MA in English

The Open University

Program Description

MA in English

The Open University

MA in English

The MA in English provides a rich and exciting experience of higher level literary study while at the same time developing your independent skills in literary research. You need appropriate entry qualifications and should have a passion for literature.

Educational aims

The academic purpose of the MA is to equip you to take higher level study in English by building on your existing knowledge of, and interest in, the study of literature. It will provide you with appropriate training in methods of research in literature at postgraduate level. It will give you the opportunity to carry out a substantial piece of independent research and write this up using the appropriate scholarly apparatus. The MA will function both as a standalone post-graduate qualification and as preparatory training in the research methodologies required for doctoral study.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are assessed in the 120 credit module of MA study by means of written tutor marked assignments (TMAs) and an end of module assessment (EMA). The TMAs will be structured so as to emphasise particular learning outcomes at appropriate stages of the module. For example, TMA 01 focuses on developing an understanding of critical and theoretical perspectives in the context of close textual analysis, while TMAs 02 and 03 further encourage you to develop a sense of the historical development of the discipline by bringing a broader picture of reception and interpretation into view. The EMA focuses on developing an understanding of literary and book history, relevant particularly to Learning Outcomes 1 and 2. Learning Outcomes 3–5 are assessed throughout this module in preparation for the 60-credit dissertation module that follows. In the latter, work on a chosen topic within a specialist area is assessed by means of a dissertation.

Cognitive skills are assessed in TMAs and an EMA throughout the 120-credit module. The ability to recognise a potential area for research becomes increasingly important for TMAs 04 and 05 and the EMA, where the module builds towards research for the dissertation in the following 60-credit module. An ability to independently recognise a potential area for research in literature is therefore a skill developed and assessed over the two modules of the MA, and is especially important to the assessment of the final dissertation. Through tuition and the marking of assessments, tutors with subject and teaching expertise will guide you towards achieving skills of evaluation and analysis appropriate to MA level.

Career impact

If you wish to pursue an academic career in higher education or research this degree will provide a pathway toward a higher level research qualification (e.g. Ph.D.), which is essential for such a career. A masters degree can be useful in pursuing a teaching career in schools. If you expect to pursue a career in media, culture or knowledge industries – or are employed already in such industries and seek further qualifications to enhance career progression – a masters degree, alongside relevant skills and experience, can be useful. This degree is relevant to those careers that directly call upon knowledge of English literature and culture. It may also be relevant for careers that demand skills in the creative use and analysis of texts of various sorts, critical thinking and organisation, and understanding of culture in a broad sense.


The Arts Faculty was rated by a Times Higher Education survey as one of the best 100 institutions in the world for the study of the arts. Noted for the strength of our interdisciplinary approaches, our scholars of international standing also teach and research a very wide range of topics and themes in specific subject areas. These include art history; classical studies; creative writing; English; history; music; philosophy; and religious studies. The Faculty also has validated partnerships with several important institutions in the UK and other parts of the world. The head of the Faculty is the Dean, Professor David Rowland.

Entry requirements

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in English course. Your degree need not be in English but you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area. The first module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches in English but does not offer remedial undergraduate training for those who have an inappropriate bachelors degree or inadequate experience. To get an idea of whether the level of work involved and the approach taken on this MA is appropriate for you, you are advised to read some sections of material from the set books list for MA English part 1 (A815). In particular, we would suggest that you read the introduction to The Handbook to Literary Research. Chapter 2 of The Handbook also provides you with an indication of the skills you will need to be ready to develop in order to complete the MA. Other chapters of The Handbook give you an idea of some of the approaches to literary research with which you will have opportunities to engage on the MA.

Before you enter the degree you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, grammatically correct and accurately spelt prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument.

Read more about this programme on the Open University website here

This school offers programs in:
  • English
The Open University
Duration & Price
This course is Online
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
2 years
Part time
Full time
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Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom Milton Keynes, England
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End date Contact school
Duration 2 years
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