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Story Foundry PhD (Low Residency)

Postgraduate degree

    PhD Story Foundry
    School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
    Campus or location
    Low residency
    Course length
    Three years full-time.

    Entry requirements

    We encourage applicants with diverse experience, from across the arts, culture, sciences and humanities disciplines, who are already champions of story and want to rapidly advance their expertise in this area. You'll need to be demonstrably dedicated to crossing disciplinary boundaries both within and outside of the University and the industry.

    This innovative liberal arts PhD is for contemporary writers, storytellers and makers whose project proposals do not fit neatly into traditional academic boxes.

    • Envisage and produce a creative output as a key part of your final thesis.
    • Take part in a dynamic, international research and cultural exchange programme from your current location.
    • Our alumni include published novelists, Hollywood scriptwriters, film festival directors, spoken word artists, and broadcasters.

    This liberal arts PhD encourages unique and diverse interdisciplinary methodologies with an emphasis on narrative-based research. This could include, but is not limited to, film, creative writing, immersive technology, collaborative practice, science communication, ethnography and performance.

    This doctoral programme is hosted by leading industry experts within Bath Spa University’s research centre The Story Society. Since 2016, Professor Bambo Soyinka and The Story Society (previously named TRACE: Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education) have been supporting students from a diverse range of backgrounds to complete innovative PhDs across borders.

    The programme is designed for international students. Supervision is conducted through bespoke one-to-one online support which means you can remain in your current location. You'll also have the opportunity to visit the UK for a one week residency which will be based at one of our beautiful historical campuses.

    What are we offering?

    This programme is a low-residency PhD, open to full-time international students. This gives you the opportunity to continue to live and work where you are based while following an independent research programme supported by regular supervisory sessions. You'll typically complete your thesis within three to four years, but highly focused students can complete it within two to three years.

    What kind of PhD Proposals are you looking for?

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

    Beyond these requirements, 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, for example:

    • Poetry film that sits at the intersection between film and creative writing courses
    • Podcast combining radio drama with the art of letter writing
    • New work of creative nonfiction investigating the relationship between self-help and fairy tales
    • Science communication thesis that explores multimodal approaches to storytelling
    • Thesis that explores how storytelling can be used to engage people in dialogue about sustainability and ecological risk
    • New approach to dramaturgy that explores ‘non-verbal’ scriptwriting techniques for immersive and movement-based dramas
    • Critical exploration of new approaches to storytelling using Artificial Intelligence
    • Transnational writing project exploring approaches to literary nonfiction across borders

    More generally, we're keen to support projects that have the potential to inspire, impact and transform society.

    Who is eligible?

    For this course you'll need a Master's level qualification or equivalent industry experience. In particular, The Story Society welcomes proposals and applications from a wide range of disciplines that embed writing into their creative practice. This can include (but is not limited to) creative writing, filmmaking, storytelling, spoken word, performing arts, multi-media, curatorial practice and pedagogical practice.

    Please note, only International Students (i.e. from outside the UK) are eligible for this PhD course.

    PhD structure


    The Story Foundry PhD places narrative-based practice at the centre of the research process. It enables individuals with specific artistic or scientific practices to re-engage with critical/narrative writing in new and imaginative ways. This opens up a vast amount of possibility for new knowledge to occur across disciplines. You'll develop a PhD that has the potential to impact areas of professional practice, the arts and industry, as well as the academic field.

    Our interdisciplinary research environment will provide you with the space to develop an innovative approach to research that would not be possible in academic courses which focus on just one discipline.

    A key, non-compulsory component of the programme is an intensive residency period where you'll attend workshops and other training events offered as part of our wider Story Foundry programme. This will take place over seven to ten days in the UK. During the residency period, you'll meet and work with your supervisors and the rest of your PhD cohort here at Bath Spa University. Please note: that this is an optional course component and you may study entirely at a distance if you wish.

    You'll also engage in year-round peer support which is dedicated to creating a space for community. We'll host monthly virtual sessions to support your exploration of new knowledge and the creation of international networks for collaboration. Optional extra support for accountability is available through writing retreats, masterclasses and an annual conference.

    This programme highlights and supports the value of working in new ways by combining subject methodologies and concepts. Rather than focusing narrowly on the discipline or subject, we'll support you to focus on the purpose of your research and help you to produce a thesis that aligns with your career goals.

    Attendance and timetables

    You'll work with a team of up to two supervisors who will be chosen based on the nature of your individual research proposal and plan. You'll also have key submission points across the three years of your programme.

    Individualised, subject-specific research training

    The majority of your PhD will be delivered through bespoke 1-2-1 mentoring sessions with your Director of Studies.

    Other research training

    Throughout the programme you'll have access to a range of researcher development courses and groups. Towards the end of your PhD, we'll support you to prepare for your viva and to develop a career plan for life beyond your thesis.


    You'll produce performative or creative outputs as your final thesis and will be required to submit a 20,000-word piece of contextual writing. Depending on the nature of your research and the intensity at which you work, you may be able to submit your PhD after a minimum of two years; however, this is to be decided by you and your supervisors and will be entirely dependent upon your progress at each submission point. The majority of people submit their thesis after three years of full-time study.


    Open lectures and seminars

    Situated in the Research and Enterprise Department as part of the Graduate College at Bath Spa University, The Story Society works closely with other departments and schools across the University. You'll automatically become a member of the The Story Society research centre and you can select which other research centres you would like to join.

    At the start of every term, The Story Society publishes and shares a programme of events led by other research centres across the University.

    Work placements, industry links and internships

    As part of the Story Foundry PhD you'll be surrounded by leading professionals connected to a wide range of key networks in the UK writing industry. You can select which network you would like to work with to integrate and present your work, attend and present at conferences and submit publications. Our networks include:

    The Story Foundry

    The Story Foundry is a hybrid incubator-accelerator for researchers, writers, artists, imagineers, and other practitioners of story and storytelling across disciplines and cultures, and between academia and the wider private, cultural, and public sectors.

    We seek to explore what can happen if we apply our understanding of story and the role of the storyteller to current societal challenges, such as increasing wellbeing, supporting ageing populations, economic renewal, cultural recovery, evolving technologies, facilitating next-generation job skills, and environmental sustainability.

    Paper Nations

    Paper Nations is a creative writing incubator funded by Arts Council England and founded by Dr Bambo Soyinka. It's a network of writers at all levels of their writing journey and initiates creative research projects which develop an inclusive and author-centred approach to writing practice. These projects include the Writing Producers’ Scheme, The Writer’s Cycle, The Great Margin and many more.


    This liberal arts PhD programme is supported by NCACE which is a new initiative funded by Research England to facilitate knowledge exchange across UK universities. Bath Spa University is one of the four university partners working to communicate the essential value of knowledge exchange across the arts and cultural sectors.

    Transnational Literature Journal

    The Transnational Literature Journal is an online, open access academic journal that releases bi-annually with an adjoining annual conference. Students would have the opportunity to submit publications and be involved in the yearly conference.


    The Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA) is one of our international partners and consists of a select international community of institutions that seeks to develop new kinds of research and teaching collaboration, to support enhanced international mobility among staff and students, and to reimagine liberal arts education for the twenty-first century.


    As part of this PhD, you'll get the chance to join the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) as a member giving you access to their conferences and resources, enhancing your knowledge, good practice and facilitation in the creative writing education sector.


    There are many different pathways to take once you have completed your PhD. You may want to get a job as a lecturer, work on funded research projects or pursue a career outside academia.

    Whatever path you choose, creative interdisciplinary approaches are now making a big impact on the research scene as the future for arts research. Funded research projects within academia and the wider cultural sector now regularly require a collaborative or interdisciplinary element. Lectureship posts also typically require an understanding of collaborative approaches to knowledge generations.

    Graduates of PhDs within the Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education have gone on to be successful academics and creative practitioners. Alumni include published novelists, Hollywood scriptwriters, film festival directors, spoken word artists and broadcasters. For instance, the novel that Dr Elen Caldecott wrote for her PhD, titled The Short Knife, was published in 2020 and has since been long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and won the Tir Na n-Og Prize.

    Adobe Creative Campus

    Develop a wealth of indispensable digital skills that you can take into your future career. One of only three Adobe Creative Campuses in the UK, we provide all Bath Spa students with access to the full Adobe Creative Suite, giving you the tools to communicate creatively, whatever your course or chosen professional field.   

    Bambo Soyinka, Professor of Story, leads the Story Foundry programme and is the Chair of The Story Society research centre.

    View Bambo's staff profile
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    Research environment

    Where the subject is taught

    The annual Story Foundry low-residency workshop is a remote-working PhD with supporting staff based at either Locksbrook Campus or Newton Park. Our campuses are located within historical grounds providing you with opportunities for isolated writing retreats and city centre networking.

    Accommodation is not included in the course fees but when you visit we can provide you with a list of recommendations based on your budget and requirement.

    The PhD is truly global and forms part of a vibrant international community. You'll have regular 1-2-1 video sessions with your supervisor and access to online group events and activities.


    Learning resources for the programme will be available through the University's library and Ultra, the University's Virtual Learning Environment. There is a wealth of material available via electronic sources that can be accessed on and off campus.

    Key components of the programme are the support networks and expertise available within and across the Graduate College and the three strategic research centres: TRACE, Environmental Humanities and Creative and Cultural Industries.

    Students will also have access to the University's Researcher Development Programme and additional training and engagement opportunities with the National Centre for Academic and Cultural Exchange (NCACE).


    2024 entry
    Student Annual tuition fee
    UK full time £19,155
    International full time £19,155

    Interested in applying?

    What we look for in applicants

    We encourage applicants with diverse experience from across the arts, culture, sciences and humanities disciplines, who are already champions of story and want to rapidly advance their expertise in this area.

    You'll need to be demonstrably dedicated to crossing disciplinary boundaries both within and outside the University space and the industry. Projects can include practical methodologies such as fieldwork, ethnography, autoethnography and practice-based research.

    You may be well established in your professional life and be looking to pursue a PhD to take your practice to the next level or add a recognised academic accreditation to your work. Alternatively, you could be an emerging practitioner with an innovative, forward thinking proposal.

    How are applications assessed?

    Your application will be reviewed by at least two specialists in your proposed area, who'll then decide if you should be called to interview.

    If you're invited, you'll be interviewed by a panel of three interviewers, including a chair, a potential Director of Studies who is an expert in the proposed field/genre and an academic member of staff from another subject area.

    The application process will be highly selective, but we'll aim to inform all applicants of the outcome of their application by August.

    Interview and portfolio guidance

    If the Story Foundry Low-Residency PhD appeals to you, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch via this expression of interest form at the same time as starting your application.

    This will give you the opportunity to chat with a member of our team to discuss your query further. This is not an official application or proposal, so don’t be shy.

    We'd just like the opportunity to hear a bit about you and your proposed research so that we can discuss how this programme might suit you.

    You may also use this form to ask us any questions if you are not yet ready to make an application.

    How do I apply?

    Please note that this programme will be recruiting for March 2025.

    Applications for March 2025 will be open from September 2024 and will have a deadline of end of January 2025. Find out more on our how to apply page. Please begin your application as soon as possible.

    You can get in touch with our Graduate College at

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

    Get ahead

    Our key tip is to try to describe your PhD proposal to a non-academic audience in a few sentences. For example, can you neatly summarise your proposal in 50 words?

    We run a free one hour masterclass on how to write a PhD proposal. Please contact if you're interested.

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