Literary Linguistics by Web-based Distance Learning MA


Fact file

MA Literary Linguistics by Web-based Distance Learning
2-4 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1(Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
Other requirements
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September and February
Distance learning
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


Combining linguistics and literary study, this course aims to turn you into a creative-thinking interdisciplinary expert.
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The School of English at Nottingham has long been in the forefront of research and teaching in the interface between language, literature and culture. 

This web-based MA Literary Linguistics provides an exciting integration of English language in literary studies. You will work with several leading world figures in the course of discovering your own position in language and literature: the programme covers a wide range of material, with options to develop your own thinking and pursue your own interests and research. 

The principle of language study that we have established at Nottingham combines theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications; we aim to be rigorous and principled while offering an approach to literary language study that is fundamentally humane. 

We will explore the discourses of literary texts and literary reading, from the most focused study of the texture of language right up to the ideological and cultural practices of world literatures. 

We believe that linguistics and literary study cannot be separated, and we aim to turn you into a creative-thinking interdisciplinary expert in literary linguistics.

The MA has intakes in September and February.

Key facts

  • The MA courses by web-based distance learning build on the international reputation of the School of English at Nottingham as one of the foremost centres for English Language research in the world.
  • We are ranked 6th for English in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015, 51st  for English Language and Literature(QS World University Rankings 2016) and 9th in the UK for 'research power' (REF 2014).The course is taught using a course tool software called Moodle. It is also supported by extensive online resources, course materials and teaching.
  • The programme offers an excellent route towards pursuing a PhD.
  • This MA is convened in the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics and is among the most popular postgraduate courses of its kind in the UK.
  • The MA Literary Linguistics is also available as a taught full- or part-time course within the University.
  • As well as completing this course at a pace that suits you and your other commitments, you have the flexibility to study towards a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) or an MA (180 credits, including dissertation). Please note that if you wish to study for a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma you still need to apply for the full MA; you would then elect to leave the course with the alternative award (in Modern English Language) once studying.

Course details

The web-based MA Literary Linguistics is taught using the latest advances in online teaching methods and electronic resources.

The course explores the ways in which language and literary studies can be integrated. It draws on different contemporary approaches to language and discourse from the fields of modern linguistics, cognitive science and related fields. It covers a diverse range of poetry, prose and drama, and also offers contrastive study of non-literary discourse, including spoken language. 

Many of the modules on this course are optional and currently cover topics such as:

  • Descriptive Linguistic Analysis
  • The Teaching of Language and Literature
  • Narratology
  • Literary Linguistics
  • Language and Gender 
  • Cognition and Literature
  • Old English Texts
  • Old Norse Texts
  • Intercultural Communication 

Please note that all module details are subject to change. 

Towards the end of this course, you will complete a supervised dissertation. This is a 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 and support as you complete your research and your MA.

This course can be taken part-time over 24 to 48 months.

The MA begins with a preparation in Descriptive Linguistic Analysis (30 credits).This is a module in the advanced description of English, and includes a significant component in linguistic research methodology. The module has to be passed to progress in the programme. You then choose a further 90 credits in optional modules.

A 60-credit dissertation completes the MA.

You must take at least two-thirds (120 credits) of your course including your dissertation in an area of Literary Linguistics.

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 and linguistic description
  • 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 web pages. Further information about the structure of the course can be found in the student handbook.

This MA is also available on a full-or part-time basis, taught within the University.



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.

Descriptive Linguistic Analysis (30 credits)

This module is a core course in language and linguistics. It introduces and then develops the key terms, theories, frameworks, ideological approaches and methodologies required in linguistic study and research. It includes a substantial research methods component. It also invites and encourages critical evaluation, reflection and response to linguistic thinking and analysis.


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.

Literary Linguistics 2 (15 credits)

This module further explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts.


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. 


Narratology (15 credits)

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.


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 traditional 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.

Teaching Language and Literature 1 (15 credits)

The module will examine the use of representational materials in language teaching and the development of creative reading, processing and interpretative skills; language awareness, text awareness and cultural awareness will be seen as contributory factors to a five-skills approach to the teaching and learning of English as second or foreign language. This will involve the study of a wide range of texts and text-types, from both an analytical and a pedagogic viewpoint. Various approaches to language, linguistic and literary study will be considered, with their application to various pedagogic situations.


Teaching Language and Literature 2 (15 credits)

The module will further develop the use of representational materials in language teaching and the development of creative reading, processing and interpretative skills; language awareness, text awareness and cultural awareness will be seen as contributory factors to a five-skills approach to the teaching and learning of English as a second or foreign language. This will involve the study of a wide range of texts and text-types, from both an analytical and a pedagogic viewpoint. Various approaches to language, linguistic and literary study will be considered, with their application to various pedagogic situations. The module builds on Teaching Language and Literature 1 and develops a greater depth of knowledge.


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.


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.


Old Norse Texts

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.


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.

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.


Language and Gender 1 (15 credits)

The module 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 module will build on the theoretical and critical knowledge gained in Language and Gender 1, 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. 


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.



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.


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.


Further information about the above modules is available in the Module Catalogue. 

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



UK/EU Students

Please note that distance learning students are charged a standard fee with no differentiation between UK/EU and international students. Fees are paid on a module by module basis.

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and support from a trust or charity.

The School also provides a number of bursaries and scholarships for MA students.

Below you will find links to the latest information about the main sources of funding open to postgraduate students who wish to study in the School:

Funding for postgraduate students

The Graduate School website at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the School.

According to The Times, “English graduates have almost any career path open to them ... All of the big graduate recruiters look for communication skills.” (Clare Dight, ‘Degree Doctor…English’, The Times, 6 April 2006).

Conducting postgraduate work in the School of English fosters many vital skills and may give you a head start in the job market. Studying at this level allows you to develop qualities of self-discipline and self-motivation that are essential to employment in a wide range of different fields.

We will help you develop your ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly, and to present the results of your research in an articulate and effective way.

A postgraduate degree in English Studies from an institution like The University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Our applicants are among the best in the country, and employers expect the best from our graduates.

Average starting salary

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

Consequently – and owing to our reputation for excellence – more than 84% of postgraduates from the School of English enter employment or further study during the first six months after graduation. The average starting salary for postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts was £20,250 with the highest being £33,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field . Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. 

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  

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Dr Valerie Durow
School of English
The University of Nottingham
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