MA in English Literature and Culture


Program Description

University of Groningen

Literary study is socially relevant: from the medieval to the modern, it maps the forces which divide and unite people. English is the global language of cultural exchange and experiment.

The themes of conflict and co-operation are at the core of the Master's track in English Literature and Culture, a program that allows students a broad choice from a range of modules drawing on the full historical and geographical sweep of literature in English.

It is a key tenet of the track that the academic study of English literature can be used to reflect on the ways that people - as individuals and as groups - interact with one another and that it provides a catalyst for insight into contemporary social debates. Literature captures the separation and the solidarity of its writers and audiences in a manner particular to itself: it is a multidisciplinary practice that is as various as the texts it studies. The program's core themes of conflict and co-operation are linked to a sustainable society, a research priority of the university.

Why study this program in Groningen?

  • An academic humanities degree with a socially relevant focus;
  • Size: The resources of a large research university but with small classes (typically 10-15 students);
  • Atmosphere: A friendly ambiance contributes to our positive student feedback;
  • International: Our staff have received their doctorates from a mix of Dutch universities and international institutions (Oxford, Cambridge, Toronto, Edinburgh);
  • Employability: Academic excellence with transferable skills.


Year 1


  • Crossing Borders: From Literature of Exile to Migrant Fiction (5 EC, optional)
  • The literature of Holiness and Heroism: Saints' Lives in Anglo-Saxon England (5 EC, optional)
  • Something Wicked this Way Comes': Order and Conflict in Renaissance England (5 EC, optional)
  • The Digital Text: The Book Past and Future (10 EC, optional)
  • Master languages Courses (5 EC, optional)
  • Module from Writing Editing and Mediating or Interdisciplinary Seminars in Modern Literature (10 EC, optional)
  • Literature and Laughter: Literary and Theoretical Approaches to Comedy (5 EC, optional)
  • Strangers in the South Seas: The Western Idea of the Pacific (5 EC, optional)
  • The World of Women in Early Medieval Europe (5 EC, optional)
  • Literature and Rebellion 1381-1539 (5 EC, optional)
  • MA Thesis (20 EC)
  • MA Work Placement (10 EC, optional)
  • British Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture (5 EC, optional)


The course titles above are recent examples. Courses can vary each year. Recent interdisciplinary courses dealt with European modernism, minority literature, and homosexuality in nineteenth and twentieth-century literature.

For more information about the variety of areas in which students can write their dissertations click the Research tab above.

Placements (which are optional) are arranged by the students themselves but they are supervised by the English Department which will give you advice about them.

Students can also follow Master language courses. These courses are jointly organized by the English departments of the universities of the Netherlands and courses take place all over the country. You may follow Master language courses in consultation with the Board of Examiners of your Master's degree program.

Entry requirements

Admission requirements

Dutch or international diploma

Specific requirements More information
language test Your BA should show that you possess our minimum language requirements of any of the following: TOEFL iBT 110 (min. of 25 on writing skills); IELTS 8 (min. of 7.5 on all items); ERK level C1. If your BA does not certify this, you may have to take an appropriate language test.
previous education BA in the field of English Literature and/or Culture
other admission requirements To assess whether your educational/academic background meets the specific program requirements, we will consider the level and curriculum of your previous studies and the grades that you have obtained. This evaluation is carried out by our Admissions Office and the Admissions Board. Applicants with degrees that have a significant amount of credits related to English literature and cultures may have the option of taking courses from the department's BA degree to qualify for entry to this MA.

Application deadlines

Type of student Deadline Start course
Dutch students

15 January 2020

15 August 2020

01 February 2020

01 September 2020

EU/EEA students

15 October 2019

01 May 2020

15 October 2020

01 February 2020

01 September 2020

01 February 2021

non-EU/EEA students

15 October 2019

01 May 2020

15 October 2020

01 February 2020

01 September 2020

01 February 2021

Tuition fees

Nationality Year Fee Program form
EU/EEA 2019-2020 € 2083 full-time
non-EU/EEA 2019-2020 € 12500 full-time
EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 2143 full-time

Job prospects

A Master's track in English is a well-recognized postgraduate qualification in a market where having a good BA is no longer enough. Graduates go on to work in a variety of fields including the following:

  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Translation
  • Journalism
  • Administrative jobs
  • Cultural industries

Some jobs are related to English literature (publishing) while other opportunities arise from skills integral to the course. The most obvious of these is the ability to use English, a facility that is as prized in countries where it is the native language as it is in places where it is a medium for commerce. Whether they study Beowulf or Virginia Woolf, our MA students hone their analytical and interpretative skills and work on expressing complex ideas clearly in writing and in oral presentations. They work on texts from other places or times and so engage with cultures other than their own, developing flexibility in habits of mind necessary in a globalized environment. Finally, graduates have written a thesis, thereby demonstrating their ability to manage their time and to work independently, two vital skills for responsible jobs. Regardless of where you go to work, the first thing you will have to do is to persuade an employer that you are right for a job. Jobs don't simply attach themselves naturally to the holders of a particular degree - they need to be won, and the skills imparted in the study of our Master's track provide graduates with the tools they need to do this.

Staff & Student Research

Research in the Department covers broad areas of English literature from medieval times to the present. Our staff members run or participate in a number of international research projects, including the Hakluyt Editorial Project and 'Heroes, What Heroes?', both of which address encounters with the New World and the inevitable conflict of worldviews that this entailed.

The department can supervise a broad range of literature dissertations dealing with texts written on topics from Old English, Middle English, Early Modern, and Modern literature. Dissertations can focus on literatures written in English from various parts of the world, including, for example, American and African writing. Dissertations dealing with recent authors, canonical authors, popular authors, and lesser-known works are equally welcome. While dissertations that deal with the themes of conflict and co-operation are particularly welcome, students have a free choice of dissertation subjects within the areas of staff expertise.

Dissertations may be supervised by any appropriate member of staff. The following list indicates some of the areas in which dissertations can be written.

Dr. Kees Dekker: Old English literature and language; Middle English literature and language; the history of the English language; textual editing; manuscript studies.

Dr. John Flood: Renaissance/Early-Modern literature; Romantic and Victorian literature; Christianity and literature; modern Irish literature; science-fiction; J.R.R. Tolkien; literature and war (especially World War I); twentieth-century British, Irish and American poetry; the history of the book; textual editing; philosophy and literature.

Dr. Corey Gibson: Scottish literature (eighteenth century to the present); Marxist literary theory; working-class literature; political ideology and literature; the vernacular; modernism; fairy tales; ballads and folklore; prison literature; postmodern literatures; conceptions of authorship; the historical novel; nationalism and literature; Cold War literature.

Dr. Ann Hoag: women’s writing; travel literature; contemporary American fiction; Modernism.

Dr. Hans Jansen: Shakespeare, English drama; language acquisition; the history of the English language; translation.

Prof. Richard Lansdown: Nineteenth-century English Literature, Romanticism, Lord Byron, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, Western Ideas of the Pacific, Literary Criticism and Theory, History of Ideas.

Dr. Tekla Mecsnober: modernist writing (especially James Joyce, modernist magazines and experiments with language); eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British fiction; Gerard Manley Hopkins; Victorian poetry.

Dr. Karin Olsen: Anglo-Saxon literature and culture; comparative studies in Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse and early Irish literature and culture; Middle English literature.

Prof. Sebastian Sobecki: Middle English and early Tudor literature; law, politics, and multilingualism; textual and manuscript studies; maritime literature; digital humanities.

Dr. Irene Visser: postcolonial literature and theory; American literature; contemporary literature; young adult fiction; dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction; trauma theory and trauma fiction; post-9/11 literature; Maori Literature; Chicano Literature; South African literature; William Faulkner.

Dr. Kees de Vries: nineteenth-century literature; Oscar Wilde; humor and literature; music and literature; literary theory.

For general information about the research in the department see the Research Page and the People page of English Language and Culture.

Here are some sample topics of students' MA dissertations:


  • How an Adder Became an Arrow: Battle Kennings in Old English Poetry.
  • The Sin of Crime in the Early Irish and Anglo-Saxon Penitentials and Secular Laws.
  • The Devil is in the Details: The Use of Archery-related Language in Anglo-Saxon Literature.
  • Thomas Hoccleve and His Creation of a Mad Narrator.
  • The Representation of Turks in Late-Medieval and Early Modern Europe.
  • Homosexuality in Late Medieval English Literature: Langland, Chaucer, Gower, and the Gawain Poet.
  • Saints, Satan, and Stylistics: Stylistic Features in Medieval Miracle Plays.
  • Melancholy in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and The Book of the Duchess’.

Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries

  • The Mother's Portrayal in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Popular Literature.
  • Representations of Queen Elizabeth I in Seventeenth-Century Histories.
  • Self-Reflection in Jane Austen’s Novels.
  • The Symbolic-allegorical and the Supernatural Interpretations of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • Governesses in Victorian Fiction.
  • Wilde's Utopia: Socio-Political Criticism in the Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde.
  • Changing Attitudes towards Imperialism and Its Ideology During the Age of New Imperialism.
  • Identity and Place in Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady.

Twentieth-Century and Contemporary

  • Psychological Elements in Contemporary and Modern First World War Literature.
  • Fantasy Fiction Medievalism: Carnivalesque Laughter between the (Post)Modern and Premodern.
  • The Media of Cyberpunk: An Analysis of Postmodern Science Fiction.
  • Religion and Secularisation in Modernist Novels.
  • Mirrors and mirroring in Katherine Mansfield and Jean Rhys.
  • Polarization and Demonization in British Cold War Fiction.
  • The Observer in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.
  • Travel as a Metaphor for Story and History in Tolkien’s Fiction.
  • Fairy Tales for Teenagers: The Lost Potential of Young Adult Dystopian Fiction.
  • Conventions in Edward Albee's Plays.
  • Poirot in the Orient: Race, Nationality, and Orientalism in Agatha Christie.
  • Language as a Means of Control in Dystopian Fiction.
  • Equality and Identity in the Poems of Langston Hughes.
  • Representations of Madness in Contemporary Women's Memoirs.
  • Literature and Literary Meaning.
Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astr ... Read More

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astronaut and the first president of the European Central Bank. Geographically, the University is rooted in the Northern part of the Netherlands, a region very close to its heart. Read less
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