Postgraduate Study

SAM offers a PhD in Creative Writing where candidates produce a full-length creative work in any genre (novel, collection of poetry or short fiction, nonfiction, biography, fictocriticism, etc) and an accompanying scholarly dissertation of at least 30, 000 words. Our degree is distinguished by a flexible connection between the creative and the critical components: a complementary and dialogic relationship, rather than a supplementary and explanatory one. Our supervisors are committed and experienced, and between them have won both the Vice-Chancellor's and the Dean's Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision.

Students interested in enrolling in a PhD in Creative Writing should contact potential supervisors to discuss their project.

For more information about the range of work our students produce, their experience of the PhD degree, and some recent publishing successes, see the links below.


Charlotte Wood

My experience as a PhD (Creative Writing) student at UNSW was terrific. My two excellent supervisors gave me the creative freedom to allow my novel to develop as it should – in the organic, unpredictable ways that the best of my writing has always happened for me – but also helped me to embark on a research project that intellectually stretched and challenged me in every way. To emerge from my doctorate at my age with a completely new set of skills in qualitative research, and to discover that, contrary to my expectations, an academically rigorous approach to research could even begin to feel natural and exciting to me, was an absolute thrill. With the support of my supervisors I finished the degree just about on time and feel very proud to have reached this point.

Anna Westbrook

The PhD in Creative Writing at the University of New South Wales is an opportunity to refine and develop your writing practice within a supportive community of writers. Talks and workshops hosted by UNSWriting bring celebrated writers into productive engagements with students. As a postgraduate student I participated in many masterclasses, conferences, reading groups, and 'hallway conversations' that reinforced my conviction that writing need not be an isolating pursuit and that ideas receive oxygen via collaboration and circulation. I am a stronger writer thanks to my experience at UNSW.  

Roanna Gonsalves

I was hooked by the interdisciplinarity of the PhD program at SAM. The enriching SAM Seminar Series where internationally renowned scholars and creative practitioners shared their work, and the exciting events run by the Creative Practice Lab and UNSWriting, including the collaboration with Sydney Writers’ Festival, helped me reimagine my own practice, providing me with opportunities that have contributed to my development as a writer and a researcher. My supervisors were nurturing and rigorous. In addition to advising me with my thesis, they gave me the opportunity to collaborate on publications and helped me successfully apply for prestigious awards and scholarships.

Sue Parker

As a Creative Writing student I had the opportunity to complete a novel - a process that was enhanced and improved by subsequent re-drafting. Of all the aspects available at UNSW I most enjoyed the SAM seminars and the intellectual climate of writing within a University setting. I loved attending lectures on narrative and the opportunity to understand literature from an academic perspective which better informs and enriches both your understanding of your work and the work itself.

Josh Dubrau

I made the decision to undertake my PhD at UNSW on the strength of an interview with my proposed supervisor. UNSW gave me exactly what I hoped for from that interview, a supported opportunity to undertake an ambitious project, and one which allowed me to take up new and different directions in my creative work, with a great balance of autonomy and supervision. Through my doctoral studies I have gained friends and mentors that I know will be lasting, and have had the chance to participate in so many inspiring dialogues with so many people, both one-on-one and through organised events. 

Mette Jakobsen

Doing a PhD in Creative Writing at UNSW has proven invaluable to me. I wrote my first novel during those years surrounded by inspiring teachers and pushed along by tough deadlines. It was a fantastic start to my career.

Sylvia Petter

I was an external Creative Writing PhD student, but when I was on campus I was provided an office and had access to all the support I needed. This environment and the support of my supervisors were vital for me successfully completing my PhD. Apart from stretching me, the degree enabled my part-time employment at 60 in the Education Department at the University of Vienna where I still work, while writing and teaching Creative Writing at workshops in Vienna and in other countries in Europe

Susan Steggall

I arrived at UNSW to undertake a PhD in creative writing with a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to do: namely a biography of the Australian art and architectural historian Joan Kerr. I was most fortunate in being allocated a very experienced and dedicated scholar as primary supervisor, which considerably smoothed my academic path. The welcome by UNSW staff, right from the very first postgraduate workshop was encouraging, supportive and enthusiastic and this continued for the three and a half years of my project. The in-depth examination meetings with faculty staff each year were always carried out in the spirit of positive enquiry and were of great assistance, not only in clarifying problematic sections of my thesis, but also in advancing the project.

Ben Peek

I greatly enjoyed my time doing my PhD at UNSW. I had an excellent supervisor who was very accommodating to my needs and I found the campus friendly and inclusive. At PhD in creative writing is a great time not just for the exploration of a topic, or the production of a large piece of work, but the examination of your craft and skills. In very few avenues of life will you be given the time and audience to explore the fine details of writing, but at UNSW this is available.

Current Students and their Projects

Camilla Palmer

Holograms (novel) and “Zadie Smith: Past Participle, Present Simple, Future Perfect: Literary Voice and Cultural Authority in the 21st Century”

James Bedford

Glossolalia (novel) and "Colonial Imaginations: Writing the Past in Recent Works of Australian Literary Historical Fiction"

Jacqueliene Bailey

"Writing as an Act of Giving" (fictionalised memoir and scholarly dissertation)

Suzette Mayr

Concrete Swans (novel) and “The Architecture of Bad Dreams: The Sentient House in Australian and Canadian Literature”

Vanessa Alexander

Female Comedy (television script and scholarly dissertation)

Robin Hemley

A Manifesto for Limbo (novel) and "Speculation and Conjecture in Contemporary Nonfiction"

Kirk Dodd

The Tragicall Hiftorie of Woollarawarre Bennelong, Native Ambassador of Nova Hollandia (play) and “Shakespeare’s Invention and Reinvention: A Rhetorical Analysis

Tanya Thaweelskulchai

Black-Feathered Stones: Prose poems (poetry) and "Writing the body into metaphor: Virginia Woolf’s novels”

Lisa Dowdall

Impossible Things (novel) and “Possible Things: Utopianism in Postcolonial Women’s Science Fiction"

Alissa Coons

"Voluntary Exiles, Incidental Immigrants: Episodes from Globalised Lives" (non-fiction novel and scholarly dissertation).

Anne Cossins

The Night the Cemetery Talked (novel)

Completed Students and their Projects


Jane Gleeson-White (2016)

Nature in the Twenty-first Century: Country and Capital in the Anthropocene, including Six Capitals (non-fiction) and "Country Manifest" (dissertation)

Charlotte Wood (2016)

The Natural Way of Things (novel) and “Looking for Trouble: Problem-finding Processes in Literary Creativity”

Roanna Gonsalves (2016)

Up Sky Down Sky Middle Water (short stories) and “Writer vs Money: Negotiating the Field of English Literature in English”

Luther Uthayakumaran (2015)

Judgement (novel) and “Pain at midnight: Representation of trauma and justice in Sri Lankan civil war literature”

Sue Parker (2015)

Winter, the Trees (novel) and “The Spatial Field of Plots: Space, Time and Plot in Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life”

Holly Zwalf (2014)

Lolly Poppins (novel) and "Mother Fucker: The Sexual, Childless Maternal Body in Queer, Women and Trans* BDSM Mumy Play"

Anna Westbrook (2013)

The Quiet Noise (novel) and “An Erotics of Reading: Jouissance, Queer Affects, and Futurity”

Mei-Ling Dubrau (2013)

plaintext (poetry) and “Changing the Subject: Rethinking Representation and the Lyric ‘I’ in Twentieth Century and Contemporary Poetics”

Tamryn Bennett (2012)

Aneki (poetry) and “Comics Poetry: Beyond Sequential Boundaries”

Marygai Hayllar (2012)

‘Framing the Hayllar Sisters: A Multi-genre Biography of Four English Victorian Painters’ (biography and scholarly dissertation)

Tim Hanna (2011)

When I Say You I Mean Me (novel) and “Telling Myself: The Dynamics of Narration in Epistolary Novels”

Mette Jakobsen (2010)

Skeleton Bird (novel) and “Into the Wood”

Sue Steggall (2010)

“Joan Kerr in Context: a Biography”

Joan Phillip (2007)

“Transgressions in the Archives: Stories of Women Transported to Botany Bay – 1787-1788” (fictocritical thesis)

Barbara Hill (2007)

Sing at the Moon (novel) and “The Contextual Narrative of Isolation and Grief in Australian Women’s Writing”

Sylvia Petter (2007)

Ambergris (novel) and “The Smell of Dislocation: Olfactory Imagery in Selected Works of Janette Turner Hospital”

Diane Powell (2007)

“Reverberations: An Exploration of Memory and Cultural Identity” (fictocritical thesis)

Rebecca Housel (2007)

“My Truth: Women Speak Cancer” (fictocritical thesis)

Jenny Breukelaar (2007)

Viper (novel) and “Heroics of the False: A New Look at Noir”

Rebecca Curran (2007)

“Internal Difference/Where the Meanings are: A Theory of Productive Mourning” (fictocritical thesis)

Paula Abood (2006)

Shaharazad (stories) and “The Arab as Spectacle: Race, Gender and Representation in Australian Popular Culture”

Ben Peek (2006)

A year in the city (novel) and dissertation

Andrew Watts (2006)

Fragments of a Former Moon (novel) and “Metonymy and Trauma: Re-presenting Death in the Literature of W.G. Sebald”

Eric Hansen (2005)

Friction: "the umbrella encounters the sewing machine" (fictocritical thesis)

Souk-Yee Wong (2004)

Expelled (novel) and “Negotiating Nationalist Discourse: Singaporean Resistance Literature”

Louise Wakeling (1998)

Watermarks (novel) and “Theorising Creative Processes in the Writing of the Neo-historical Fiction Watermarks”

MA (Research)

Josh Brown (2011)

Just (novel) and “Rhetorical Refusals in the Korean EFL University Classroom”

Amyn Rafiq (2007)

Sultan (fiction) and “Recasting Religion: Postmodern Literature’s Challenge to the Grandest Narrative”

Emma Anderson (2006)

Reading Anais Nin on the Train (fiction) and “Representations of Female Sexuality in Australian Chick-Lit Texts”

Rebecca Jee (2004)

Undragon Stories (fiction) and “A World Waiting to be Made: Asian-Australian Identity in Contemporary Literature”

Luther Uthayakumaran (2003)

“To Speak of Silence: Post-coloniality and the Narration of Pain in Context of the Civil War in Sri Lanka” (stories and scholarly dissertation)

Recent Publications by our Graduate Students


Anna Westbrook, Dark Fires Shall Burn (Scribe, 2016)

Charlotte Wood, The Natural Way of Things (Allen & Unwin, 2015) *winner of the Stella Prize and the Indie Book of the Year

Mette Jakobsen, The Vanishing Act (WW Norton, 2012) *shortlised for the Commonwealth Book Prize

Short fiction

Roanna Gonsalves, Up Sky Down Sky Middle Waters (UWA Press, 2016)

Sylvia Petter, Backburning (IP, 2007) *winner of IP Picks Best Fiction


Tamryn Bennett, Phosphene (Rabbit Poets Series, 2016)


Jane Gleeson-White, Six Capitals, Or Can Accountants Save the Planet: Rethinking Capitalism for the Twenty-first Century (WW Norton, 2015)

Susan Steggall, A Most Generous Scholar: Joan Kerr, Art and Architectural Historian (LHR Press, 2012)