MA in The Contemporary
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.
This is an interdisciplinary programme in the field of contemporary culture. It is a unique collaboration between the University of Kent and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London which allows you to choose from a range of modules, each focusing on different aspects of contemporary culture. The programme also allows you to enrich your academic knowledge with a practical internship at the ICA.
The programme provides you with a deep understanding of the relationship between disciplines in the arts and an appreciation of the way in which interdisciplinary thinking makes it possible to grasp and respond to key issues in contemporary culture. The MA equips you with the skills, knowledge and professional experience to progress into areas such as artistic practice, related higher postgraduate research, arts management and policy, and a variety of other careers within the arts.
You choose from a wide variety of modules in the areas of contemporary literature, creative writing, film, drama, and history and philosophy of art. You are invited to attend an induction at the ICA at the start of your studies to introduce you to the facilities and are encouraged to make use of the ICA’s programme of seminars and events.
You are invited to undertake an internship at the ICA (for a maximum of two days a week over a month) between February and June. Each group of students work in the ICA studio, supervised by the Associate Curator of Education, and have access to the ICA programme and ICA archive where necessary. The experiences and research undertaken feed into your final project while gaining vocational experience at the ICA.
Assessment is by a 5-6,000-word essay for each module and a 12-15,000-word dissertation based in part on your internship at the ICA.
This programme aims to:
- provide an excellent quality of postgraduate level education in the field of contemporary culture
- provide a cross-disciplinary, inspiring learning environment informed by high-level research and practice
- provide a pioneering educational opportunity within the UK context through which MA students will progress into careers in the fields of arts management and policy, or on to related postgraduate opportunities
- develop the following range of aptitudes and skills: high-level written communication, the capacity to present information and argument in public, information literacy, research methods, work-based teamwork skills, project planning
- promote engagement with a range of disciplines and thereby enable you to pursue careers in a range of complex organisational settings within the field of the arts
- promote an understanding of the relations between disciplines and an appreciation of the ways in which cross-disciplinary thinking within the arts makes it possible to grasp and respond to salient issues in contemporary culture
- provide a vocational training within an academic framework through internships provided by the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- principles and application of underlying modes of inquiry within different academic disciplines and contexts across the field of the arts
- issues shaping contemporary theory and philosophy
- the relation between artistic practice and theoretical inquiry in the contemporary period
- the varying ways in which different disciplines and practices across the arts conceptualise the contemporary
- how to use the resources of contemporary art practice to think through current issues and future challenges in modern culture
- the ways in which contemporary art practice addresses its publics, and the institutions through which it influences thought and opinion.
- how to discuss, conceptualise and mediate current work in the fields of fine art, film and literature
- a selected topic within a given discipline and the application of appropriate research methods.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- research skills: how to formulate research questions and hypotheses to address problems across a range of disciplines within the Arts
- analytical skills: how to interpret arguments, marshal information from published sources, interpret materials from archives, critically evaluate your own research and that of others
- information technology literacy: the use of appropriate technology to retrieve, analyse and present information
- presentation skills: the use of public forum to develop ability to present arguments persuasively.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- reasoning: how to construct arguments within different intellectual contexts and disciplines across the Arts, how to formulate and address research questions and problems
- communication: how to communicate within and across Arts disciplines, how to mediate key ideas between disciplines and towards the non-academic public, how to speak and write persuasively in discursive contexts
- presentation of research: how to write essays and a dissertation in an appropriate style, in keeping with the conventions of different subject areas
- project organisation: how to conceive and execute a dissertation-length project under the guidance of academic and practice-based supervision
- employment-oriented practice: how to integrate with a gallery-based team, how to shape arts programming, how to mediate contemporary arts practices to the general public.
- careers: a recognition of career opportunities for postgraduates in the fields of contemporary arts.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- communication: the ability to organise information clearly, present information in oral and written form, adapt presentation for different audiences
- reflection: make use of constructive informal feedback from staff and peers and assess your own progress to enhance performance and personal skills
- self-motivation and independence: time and workload management in order to meet personal targets and imposed deadlines.
- teamwork: the ability to work both independently and as part of a research group using peer support, diplomacy and collective responsibility.
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 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:
The Contemporary - MA at Canterbury:
Full-time: TBC UK/EU; TBC Overseas
Part-time: TBC UK/EU; TBC Overseas
School: School of English
Subject area: English
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: