Faculty in English have a wide range of research interests and are keen to hear from a diverse range of candidates. Our faculty in creative writing are interested in supervising projects in prose, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Please check faculty pages for specific areas of focus and potential supervisors: Click here

We have particular strengths in Contemporary Literature and Culture; Irish Literature; Modern Literature; Period Studies; and Singapore Literature: Click here

Other areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Aesthetics and Literature
  • Contemporary Drama
  • Contemporary Literature
  • Drama Studies
  • Gender and Diversity Studies
  • Irish Literature
  • Medical Humanities
  • Medieval Literature
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Posthumanism
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Science and Literature
  • Shakespeare
  • Singapore Literature
  • South East Asian Literature and Culture
  • Victorian Literature
  • World Literature
  • 19th Century American Literature
  • 20th Century American Literature
  • Creative Writing: Prose, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction
MA Students 

  • Coursework Requirement: 3 Courses or 9 AUS 
  • Submit a Thesis before graduation.
  • Students on scholarship will usually submit their thesis one year before the maximum period of candidature. 

A MA candidate is required to complete three courses approved by his/her supervisor, to attend all designated events, and to submit a dissertation of between 30,000-35,000 words. 

(Specialisation in Creative Writing) 

Final submissions will include a minimum of 23,000 words of prose (or agreed equivalent in poetry or script), a minimum of 7,000 words of exegesis, and a list of works cited. Submissions for projects in other genres should be discussed with the creative writing coordinator.  


PhD Students 

  • Coursework Requirement: 6 Courses or 18 AUs
  • Submit a Thesis before graduation
  • Students on scholarship will usually submit their thesis one year before the maximum period of candidature. 

A PhD candidate is required to complete six courses approved by his/her supervisor, to attend all designated events, to pass a confirmation exercise (at a stage between 1 and 2 years of beginning research), to submit a dissertation of between 75,000-85,000 words and to take part in an oral defence. 

(Specialisation in Creative Writing) 

For fiction projects, final submissions will include 55,000–65,000 words of fiction, 19,000–21,000 words of exegesis, and a list of works cited. 

For poetry projects, final submissions will include 22,000–26,000 words of poetry, 19,000–21,000 words of exegesis, and a list of works cited. 

For scriptwriting projects, final submissions will include a script of 44,000–52,000 words, 19,000-21,000 words of exegesis, and a list of works cited. 

Submissions for projects in other genres should be discussed with the creative writing coordinator. 

Seminars Offered (note: only a selection of these will be offered at any one time)

HL7101 Graduate Seminar in the History of Literary Theory

HL7101 is an introduction to the main trends of critical literary theory, with an emphasis on major schools of thought in twentieth- and twenty-first century literary criticism and theory, ranging from Russian formalism to recent developments in disability studies and ecocriticism. We consider developments and interconnections between various schools of thought, including Marxism and new historicism, poststructuralism and narrative theory, feminism and queer theory, aesthetic and cognitive approaches, and so on. In this course, we specifically consider critical literary theory as a toolbox of methods and approaches that allow us to enrich our reading and interpretation of literary texts in a range of mediums and genres.​

HL7102 Graduate Seminar in Critical Theory

This course offers an introduction to a variety of topical literary theories for graduate students. It is divided into a number of units. For example, Marxist Literary Theory, which challenges the notion that there can ever be a non-political, value-free interpretive act and examines the implications of ideology and hegemony as critical concepts: New Historicism, which argues that complex structures of power form the background against which social conflict should be understood; Psychoanalysis and Literature, which explores the two faces of psychoanalytic criticism: as pathographical study and hermeneutic reading; Deconstruction and Ethics, which investigates how the text's rhetoric, arrangement, style, and logic mask over gaps, self-refutations, or aporia; Literary Darwinism, which interprets literature using recent discoveries from the field of cognitivism, developmental psychology, and genetics; and Global modernity, which examines how the popular cultural products of contemporary Asia contribute to (re) constituting a sense of the national or the nationness in the context of a desire for cultural globalisation. The objective of the course is to familiarise graduate students with a broad range of topical contemporary theories, a firm grasp of which they will require for their critical writing.

HL7103 Graduate Seminar in Drama

This module will likely cover new ground each time it is taught, providing in-depth analysis of either individual dramatists, historical periods, sub-genres, or theoretical/ theatrical problems in drama. As such, it will focus as much on secondary materials as primary sources, specifically seeking to understand how contemporary aesthetic trends and epistemological commitments are uniquely expressed in the theatre.

HL7104 Graduate Seminar in Film


The seminar provides students with an advanced understanding of the connections between film history, film criticism, and film theory. It explores both mainstream and counter cinema from three major periods of film history: silent cinema,sound film, and digital cinema. It examines film critical approaches to production, distribution, exhibition, and reception. It considers major film theories concerned with montage, realism mise-en-scene film authorship, third cinema, national and intercultural cinemas, cinema semiotics,questions of politics and ethics, film-philosophy, and cultural studies. Relying on primary texts in the form of films, historical publications, and theorethical essays, the seminar concentrates on the relationships between areas of film studies rather than briefly surveying each area separately. Primary print texts include Film History: Theory and Practice, Film Analysis, and Film Theory and Criticism.

HL7105 Graduate Seminar in Renaissance Studies

“The Renaissance" for our purposes embraces the period of time stretching from roughly 1500 to 1660 - from the first consolidation of the English Tudor state to the Restoration of Charles II. Typically thought of as a great age of drama, the Renaissance saw the flourishing of diverse literary forms from lyric to epic to pastoral while also, of course, giving rise to the plays of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, and other talented figures. We will examine the social and economic contexts of this diverse literature, including the advent of royal absolutism, the beginnings of empire, and the revolutionary shift from feudal to capitalist modes of production, without neglecting the broader epistemological problems raised by these works with respect to selfhood, virtue, and the nature of truth. Without focusing exclusively on dramatic literature, we will explore how and why the trope of the theatrum mundi or "world as stage" gained an intense hold on the cultural imagination of the period.

HL7106 Graduate Seminar in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture

The Restoration and 18th century witnessed the emergence of a stunning variety of new modes and forms and the revival of still others. Among the "revived" forms satire was by far the most visible and important, especially from 1600 to 1740s. At the same time, from the first decades of the 18th century, the early novel and the poetry of sensibility stake their claims on a new kind of audience ( the literate middle classes) as well as giving expression to new scales of value (evident, for example , in privileging of the "natural" world over the human and of sentiment over reason ) . The shift from a neoclassical to a more recognisably modern aesthethic finds an echo in the drama of the period, as the elaborate Restoration comedy gives away to a homely species of sentimental melodrama. This course proposes to examine such developments in their social and cultural context with special attention to the rapid urbanisation and industrialisation of English society, the increased literacy of the population and greater availabilty of printed material, and the rise of both empricism and a reaction against it.

HL7107 Graduate Seminar in Romanticism

The Romantic period marks a watershed in the nature of literary products. It is characterised by the appearance of two apparently opposite but nonetheless inseparable tendencies; the use of text to express issues of pressing social relevance and to reflect issues of personal import to the writer. This course explores the nature and implications of this upheaval and its legacy through an investigation of selected texts. Amongst the topics it will address are the rise of radicalism and its effect on literary products, the new abhorrence of social division, the emergence of a new wave of women's writing, the questioning of established ideological convictions, the excitement at the expanding boundaries of the known world, the impact of science on literature, the influence of German idealism on the literature of the period and the insistence on the authority of personal vision and experience. The course will explore works from a wide range of genres including poetry, drama, fiction, philosophy, journalism and critical writing. Its objective will be to expose students to the ambivalence of a literature that marks the origins of a great many debates that are still topical today.

HL7108 Graduate Seminar in Victorian Literature and Culture

This course provides a thematic, instead of a purely chronological, approach to a number of Victorian literary texts. The comparison of canonical nineteenth-century works and only recently reprinted material, including fiction by long forgotten popular writers, will help us to understand the developments that engendered a plethora of controversies, both at the time and in its wake, engendered a versatility of works, and perhaps above all, created the novel genre as the Victorian era's most popular, critical, and representative form of literary expression. In covering a number of emergent subgenres as different as the sensational detective novel and the domestic family chronicle, the course thereby aims at once to offer a grounding in Victorian literary culture and to inspire research on new directions in recovery work as well as in aesthetic analysis.

HL7109 Graduate Seminar in Modernism

This course entails an in depth examination of the major British and Irish works of the modernist period. Historical and cultural contexts, in particular technological innovations and modernisation, will be used to understand the time period that produced such formally experimental literature. Texts covered will include James Joyce Ulysses, Virginia Woolf's The Waves, Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage, and the poetry of T.S. Eliot. In addition, we will survey seminal critical works that have shaped how we look at modernism, beginning with what modernist wrote about their own art to the present critical discourses of modernist studies.

HL7110 Graduate Seminar in Contemporary Literature and Culture​
(Graduate Seminar in Contemporary literature and Culture: On Representations of the Artist)

This module introduces students to a selection of literary texts in English published in the last fifty years and which have, as their governing theme, the role of the artist and the place of art in the present time.

It calls for close analyses of the formal experiments in the selected texts which, while in their several ways can be dubbed modernist or postmodernist works, open up grounds for exploring ‘contemporary’ as a viable concept in current literary studies.
It introduces students to a number of key strands in aesthetics and in literary theory; and encourages critical negotiations between conceptualisations of language, mind, history, society, culture from different schools of criticism and the selected literary texts in question.
It pays attention to the selected texts as interdisciplinary sites in which different disciplinary genres and cultural forms interrelate and interact -- history, photography, visual arts, philosophy, horticulture, music – to arrive at new and significant attempts at ‘sense making’ (Frank Kermode).

HL7111 Graduate Seminar in American Literature and Culture

This course casts a wide net over the development of American literature from the colonial period up to its contemporary expression. The “angle of vision” (pace, Ralph Waldo Emerson) will be the conversation between philosophy and literature. In this dialogue we will explore some of the distinctive contours of American culture by paying particular attention to tensions between the transcendentalist and pragmatic expressions of a distinctive American point of view.

Much of the course will be based on short stories: this genre has flourished in America and these brief narratives are not only manageable but will provide access to a wide range of authors and periods. In addition, select novel-length works will be examined.  

HL7112 Graduate Seminar in Singaporean Literature and Culture

This course will discuss selected Singapore literary and popular cultural texts with a view to establishing the historical, political, social, intellectual and cultural developments that underpin their emergence, as well as the aesthetic and authorial projects that they instantine. Potential authors include but are not limited to : Lee Tzu Pheng, Arthur Yap, Kuo Pao-Kun, Su-Chen Christine Lim, Eleanor Wong, and Alfian Sa'at. Filmic and performance texts may also be included. Links should be made with postcolonial theory and with literary theory in general. Tutors may cover a selection of the following topics: relationship between anglophone writing and various vernacular literatures, impact of language policies, relationship between different genres and forms, the question of a Singaporean literary tradition, role and function of identity policies, modernity and modernisation, urban culture, literature and technology.

HL7113 Graduate Seminar in Postcolonial Literature

This course explores the field of postcolonial studies through a detailed engagement with representative works of postcolonial literature and theory. We will be discussing literature from throughout the postcolonial world, and focusing on some of the major social, historical and political issues this literature addresses. The course will also trace the development of postcolonial theory, from the anti-colonial writings of Frantz Fanon and Aim'e Ce'saire to the work of more recent postcolonial critics such as Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, and Gayatri Spivak. Finally, we will be subjecting "postcolonial studies" itself to critical scrutiny, addressing some of the key debates and controversies within the field.

HL7114 Graduate Seminar in Cultural Studies

Cultural studies is a broad phenomenon. This historically oriented seminar specifically explores cultural criticism, which examines the relationship of artistic culture to larger socio-political and economic developments. It begins with ‘culture’ during a machine-industrial era, with older notions of literary and artistic creation as realms of high culture that explored ultimate human meaning separate from the supposed debased values of industrial-capitalist society. We proceed to mass culture and the culture industry during this industrial era and the post-Second World War mass society linked to rapid communication and a new mass consumption. We also reflect on how the modernity associated with the colonial West affected the creation of modern culture in East Asia. The module concludes with culture in a post-industrial era, when services and finance capital add more ‘value’ than making things, and capitalism increasingly becomes globalised: capitalism, then, is not only about producing serialised mass products but is a zone of ‘creative’ industries. We also ask: is the burst of an inter-Asian pop culture in the wake of an increasing regional middle class linked to this globalised capitalism? What is the nature of culture and the time we live in now?

HL7117 Graduate Seminar in Popular Culture

HL7117 is an introduction to the study of popular culture and the cultural criticism and theory associated with its increasing prominence from post-First World War twentieth century to the early twenty-first century. The range of thought will range from British Culture-and-Society approaches, to Frankfurt School critical theory, and to Popular-Culture-as-Resistance school of thought. The 1960s will form a key historical period during which the capacities of popular culture are strengthened. The seminar will also study a select number of fi lms or other cultural forms, such as popular music, as artistic-cultural examples by which to consider how the theories studied can both be applied and critiqued. The course has an historical orientation and will consider the interconnections between various thinkers and theorists who examine the tensions between ‘serious culture’ vs. ‘popular culture’, or the divisions between high and low culture, and consider the contemporary salience of these tensions. Students are encouraged to bring in their own research on literature, the arts and popular culture and to link them to the material students will examine in their fi nal assignment. The course is aimed at students in literature, film, visual culture and media. Students need a background in such areas to benefit from HL7117.

HL7888 Directed Study in Literature

This course will provide graduate students with an opportunity to engage in independent research related to their proposed dissertation/thesis and to produce an appropriate example of written work arising from this. The content and requirements of each Directed Study module are to be determined by the student in conjunction with the appointed supervisor/ thesis committee and the Programme Head.

Note: This course is reserved for PhD  students.  Exceptions can be made for MA students who have compelling reason to take on directed studies, and is subject to the approval of the graduate studies committee.  

HL7901 Graduate Seminar on Special Topic

This course will provide graduate students the opportunity to engage with the research interests of the faculty and visiting faculty that are not covered by other listed modules. It might consist of an in-depth study of a single author or of a theme. Every time it is offered, the module will be tailor-made to the specific interests of the individual staff teaching it and / or students who enroll for it. The specific topic offered for any semester will be clearly signaled in advance.