Department of English


English Language and Literature

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Doctoral Program


Offered by Queen’s since 1942, the PhD in English is designed to foster the scholarly development of our students; we prioritize mentorship, professionalization, and intellectual exchange while maintaining an abiding excitement about our students’ autonomous programs of research. The department is small enough that students get to know our faculty, yet large enough to boast faculty expertise in all major historical periods and a wide array of critical methodologies for literary study.

Students are assigned a faculty mentor upon entry into the program and provided the opportunity via the “Publishing Practicum” to develop a paper for potential publication by the end of their first year of study. Opportunities for professional and pedagogical development proliferate throughout the program, including participation in departmental colloquia, funded conference travel for graduate students, and the potential to teach a course in fourth year. Graduates of our doctoral program have remarkable rates of success in securing tenure-track appointments and can be found in broad spectrum of rewarding careers throughout the knowledge economy. Learn more on our Alumni News page...

  • Photo: Erin Weinberg, doctoral graduate

    Erin Weinberg, recent doctoral graduate

  • 2017 Spring Convocation - Doctoral Graduates

    2017 Spring Convocation - Doctoral Graduates

  • "Bad Quarto" of Shakespeare's Hamlet

    Script-in-hand performance of the "Bad Quarto" of Shakespeare's Hamlet

  • "Bad Quarto" of Shakespeare's Hamlet

    Script-in-hand performance of the "Bad Quarto" of Shakespeare's Hamlet

  • "Bad Quarto" of Shakespeare's Hamlet

    Script-in-hand performance of the "Bad Quarto" of Shakespeare's Hamlet

  • "Create an Impact" Event for Tri-Council Award Recipients

    "Create an Impact" Event for Tri-Council Award Recipients

PhD Degree Requirements

The Doctoral Program is a 4-year program.

Students enrolled in the Doctoral program are required to take 24 units of the following graduate courses:

  • ENGL 900 (3.0 units) Introduction to Professional and Pedagogical Skills in the fall term
  • ENGL 903 (6.0 units) Research Forum in the fall and winter term
  • 2 courses (3.0 units each) in the fall term
  • 3 courses (3.0 units each) in the winter term

All graduate students must select one course from each of the three periods:

  • Course Group 1: medieval to 1660
  • Course Group 2: 1600–1900
  • Course Group 3: 1900 to present

One of the courses may be taken outside the department.

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination consists of two parts:

  1. A Field Examination covering one major field of literary study in English. The examination involves one four-hour sitting and one take-home paper, written in the Fall Term of the second year. A reading guide is supplied to assist students in their preparation. Students are encouraged to meet with the examiners during the preparatory period. 
  2. A Special Topic Presentation based on a reading list devised by the candidate that addresses a broad issue or cluster of issues of value to the candidate’s eventual dissertation work. Students work on the STPs during the Winter Term of second year and make their presentations to the Department as part of a two-day event in early May.


A formal Thesis Proposal will be submitted for approval in January of the second year of registration. The final requirement is the submission of a dissertation prepared under the direction of a supervisor and second reader that is defended at an oral examination.

Language Requirement

All candidates must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two languages other than English at a basic level or one at an advanced level, either by passing a departmental examination or by successfully completing an approved university-level, full-year language course.

Learn more about our graduate courses...

Publishing Practicum

The Publishing Practicum is an initiative of the English Department designed to foster the early professionalization of our doctoral students and provide a competitive advantage in the academic job market and national scholarship competitions. This seminar takes students through the revision and submission stages of scholarly publishing from draft essay to academic article with the goal of achieving a publishable piece by the end of the student’s first year of doctoral study.

The Publishing Practicum course at Queen’s has been completely invaluable to my development as a scholar, not only academically, but (somewhat unexpectedly) socially as well. By the end of my first year of doctoral studies, I not only came away with a paper all but ready for publication, but I was able to benefit from reading and commenting on the work of my peers. The course works to make the process of seeking publication less nebulous by teaching us how to approach journals, how to deal with the revision process, and what ‘academic writing’ itself actually means.

Lindsay Young, PhD Student


Queen’s Publishing Practicum served as a key learning experience in my ongoing professional transition from graduate student to scholar and researcher. The course’s combination of theoretical and practical components effectively allowed me to familiarize myself with the academic publishing landscape in a fashion tailored to my own research interests… Participating in the practicum demystified the academic publishing process for me and concluded with concrete output that sets me up well for pursuing publication of academic articles going forward.

Robyn Carruthers, PhD Student

Special Topic Presentations

The Special Topic Presentations (STPs) are part of the department’s PhD Comprehensive Examination. With the guidance of two faculty advisors, students identify an historically or conceptually broad issue that relates to their dissertation project; devise a substantial reading list related to that issue; produce an annotated bibliography; and make a presentation to the Department regarding some of the ideas the reading has permitted them to explore. Candidates are engaged in this work in their second year and make presentations during a two-day event in early May.


Special Topic Presentations

30 April 2018


Sarah Kent: “'all my relations water walking right next to me': Black and Indigenous (E)coresistance on Turtle Island"

Andrew Moffitt: "‘Women of Britain say—NO!’: Birth-control, Pacifism, and the Modernist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf"

Mitch Crouse: "‘Une de nos îles me rendit’: Nature and the Environment in the Traditional Literary Canons of Haiti and Louisiana"


1 May 2018


Jamieson Ryan: "Skating Utopia: Imagining Queer Futurity in Hockey"

Kyle Joudry: “‘As the Savage Is, So Is the White Man’: The Biographical, Literary, and Historical Foundation of T.S. Eliot's Bolo Poems”

Alicia Alves: “‘of course you know what “it” means’: Deconstructing Childhood, Queerness, and Animality in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

PhD Admission Requirements
  • MA degree with minimum average of A- (3.7/4.3 GPA)
  • Favoured applicants will have a well-balanced selection of courses in English literature from the medieval period to the present, and in literary theory.