phd creative writing 

A PhD consists of independent research and writing under the guidance of two supervisors. In some instances, supervisors may recommend PhD students enrol in coursework at the beginning of study to address gaps in their knowledge. Click the 'staff' tab above to see some potential PhD CW supervisors. Speaking with individual staff about your research interests is often the best place to start.

The Creative PhD thesis is 100,000 words in length. Generally, about 60% to 80% of the total word count is devoted to the creative work (a full-length novel, collection of poetry, essays, or short fiction, etc). The remaining 40% to 20% consists of the critical portion of the thesis. While the approach to the critical portion is flexible, it will generally include an introduction, a review of relevant literature (including theory), a discussion of research methods, and an extended analysis of related texts. After the thesis is submitted, it is examined by three examiners, including an internal examiner from Massey who is not a supervisor, an external examiner from within New Zealand, and an overseas expert in the field. The process will culminate in an examination meeting. The examination meeting will be chaired by an academic outside of the field, and attended by the internal and New Zealand examiner as well as the supervisors. During the examination meeting, the examiners will test subject knowledge, offer constructive critique and advice, and engage in an extended discussion about the broad field of research.


The first year of study in the creative PhD is the provisional year, and it is intended as a trial period to ensure that the provisional student is suited to carry on to full registration. The provisional year concludes with a confirmation meeting in which the provisional student submits a 7,500 confirmation report to the confirmation committee. Generally, the confirmation committee consists of the student’s two supervisors, an external member with relevant expertise, the postgraduate coordinator, and/or the Head of School. During the meeting, the provisional student presents their work publicly, usually offering reading from the creative work and an explanation of the critical work. This public presentation is followed by a closed door confirmation meeting during which the confirmation committee discusses the confirmation report and presentation, offering constructive critique and advice where relevant.


Following confirmation, the student becomes a fully-enrolled PhD candidate. Working under the ongoing guidance of supervisors, the student meets regularly with supervisors and continues to draft and revise both the creative and critical portions of the thesis.

For more information about how to apply see the Massey website.

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