Funds, awards and prizes

Graduate Research Support Fund

The Department has been able to establish a small Graduate Research Support Fund to provide MA by research and MPhil/PhD students with some limited support towards costs connected with specific research projects, such as visits to libraries, travel to conferences or cost of microfilm. Any research student can apply for funding.  Priority will be given to first time applicants and those not in receipt of AHRC or other full funding.

Applications should be sent to the Chair of Graduate Studies, currently Dr Claire Chambers, and should include a detailed description of the project involved, a precise estimate of costs, and a confidential letter of support from the supervisor. There is no application form. Applications must be made before funds are needed, not after they have been spent. 

Resources are subject to tight budgetary restraint: the Fund will not be able to support many projects in their entirety, but it can provide some material assistance for essential research tasks.  There is a nominal limit of £300 per student per annum; applicants who have surpassed this figure should apply to the FR Leavis Fund.

If you are successful in obtaining the funding you must use the University's approved supplier, NYS travel, to book your travel and accommodation, either via their online booking tool, or by contacting them on 01904 420200.  You will need a user name and a workorder number to make a booking - please contact Helen Barrett for this information or for further details. 

F R Leavis Fund

The Department administers the FR Leavis Fund, raised in honour of Dr Leavis, who was closely associated with the Department from its foundation until his death in 1978. It can be used to support research and publications by staff, to make strategic purchases for the library and to provide limited financial assistance for undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking additional activities that enhance their research and/or advance their careers.

Applications should be made directly to the Chair of the Leavis Fund, currently Dr Nicola McDonald.  There is no form or deadline, but students should provide a detailed description of the project, along with a precise estimate of costs, and should also arrange for their supervisor to send in a short letter of support.

In recent years, students have applied for grants toward archival research, participation in conferences and advanced language study of the sort not offered at York. Preference will be given to more advanced students and to research trips over conference travel; and students will normally be eligible for only one grant per academic year.

Please note: Eligible postgraduates must apply, whenever possible, to the Graduate Support Fund before applying to the Leavis Fund; the outcome of that application, including the amount of any funds awarded, must be declared in the application to the Leavis Fund.

If you are successful in obtaining the funding you must use the University's approved supplier, NYS travel, to book your travel and accommodation, either via their online booking tool, or by contacting them on 01904 420200.  You will need a user name and a workorder number to make a booking - please contact Helen Barrett for this information or for further details.  

Philip Brockbank Award for taught MA students

The Department has decided to recognise exceptional achievement among its taught MA students by an annual award of £50 to the student or students whose essay or dissertation achieves the highest mark across all the MA courses that it runs. It is called the Philip Brockbank Award, named in memory of a very distinguished former Head of the York English Department.

In 2018, the prize has been awarded to Samuel Kaufman for his truly outstanding essay, "Circulation, Visibility and the Digital Sensorium: Towards Cinemaless Film in a Precarious Age", submitted for the MA in Film and Literature.

John Barrell Essay Prize for research students

An annual prize of £50 will be awarded for the best essay by a research student aimed at publication. The prize is named after Professor John Barrell who inspired its creation.

Essays may be submitted to the Graduate Chair at any time before the deadline of 30 September. There is a word limit of 8,000 words. Only one entry is permitted per student per year and it must include a statement of support from their supervisor. The intended journal or journals should be named on a cover sheet and the essay should be presented in an appropriate and ready-to-submit form for that journal.

The winner of the Essay Prize in 2015 was Douglas Battersby for his article “‘To have that on the imagination!’: Beckett and the Subjectivities of Literary Fiction.” This has been accepted by the editors of a book collection titled Finite, Singular, Exposed: New Perspectives on the Modernist Subject, which is presently under review with Routledge.

In 2016 there were two prize winners:

  • 1st Prize to Megan Girdwood for her article 'W. B. Yeats, the Abbey Theatre and Cinema: 1909-1939' which is under consideration at the Irish Studies Review
  • 2nd prize to Emily Bowles for her article "‘reflect[ing] and refract[ing] in all kinds of ways’:The Afterlives of Charles Dickens’ Swiss Chalet"  which is currently under review with the Journal of Victorian Culture.

Charles Dickens Award

The Department is affiliated to the University of California Dickens Project, which runs the annual week-long ‘Dickens Universe’ at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The Dickens Project is a worldwide consortium of leading universities and the ‘Universe’ attracts a wide range of leading scholars and postgraduate students in Victorian literature from the US, UK and Australia. For more details, see In 2016, there will be an opportunity for a York postgraduate student to attend the conference, which will take place at the UCSC campus, 30 July-6 August 2016. The department will cover transport and accommodation costs. The award will be advertised by email to all MA and PhD students.

Samuel Beckett Award

The Department also offers an award enabling one York postgraduate student to attend the Samuel Beckett Summer School in Dublin, with the support of the FR Leavis Fund, and in partnership with Trinity College Dublin. The Beckett Summer School offers a full, week-long programme of cultural events, lectures and seminars by leading scholars every summer. Further information is at This award consists of a fee-waiver from Trinity and an award for travel costs from the Leavis Fund. The successful applicant will be responsible for covering their accommodation costs. The award will be advertised in the Spring term, with an application deadline at the end of the Spring term (contact: Dr Emilie Morin). All MA and PhD students enrolled with the English Department are welcome to apply, particularly those with strong research interests in the works of Beckett, and/or theatre studies, and/or modernism.  

Laurence Sterne Bursary

The Department has made available a bursary of £500 for a current postgraduate student to spend a week in residence at Shandy Hall in Coxwold. Applications are invited from any current student on either a PhD or taught MA programme connected to the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies or in the Department of English and Related Literature, who can demonstrate benefit to their academic work from using the library and/or other resources at Shandy Hall.

The topic need not be directly related to Sterne or to the eighteenth century, but should demonstrate a connection with the interests of the Sterne Trust, which include, for instance, questions of Shandean narrative complexity in the verbal and/or visual arts up to the present day.  The case should be made on a single side of A4 and sent to Professor Jon Mee by email at, to whom any enquiries should also addressed.  The deadline for the receipt of applications is noon on Monday 5 January 2015.

(c) John Houlihan