MA English and American Literature

University of Kent, School of English

Program Description

MA English and American Literature

University of Kent, School of English

MA English and American Literature


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 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 programme allows you to choose from the full range of our MA literature modules. The list of what’s on offer is regularly added to by academics keen to explore new areas of thinking with students and to draw you in to our established areas of research strength, such as postcolonial studies; 18th-century studies; modern poetry and fiction; or Victorian studies. The modules draw on many different critical approaches and focus on a wide range of historical periods, ideas and places from modern India to post-war New York to literary London in the 18th century.

Within this programme you may also choose to take pathways, so as to concentrate on studies in certain specific areas (especially if you intend to continue to a research degree in a particular field).


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 a body of literatures in English, with special emphasis on modern and postcolonial literatures, and on literary and critical theory
  • enable you to develop an historical awareness of literary traditions
  • develop your independent critical thinking and judgement
  • introduce you to bibliographic method and scholarship and to foster in you the research methods that facilitate advanced literary study
  • provide a basis in knowledge and skills if you intend to teach English and American literature, especially in higher education
  • develop your understanding and critical appreciation of the expressive resources of language
  • offer opportunities for you to develop your potential for creative writing (where such a module is taken)
  • offer scope for the study of literature within an interdisciplinary context, notably that provided by history
  • develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form.

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • authors and texts from British, American and postcolonial literatures
  • the principal literary genres, fiction, poetry drama and of other kinds of writing and communication
  • literatures in English from countries outside Britain and America
  • traditions in literary criticism
  • the challenges of creative writing (where such a module is taken)
  • terminology used in literary criticism
  • the cultural and historical contexts in which literature is written, published and read
  • critical theory and its applications
  • literary criticism as a practice subject to considerable variation of approach
  • inter- and multidisciplinary approaches to the advanced study of literature
  • research methods.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the application of the skills needed for advanced academic study and enquiry
  • the evaluation of research findings
  • the ability to synthesise information from a number of 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 source and large body of knowledge
  • the exercise of problem-solving skills.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of literary texts
  • informed critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature
  • the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to advanced English studies
  • sensitivity to generic conventions in the study of literature
  • well-developed linguistic resourcefulness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
  • articulate responsiveness to literary language
  • appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
  • an understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view orally and written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
  • enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
  • developed critical acumen
  • the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information
  • competence in the planning and execution of essays and project-work
  • enhanced skills in creative writing (where the relevant module has been taken)
  • the capacity for independent thought, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
  • enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual work
  • the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
  • research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
  • IT skills: word-processing, the ability to access electronic data.

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:

English & American Literature - MA at Canterbury:

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

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

Key facts

School: School of English

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

Last updated October 24, 2016
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