The MA in English Literary Studies will give you the opportunity to pursue literary topics and genres from a wide selection of authors and periods: from Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Eighteenth-Century fiction to Victorian print culture, Modernisms and Modernities, Literature and Law, Holocaust Literature, and postcolonial world literatures.
The programme can be taken over one-year full time or two years part-time.
Introducing your degree
The programme will empower you to conduct advanced-level research and independent critical thinking; to make effective use of archives, manuscripts, and research libraries; and to examine how literature shapes the public understanding of diverse fields such as climate change, economics, medicine, religion, and more. Not only will you emerge with an internationally-recognized masters degree from a top Russell Group university, you will also acquire the critical thinking and writing skills that will give you the competitive edge, either as a future scholar or as a professional in careers such as writing, broadcasting, teaching, and public administration.
The MA is a broad-based programme that allows you to explore the interrelations of text, theory, and culture across the field of English literary and cultural studies. The flexible structure is designed to give you an advanced understanding of the study and practice of academic English literary studies in terms of cultural analysis, textual interpretation, and theoretical method.
The MA in English Literary Studies will enable you to work independently in the field, to explore a range of periods and genres of English literature and culture as well as creative writing, and to evaluate unique archival resources. It will develop your knowledge and understanding of critical and research methods, raise your awareness of the historical and critical reception of literature in various periods, and help you explore the role of literature in a contested cultural framework.
Typical entry requirements
First- or upper second class honors degree or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University in English literature or a cognate discipline
IELTS 7.0 overall, with a minimum of 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading, listening and speaking, or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.
Studying for a degree later in life can be extremely rewarding and mature students are often among our most successful.
If you are over 21 and feel you would benefit from degree-level studies, we can be more flexible about our entry requirements. For full-time courses, selectors will expect you to demonstrate your commitment by means of some recent serious study, for example, one or two A-level passes, successful completion of an Open University foundation course or an appropriate Access course. Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.
Typical course content
In the first semester, the MA English Literary Studies (full time) comprises one core module – Adventures in Literary Research – and up to two options. You may also select a double weighted ‘Approaches’ module that focuses on a particular period in English literary history, or one optional module (including a special subject). Three or four further optional modules, including special subjects from the MA in English Literary Studies and related modules in other MA programmes, are taken in the second semester, along with the dissertation (which is completed at the end of the summer).
Differently, from the full-time programme, the part-time MA programme in English Literary Studies allows you to study these modules across two years or four semesters. In the first semester of year one, the MA English Literary Studies (part-time) comprises one core module – Adventures in Literary Research. You may also select a double weighted ‘Approaches’ module that focuses on a particular period in English literary history, or one optional module (including a special subject). Alternatively, you may prefer to take more optional modules (including special subjects) in semester one of your second year. Two further optional modules, including special subjects from the MA in English Literary Studies and related modules in other MA programmes, are taken in the second semester of year one. In year two, you select two or three optional modules in each semester, including special subjects from the MA in English Literary Studies and related modules in other MA programmes from a range of modules, along with the dissertation (which is completed at the end of the summer of year two).
The MA in English Literary Studies (Part Time) is designed to be a flexible programme, which can be completed alongside other commitments. Where possible, classes for core modules are taught on the same working day.
You are strongly encouraged to discuss your module choices and specific areas of interest with the Director of Taught MA Programmes, Professor Stephen Morton, before commencing your programme of study.
Many of the optional modules below are taught as special subjects, where you will meet in smaller groups with your tutor and develop your own research projects and extended research essays through a mutually agreed programme of reading that is keyed to a cutting-edge area of critical inquiry in English Literary Studies.
Learning and assessment
We are committed to providing a relevant, modern and above all enjoyable experience that will ensure that you graduate with the additional skills and understanding you need to start a career in a wide range of areas or to go on to further research.
The MA offers a wide and fascinating range of modules related to our specialisms led by academics who are experts in their chosen fields and who wish to engage you with their own experience of research.
Typically, Masters modules have small seminar groups, facilitating your engagement with the ideas and themes that you feel passionate about. Other methods of learning will include student-led debates, group work and oral presentations, individual consultation and the dissertation. Our teaching methods will challenge you intellectually and expose you to new ideas, approaches, and perspectives. Our courses have many exciting additional opportunities such as visiting Chawton House Library, a unique collection of early women’s writing, a 19th-Century handpress printing workshop, and the chance to hear from visiting speakers from international universities who are a frequent part of our Research Centre-led lecture and seminar series. These include the Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research, Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Writing, and the Centre for Imperial and Postcolonial Studies.
A large part of the postgraduate study is independent learning. The MA will develop your critical awareness, encouraging you to reflect on the methodologies employed in the further study and to apply these to the reading and research you undertake as part of your degree. Subject to availability, you may choose to take 2 x 15 credit Special Projects in an area of departmental expertise. You will also research and write a scholarly dissertation on a subject of your own devising.
The MA in English Literary Studies also offers you the opportunity to specialize in four subject-specific pathways:
- MA in English Literary Studies (Eighteenth Century)
- MA in English Literary Studies (Nineteenth Century)
- MA in English Literary Studies (Twentieth Century and Contemporary)
- MA in English Literary Studies (Postcolonial and World Literature)
About the School
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