The Story Foundry PhD at Bath Spa University offers an innovative programme for international writers, storytellers and makers whose project proposals do not fit neatly into traditional academic boxes. Our alumni include published novelists, Hollywood scriptwriters, film festival directors, spoken word artists, and broadcasters.

There are two branches to this PhD programme, our low residency option, and our PhD by publication option. Please scroll down for the latter.

Low Residency:

The programme is designed for international students. Supervision is conducted through bespoke one-to-one online support, which means that you do not have to relocate. You will also have the opportunity to visit the UK for a one week residency or retreat based at one of our beautiful historical campuses.

Students typically complete their thesis within 3-4 years. Highly focused students can complete within 2-3 years. The course requires an MA-level qualification, or equivalent industry experience.

Research areas

Your PhD proposal must have a clear central concept. Narrative research, creative nonfiction, creative writing, scriptwriting or contemporary approaches to storytelling should sit at the heart of the proposal.

Beyond this, the field is open. Your project may span several disciplines or may incorporate elements that are not usually found in a standard course of study. Current and previous projects that we have led or supervised include:

  • A poetry film sitting at the intersection between film and creative writing courses.
  • A work of creative nonfiction investigating the relationship between self-help and fairy tales.
  • A science communication thesis exploring multimodal approaches to storytelling.
  • A transnational writing project examining approaches to literary nonfiction across borders.
  • A critical exploration of new approaches to storytelling using Artificial Intelligence.

We are keen to support projects that have the potential to inspire, impact, and transform society.

A key, non-compulsory component of the programme is an intensive residency period in England, offered as part of our wider Story Foundry programme and our partnerships with external academic and creative organisations. This will occur over 7-10 days in the UK. Optional extra support for accountability is available, as well as a year-round peer support salon and writer’s gym.

Who are we?

This programme is hosted by leading industry experts within Bath Spa University’s ‘Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education (TRACE)’. Since 2016, Professor Bambo Soyinka and the TRACE team have been supporting students from a diverse range of backgrounds to complete innovative PhDs across borders.


The project will offer the opportunity to produce performative or creative outputs as a final thesis (and a 20,000 word piece of contextual writing).

Part-time study and employment

This course is only available as a full-time PhD. However, highly focused candidates will be able to fit their programme of study around existing commitments.

Work placements, industry links, and internships

As part of the Story Foundry PhD, you will be surrounded by leading industry professionals connected to a wide range of key networks in the UK writing industry. Students can elect which network they want to work with to integrate and present their work, attend and present at conferences and submit publications.

These include: Paper Nations, The Studio, NCACE, Transnational Literature, GALA, and NAWE.


Graduates of PhDs within Bath Spa University and the TRACE research centre have gone on to be successful academics and award winning creative practitioners.

Who can apply?

We encourage individuals who come with diverse experience, from across the arts, culture, sciences and humanities disciplines who are already champions of story and/or want to rapidly advance their expertise in this area. You will need to demonstrate dedication to crossing disciplinary boundaries which engage inside and outside the university space and industry. The projects can include practical methodologies such as fieldwork, ethnography, autoethnography and practice-based research (which can be discussed in more detail with supervisors). This PhD is only open to international students.

How do I apply?

Please apply via the Bath Spa University website.

If you’d like to talk to a member of the course team, please email

Applications should be submitted by 12 midnight GMT on July 6th.

Fast Track Interviews: Applicants who meet the entry requirements with respect to the quality and concept of their proposal will be offered a Fast Track interview on July 12th or 14th. These will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so we recommend you submit your application as soon as possible. Should you be successful in your interview, you will receive priority access for entry to our October 2021 programme.

A second round of interviews will be held toward the end of July for consideration for entry in October 2021 (if there are still places left) or March 2022.

PhD by Publication:

The PhD by publication differs from the regular Story Foundry PhD in that it is for practitioners who already have a substantial body of work and want to take their career to the next level by achieving an academic accreditation. The programme encourages unique and diverse interdisciplinary approaches to research with an emphasis on narrative-based approaches in film, creative writing, immersive technology, science communication and performance.

What are we offering?

The Programme is a low-residency PhD, open to full-time international students who have a well-established professional career and are at the top of their field. It allows practitioners the flexibility to continue to live and work where they are based, while following an independent research programme supported by regular supervision sessions. You will have the opportunity to engage with a shorter time of study, taking two years instead of three, to complete and submit a 10,000-20,000 thesis. This programme does not require attendance to the UK residency.

Research areas

Your research project may cover the same topics as in the low residency pathway. Your established outputs to date can include (but are not limited to) written publications, conference presentations, a track record of creative artworks, such as fine art, design, music or performance. These outputs will be the foundation on which you continue your study on the course. Innovative projects which cross boundaries and borders are of particular interest. More generally, we are keen to support projects that have the potential to inspire, impact, and transform society.

Who can apply?

The PhD by Publication is no less rigorous than the traditional route. We welcome candidates who are active researchers/practitioners and who have developed their research skills to doctoral level. You must be able to demonstrate an extensive portfolio of creative work, public works or publications which highlight the potential for original contribution to knowledge. It is important that your creative work/practice can be judged against the PhD assessment criteria. This PhD is only open to international students.

Further Information and how do I apply?

For further information and to apply, please go to the Bath Spa University website.