This route is for candidates who are either established professionals or suitably qualified recent graduates who are engaged in professional creative writing practice. As with any PhD route, the PhD must demonstrate an substantial contribution to knowledge.

A PhD by Professional Practice comprises two elements: 

  1. A portfolio of creative writing
  2. An analytical commentary

The portfolio should comprise work worthy of publication. It should contain at least one major extended work or group of works that has been substantially written during the period of registration. Where the submission involves a performance or exhibition, a permanent record of the work must be submitted in the form of photographs, CD-Rom, DVD, or other recorded material. 

The analytical commentary provides evidence of the significant contribution of the work submitted in the portfolio to the relevant domains (these might be to contemporary literature, or they might be to wider subject areas with which the work is concerned). The analytical commentary can take different discursive forms, including process-based personal narratives or more traditional academic writing. Whichever discursive form is deemed most appropriate, the analytical commentary must demonstrate the substantial contribution to knowledge of the work submitted in the portfolio. Usually the analytical commentary is between 10,000-30,000 words. 

The conventional structure of the analytical commentary comprises: 

  1. An introductory section, comprising a written critical overview of the current state of the field, a literature review/appraisal of the field, and an indication of how the portfolio relates/contributes to an existing body of knowledge/scholarship and research methods. 
  2. A critical reflection on the approaches, methods and theories deployed. 
  3. An explanation of the technical procedures employed. 
  4. A discussion of the works’ aesthetic premises in its relevant historical, theoretical or critical contexts.

Academic supervision and support is provided throughout the production of the portfolio and the analytical commentary. 

For more information, please read Section 4 (PhD by Practice (Route 3) of the guide on .

For further details on the PhD by Professional Practice, please contact:

Departmental Research Degrees Coordinator: Dr Andy Moor -

Faculty Research Degrees Coordinator:


Manchester Writing School

Manchester Metropolitan University is home to the Manchester Writing School, one of the most successful literary centres running in the UK today. The School’s Creative Director is Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and she teaches alongside a team of distinguished practising writers and critics.

More than 60 of our graduates have embarked upon publishing careers, launching first books, with many more achieving publication in journals and magazines, winning writing awards and prizes, and setting up small presses and anthologies. The School has a strong Manchester presence, with links to many of the city’s major cultural and arts organisations, and also a global reach with students and alumni based across the UK and continental Europe, and in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia. The School hosts an ambitious suite of degree programmes and short courses, a vibrant series of public reading events, a leading programme of outreach activities, a major international writing competition and an annual festival of children’s literature.