Doctor of Philosophy in the School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies

Thank you for your interest in postgraduate study in the School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies (SEFTMS). At Victoria University of Wellington the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree requires the candidate to research and write a doctoral thesis with a maximum length of 100,000 words. The minimum registration (before the PhD thesis can be submitted for examination) is 36 months full-time (or equivalent). Visit the Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research (WFGR) website for more information.

In the English, Film and Theatre programmes, an alternative approach to completing a PhD is for it to include a ‘creative component’ (involving performance, writing, or film production). A thesis with a creative component must reflect the theory and methodology of an academic framework; a mere account of the candidate’s own creative process will not be acceptable.

Find out if we can provide the appropriate supervision for your topic by looking through the Staff Research Interests pages, Research Focus page and current Research Students pages for an idea of our research and supervision interests. Please note that we will only consider accepting your application if we think that there is a member of staff who can provide you with appropriate supervision expertise.

Requirements for admission

Please familiarise yourself with all the general PhD requirements and, if you are an international student, the requirements of Wellington University International (or the international students’ office).

Applicants with a grade point average (GPA) of less than 6 will not be considered.

Application process

Applications can be made at any time, but are considered three times a year after the application closing dates of 1 March, 1 July and 1 November. Please note that these are strict deadlines. SEFTMS strongly recommends that you begin organising your documentation well before the deadline so as to maximise the strength of your application.

First, contact the Postgraduate Coordinator of the relevant SEFTMS programme who will direct you to the appropriate academic staff members before you apply.

School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies Postgraduate Coordinators:

Next, prepare your Expression of Interest (EOI) and discuss it with the referred academic staff member(s). The EOI should preferably be between 1500 to 2000 words.

Select two academic referees to evaluate your academic ability and research potential.

Assemble additional documentation as stated on the WFGR website and upload it to the online application. Victoria University of Wellington uses the online application (Community Force) for both admission as a doctoral student and to apply for a Victoria Doctoral Scholarship.

Submit your application. You will receive notification from the Doctoral Admissions staff via the email address provided that the application has been submitted.

If you have any questions about the application process please email

Assessing your application

After you have submitted your application on-line, it will be processed by the Scholarships and Doctoral Admissions Office and forwarded to SEFTMS for assessment. Your application will be discussed in the programme you are applying to and then considered by our School’s Postgraduate Research Committee. The committee will need to be satisfied that you have an adequate academic background and that the school can provide you with the supervision and resources you will need for your research. An important consideration for us is whether there seems to be a ‘fit’ between the PhD project that you wish to research and the programme’s supervision expertise.

Some PhD proposals and projects are characterised by interdisciplinarity (or study across different disciplines). If this is true of your proposed project, it might be that the ‘fit’ you are seeking to establish between yourself and SEFTMS involves either a combination of SEFTMS subjects (for example, English/Theatre or Film/Media) or a blending of expertise from two different Victoria University of Wellington programmes, one of which is located in another School. If your topic does use an interdisciplinary approach, you should contact the Postgraduate Coordinators of the different University programmes that you see as being involved and ensure that each programme knows of the involvement of the other.

Victoria Doctoral Scholarships

You can find out about what financial support is available from Victoria University of Wellington by visiting the University’s Scholarships page. Although students can enrol in a PhD without financial assistance from the University (some holding other scholarships or forms of private funding), the majority of current PhD students within SEFTMS are also recipients of a Victoria Doctoral Scholarship.

Victoria Doctoral Scholarships are awarded on academic merit and are open to all PhD applicants. The most important single element of the competition for Victoria Doctoral Scholarships is your ability to demonstrate a high GPA. PhD applicants to Victoria University of Wellington who have gained a GPA of 8 (letter grade A) or higher from their most recent postgraduate degree are strongly encouraged to apply for a Victoria Doctoral Scholarship.

SEFTMS does receive a range of PhD applications, some of which come from students at universities outside New Zealand. Regardless of which country they are applying from, most of these students will have completed, or be in the process of completing, a Master’s degree (most commonly a Master of Arts). Aspiring PhD students are permitted to apply before the completion of their Master’s degree, and some do. However, it is more difficult before Master’s completion to demonstrate the high level of academic merit that is expected of a Victoria Doctoral Scholarship recipient. Before applying for a Victoria Doctoral Scholarship, therefore, it is worth considering whether you should apply now or whether it is better to wait until your Master’s degree is finished.