Graduate sheds light on PhD Creative Writing

A new research project by Lynn Jenner (PhD) examines the challenges and opportunities of the PhD Creative Writing

Photo of writer Lynn Jenner, by Robert Cross

Award-winning writer and Victoria Creative Writing graduate Lynn Jenner has just completed a research project which looks at the PhD in Creative Writing from the viewpoints of students, supervisors and examiners.

Lynn, whose professional background is in educational psychology and evaluation, conducted interviews around issues of what helps students. The study includes supervisors' suggestions and examiner expectations.

Lynn says, 'In the normal course of events PhD students do not have direct access to examiner perspectives until their own thesis is examined. I wanted to create a feedback loop so students, supervisors and examiners could read a range of perspectives on the IIML PhD in practice.'

Although Lynn's research has a focus on creative writing, the answers she elicits, and her own reflections, have wider application in the creative arts. The basic thrust is to increase learner agency by demystifying doctoral study.

Professor Damien Wilkins, Director of the IIML, says that the project will help the IIML refine its PhD programme but that it is also a valuable contribution to the wider conversation around creative arts in universities.

Having presented papers at two conferences, most recently in Canberra at the Australian Association of Writing Programs, Lynn has now made the full research data available online. It can be accessed via Victoria's Research Archive or at Lynn’s website:

About Lynn Jenner

Lynn began writing at 49 and completed the MA in Creative Writing at Victoria's International Institute of Modern Letters in 2008. Her MA thesis, the manuscript of Dear Sweet Harry, won that year's Adam Foundation Prize for Creative Writing. It was  published by Auckland University Press in 2010 and won the 2011 New Zealand Society of Authors' Jessie Mackay award for best first book of poetry in the New Zealand Post Book Awards. In 2010 she returned to the IIML as a PhD candidate. Lynn's PhD was awarded in 2013 and Lost and Gone Away - a four-part hybrid of memoir, essays, prose poems and poetry - was published by AUP in 2015. The book was a finalist in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Lynn's poetry has been widely published in local and international literary journals.