MA Eighteenth-Century Studies

University of Kent, School of English

Program Description

MA Eighteenth-Century Studies

University of Kent, School of English

MA Eighteenth-Century Studies


The School of English has a strong international reputation and global perspective, apparent both in the background of its staff and in the diversity of our teaching and research interests.

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.

Our reputation for research excellence was confirmed in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2008) in which our research was recognised to be world-leading. The University of Kent is a research-led institution, which means that the research that the academics are engaged in continues to inform their teaching, and that you, as a student in the department, are at the centre of a dynamic and thriving academic environment.

Course structure

This MA offers an intellectually dynamic introduction to one of the most exciting eras in literary history. Grounded in and administered from the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, this is an interdisciplinary MA programme that builds upon the expertise and common research interests of 18th-century researchers and teachers across the Faculty of Humanities. The Centre provides an excellent research context for the MA programme and any further postgraduate work that will arise from it.

Among the teachers involved in this MA are Jennie Batchelor (English), Jonathan Friday (History and Philosophy of Art), Donna Landry (English), Paddy Bullard (English) and Ben Thomas (History & Philosophy of Art).


Assessment is by a 5-6,000-word essay for each module and a 12-15,000-word dissertation.

Learning outcomes

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • extend and deepen through coursework and research your understanding of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture and its political and cultural contexts
  • develop your understanding of, and engagement with, the critical and methodological paradigms that inform the field of eighteenth-century studies today
  • develop your independent critical thinking and judgement.
  • introduce you to the research methods that facilitate advanced study in the field
  • provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach eighteenth-century studies, especially in higher education
  • provide an interdisciplinary context for the study of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture.
  • develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form
  • 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.

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • primary sources and recent scholarship concerning literary, visual, material, and political culture in the period
  • how the ‘new’ eighteenth century differs from the ‘old’, and how the canon of works to be studied changes and is constructed
  • grasp of intellectual categories and debates relevant to this period (eg Enlightenment, public sphere, global eighteenth century, taste, the polite, the sublime, revolution, sensibility, political economy) within and across disciplinary boundaries
  • theoretical challenges presented by researching a past historical moment, spectre of ‘presentism’ versus more discontinuist approaches
  • archival procedures, available resources, theoretical questions, approaches to popular and public interest in the period.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the application of the skills needed for academic study and enquiry at graduate level
  • the 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.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • advanced skills in the close critical analysis and discussion of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture
  • a developed, critical understanding of a variety of scholarly approaches to the study of literature and other cultural forms in this period
  • an ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of various kinds of text and their political, cultural and historical contexts
  • a 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.

Transferable skills

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 and evaluate online resources.

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent).

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 areas

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.

Eighteenth Century

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.

Nineteenth Century

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.

American Literature

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.

Creative Writing

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.

Modern Poetry

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:

Eighteenth Century Studies - MA at Canterbury:

Full-time: £5100 UK/EU; £12450 Overseas

Part-time: £2550 UK/EU; £6240 Overseas

Key facts

Schools: School of English, School of European Culture and Languages

Subject area: English

Award: MA

Course type: Taught

Location: Canterbury

Mode of study: Full-time or part-time

Attendance mode: Campus

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

Start: September

Total Kent credits: 180

Total ECTS credits: 90

This school offers programs in:
  • English
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
1 - 2 years
Part time
Full time
Start date Sept. 2017
United Kingdom Canterbury, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 1 - 2 years
Price Request Info