Studying English Literature at the postgraduate level opens up a whole host of vibrant and intellectually stimulating avenues to explore. Our unique programme draws on the wide-ranging research expertise of our staff in order to develop your critical and analytical skills in the field of literary and cultural studies.
This programme will provide a solid grounding in the key intellectual debates within the scholarship surrounding a range of period and context specialisms, introduce you to the latest research in the field, and support your development of the skills required for writing a dissertation.
English literary texts from the medieval period to the present day are studied in and alongside their many different contexts – historical, social, political and/or material – and approached from a multitude of theoretical and methodological perspectives, enabling you to develop new and highly skilled ways of reading and interpreting a wide variety of cultural documents.
Alongside the programme, you will also have the chance to participate in a bespoke MA conference and become part of the department’s thriving academic research community.
Please note: We offer an additional opportunity to specialise in medieval literature via the MA Medieval Studies.
Masters Scholarships available for September 2021 Entry
From £1500 discounts for current students, £1500 scholarships for our very best candidates, to our College of Arts and Law Masters Fees Scholarship, there are lots of funding opportunities available to study with us in September 2021.
Why study this course?
Flexibility – the variety of modules on offer will allow you to study areas of the discipline which interest you the most.
Excellent reputation – as one of the leading Departments for the postgraduate study of English Literature and Culture in the UK, you will receive expert teaching and research supervision across a wide range of time periods, genres, media and methods. The University has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study English Language and Literature in the 2019 QS World University Rankings.
Foundation for future careers or further study – the programme is ideal for those students looking to develop specific research interests and/or prepare for study at the PhD level, but it is also an excellent way of gaining a broader overview of the subject that will prepare students for a career in sectors such as charity, teaching, local government, law, publishing, and media.
Active postgraduate community – with conferences, reading groups and events run by postgraduate students as well as the academic staff there is always something happening in the Department.
All students will take the following modules:
This module will prepare you for your MA dissertation and assist those of you planning to continue to doctoral study in your application for internal and/or external funding. The module will run in Semester 1 and consists of a combination of generic research skills classes and individual supervisions. It aims to equip you with the research skills and familiarity with your chosen field that will assist you in producing strong assessed work at the MA level. Topics may include the use of the library and e-resources; planning a research project; referencing methods; book history and textual criticism, and working in archives. The modules also include sessions in the Cadbury Research Library.
Assessment: 1,000-word research proposal and 3,000-word literature review
This module builds on the skills developed in the Research Skills module. It is designed to support you in developing your dissertation research topic and to equip you with the skills and experience that you need to present and communicate your research to an academic audience. The module will develop your ability to structure and present research effectively in different formats, and your confidence in speaking to an audience and responding to questions. You will be supported by individual supervisory tutorials with your project advisor, lectures in poster and oral presentation techniques, and weekly group writing sessions. The mid-module poster presentation and end of module MA conference will give you the opportunity to participate in different modes of research presentation, to discuss your work with academics and fellow MA students, and to demonstrate presentational skills demanded by employers as well as by a career in academic research.
Assessment: Research poster and 15-minute conference presentation
You will choose two modules from a range which typically includes:
Meeting Medieval Manuscripts
Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Studies
Modernism and Contemporary Literature
Evolutions of Popular Literature
Meeting Medieval Manuscripts
For full module descriptions, see our Literature and Culture MA modules page.
You also have a choice of two options from a range of modules that explore specific topics within the range of literary periods and themes we offer. Options vary from year to year, but those available typically include:
After the Deluge: Writing and Recovery after the First World War
American Frontiers: Nation and Identity in the Nineteenth Century
Decoding Pop Culture
Elizabeth I and her Poets
Fantastic Beasts and Where They Came From
Fantasy and fandom: writing back to the medieval in modern fantasy
From Plato to the Postmodern: Theories of Literature and Art
Islamophobia and the Novel
Last Year's Novels
Making Global Literature in Britain
Mapping the Middle Ages: Cultural Encounters in the Medieval East and West
Paradise Lost: Text and context
Remembering World War One
Senses of the Past: Historical Fiction in the Long Nineteenth Century
Single Author: Virginia Woolf
The Art of Translation
The End of Life As We Know It: The Implications of Digital Technology
The Work of Giants: Old English Tales and their Afterlives in Fiction and Film
In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.
Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.
The deadline for international students (including EU) to apply is Thursday 1 July 2021. The deadline for UK students is Thursday 9 September 2021.
Our Standard Requirements
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 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 an example of your work 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 2,000 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 also 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.
Academic requirements: we accept a range of qualifications - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements: for this course, we ask for IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band or PTE with 67 in all four skills. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional course – if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.
The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team that offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.
You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:
Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV
What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.
Postgraduate employability: English Literature
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 5 years, 78% of English Literature postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). Many of our graduates go on to further study or academia, while others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations including copywriting, project management, publishing and teaching.