The School of English at Nottingham has long been at the forefront of research and teaching in the interface between language, literature and culture.
This innovative and flexible web-based MA in English Studies provides an exciting opportunity to specialise simultaneously in several areas of english studies: Literature 1500 to the present, English language and applied linguistics, drama and medieval literature and language. It will introduce students to the multidisciplinary dimensions of English studies and provide advanced knowledge of the current state of scholarship. Students on the programme will develop advanced research skills, have the opportunity to explore a range of specialist topics and construct individual programmes of study according to interests. Many of the modules on this course are optional and currently cover topics such as:
- Literary Linguistics
- Medieval English Romance
- Old Norse Texts
- Old English Texts
- What is Literature?
- D H Lawrence and Modernism
- Discourse Analysis
- Cognition and Literature
- World Englishes
- Literary Geographies
- The Gothic
- Shakespeare, Space and Place
- The History of the Book
- Intercultural Communication
Please note that all module details are subject to change.
The MA begins with a 30 credit module, Approaches to Text (30 credits), which will introduce students to the multidisciplinary dimensions of English Studies, followed by a further 90 credits in optional modules giving students the opportunity to explore a range of specialist topics and construct individual programmes of study according to interests.
Towards the end of this course, you will complete a supervised dissertation 60 credit dissertation. This is major piece of advanced independent research which you will undertake with the supervision of a specialist in your chosen area. We will provide you with advice and guidance while you select and refine your area of study, and offer close supervision as you complete your research and your MA.
This course can be taken on a part-time basis over 24 to 48 months.
Course materials and teaching for this course are available over the Internet.
All taught modules are assessed by written work of around 3,000 words or equivalent (for a 15-credit module). Tutors provide feedback on practice exercises as preparation, and detailed comments on assignments.
The dissertation module is assessed by written work of 14,000 words.
You will have access to many online resources, as well as your own personal tutor for each module that you take.
Particular features of the programme include:
- a theoretical grounding in research methodology
- one-to-one tuition with expert members of staff
- innovative and engaging teaching methods
- access to many online resources
- great flexibility in course content, optionality, and changes in direction.
All MA students in the School of English join a lively and thriving postgraduate community. As such, you will be invited to attend a voluntary `Summer School` each year, giving you a chance to meet other students in the School face-to-face.
Details of course fees and other costs are available on the School's web pages. Further information about the structure of the course can be found in the student handbook.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore representative but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.
Approaches to Text (30 credits)
This module is a core course in English Studies. It introduces the variety of ways in which written texts, particularly (though not exclusively) literary texts, can be critiqued and analysed in order to give a sense of the multi-disciplinary character of English Studies. To this end, the module attends both to familiar critical theories and practices including varieties of historicism, editorial theory and cultural criticism as well as theories and methodologies traditionally associated with other disciplines or specialisms,- such as book-history and bibliography, discourse analysis, performance studies, and archaeology. It aims to show how these diverse approaches can be brought to bear on an understanding of what constitutes ‘text’.
Psycholinguistics 1 (15 credits)
This module considers three fundamental and interrelated questions about psycholinguistics: 1. acquisition, or how language is acquired; 2. comprehension, or how words, sentences, and discourse are understood; and 3. production, or how words, sentences, and conversations are produced. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: lexical influences on sentence comprehension and production; first and second language acquisition; reading; language disorders (e.g., dyslexia, aphasia).
Psycholinguistics 2 (15 credits)
This module further examines psycholinguistics in the areas of: 1. acquisition, or how language is acquired; 2. comprehension, or how words, sentences, and discourse are understood; and 3. production, or how words, sentences, and conversations are produced. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: lexical influences on sentence comprehension and production; first and second language acquisition; reading; language disorders (e.g., dyslexia, aphasia).
Old Norse Texts (15 credits)
This module offers students the opportunity to explore the culture of medieval Scandinavia through the surviving literature in Old Norse. Seminars will concentrate on the reading and analysis of selected extracts from prose and poetry of Icelanders in the original, using A New Introduction to Old Norse. Students will be expected to read, and be prepared to discuss, complete texts read in translation, and the most important critical studies.
Literary Geographies (15 credits)
This module will explore the importance of ideas of space and place in literary texts from the eighteenth century to the present day. Students will be introduced to a range of critical perspectives that arise from recent interdisciplinary convergences between literary criticism and cultural geography. Topics for discussion might include: ecocriticism and ecopoetics; maps and cultural cartographies; urbanism and the literature of cities; nature and culture; travel and literary tourism; regional and provincial literature; nationalism and cosmopolitanism; ideas of community and dwelling; the relation between literary and spatial forms. Writers to be considered will range from Alexander Pope and William Wordsworth to Thomas Hardy, Alice Oswald, and Graham Swift.
The History of the Book 1200 - 1600 (15 credits)
This module introduces the study of the book as artefact. Students will learn about methods of construction and compilation, handwriting and early printing techniques, reading marginalia as well as text; they will also be introduced to the benefits and applications, as well as the problems, of applying an understanding of the artefact to the texts contained within.
Shakespeare, Space and Place (15 credits)
Focussing on the works of Shakespeare, this module pursues a burgeoning interest across the field of early modern studies in ideas of place and location. It will explore the performative and linguistic contexts of productions, past and present, of the plays. In tandem with the general turn in literary studies towards critical cultural geography, 'Shakespeare, Space, and Place' will integrate a range of theories relating to space and place to explore the presence of Shakespeare and his work in place making and place meaning through questions of performance, language and cultural resonance. The module will allow students to work on individual but related units covering encounters with the 'forgien' or 'other', the urban and the pastoral, and notions of linguistic and thematic wildness, allowing for formative textual analyses and small project work en route. Case-studies focussed on individual plays and/or clusters of plays across a range of genres, as well as on specific sites of production such as the early modern playhouses, will encourage a range of geographically and historically informed explorations of different kinds of place-based relationships. Independent projects on Shakespeare and/in place will be encouraged for the assessment.
D H Lawrence and Modernism (15 credits)
This module will explore D. H. Lawrence’s relationship to literary modernism and modernity, reading his work in several genres against the aesthetic practises of his modernist contemporaries, while also examining his work in the historical context of the early twentieth century. Topics for consideration might include: Lawrence, realism and literary experimentalism; Lawrence and the modernist visual arts; Lawrence and Imagism; Lawrence and drama; Lawrence, travel writings and the postcolonial; Lawrence as literary and cultural critic; Lawrence and the Great War; Lawrence and exile; Lawrence, gender and suffragism.
Investigating Health Communication (30 credits)
This module is intended to introduce students to the rapidly expanding field of health communication. The module focuses on two key areas in the field: narratives of healthcare and healthcare documentation. It will equip students with a high level knowledge of narrative and documentation theory and explore how much of what takes place in healthcare exchanges is governed by the kinds of narratives and documents that are used. Students will also develop and practice skills in identifying and analysing narratives of, and documents relating to, patients, professionals and policy makers. Students will understand how knowledge of healthcare texts can be used to enhance therapeutic interventions and practices across a range of healthcare disciplines. Students will appreciate how healthcare environments, structures and practices are informed by broader, macro-level organisational narratives and policies.
Old English Texts (15 credits)
A knowledge of Old English is crucial to the in-depth study of the history and development of the English language, English place-names, culture and society in pre-modern England. This module offers students the opportunity to explore the literary ideas and culture of Anglo-Saxon England through the study of selected original texts. Using Peter Baker’s Introduction to Old English, the module will introduce basic elements of Old English grammar and syntax to prepare students for reading and enjoying the texts. Wide reading of texts in translation, and discussion of poetry and prose in the light of historical and critical scholarship will form an important part of the module.
This module will introduce students to the study of Gothic literature, including an awareness of the historical contexts out of which the genre emerged and of its ongoing cultural relevance in the form of adaptations and appropriations. Not only is the Gothic an area of ongoing scholarly and popular interest, but also it allows for the theoretical discussion of, and critical reflection on, key contemporary issues, such as the problem of evil, identity, alterity, freedom and terror. Students will read works by a selection of key authors within the genre and will acquire a sense of the way in which these relate both to the contexts out of which they emerge as well as to those in which we read them today. Students will engage with a variety of genres and media, including prose, poetry, film and the graphic novel.
Intercultural Communication (15 credits)
This module will explore the use of language in interactions between speakers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds from three different perspectives: Description, Development, and Assessment. With a growing proportion of interactions in the world today taking place between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to identify and describe language use which may lead to misunderstanding and communicative breakdown. This module will look at ways in which language barriers might be overcome in such interactions, and at the key factors in this process. We will examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, e.g. business and other professional encounters, the language of the media, the foreign language classroom, etc.
Performance: Contexts and Frameworks (15 credits)
This module introduces key contexts and frameworks for performance in order to enable critical exploration of central questions about the relationships between the making and reception of drama, theatre and performance. What is performance? Why do we perform? How does performance make meaning? And who for? The module covers a range of performances from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and from both conventional and radical stages. It engages with key critical thinkers such as Brecht, Bakhtin, Carlson and Schechner, and introduces a range of theoretical frameworks for analysing performance. The focus throughout is on the multiple potential relationships between performance and audience in a variety of contexts of performance on and beyond the stage: students will encounter performance that engages directly with politics, history and place and have the opportunity to develop appropriate critical vocabulary and frameworks to analyse these interactions. As well as working with a wide variety of material contained within the module, students will be encouraged to draw upon their own encounters with performance.
Advanced Study Module (Medieval) (15 credits)
The aim of this module is to provide the opportunity for students to take further, in the form of a project, a topic which has engaged their interest in modules already successfully completed on the MA. The project should be discrete and not merely an expansion of work already undertaken. The topic might be (inter alia) a linguistic or literary study, but it must be discussed with and agreed by the supervisor, who will advise on the scope and writing up of the project so that it appropriately reflects ‘advanced study’. A list of tutors available to supervise projects, and their areas of expertise, will be made available on the School website.
Middle English Romance (15 credits)
This module considers twenty-first century historicized readings of a major English literary genre, and demonstrates that medieval English romance texts can be set in complex and profound critical relationship to each other and to other artistic media. Such an approach is possible largely because of the vibrant and privileged international socio-literary milieu in which many romance tracts were first written and received. Students will be encouraged to explore how reading Middle English romance texts can equip us with vocabulary and concepts to discuss the cultural specificities of the literary representations of romance, love and chivalry in this period, the representations of public and private identities, and the questions regarding individuality and selfhood that arise in literature produced in a volatile period of religious and social uncertainty and dissent. These are all issues that now define “the Middle Ages” for modern scholars.
Literary Linguistics 1 (15 credits)
This module explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. Through a series of practical analyses, students will be introduced to a range of linguistic explorations of poetry, prose, and drama from a wide range of historical periods. The course will invite students to use the analyses as an occasion for the critical evaluation of the various approaches to language and literature, to investigate the notions of literariness and interpretation, and to consider the scope and validity of stylistics in relation to literature and literary studies.
World Englishes 1 (15 credits)
The module will examine the historical and social development of the English language in contexts largely but not exclusively outside the traitional boundaries of Great Britain and the United States. This will involve an examination of language development, nativisation and acculturation in different contexts; social, political and ideological aspects of the phenomenon will be examined.
Discourse Analysis 1 (15 credits)
The module looks at various approaches to the study of spoken language. These include structural models based on the work of the Birmingham discourse analysts, as well as more sociolinguistically inspired approaches to conversation analysis and recent developments in spoken corpus linguistics. Each learning unit takes a different kind of discourse and progressively builds up a classification of discourse types or genres. Real spoken data are used throughout, for exemplification and practical analysis tasks. Both quantitative (corpus-based) and qualitative approaches to analysis are covered, and the implications for language pedagogy and other branches of applied linguistics (e.g.applications in other professional contexts) are considered.
Discourse Analysis 2 (15 credits)
The module develops approaches to the study of spoken language, building on structural models based on the work of the Birmingham discourse analysts, as well as more sociolinguistically inspired approaches to conversaation analysis and recent developments in spoken corpus linguistics. Each learning unit takes a different kind of discourse and progressively builds up a further classification of discourse types or genres. Real spoken data are used throughout, for exemplification and practical analysis tasks. Both quantitative (corpus-based) and qualitative approaches to analysis are covered, and the implications for language pedagogy and other branches of applied linguistics (e.g. applications in other professional cntexts) are considered in greater depth.
Language and Gender 1 (15 credits)
The course will explore the relationship between language and gender in spoken interaction and written texts, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. The extent to which gender affects the language we produce when interacting with one another in a variety of contexts will be focused on, along with the issue of sexism in language use. Various theoretical paradigms that have been presented to explain language and gender differences will be critically examined, along with gender ideologies which operate in society. Students will be encouraged to combine theoretical thinking with hands-on analyses of data from authentic examples of spoken interaction and from a variety of publications including the popular media. The practical consequences of the discipline in terms of how findings can have a political impact on wider society are also discussed.
Language and Gender 2 (15 credits)
The course will build on the theoretical and critical knowledge gained in Language and Gender I, in order to develop practical methodological and analytical skills in a range of discourse situations. These will include issues of language and gender in an educational and pedagogic context, in the cyberspace, in the media, in medical settings and the courtroom. With further reference to current work in the field, students will apply their knowledge of discourse analytic, sociolinguistic and pragmatic approaches to examining the inter-relations between language, gender and society.
This module surveys key work in narratology, from literary, stylistic and sociolinguistic perspectives, with each unit written by an area specialist. The module introduces key approaches to the study of narratology and offers students insight into the development of narrative from Chaucer to the present day. The emphasis will be on literary narratives, though comparative exploration of non-literary and narratives will also appear.
Cognition and Literature (15 credits)
This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It draws on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics, in order to develop an understanding of the processes involved in literary reading. The module also develops skills in stylistics and critical theory.
What is Literature? (30 credits)
This 30-credit module addresses the question ‘What is literature?’ by introducing key critical methodologies and theoretical frameworks that have been developed to study literary and dramatic texts. The primary aim is to encourage you to become more reflexive about your own practice as a literary critic. For this reason, the range of the module is purposely broad. Each Unit introduces a particular critical methodology or theoretical framework and works through significant issues by examining a particular author, period or genre, ranging broadly over literatures from the fourteenth century to the present day
Dickens and Language (15 credits)
Through detailed study of a selection of his novels, this module will examine the language and style of Dickens. It investigates the creation of fictional worlds and techniques of characterization. While the focus is on Dickens, the module introduces stylistic approaches that are of wider applicability (such as approaches to body language in literature or computer-assisted methods of analysis). The module also deals with the reception of Dickens's novels and assesses Dickens's literary celebrity in the context of popular culture.
Consciousness in Fiction (15 credits)
The module will explore in depth narrative techniques used for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts. Students will learn about the linguistic indices associated with the point of view of characters and the various modes available to a writer for the presentation of characters’ thoughts and perceptions. Alongside detailed examinations of narrative texts which portray consciousness, students will also study different theories put forward to explain the nature of writing consciousness in texts. The module will also aim to explain historical changes in the style of writing consciousness, making connections with literary and cultural history.
Further information about the above modules is available in the Module Catalogue