MLitt in Contemporary Studies


Program Description

The MLitt Contemporary Studies is a one year interdisciplinary Masters degree. It explores what it means to label something as “contemporary” and considers how knowledge is defined and disseminated in different disciplines.

The MLitt Contemporary Studies is an interdisciplinary degree that explores the nature of the contemporary. It addresses contemporary subjects from a range of arts, social science, and science disciplinary perspectives. The programme will develop your ability to approach contemporary subjects and challenges with an interdisciplinary, and thus flexible, mindset.


  • Brings together students from the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences - offering an interdisciplinary degree that is unique within St Andrews.
  • Broadens your knowledge base and enhances your skills of analysis and communication; you will think beyond the methodologies of any single discipline and start to develop a common lexicon that bridges disciplinary divides.
  • Students complete two short placements that promote engagement beyond academia and help you develop your professional skills set.
  • Your summer research project can take the form of a practice-based submission based on a practical component such as a video essay, curation work, or website design or a standard written dissertation.

What might a specialist in English literature, a computer scientist, and a physicist have to say about climate change? How might a linguist, a social anthropologist, and a biologist approach concepts of time in the 21st century? The MLitt Contemporary Studies considers how issues deemed to be contemporary are approached differently by different academic disciplines as well as by those outside academia. Bringing together academic staff from the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences, this programme offers an interdisciplinary degree that is unique within St Andrews and rare in an academic context in the UK.

The multidisciplinary approach means that you will think beyond the concepts, theories, and methodologies of any single academic discipline as well as learn how to challenge disciplinary stereotypes and start to develop a common lexicon that bridges disciplinary divides.

You will also have the opportunity to complete two short placements (of up to three days each). Placements will be hosted within the University or with an external agency. The placements serve to promote engagement and communication beyond the academic context and to build on the skills set that you can offer to future employers.

Whatever your disciplinary background, the MLitt Contemporary Studies will help you to see it in a new light.

Teaching format

The MLitt degree is a one-year full-time programme. Students complete two core modules in semester 1 (September to December) and a third core module as well as one or two optional modules in semester 2 (January to June). The period from June to August is used to complete the summer research project.

The MLitt degree involves both independent and group study and teaching methods include seminars, workshops, and reflective practice. Most modules are assessed through coursework including written assignments, presentations, and reflective work.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment.


Each semester is organised around core modules exploring the concepts and methodologies needed to complete the summer research project.

Semester 1

  • Being Contemporary: Knowledge, Methodology, Skills 1: explores how disciplines define what is contemporary; a short placement gives insights to contemporary challenges.
  • Contextualising the Contemporary: focuses on a single topic defined as contemporary and encourages students to develop a more flexible approach to problem-solving.

Semester 2

  • Being Contemporary: Knowledge, Methodology, Skills 2: building on Semester 1, students explore further disciplinary perspectives and complete a further short placement.


Optional modules allow you to shape the degree around your own personal and professional interests. Students normally take one or two optional modules in Semester 2.

The optional modules available vary each year but include modules from the Schools of:

  • Art History
  • Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Modern Languages
  • Social Anthropology
  • Psychology and Neuroscience

Optional modules are subject to change each year and may require a minimum number of students to be offered.


The final module of the MLitt degree is the summer research project. The project takes the form of a period of independent supervised research where you explore a contemporary topic in depth. Through the project, you will apply the theory and analytical methods learned in the core modules.

Projects take one of three forms:

  • 15,000-word dissertation based on one discipline and supervised in one School,
  • 15,000-word dissertation based on two or more disciplines and co-supervised by two or more Schools,
  • practice-based submission comprising a practical component (such as a video essay, curation work, website design, etc.) and a 7,500-word reflective component.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Certificate or a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PG Cert or PGDip instead of an MLitt.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry.


The MLitt Contemporary Studies provides the subject knowledge and general skills needed for a range of leadership and professional careers. It will be of particular interest if you are considering a career in academia or research. You will:

  • synthesise multiple perspectives and generate new approaches,
  • combine and apply different methodologies to contemporary global issues,
  • engage with the latest research on the nature of the contemporary,
  • develop your broader transferable skills in areas such as project management, team working and communicating academic concepts to mixed audiences.

Alongside your studies, you will be able to complete the M-Skills programme, a programme of face-to-face and online workshops and training materials for Masters students. M-Skills will help you develop the broader personal and professional skills you need to succeed in your degree and enhance your employability.

Additionally, the Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of career development events.

Entry requirements

  • A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • English language proficiency.

The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé (one page).
  • personal statement explaining.
    • why you have applied for this course,
    • how it relates to your personal or professional ambitions,
    • how your academic and professional background show you have the skills needed to work effectively at a postgraduate level.
  • two original signed academic references on headed paper.
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).



Scholarships are designed to help students support themselves during their studies.

Postgraduate loans

Loans are available for students who meet the residency and other criteria.

Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Last updated Oct 2019

About the School

Founded in the fifteenth century, St Andrews is Scotland's first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world. St Andrews is a unique place to study and live. Nestled on the east coas ... Read More

Founded in the fifteenth century, St Andrews is Scotland's first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world. St Andrews is a unique place to study and live. Nestled on the east coast of Scotland, students may find themselves crossing golf-courses on their way to class, or jogging along the beach after dinner. Not only does the University have a world-class reputation, but it also offers a diverse range of social activities, including over 140 student societies and 50 sports clubs. Historic buildings are juxtaposed against the modern facilities, and the many student traditions truly make studying at St Andrews an unforgettable experience. Read less
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