MA Literature and Culture
This programme draws on the wide research expertise of the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham in order to develop your critical and analytical skills in the field of literary and cultural studies.
You can either take a general route through the programme, choosing core and optional modules from a variety of literary periods, or take one of a number of pathways, each focusing on a different period or literary genre. Possible pathways may include: Reformation to Reform; The Long Nineteenth Century; Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Literature. A wealth of optional modules relating to your pathway, taught by leading international scholars, allow you to specialise in areas which suit your particular interests and you will also complete a supervised 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.
In addition to these optional and core modules, this programme is unique in offering you the chance to gain hands-on independent archival research and direct experience of relevant non-academic careers
Please note: We also offer opportunities to specialise in medieval literature via the MA Medieval Studies and MRes Medieval Studies.
This programme will provide a solid grounding in the key intellectual debates within scholarship on a range of period and context specialisms and develop the skills required for writing a research thesis.
It includes a mixture of compulsory and optional modules taken across the autumn and spring semesters:
- Semester 1: Core Period module 1; Period Option 1; Research Skills
- Semester 2: Core Period module 2; Period Option 2; Period Option 3
Over the course of the year you will also complete a supervised 15,000-word dissertation, to be submitted in September. You will undertake independent research, which may be based on but will extend work undertaken for previous modules in the programme. There should be some element of originality in the research and the research may make some contribution to the field of study.
Your core modules will be from the same pathway, if you are specialising in a literary period, or can be from different pathways if you are taking a general route through the degree.
- Reformation to Reform pathway: Writing Revolutions 1: Politics, Publics and Professionalism in Literary Culture, 1580-1700 and Writing Revolutions 2: Politics, Publics and Professionalism in Literary Culture, 1700-1832
- The Long Nineteenth Century pathway: Literature and Aesthetics in the Long Nineteenth Century; Cultures and Literatures of the Long Nineteenth Century
- Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Literature: Modernism; Contemporary Literature.
All pathways also include a compulsory ‘Research Skills’ module. For full descriptions, see 'modules' below.
You will choose three optional modules from a range covering a variety of authors and themes from the medieval period to the 21st century. If you are following a pathway through the MA, at least two of these optional modules will be taken from a set group relevant to your chosen literary period. If you are following a more general route through the degree you can pick optional modules from any literary period.
Optional modules are each assessed by a 4,000-word essay.
Alongside the programme you will also have the chance to participate in a bespoke MA conference and form part of the department’s thriving academic research community.
You should already have completed an honours degree in English Literature or in a cognate subject with a heavy literary element, with at least a high upper-second-class (65 or above) result, or a 3.5/4.0 GPA; candidates with joint honours in English Literature and another cognate subject, or single honours in a cognate subject that includes substantial work in English Literature, are also encouraged to apply. All successful candidates must have a very high competence in written English, and are assumed to have extensive undergraduate exposure to literary studies in English across a broad historical range.
All prospective students must also submit a sample of written work as part of the online application process. You can do this before you submit your form, or return to the application to upload your sample at a later date; however, we will need to see your piece of writing before an offer is made. This should be a piece of academic writing from your first degree, on English (or Anglophone) literature, that demonstrates your ability as a critic and scholar of literature. (Please note that journalism and creative writing - including poems, stories, or memoirs - are not acceptable.) We cannot read more than about 1500 words of submitted written work, so please either send something of that length, or indicate within a longer work what you would like us to read. You must submit a personal statement. This should be an account of your current, developed literary interests arising from your undergraduate or other literary studies and should indicate your plans to extend these as a postgraduate student of English literature.
We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements by holding an English language qualification to the right level; for this course, we ask for IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band.
The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.
Birmingham's English Literature postgraduates develop a range of skills including presentation, communication and analytical skills, as well as the ability to work independently, think critically and develop opinions.
Over the past five years, over 90% of English Literature postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our graduates go on to further study or academia, while others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations including accounting, the charity sector, teaching, local government, law, publishing and media. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Birmingham Museums Trust; Bloomsbury Publishing; Civil Service; Coventry Arts and Heritage Trust; House of Commons; and University of Kent.
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