly you will be lead towards the theories that are right for you.

The more you read and make notes, the more one particular theory is going to leap out at you.  It may be a slow process and in fact, the slower the better. This means your thinking is going to be clearer, and more critical.  Once you find yourself honing in on a certain theory, you will find your direction.

Let’s say poststructuralism has caught your interest.  You will now start thinking in a different light.  You will find yourself coming up with your own theories, perhaps relating theories together, perhaps finding clarity in just the one.  Make notes – you may not use them all, but you will find them useful when you start tying everything together.   And always, always, theorize.

Jot down what others are researching

If you have not yet decided on your topic, make sure you know what other students are researching, or thinking of researching.  You do not want to suddenly find out you are doing the same thing.  And you do not want to waste your time.   Jot down other people’s topics.  Jot down any ideas you have and at some point, you will find it all comes together.  Wake up and make notes.  Sit with fellow researchers and make notes.

The thing about choosing a PhD research topic in English literature is that you constantly need to listen, read, listen to some more, research and keep reading.  You also need to open yourself up to the conversation, with other researchers, Ph.D. students, and lecturers.  Talk to others, even if your literary topics are different.  Or even to make sure that they are different.

The academic world is constantly bouncing ideas off one another. It’s important to talk about your ideas, to get feedback on your ideas, and to listen to other people’s ideas.  Keep a notebook with you at all times and jot down what and how other people are doing their research.  You are not going to copy anyone, but you are going to find inspiration and you are going to inspire others.

Don’t take already beaten topics

You need to put effort into finding the right PhD topic. This can take time and be agonizing.  It may seem like each topic you are choosing has already been taken.  Take your time and find a topic that appeals to you, will challenge you and will exit you.  Find a topic where you can give new and exciting information too.

Choosing a topic for your PhD in English literature may depend on the literature available, how much time it is going to take you, and also, it the topic worthy of research and investigation.  You are going to have to immerse yourself totally in all the literature available on the topic – choose wisely.

Only choose a topic already done if you are going to look at new angles and find different analyses to the ones out there already. Only choose a topic that you are pretty sure will become clear to you, as you research, and therefore clear to others too.  You can choose a topic that is interesting to you, and been done before, as long as you have a new and exciting way from which to write.

Be creative and choose at least 5 topics randomly

Most students will look at up to 5 topics before making a decision.  It’s quite normal to pick a topic, change your mind, pick another one, do some research, put it away, look at a third topic, and so on.  This is a good process.  You need to be proactive in your decision which means you need to spend time thinking of what you are going to write, and how you are going to write it.

The reason you choose at least 5 research topics in English literature is that you can really find that topic that excites and challenges you.  Look at why you would study the topic and what your research would mean to you, and to others.  Take your topics to fellow researchers or academics.  Ask them for advice.  Listen to what people have to say about your topic choices.

You may choose the first topic and have your heart set on it.  Perhaps you find little information on it, or even worse, you find too much.  The topic may have been over-researched.  It is time to move on to your next topic until you settle on the one that is right for you.  Don’t be hasty in making a choice.

Sit with a literature expert for review of topics

Once you have your list of possible topics for your Ph.D., ask a literature expert to spend some time with you.  This could be a professor, lecturer, fellow researcher, or author. Put forward your ideas and ensure you have the correct information on your ideas.  Ask for feedback.  When you ask for feedback, listen without getting defensive.  You have asked for a review of your topics.  Listen to the feedback.

A literature expert can be someone you know but it doesn’t have to be.  If you know about a specialist in your area of interest, ask for a meeting.  And remember, you can also approach a professional organization and ask to chat.  Fellow academics are generally happy to help.  You can find fellow academics at your university but you are also free to chat with academics at other learning institutions.

Finally, use the Internet. You can find a variety of sources online that will answer any questions you may have regarding your proposed topic.  You will be able to get ideas online about your proposed topics, and if they can work, if they have been done, if you are on the right path, and if there is interest.

Consult 5 English teachers and show the topics

You are choosing a PhD research topic in English literature and so it makes sense for you to discuss your various topics with an English teacher.  You are taking to the very people who are going to have an interest in your ideas and you will find good English teachers are eager to talk to you.  You will find teachers at your own place of learning, but you can also ask for meetings with teachers you don’t know but are expert in their field.

Tell them about your ideas.  Ask them for feedback, what they think and if they would advise you to do the proposed topic.  Ask if they think your topic has good potential and if it could become a dissertation.  Ask them what they know about the topic and if they feel it would be significant.  Listen carefully to the advice you are given.

You want your topic to uncover new information.  You might think you have new information, but experienced English teachers may know differently.  Chat with them, listen to them more important, and ask for their honest opinions.  The academic world is an inclusive one and experts are going, to be honest with you. Listen to them.

Get the topic automatically suggested by your teachers

Choosing a Ph.D. topic in English literature is no easy task.  Your research needs to be significant and helpful to future researchers.  It has to be groundbreaking.  It has to shed light on topics, or at least offer controversial opinions.  It can be really hard to choose a topic, for these reasons.  You may find that some of your teachers actually give out topics and this is an easy way to make a choice.

You can go for the topic that is automatically suggested by your teachers.  This way you know that the topic is one that is significant and has not been over-researched or over analyzed.  Chat with your teacher and ask why they are suggesting the topic.  Get their advice.

When you choose a topic for your research, you want to get feedback from people who are ‘in the know.’  Don’t go with the first topic that comes along.  Go with a topic that excites you and that you know will be hard work but interesting, creative and challenging too.  Go with a topic that is going to have the academic world thinking and questioning, in a good way!

Do not reveal your topic to your friends before joining your PhD

You may think this is not something that should be up for debate but the truth is the academic world is a competitive one.  If your idea is fantastic and food for thought and we hope it is, you don’t want a fellow student to follow your idea.  Rather keep your research topic to yourself until you join your PhD.  You don’t want your idea stolen, but you also don’t want to lose confidence in your idea, especially if you are convinced by it.

The other reason not to reveal your topic in advance is in case of friends brush off your idea.  You may think your topic is worthy but somebody may take away your confidence.  As long as you have done your research in advance and you feel strongly about your topic, keep it.  Always listen to advice given by academics, but be a little more guarded with your friends. Do initially only.

Confidence is necessary when doing a Ph.D.  You can drive yourself literally made when you question and the second question what you are doing.  Don’t let friends or academics second guess you, unless you are asking their opinions.  Otherwise, as long as you feel sure, keep going.

Attend various interviews taking the topic

This is a good tip for you when you are deciding about your research topic, but also once you have chosen your research topic.  Universities are always having special interest lectures, interviews, workshops and more, and you will find all of these on your topic of interest.  When we say interview, we mean an interview, a meeting, and a lecture.

Attend as many interviews as you can.  This means you should try and go to all public lecturers or book readings or similar when you have chosen your topic.  And if you are still choosing your topic, ask as many experts on the subject as possible to interview and talk to you. Remember; interview a wide range of people before settling on a topic.  People are interesting and have interesting ideas – one person will give you something nobody else will have thought of.

One on one interviews or meetings can be the most beneficial thing.  You, as the researcher, need to do a lot of listening.  An interviewer will guide you in every single way and make you think.  If an interviewer can make you think, imagine how one day you are going to make your readers think.

Try to buy novels

Have you ever seen an academic’s bookshelves? They are always jam-packed, floor to ceiling, with books.  And academics have many bookshelves, not just one.  Your research topic is going to be with you for a long time.  It’s your Ph.D., you are going to read, research, write and defend.  It’s yours and will be forever.

Buy all the novels and books you need. You are the expert on your subject, the expert on your topic.  You need to read everything you can lay your hands on.  And print is so much better than online.  Take the books with you to bed, to the bath, to your coffee shop. Do more reading

It’s also an excellent idea to make a note of all the books you read.  You will have a Ph.D. English literature file.  Have an index and one of the chapters should include all the books by the author, and all the books you have read on the author.  Summarize and make notes on the books.  Make notes in the book.  Read the book a second time if it really appeals to you.

Do not read novels on the computer

This is a contentious issue because academia is changing.  There are two schools of thought – read novels in print or read novels on the computer.  Don’t do both.  The truth is you can do whatever works for you.  If you prefer to read online, it is better than not reading at all.

The reason academia says ‘do not read novels on the computer’ is that they feel you may not retain as much.  When you read in print you can make notes easily, highlight certain sentences or chapters, dog ear pages so you remember what to go back to, and also, read at any time.

Books are fantastic, especially in print.  You always have them, you don’t have to go online to find them, they are real treasures and should be treated as such. And to have a whole range of novels or books on the subject of your thesis is something incredibly special.

Use time properly with some interest

It is very easy, especially in this world with the internet, to be distracted.  When you are writing a Ph.D. the one thing you cannot afford is a distraction.  You need to use your time properly and be incredibly disciplined.  Many academics say when they write a Ph.D., they eat, drink and sleep it.

Let’s get back to discipline.  Your thesis is going to take you a long time.  When you undertake your research topic, think about the time frame that you have.  You will need to manage your time well.  You need to be well disciplined in giving yourself time to collect data and go through it.

Everyone needs to take a break sometimes.  Do things that you enjoy in your free time.  But when you are working on your Ph.D. work. Use your time smartly and always be reading, researching or writing.  Do this and you will not have any last minute chaos in meeting your deadline.

Make a point to take short notes of ideas

The one thing you always need to have in your bag is a pen and pencil.  Otherwise, have a mobile device where you can take notes.  Ideas come to people at the strangest of times – when you’re taking a walk, sipping coffee, waiting for a friend on the corner.  Always write them down.

Likewise, when you attend an interview or a lecture, have your pen and paper handy.  Make notes so that you can refer to them and read them.  Once you have got home, take your notebook and transfer anything relevant to your PhD folder.

Be aware of the interview or lecture, or meeting that you are in.  It may come across as rude if you scribble down every little thing.  Be discerning with your notes.  Yes, write things down, definitely.  But don’t write down an entire lecture.  Listen, jot down short notes, and always – go over everything afterward.

Do some literary survey what others are interested

Before you choose your literary Ph.D. topic, do a lot of research.  Your idea may be an extraordinary one, but what if nobody has any interest in reading it?  You want to choose a topic that is interesting and excited and where the academic world will be talking about it.

Ask your lecturers what they think of your topic.  Make notes and surveys.  You could choose five topics – as suggested earlier – and run a literary survey.  Ask lecturers, fellow academics and other students what they think of your topics.  Put it in a survey form and see which topic comes out tops.

Look carefully at the results of your survey. If everyone is choosing one topic for a reason, they are probably right. It does not mean they are definitely right though.  You can take your survey one step further and find out why they find that particular topic interesting.  Then make a decision based on how you feel.

Do not take foolish and irrelevant topics

This is an obvious one, isn’t it?  Nobody is going to read a PhD, or take it seriously when your top is foolish or irrelevant.  We are living in a world where relevance is everything.  Whether it does to with gender, feminism, sexism, history, climate change, politics or art – you must be relevant.

Remember, a PhD is something that everyone in the academic world takes seriously.  Your research is going to be read by your peers and by peers who you hold in high esteem.  You want them to read your work and be wowed by your work.  If you are foolish, you lose your chance of being held in high esteem too.

You are going to be spending a long time on your PhD, maybe a year and maybe more.  You also want to be interested in what you are doing and not find it a chore.  Your research is important, not just for others but for you too.  Take the whole thing seriously.  PhD studies are serious – you need to be serious too.

Do lots of reading about other areas

You need to read as much as possible when you are writing a PhD.  To be honest, you need to read as much as possible at all times.  When you read other work, ideas come to you.  You learn about style and content by reading.  Read anything you can get your hands on.  You are going to be writing your PhD.  A good writer reads a lot, it is the only way they become a good writer.

When we say you should do a lot of reading, it does not mean you have to only read about matters connected to your particular research.  You should read everything you can.  Read academic papers, read transcribed interviews, read the newspaper, read novels and read magazines.  The more you read, the better you write.  Any writer will tell you that.

As a researcher, books are going to become the most important thing in your life.  All books are going to become important to you.  Keep a book in your bag. Read when you’re on the bus, on the train and at home in front of the television.  Reading gets our own creative juices flowing, whether academic, fiction or non-fiction.  Reading makes you think.

Keep all the collected notes and reading in hand

When you write a PhD you are going to have a ton of material that you need to go through.  The first thing you need to do, even before you have chosen a topic, is to open up a PhD file.  Get yourself a good one, it’s going to be with you for a long time.  Make different sections.

Your collected notes are going to be the most important part of your Ph.D.; you are going to refer to them for a very long time.  Make sure you have your notes in one section and as you can, cross-references them to your summaries or to chapters or books you are reading. Always go over your notes.  You will suddenly read something and go ‘oh that makes sense.’

The same goes with all your reading.  Keep your reading close by.  Wake up in the morning, read.  When you go to bed at night, read. The more reading you do, the better.  Make notes of all the books you have, and of all the books you still plan to get.  Tick them off as you read them. And mostly, always have a copy of your PhD notes and research as you go along. You do not want to lose it.

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Syam Prasad Reddy T

Hello, My name is Syam, Asst. Professor of English and Mentor for Ph.D. students worldwide. I have worked years to give you these amazing tips to complete your Ph.D. successfully. Having put a lot of efforts means to make your Ph.D. journey easier. Thank you for visiting my Ph.D. blog.

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English at Leicester

  • Research degrees
  • Research topics

Suggested research topics

Below is a list of suggestions for PhD projects that English at Leicester would be interested in supervising.

Dr Claire Brock

Women surgeons in britain, 1860-1918.

This Wellcome Trust-funded project is an exploration of the changes in the perception, both popular and medical, of the art of surgery and the figure of the surgeon and how they coincided with the entrance of women into the medical profession. It also considers the procedures women actually performed, their intervention in controversial surgery of the day, and their successes and failures, in order to assess how the ways in which women operated contributed to their public and professional reputation. How did the practice of surgery both help and hinder the cause of the medical woman in her pursuit of professional equality?

Risk and Responsibility in Surgery

How were risk and responsibility conceptualised in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods when surgery could be seen simultaneously as safe (due to developments in surgical science) and increasingly risky (because such progress allowed for greater experimentation)?

The Representation of Medical Women in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century

This project examines the cultural, social and self-representation of the woman surgeon from the second half of the 19th century until the end of the Great War.

  • Dr Claire Brock's staff profile

Dr Lucy Evans

Representations of caribbean cities.

Critical debates on Anglophone Caribbean literature have often been concerned with rural folk culture, despite the fact that cities such as Kingston, Jamaica and Port of Spain, Trinidad feature prominently in the region’s novels, short stories and poetry. This project will explore the role of urban experiences in shaping literary cultures of the Anglophone Caribbean.

Popular Music and Anglophone Caribbean Literature

This project will explore how Anglophone Caribbean literary writing has been informed by, and engages with, the region’s popular musical traditions, such as calypso and reggae. Considering both the local significance and the global reach of these musical forms, the project will investigate how they have influenced the style, structure and thematics of Caribbean fiction and poetry.

  • Dr Lucy Evans's staff profile

Dr Sarah Graham

Representations of lgbtq people in comics and graphic novels.

This project could map the changing depiction of LGBTQ figures in relation to changes in American society, or consider their representation in a specific genre, such as the superhero, or in relation to a specific event, such as the spread of HIV/AIDS.

New Yorker Cartoons and American Culture

This project will explore the portrayal of American culture and society in the cartoons published in one of its most popular magazines, The New Yorker .

Queer Writing in Fifties America

This project considers how queer writers, such as Carson McCullers, Gore Vidal, John Cheever, Paul Bowles, James Baldwin, Truman Capote critique American society in an era that was hostile to sexual difference.

  • Dr Sarah Graham's staff profile

Professor Martin Halliwell

Mental health in 20th century american culture.

This area of study – which can be defined in terms of period or genre – will examine the cultural representation of mental illness in the United States during a particular phase of the 20th century. The precise project could focus on autobiographical accounts of illness; institutional treatment; family and broader social relationships; the workplace; or gender and sexual identity.

Transatlantic Avant-Garde Culture

This project will focus on either (i) the early 20th-century avant-garde or (ii) the rediscovery of avant-garde practices in the 1940s and 1950s. The project will have a transatlantic dimension, exploring the movement of multimedia cultural forms (text, image, sound) across the Atlantic (for example, New York and Paris) by examining relevant publications and exhibitions.

American Protest

This project will focus on a particular protest movement in the United States since World War II, for example: the 1960s Peace Movement, the Weather Underground, the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street. Through the examination of primary source documents it will look particularly at the interface between politics, activism and cultural expression.

  • Professor Martin Halliwell's staff profile

Professor Sarah Knight

Drama at the elizabethan inns of court.

This project will consider the development of in-house drama at the Inns of Court from the mid-16th century until the early 17th century, exploring how the metropolitan setting and proximity both to commercial theatres and centres of political influence shaped its formation. Central to the dissertation will be a consideration of the role played by professional theatre companies (e.g. the Lord Chamberlain's Men) in helping to shape Inns drama.

Milton and Tragedy

This project will examine how Milton represented and experimented within the genre of tragedy throughout his writing life, extending from the early poem 'Il Penseroso' (c. 1630) to one of his last published works, Samson Agonistes (c. 1665-7). The influence of Reformation biblical tragedy and classical tragedy (particularly Euripides and Seneca) on Milton's writing will be of particular interest.

Ancient Poetry in the Modern World

This project will focus on three contemporary women writers' engagements with classical poetry, exploring in particular their use of epic and lyric forms. Alice Oswald's Memorial (2011) will be considered in relation to Homer's Iliad , while Anne Carson's Nox (2010) and Tiffany Atkinson's Catulla et al  (2011) will be read as responses to Roman elegy.

  • Professor Sarah Knight's staff profile

Dr Catherine Morley

Religion and spiritual identity in the work of john updike.

This project will take James Woods's essay on Updike and religion as its point of departure to examine the contours of religious identities in works such as the Rabbit tetralogy, In the Beauty of the Lilies , and Terrorist .

Finding an Authentic Self in the Later Writing of Philip Roth

This project will examine Roth's metafictional alter-egos in texts from Operation Shylock  through to the Nemesis trilogy.

Language and Silence in Post-9/11 Fiction

This project will look at the role of literature in the wake of international terror and trauma.

Metropolitan Lives and Prairie Wives: Edith Wharton and Willa Cather's Modernist Aesthetics

This project will examine two very different responses to the American modernist moment and interrogate each writer's notions of the 'the modern'.

  • Dr Catherine Morley's staff profile

Dr Julian North

Mary shelley as a biographer.

Some critical essays and articles have been published focusing on Mary Shelley’s work as a biographer. This research project would aim to build on these in order to present a major, integrated study of her biographical publications (e.g. for the Cabinet Cyclopaedia and as editor of her husband’s poetry) and of her unpublished auto/biographical work, including letters and journals. It would relate this to her fictional writing (e.g. the importance of biography in Frankenstein ) and to the biographical culture of the period.

Theatre and the Gothic Novel

Some work has been done on gothic theatre in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and a considerable body of criticism exists on the gothic novel from this period. This project would develop this to look at the theatricality of the gothic novel. It could focus on one or all of the following: the interactions between novels and their stage adaptations; the use of theatrical devices in gothic fiction; and allusions to theatrical traditions, e.g. Shakespeare, in gothic fiction.

  • Dr Julian North's staff profile

Dr Emma Parker

Jane eyre and contemporary fiction.

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847) has inspired numerous prequels, sequels, revisions, retellings, adaptations, and spin-offs, the most famous of which are Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1938) and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). By considering the ways in which contemporary literature offers both a loving homage to and alternative perspective on Bronte's classic, the thesis will reflect on the influence and significance of Jane Eyre in contemporary culture. Texts studied might include Emma Tennant's Adele (2000), Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair (2001), and Michele Roberts's The Mistressclass (2002). A similar but alternative project would be a thesis on the influence of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818). Texts studied might include Alasdair Gray's Poor Things (1992), Patricia Duncker's The Deadly Space Between (2002) and Peter Ackroyd's The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein (2008).

The Country House in Contemporary British Fiction

This project will consider the significance of a recent resurgence in the country house novel. It will examine the ways in which contemporary fiction responds to the tradition of country house literature, particularly in terms of gender, class and sexuality. It will also analyse how the country house is used to reflect on family, history, and the State of the Nation. Texts studied might include Toby Litt's Finding Myself (2004), Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger (2009), Martin Amis's The Pregnant Widow (2010) and Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child (2011).

Music in Contemporary Fiction

This project will examine the relationship between fiction and music (pop, opera, blues, jazz - one or all of these genres) and consider the representation of musicians and use of music both as theme and fictional trope. Texts studied might include Ann Patchett's Bel Canto (2001), Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) and Esi Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues (2011).

  • Dr Emma Parker's staff profile

Professor Mark Rawlinson

First world war poetry.

Investigating the legacy of war poetry (1914-18) in British and/or American writing up to the current centenary. Doctoral projects could focus on the concept of the war poet, on poets writing back to the First World War poets from the 1930s onwards, on poetry of later wars, on the representation of war poets in narrative genres such as fiction and feature film, or on any other aspect of war commemoration in literary writing.

The Second World War in Literature after 1945

This is an area in which much good work is being done, but in which there is still significant scope for original research on under-studied writers and problems. Projects could focus on individual writers (e.g. Doris Lessing or Robin Jenkins) or on political, historical or social contexts which have determined the way in which the Second World War has been re-presented in culture after 1945. This field overlaps with Cold War cultural studies, and projects might take this approach.

Twentieth-Century Fiction

An investigation of the themes, forms and significance of the writings of one of the following 20th century British writers: George Friel, Rex Warner, T H White, Edward Upward, James Hanley, Elizabeth Taylor, Eric Ambler, Nigel Balchin, Rumer Godden, Anthony Burgess, and Angus Wilson. The resulting thesis could contextualise an oeuvre in historical, cultural and literary-historical terms, and include an analysis of its artistic distinctiveness.

  • Professor Mark Rawlinson's staff profile

Professor Philip Shaw

Religion in the prelude.

This project will examine Wordsworth’s treatment of Christianity and the Anglican tradition from the earliest manuscript versions of The Prelude to the final published version of 1850. Additional reference will be made to related works by Wordsworth, e.g. Ecclesiastical Sonnets , The Excursion .

Romantic Poetry and the Press

This project examines the relations between poetry and the press in the period 1789-1832. The project will make extensive use of the online resource Gale NewsVault to identify poems published in contemporary newspapers by canonical authors and non-canonical authors. Close attention will be paid to the material contexts in which Romantic poems are produced, disseminated, and discussed. Topics to discuss might include: the influence of history and politics; relations between poets, editors and newspaper proprietors.

Wordsworth and Byron

This thesis will explore the ways in which Wordsworth and Byron responded to each other's works and how these works, in turn, were read by subsequent generations. In addition to engaging in detailed analyses of these key Romantic poets students undertaking this project will be encouraged to consider how later Victorian writers, such as Matthew Arnold, A C Swinburne and Mark Rutherford, depicted Wordsworth and Byron as the bearers of diametrically opposed moral, political and religious values.

  • Professor Philip Shaw's staff profile

Dr Jonathan Taylor

Contemporary life writing in theory and practice.

The literary memoir has experienced a resurgence in popularity since the early 1990s, and this project encourages students to investigate the contemporary memoir form both in theory and creative practice. Possible topics might include: memoir and illness; memoir and subjectivity; memoir and 'truth'; memoir and contemporary psychology; memoir and political, cultural, or historical contexts; and contemporary forms of the personal essay.

Contemporary Fiction in Theory and Practice

This project encourages students to investigate the forms of contemporary prose fiction – novels, short stories, composite novels – and, particularly, ways in which these forms might be revitalised by contact with other disciplines and contexts. For example, students might investigate, both in theory and practice, points of convergence and divergence between music and fiction, history and fiction, literary theory and fiction, and memoir and fiction.

  • Dr Jonathan Taylor's staff profile

latest phd research topics in english literature

  • How to Choose a PhD Research Topic
  • Finding a PhD

Introduction

Whilst there are plenty of resources available to help prospective PhD students find doctoral programmes, deciding on a research topic is a process students often find more difficult.

Some advertised PhD programmes have predefined titles, so the exact topic is decided already. Generally, these programmes exist mainly in STEM, though other fields also have them. Funded projects are more likely to have defined titles, and structured aims and objectives.

Self funded projects, and those in fields such as arts and humanities, are less likely to have defined titles. The flexibility of topic selection means more scope exists for applicants to propose research ideas and suit the topic of research to their interests.

A middle ground also exists where Universities advertise funded PhD programmes in subjects without a defined scope, for example: “PhD Studentship in Biomechanics”. The applicant can then liaise with the project supervisor to choose a particular title such as “A study of fatigue and impact resistance of biodegradable knee implants”.

If a predefined programme is not right for you, then you need to propose your own research topic. There are several factors to consider when choosing a good research topic, which will be outlined in this article.

How to Choose a Research Topic

Our first piece of advice is to PhD candidates is to stop thinking about ‘finding’ a research topic, as it is unlikely that you will. Instead, think about developing a research topic (from research and conversations with advisors).

Consider several ideas and critically appraise them:

  • You must be able to explain to others why your chosen topic is worth studying.
  • You must be genuinely interested in the subject area.
  • You must be competent and equipped to answer the research question.
  • You must set achievable and measurable aims and objectives.
  • You need to be able to achieve your objectives within a given timeframe.
  • Your research question must be original and contribute to the field of study.

We have outlined the key considerations you should use when developing possible topics. We explore these below:

Focus on your interests and career aspirations

It is important to choose a topic of research that you are genuinely interested in. The decision you make will shape the rest of your career. Remember, a full-time programme lasts 3-4 years, and there will be unforeseen challenges during this time. If you are not passionate about the study, you will struggle to find motivation during these difficult periods.

You should also look to your academic and professional background. If there are any modules you undertook as part of your Undergraduate/Master degree that you particularly enjoyed or excelled in? These could form part of your PhD research topic. Similarly, if you have professional work experience, this could lead to you asking questions which can only be answered through research.

When deciding on a PhD research topic you should always consider your long-term career aspirations. For example, as a physicist, if you wish to become an astrophysicist, a research project studying black holes would be more relevant to you than a research project studying nuclear fission.

Read dissertations and published journals

Reading dissertations and published journals is a great way to identify potential PhD topics. When reviewing existing research ask yourself:

  • What has been done and what do existing results show?
  • What did previous projects involve (e.g. lab-work or fieldwork)?
  • How often are papers published in the field?
  • Are your research ideas original?
  • Is there value in your research question?
  • Could I expand on or put my own spin on this research?

Reading dissertations will also give you an insight into the practical aspects of doctoral study, such as what methodology the author used, how much data analysis was required and how was information presented.

You can also think of this process as a miniature literature review . You are searching for gaps in knowledge and developing a PhD project to address them. Focus on recent publications (e.g. in the last five years). In particular, the literature review of recent publications will give an excellent summary of the state of existing knowledge, and what research questions remain unanswered.

If you have the opportunity to attend an academic conference, go for it! This is often an excellent way to find out current theories in the industry and the research direction. This knowledge could reveal a possible research idea or topic for further study.

Finding a PhD has never been this easy – search for a PhD by keyword, location or academic area of interest.

Discuss research topic ideas with a PhD supervisor

Discuss your research topic ideas with a supervisor. This could be your current undergraduate/masters supervisor, or potential supervisors of advertised PhD programmes at different institutions. Come to these meetings prepared with initial PhD topic ideas, and your findings from reading published journals. PhD supervisors will be more receptive to your ideas if you can demonstrate you have thought about them and are committed to your research.

You should discuss your research interests, what you have found through reading publications, and what you are proposing to research. Supervisors who have expertise in your chosen field will have insight into the gaps in knowledge that exist, what is being done to address them, and if there is any overlap between your proposed research ideas and ongoing research projects.

Talking to an expert in the field can shape your research topic to something more tangible, which has clear aims and objectives. It can also find potential shortfalls of your PhD ideas.

It is important to remember, however, that although it is good to develop your research topic based on feedback, you should not let the supervisor decide a topic for you. An interesting topic for a supervisor may not be interesting to you, and a supervisor is more likely to advise on a topic title which lends itself to a career in academia.

Another tip is to talk to a PhD student or researcher who is involved in a similar research project. Alternatively, you can usually find a relevant research group within your University to talk to. They can explain in more detail their experiences and suggest what your PhD programme could involve with respect to daily routines and challenges.

Look at advertised PhD Programmes

Use our Search tool , or look on University PhD listing pages to identify advertised PhD programmes for ideas.

  • What kind of PhD research topics are available?
  • Are these similar to your ideas?
  • Are you interested in any of these topics?
  • What do these programmes entail?

The popularity of similar PhD programmes to your proposed topic is a good indicator that universities see value in the research area. The final bullet point is perhaps the most valuable takeaway from looking at advertised listings. Review what similar programmes involve, and whether this is something you would like to do. If so, a similar research topic would allow you to do this.

Writing a Research Proposal

As part of the PhD application process , you may be asked to summarise your proposed research topic in a research proposal. This is a document which summarises your intended research and will include the title of your proposed project, an Abstract, Background and Rationale, Research Aims and Objectives, Research Methodology, Timetable, and a Bibliography. If you are required to submit this document then read our guidance on how to write a research proposal for your PhD application.

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Are you looking for English Literature Thesis Topics?

There is one of the greatest essayists named John Milton said once, “Literature is the mirror of society”. And literature students need to look at and understand society with the mirror of literature. Offering English literature research topics to students can better demonstrate their ability to review and interpret the literature better.

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Most colleges need their students to first select creative and useful business management thesis topics which is also helping you on English literature research topics for their dissertations, after which they must compose their thoughts on the subject while supporting them with reasonable justifications. In this situation, assistance becomes absolutely necessary to match the demands of finding a suitable literature dissertation topic. This blog will provide useful thesis topics on English literature. Here are some ideas for literature students who want to write their dissertations on the following list of themes by selecting the most appropriate one for them.

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Major English literature Thesis Topics

How does modern cinema present our society, aim and objectives.

The basic aim of this study is to investigate the role of modern cinema in the representation of modern society. The other key objectives of this research study are explained below.

  • To investigate the significant ways in which modern cinema represents society.
  • To determine the ways in which modern cinema can influence our society today.
  • To explore the positive and negative impact of modern cinema on our society today.
  • To find out how modern cinema affects the views and opinions of people.
  • To assess how modern cinema is a reflection of modern society.

The importance of and reflection on social issues found in the major works of literature

The basic aim of this topic is to discuss the importance and to reflect on social issues found in the major works of literature. The other core objectives that this study seeks to find out are highlighted below.

  • To explore the importance of learning about the social issues in literature.
  • To investigate the effective ways in which literary texts help in solving the social issues.
  • To find out key the benefits of studying literature studies.
  • To find out the importance of social awareness.
  • To demonstrate the contribution of major works of literature in our lives.

The significance of understanding literary terminology in the literature

The basic aim of this study is to explore the significance of understanding of literary terminology in literature. The other major objectives of this current research study are described below.

  • To demonstrate the importance of literary devices and how it helps in the understanding of a literary work?
  • To determine the key terminologies in English literature.
  • To explore the importance of literary devices in writing and how it helps in expressing and conveying the meaning of the ideas to the readers.

How do critical theories relate to societal and literary issues?

The key aim of this research study is to investigate the relationship between critical theories and societal and literary issues. The other objectives of this current research article are indicated below.

  • To explore the ways in which literary criticism can be used in our society.
  • To describe the major critical theories of society.
  • To find how literary criticism and literary theories relate to each other.
  • To investigate the ways in which critical theory helps with literature.
  • To explain the major critical social theories.
  • To determine the ways in which critical theory contributes to the study of sociology and in a particular understanding of society.

The aim of this current research paper is to investigate the relationship between lesbian feminism and feminism and the other core objectives include:

  • To explore the historical perspectives of lesbian feminism.
  • To explore the current possibilities of lesbianism.
  • To investigate how lesbians can be feminist allies and play an important role in the movement towards gender equality.

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Historical Analysis of Children's Literature

This study aims to comprehend the historical analysis of the literature of children. This study also seeks to find out other key objectives which are mentioned below.

  • To investigate the importance of the history of children’s literature.
  • To explore how the literature of children has evolved over time.
  • To identify the main key features of the literature of children.
  • To describe the historical fiction of the literature of children.

The key differences between symbolism and criticism?

The core aim of this research paper is to explore the key difference between symbolism and criticism. The other objectives of this study include:

  • To explore the key features of symbolism in English Literature.
  • To explain the significant features of criticism in literature.
  • The described the theoretical nature of symbolism and criticism.

What Are the Differences Between American and British Literature?

This current research paper seeks to find out the key differences between American and British Literature. The other objectives of this study are demonstrated below.

  • To explore the different features of American Literature.
  • To explain the main features of British Literature.
  • To find out the key similarities between American and British Literature
  • To identify the common themes of British and American Literature.
  • To investigate the relationship between American and British Literature.
  • To assess the difference between American and European Literature.

Thesis Topics for MA English Literature Students and PhD Topics in English Literature for PhD Students

Changes in the roles of women in the twenty-first century.

This study aims to explore the changes in the roles of women in the twenty-first century The other main objectives of this article are listed below.

  • To analyse the ways in which the roles of women have changed over time in literature.
  • To explore the representation of women in modern literature.
  • To determine the major contributions of women in literature.
  • To explain the roles of the writing of women in the newly growing and emerging literature.
  • To investigate how literature contributes to the advancement of women’s rights.

The impact of secularization on the views of individuals.

The aim of this research paper is to explore how secularization impacts the views of individuals on life. The other main objectives are mentioned below.

  • To explore the positive impacts of secularization on the views of individuals.
  • To investigate the factors that affect the process of secularisation.
  • To assess how secularisation is presented in religious studies.
  • To analyse the impact of secularisation on society.
  • To find out the major reasons behind the rise of secularisation.
  • To describe the main features and characteristics of secularisation.

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Take a review of different varieties of thesis topics and samples from our website TheResearchGuardian.com on multiple subjects for every educational level.

How science fiction affects English literature

The aim of this research article is to find out the impact of science fiction on English literature The other main objectives of this current research article are listed below.

  • To explore the main features of science fiction.
  • To determine the positive influence of science fiction on English literature.
  • To find out how science fiction negatively impacts English Literature.
  • To investigate the reasons behind the rise of science fiction in English Literature.

The rise of postmodernism and the circumstances that shaped and transformed literature

The aim of this current research study is to explore the events that led to postmodernism’s rise and transformed literature. The other primary objectives of this study are as follows.

  • To explain the major events of history that shaped the literary period of postmodernism.
  • To describe the key ideas of postmodernism in literature.
  • To determine the main key features and characteristics of postmodernism literature.
  • To explore the positive and negative effects of postmodernism in literature.
  • To identify the major themes of postmodern literature.

The impact of globalization on promoting and inspiring literature

The primary aim of this research article is to investigate how globalisation help in the promotion of literature. The other primary goals of the current research investigation include.

  • To explore the impact of globalisation on literature.
  • To explain the possible outcome of globalisation, discuss in the literature.
  • To determine the ways in which literature helps in understanding globalisation.

Writing styles of gender-based literary works

The main objective of this research thesis topic is to find out the writing styles of gender-based literary works. The other primary objectives of this study are highlighted below.

  • To explore the representation of gender issues in the works of literature.
  • To find out the ways in which gender influence writing.
  • To determine the differences between the writing styles of males and females.
  • To analyse the representation of female characters in literary works.
  • To explain the importance of gender in literature.

How racial discrimination influences the development of works of literature.

The key aim of this study is to investigate the impact of racial discrimination on the development of literary works. There are other number objectives that this study seeks to find out and these include;

  • To determine the impact of race on literature.
  • To explore the major impact of racial discrimination on society
  • To identify the different meanings of racism in literature.
  • To find out the major causes behind discrimination in society.
  • To identify the representation of racism in literature.
  • Analyze various forms of historical fiction and their impact on today’s society.

Different kinds of historical fiction and their influence on today’s society

The primary aim of this thesis article is to explore the different kind’s historical fiction and to investigate the impact of historical fiction on todays’ society. There are other objectives that this study seeks to find out are described below.

  • To determine the positive and negative influence of historical fiction on today’s society.
  • To identify the main features of historical fiction.
  • To find out the major themes of historical fiction.

How Literature Thesis Papers Contribute to Social Welfare?

Literature students have a close relationship with society, and when they write their dissertations and research papers, a field trip allows them to understand the problems that are now being faced. By illustrating these socially harmful behaviours in literature, governments can create new regulations to curtail them.

Spend some time reviewing the class materials, such as the course syllabus, curriculum, and some previously written works, to come up with the ideal topic on your own. You can get some wonderful ideas for your greatest thesis topic by using the resources provided. They can also help you save time on both the decision-making and the research processes. You’ll have more time to concentrate on writing, structure, revisions, and your creative abilities as a result. It is crucial to begin the idea-generation process first. Is the subject compelling? Is it pertinent to your class? Additionally, avoid picking a subject that your classmates might use for their own papers. Once you have an idea, discuss it with your peers or your professor and conduct further research to ensure you have all the necessary data to produce an excellent report. Change your topic instead of taking a chance if it appears that there will be some incomplete information. To organise your thoughts, create an outline.

A strong literature paper almost always contains an argument. You will be providing an analytical assessment, a critical interpretation, and a perspective. So having a thesis that is up for debate is a good idea. However, this is only a starting point recommendation! It would be a good idea to seek your instructor’s okay before you begin writing about anything you decide. You can be certain that your thesis topic for English literature does so in this manner. Once you have selected a topic, devote some time to continuously looking for research materials and making notes of what you uncover.

Need any help regarding the completion of your assignments on time?

The Research Guardian has professional writers who have great experience in writing dissertations and they can write on different topics and research areas such as PhD topics in English literature or research topics for English literature students who are enrolled in MA classes can also get assistance related to English literature topics for research. So buy assignments online at our website as our writers will meet all the requirements and can complete the thesis instantly. Our feasible thesis writing service provides complete assistance to students who struggle with any aspect of their papers.

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Research Topics For PHD in English Literature

Research Topics For Ph.D. in English Literature - Are you looking to do a Ph.D. in English? Have you decided on your thesis topic yet? If no then you are in the right place. I have listed some of the best topics for you. You can choose one of the topics or you can replicate one of them.

Choosing a Ph.D . thesis is tough unless you have a good guide and passion for a particular area. If you are interested in one particular area like British poetry or Tribal literature. Before choosing the Ph.D. thesis topic you must have a conversation with your guide or mentor.

Research Topics For PHD in English Literature

Research Topics For Ph.D. in English Literature

  • Sons and Lovers As The Poetry of Love In Fiction: A Study
  • Method of Teaching English Literature
  • Dancing through English Literature
  • MODERN INDIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION
  • Women Writers and the Survey of English Literature: A Proposal and Annotated Bibliography for Teachers
  • Seventeenth-Century English Literature on Painting
  • The Influence of the Bible on English Literature
  • The Influence of the Classics on English Literature
  • The Neoclassical Period in English Literature: A Psychological Definition
  • The Scope of English Literature in Education
  • John Ruskin: Master of English Literature
  • The Influence of Darwin on Literature
  • Medieval English Literature and the Idea of the Anthology
  • Islam in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature: A Select Bibliography
  • Canonizing the Canonized: A Short History of The Norton Anthology of English Literature
  • English Literary Studies, Women’s Studies and Feminism in India
  • The Return to Nature in English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century
  • English Literature Becomes a University Subject: King’s College, London as Pioneer
  • The Development of English Prose from Elizabeth to Victoria
  • Colonialist Nationalism in the Critical Practice of Indian Writing in English: A Critique
  • Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism
  • Dancing through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism
  • FUNCTION OF LITERARY CRITICISM IN INDIA
  • A Survey of Jungian Literary Criticism in English
  • Some Notes on Defining a “Feminist Literary Criticism”
  • Stylistics and the Theory of Literature
  • METAFOLKLORE AND ORAL-LITERARY CRITICISM
  • Dialogics as an Art of Discourse in Literary Criticism
  • Romantic Criticism and the Meanings of the French Revolution
  • Navigating the Wide Sargasso Sea: Colonial History, English Fiction, and British Empire
  • Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” and the Decolonization of Feminine Sexuality
  • Unaccommodated Woman and the Poetics of Property in Jane Eyre
  • Medieval Feminism in Middle English Studies: A Retrospective
  • Charlotte Brontë’s Haunted Text
  • FEMINISM AND MODERN INDIAN LITERATURE
  • Where are the Mothers in Shakespeare? Options for Gender Representation in the English Renaissance
  • “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”: Readers’ Reflections on Literature through Literary Theories
  • Writing the Discipline: A Generic History of English Studies
  • Constructing an Interdisciplinary Course on Literature and Environmental Feminism
  • What Has Never Been: An Overview of Lesbian Feminist Literary Criticism
  • Expanding the Archives of Global Feminisms: Narratives of Feminism and Activism
  • A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts
  • SHAKESPEARE’S “ROMEO AND JULIET”, AND MALE MELODRAMA
  • Reading the House: A Literary Perspective
  • Comparatist Trends within Literary Studies (1914–1950)
  • English in North America: Accounting for its Evolution
  • American Indian Literature and a Legacy of Misappropriation
  • Tribal Strengths and American Indian Students
  • LANGUAGE, TRIBE AND THE CONCEPT OF ‘ONE ZAMBIA, ONE NATION’
  • Literary Representation: Partition in Indian and Pakistani Novels in English
  • NISSIM EZEKIEL: The Father of Contemporary Indian English Poetry
  • WOMEN IN INDIAN-ENGLISH LITERATURE: THE QUESTION OF INDIVIDUATION
  • Anglo-Indian English: A Nativized Variety of Indian English
  • THE CONCEPT OF ‘INDIANNESS’ IN INDIAN FICTION IN ENGLISH
  • The Perversion of Manliness in Macbeth
  • Glimpsing a “Lesbian” Poetics in “Twelfth Night”
  • Women and Migration: The Social Consequences of Gender
  • Unfallen Marriage and the Fallen Imagination in Paradise Lost
  • Recent Studies in the English Renaissance

How to Choose Topics For Ph.D. in English

Choosing a Ph.D. topic is tough, especially when it comes to the English language and literature. It is not easy to select a Ph.D. thesis topic, it needs lots of hard work and mental work to get to a point when you think is ready.

one of the hardest parts is choosing your thesis topics. Some spending months even years this research projects because they did not know; how to choose a great topics? Choosing a great dissertation or thesis topic is a difficult decision to make.

Tips to choose Ph.D. topics

  • Broaden Your Thinking
  • Choose the topic that you are interested
  • Be realistic by choosing topics
  • Pic a topic that is related to your field
  • Select topics that your advisor finds interesting and is knowledgeable about
  • Find a topic that you already have some expertise
  • Select unique topics
  • Choose manageable topics
  • Read everything you can relate to the topics
  • Find documents that support your topics
  • Take advantage available in the locality
  • Consult your mentor
  • Find available data

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129 List Of Research Topics In English Language Teaching [updated]

List Of Research Topics In English Language Teaching

English Language Teaching (ELT) is a field dedicated to teaching English to non-native speakers. It’s important because English is a global language used for communication, business, and education worldwide. Research in ELT helps improve teaching methods, making it easier for students to learn English effectively. This blog will explore a list of research topics in English language teaching.

What Are The Areas Of Research In English Language Teaching?

Table of Contents

Research in English Language Teaching (ELT) encompasses a wide range of areas, including:

  • Language Learning: Understanding how people learn English well, like when they learn a new language and if there’s a best time to do it.
  • Teaching Ways: Looking into different ways teachers teach, like using conversations, tasks, or mixing language with other subjects.
  • Curriculum Design and Syllabus Development: Designing and evaluating language curricula and syllabi to meet the needs of diverse learners and contexts.
  • Assessment and Evaluation: Developing and validating assessment tools, exploring alternative assessment methods, and investigating the effectiveness of feedback and error correction strategies.
  • Technology in ELT: Exploring the integration of technology in language teaching and learning, including computer-assisted language learning (CALL), mobile-assisted language learning (MALL), and online learning platforms.
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development: Investigating pre-service and in-service teacher education programs, reflective practices, and challenges in teacher training.
  • Cultural and Sociolinguistic Aspects: Examining the role of culture in language teaching and learning, sociolinguistic competence, and addressing cultural diversity in the classroom.
  • Learner Diversity and Inclusive Practices: Researching teaching strategies for diverse learners, including young learners, learners with learning disabilities, and learners from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Policy and Planning in ELT: Analyzing language policies at national and international levels, exploring the implementation of ELT programs, and examining the role of ELT in national development.
  • Research Methodologies in ELT: Investigating qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research approaches in ELT research, including action research conducted by teachers in their own classrooms.
  • Future Trends and Innovations: Exploring emerging trends and innovations in ELT, such as the impact of globalization, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in language learning, and innovative teaching strategies.

129 List Of Research Topics In English Language Teaching: Category Wise

Language acquisition and development.

  • Second Language Acquisition Theories: Explore different theories explaining how learners acquire a second language.
  • Critical Period Hypothesis: Investigate the idea of an optimal age range for language acquisition.
  • Multilingualism and Language Development: Study how knowing multiple languages affects language development.
  • Cognitive and Affective Factors in Language Learning: Examine the role of cognitive abilities and emotions in language learning.
  • Language Learning Strategies: Investigate the strategies learners use to acquire and develop language skills.
  • Input Hypothesis: Explore the role of comprehensible input in language acquisition.
  • Interaction Hypothesis: Examine the importance of interaction in language learning.
  • Fossilization in Second Language Learning: Study why some learners reach a plateau in their language development.

Teaching Methodologies and Approaches

  • Communicative Language Teaching (CLT): Analyze the effectiveness of CLT in promoting communication skills.
  • Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT): Explore the use of real-world tasks to teach language.
  • Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): Investigate teaching subject content through English.
  • Blended Learning in ELT: Study the integration of traditional and online teaching methods.
  • Audio-Lingual Method: Assess the effectiveness of drills and repetition in language teaching.
  • Grammar-Translation Method: Compare traditional grammar-focused methods with communicative approaches.
  • Lexical Approach: Explore teaching vocabulary as a key component of language proficiency.
  • Suggestopedia: Investigate the use of relaxation techniques to enhance language learning.

Curriculum Design and Syllabus Development

  • Needs Analysis in ELT: Identify the language needs of learners and design appropriate curricula.
  • Integrating Language Skills in Curriculum: Examine strategies for integrating reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
  • Syllabus Types: Compare different types of syllabi, such as structural and task-based.
  • Task-Based Syllabus Design: Design syllabi based on real-world tasks to promote language acquisition.
  • Content-Based Instruction (CBI): Integrate language learning with academic content in syllabus design.
  • Needs Analysis in Specific Contexts: Conduct needs analyses for learners in specific professional or academic contexts.
  • Cross-Cultural Communication in Curriculum Design: Incorporate intercultural communication skills into language curricula.

Assessment and Evaluation

  • Standardized Testing in ELT: Evaluate the reliability and validity of standardized English language tests.
  • Alternative Assessment Approaches: Explore non-traditional assessment methods like portfolios and self-assessment.
  • Feedback Strategies in Language Learning: Investigate effective feedback techniques for improving language proficiency.
  • Washback Effect of Testing: Study how assessment practices influence teaching and learning.
  • Authentic Assessment in ELT: Develop assessment tasks that mirror real-life language use situations.
  • Portfolio Assessment: Investigate the use of portfolios to track language learning progress over time.
  • Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT): Evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of adaptive testing methods in ELT.

Technology in ELT

  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL): Assess the impact of computer-based language learning programs.
  • Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL): Study the effectiveness of mobile devices in language learning.
  • Online Learning Platforms for ELT: Analyze the features and usability of online platforms for language education.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) in Language Learning: Explore immersive VR environments for language practice and instruction.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tutoring Systems: Assess the effectiveness of AI-based tutors in providing personalized language instruction.
  • Social Media in Language Learning: Study the role of social media platforms in informal language learning contexts.
  • Gamification in ELT: Investigate the use of game elements to enhance engagement and motivation in language learning.

Teacher Education and Professional Development

  • Pre-service Teacher Education Programs: Evaluate the effectiveness of teacher training programs.
  • Reflective Practice in Teaching: Investigate how teachers reflect on their practice to improve teaching.
  • Challenges in Teacher Education: Identify challenges faced by educators in training and development.
  • Teacher Beliefs and Practices: Examine how teachers’ beliefs about language learning influence their instructional practices.
  • Peer Observation in Teacher Development: Explore the benefits of peer observation and feedback for teacher professional growth.
  • Mentoring Programs for New Teachers: Evaluate the effectiveness of mentoring programs in supporting novice teachers.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Models: Compare different models of CPD for language teachers and their impact on teaching quality.

Cultural and Sociolinguistic Aspects

  • Language and Culture Interrelationship: Explore the relationship between language and culture in ELT.
  • Sociolinguistic Competence and Pragmatics: Study how social context influences language use and understanding.
  • Gender and Identity in Language Learning: Investigate how gender identity affects language learning experiences.
  • Intercultural Competence in Language Teaching: Develop strategies for promoting intercultural communicative competence in language learners.
  • Language Policy and Minority Language Education: Analyze the impact of language policies on the education of minority language speakers.
  • Gender and Language Learning Strategies: Investigate gender differences in language learning strategies and their implications for instruction.
  • Code-Switching in Multilingual Classrooms: Study the role of code-switching in language learning and classroom interaction.

Learner Diversity and Inclusive Practices

  • Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL): Examine effective teaching strategies for children learning English.
  • Addressing Learning Disabilities in ELT: Investigate methods for supporting learners with disabilities in language learning.
  • ELT for Specific Purposes (ESP): Explore specialized English language instruction for specific fields.
  • Differentiated Instruction in Language Teaching: Develop strategies for addressing diverse learner needs in the language classroom.
  • Inclusive Pedagogies for Learners with Special Educational Needs: Design instructional approaches that accommodate learners with disabilities in language learning.
  • Language Learning Strategies of Autistic Learners: Investigate effective language learning strategies for individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • Language Identity and Learner Motivation: Explore the relationship between language identity and motivation in language learning.

Policy and Planning in ELT

  • National and International Language Policies: Analyze policies governing English language education at different levels.
  • ELT Program Implementation Challenges: Identify challenges in implementing ELT programs in diverse contexts.
  • Role of ELT in National Development: Examine the contribution of English language education to national development goals.
  • English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) Policies: Analyze the impact of EMI policies on educational equity and access.
  • Language Teacher Recruitment and Deployment Policies: Evaluate policies related to the recruitment and deployment of language teachers in diverse contexts.
  • Language Assessment Policy Reform: Propose reforms to language assessment policies to promote fairness and validity.
  • Biliteracy Development Policies: Study policies aimed at promoting biliteracy development among bilingual learners.

Research Methodologies in ELT

  • Qualitative Research Methods in ELT: Explore qualitative approaches like interviews and case studies in ELT research.
  • Quantitative Research Methods in ELT: Investigate quantitative methods such as surveys and experiments in language education research.
  • Mixed-Methods Approaches in ELT Research: Combine qualitative and quantitative methods to gain a comprehensive understanding of research questions.
  • Ethnographic Approaches to ELT Research: Conduct ethnographic studies to explore language learning and teaching in naturalistic settings.
  • Case Study Research in Language Education: Investigate specific language learning contexts or programs through in-depth case studies.
  • Corpus Linguistics in ELT Research: Analyze language use patterns and learner language production using corpus linguistic methods.
  • Longitudinal Studies of Language Learning: Follow language learners over an extended period to examine developmental trajectories and factors influencing language acquisition.

Future Trends and Innovations

  • Emerging Technologies in ELT: Study the integration of technologies like AI and VR in language teaching.
  • Innovations in Teaching Strategies: Explore new approaches to teaching language, such as flipped classrooms and gamification.
  • Future Directions in ELT Research: Investigate potential areas for future research in English language teaching.
  • Wearable Technology in Language Learning: Explore the potential of wearable devices for delivering personalized language instruction.
  • Data Analytics for Adaptive Learning: Develop data-driven approaches to adaptive learning in language education.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) Applications in ELT: Design AR-enhanced language learning experiences for immersive language practice.
  • Global Citizenship Education and Language Learning: Investigate the role of language education in fostering global citizenship skills.
  • Eco-Linguistics and Language Education: Explore the intersection of language education and environmental sustainability.
  • Metacognition and Language Learning: Explore how learners’ awareness of their own learning processes affects language acquisition.
  • Peer Interaction in Language Learning: Investigate the role of peer collaboration and discussion in promoting language development.
  • Heritage Language Education: Study strategies for maintaining and revitalizing heritage languages among immigrant and minority communities.
  • Language Learning Motivation in Adolescents: Examine factors influencing motivation and engagement in adolescent language learners.
  • Phonological Awareness in Language Learning: Investigate the role of phonological awareness in literacy development for language learners.
  • Pragmatic Development in Language Learners: Explore how learners acquire pragmatic competence and understanding of language use in context.
  • Digital Literacies and Language Learning: Examine how digital literacy skills contribute to language proficiency and communication in the digital age.
  • Critical Language Awareness: Investigate approaches to developing learners’ critical awareness of language use and power dynamics.
  • Language Teacher Identity: Study how language teachers’ identities shape their beliefs, practices, and interactions in the classroom.
  • Collaborative Learning in Language Education: Explore the benefits and challenges of collaborative learning environments for language learners.
  • Motivational Strategies in Language Teaching: Develop and evaluate motivational techniques to enhance student engagement and persistence in language learning.
  • Heritage Language Maintenance: Investigate factors influencing the maintenance and transmission of heritage languages across generations.
  • Phonics Instruction in Language Learning: Examine the effectiveness of phonics-based approaches for teaching reading and pronunciation.
  • Language Policy Implementation: Analyze the challenges and successes of implementing language policies at the institutional, regional, and national levels.
  • Language Teacher Cognition: Explore language teachers’ beliefs, knowledge, and decision-making processes in the classroom.
  • Intercultural Communicative Competence: Develop strategies for fostering learners’ ability to communicate effectively across cultures.
  • Critical Pedagogy in Language Education: Explore approaches to teaching language that promote critical thinking, social justice, and equity.
  • Language Learning Strategies for Autodidacts: Investigate effective self-directed learning strategies for language learners outside formal educational settings.
  • Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in Higher Education: Examine the implementation and outcomes of CLIL programs in tertiary education.
  • Sociocultural Theory and Language Learning: Explore how social and cultural factors influence language acquisition and development.
  • Language Socialization: Investigate how individuals learn language within social and cultural contexts, including family, peer groups, and communities.
  • Speech Perception and Language Learning: Examine the relationship between speech perception abilities and language proficiency in second language learners.
  • Genre-Based Approaches to Language Teaching: Explore the use of genre analysis and genre-based pedagogy to teach language skills in context.
  • Learner Autonomy in Language Learning: Investigate strategies for promoting learner autonomy and independence in language education.
  • Multimodal Literacy in Language Learning: Examine the integration of multiple modes of communication, such as text, image, and sound, in language instruction.
  • Community-Based Language Learning: Study language learning initiatives that engage learners with their local communities and resources.
  • English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) Communication: Explore the use of English as a global means of communication among speakers from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

Research in English Language Teaching covers a wide range of topics, from language acquisition theories to the impact of technology on learning. By exploring these topics (from a list of research topics in english language teaching), we can improve how English is taught and learned, making it more effective and accessible for everyone.

Continuous research and collaboration among educators, researchers, and policymakers are essential for the ongoing development of ELT.

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  1. Recent PhD Dissertations

    Recent PhD Dissertations. Terekhov, Jessica (September 2022) -- "On Wit in Relation to Self-Division". Selinger, Liora (September 2022) -- "Romanticism, Childhood, and the Poetics of Explanation". Lockhart, Isabel (September 2022) -- "Storytelling and the Subsurface: Indigenous Fiction, Extraction, and the Energetic Present".

  2. Latest Research Topics For PhD In English Literature

    Here are 16 potential research topics for a PhD in English Literature, along with brief explanations: With the Latest Research Topics For a PhD In English Literature, you can easily make your ...

  3. English Literature Research Paper Topics

    100 English Literature Research Paper Topics. Diving into English literature is like embarking on a journey through time and culture. From ancient ballads to modernist narratives, it offers a vast panorama of themes, styles, and societal reflections. Below is a comprehensive list of English literature research paper topics spanning across ...

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    The New Austerity in Syrian Poetry Daniel Behar. Mourning the Living: Africa and the Elegy on Screen Molly Klaisner. Art Beyond the Norms: Art of the Insane, Art Brut, and the Avant-Garde from Prinzhorn to Dubuffet (1922-1949) Raphael Koenig. Words, Images and the Self: Iconoclasm in Late Medieval English Literature Yun Ni

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  8. PhD in English Literary Studies

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  9. English Literature: Resources for Graduate Research

    Below is a selection of online resources that include a vast number of articles on topics in English, including literary criticism. The resources on this page include articles from both scholarly and popular sources, so be sure to evaluate your sources to make sure that they are appropriate for your project.

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    Take your time in composing your research proposal, carefully considering the requirements outlined below. Your proposal should not be more than 2,000 words. PhD degrees are awarded on the basis of a thesis of up to 100,000 words. The 'Summary of roles and responsibilities' in the University's Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research ...

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  16. Areas of expertise

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  18. Suggested research topics

    Texts studied might include Emma Tennant's Adele (2000), Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair (2001), and Michele Roberts's The Mistressclass (2002). A similar but alternative project would be a thesis on the influence of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818). Texts studied might include Alasdair Gray's Poor Things (1992), Patricia Duncker's The Deadly ...

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  24. 129 List Of Research Topics In English Language ...

    Research in English Language Teaching (ELT) encompasses a wide range of areas, including: Language Learning: Understanding how people learn English well, like when they learn a new language and if there's a best time to do it. Teaching Ways: Looking into different ways teachers teach, like using conversations, tasks, or mixing language with other subjects.