MA Critical Theory
Our expertise ranges from the medieval to the postmodern, including British, American and Irish literature, postcolonial writing, 18th-century studies, Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, Victorian studies, modern poetry, critical theory and cultural history. The international standing of the School ensures that we have a lively, confident research culture, sustained by a vibrant, ambitious intellectual community. We also count a number of distinguished creative writers among our staff, and we actively explore crossovers between critical and creative writing in all our areas of teaching and research.
This programme offers you the chance to study a range of theories in depth. It engages with modern literary theory, psychoanalytical theory, political theory and theories of visual and aesthetic experience. You reflect on these areas of thinking in themselves and as they relate to particular literary texts, to post-enlightenment philosophy and to other relevant areas of culture and experience.
The course is assessed by coursework for each module and by the dissertation which accounts for a third of the final grade.
This programme aims to:
- extend and deepen through coursework and research your understanding of modern literary and critical theory
- study the reading-practices, analytic tools and vocabularies of modern critical thought
- develop your independent critical thinking and judgement
- introduce you to the research methods that facilitate advanced theoretical study of literature
- provide a basis in knowledge and skills if you intend to teach critical theory, especially in higher education
- develop your understanding and critical awareness of the expressive and analytical resources of language
- offer scope for the study of critical theory within an interdisciplinary context, notably that provided by philosophy
- develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form
- examine this writing in the wider context of literature, culture and philosophy
- provide teaching which is informed by current research and scholarship and which requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge
- develop your research skills to the point where you are ready to undertake a research degree, should you so wish.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- modern literary and critical theory
- the relations between literary and critical theory and particular literary texts, genres and movements
- the relations between literary and critical theory and philosophy
- the relations between literary and critical theory and other relevant areas of culture and experience
- psychoanalytic theory
- theories of the visual and aesthetic experience.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- the application of the skills needed for academic study and enquiry at graduate level
- evaluation of research findings
- the ability to synthesise information from a range of primary and secondary sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice
- the ability to make discriminations and selections of relevant information from a wide range of sources in a large body of knowledge
- the ability to think conceptually and to criticise analytically.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- advanced skills in the close critical analysis and discussion of theoretical, literary and other writing
- a developed and critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature and other cultural forms
- an ability to articulate your knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to critical theory
- well-developed linguistic resourcefulness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
- articulate responsiveness to critical and theoretical language
- developed scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, of bibliographic and annotational practices, and of structuring and developing an argument over an extended piece of written work
- a nuanced understanding of how norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view, in extended oral and written form, with clarity, organisation, cogency and sophistication
- the ability to think independently, analytically, critically and self-critically
- the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds
- an advanced level of competence in the formulation, planning and execution of extended written projects
- an advanced level of competence in the formulation, planning and formal oral presentation of research papers
- the experience of collaborative intellectual work
- the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
- trained research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
- IT skills: word-processing, email communication, the ability to access electronic data.
A first or second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent). In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path.These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
English language entry requirements
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Research in the School of English comes roughly under the following areas. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups, and individual staff have interests that range more widely.
The particular interests of the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century converge around gender, class, nation, travel and empire, and the relationship between print and material culture. Staff in the Centre pursue cutting-edge approaches to the field and share a commitment to interdisciplinary methodologies.
The Centre regularly hosts visiting speakers as part of the School of English research seminar programme, and hosts day symposia, workshops and international conferences.
The 19th-century research group is organised around the successful MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture and the editorship of The Dickensian, the official publication outlet for new Dickens letters. Other staff research interests include literature and gender, journalism, representations of time and history, sublimity and Victorian Poetry.
Research in north American literature is conducted partly through the Faculty-based Centre for American Studies, which also facilitates co-operation with modern US historians. Staff research interests include 20th-century American literature, especially poetry, Native American writing, modernism, and cultural history.
The Centre for Creative Writing is the focus for most practice-based research in the School. Staff organise a thriving events series and run a research seminar for postgraduate students and staff to share ideas about fiction-writing. Established writers regularly come to read and discuss their work.
Medieval and Early Modern
The Faculty-based Canterbury Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies has a distinctive brand of interdisciplinarity, strong links with local archives and archaeological trusts, and provides a vibrant forum for investigating the relationships between literary and non-literary modes of writing in its weekly research seminar.
The Centre for Modern Poetry is a leading centre for research and publication in its field, and participates in both critical and creative research. Staff regularly host visiting speakers and writers, participate in national and international research networks, and organise graduate research seminars and public poetry readings.
Established in 1994, the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research has acquired an international reputation for excellence in research. It has an outstanding track record in publication, organises frequent international conferences, and regularly hosts leading postcolonial writers and critics. It also hosts a visiting writer from India every year in association with the Charles Wallace Trust.
As a guide only, the 2014/15 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
Critical Theory - MA at Canterbury:
Full-time: £5100 UK/EU; £12450 Overseas
Part-time: £2550 UK/EU; £6240 Overseas
Schools: School of English, School of European Culture and Languages
Subject areas: English, Comparative Literature
Course type: Taught
Mode of study: Full-time or part-time
Attendance mode: Campus
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
Total Kent credits: 180
Total ECTS credits: 90
This school offers programs in: