Literary Linguistics MA


Fact file

MA Literary Linguistics
1 year full-time, 2-3 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree from British University or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Transcripts are required
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course combines the theoretical and ideological dimensions of language study with practical applications.
Read full overview

The School of English at Nottingham has long been in the forefront of research and teaching in the interface between language, literature and culture.

The MA Literary Linguistics provides an exciting opportunity to explore the interface of language, cognition, literature and culture. You will work with several leading world figures while discovering your own position as a stylician.  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 believe in a humane linguistics and a rational approach to literary scholarship. 

This course explores the role of language in literature using a variety of approaches, ranging from discourse analysis to corpus linguistics and cognitive poetics. 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.

Key facts

  • The key features of this course include a theoretical grounding in research methodology and linguistic description; one-to-one tuition with expert members of staff; teaching informed by active leading-edge researchers in the field; innovative and engaging teaching methods; access to many online resources and flexibility in course content
  • The MA Literary Linguistics is one of the most prestigious programmes in the world, established for over 50 years 
  • This MA is convened in the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics
  • The MA Literary Linguistics is also available as a web-based distance learning course
  • The School was ranked 6th for English in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017 and 9th in the UK for 'research power' (REF 2014).

Hear from current students in our School of English Masters student videos.


Course details

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. 

This course can be taken over one year, full-time (September to September) and part-time over 2 to 3 years.

Many of the modules on this course are optional but you need to take 120 credits’ worth of modules before completing the dissertation.

You will be taught using the latest advances in teaching methods and electronic resources, as well as small group and individual tuition.

Most taught modules are assessed by written work of around 3,000 words or equivalent (for a 15-credit module).

Tutors provide detailed comments on assignments. The objective is to provide you with the confidence to work as professional academics, at ease with the conventions of the discipline, and ready to tackle any area of research in literary linguistics.

In the early stages of your dissertation, your supervisor will read through and comment on draft work. The dissertation itself comprises a piece of your own research, assessed by written work of 14,000 words.

This MA is also available as a web-based distance learning course. 



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 subject to change but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.

1) Typically students take the module:

Research in Literary Linguistics (15 credits, Autumn Semester)

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 module 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. The range of key research methods and methodologies in stylistics will be studied.

2) Students choose between 60 and 105 credits from this representative group:

Consciousness in Fiction (15 credits, Autumn Semester) 
The module will explore in depth techniques 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. Our stylistic analyses of fictional minds will also aim to account for historical changes in the techniques used for consciousness presentation.
Intercultural Communication (15 credits, Autumn Semester) 
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 language classroom, etc.
Old English Texts I (15 credits, Autumn Semester) 
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. 
Fiction: Form & Context (15 credits, Autumn Semester) 
This module explores the structures, techniques, and methodologies of fiction through both creative and analytical practice. Students examine a range of international fiction from a writer’s perspective, with an emphasis on craft. Assignments include creative exercises of imitation or modelling, as well as direct responses to works of fiction in ways that demonstrate a practical understanding of their qualities. Analytical writing focuses on the functional aspects of selected works. Particular issues for consideration might include narrative voice and technique, point of view, character development, dialogue, plot, and setting. Students consider not only the elements of fiction, but also how those elements contribute to overall structure of a narrative. 
Dramatic Discourse (15 credits, Spring Semester)
This module explores the relationship between language and drama. Taking a multi-faceted approach, drawing on facets of linguistic analysis from stylistics, discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, the module considers the role of language in moving dramatic scripts from page to stage, exploring aspects of characterisation (such as identity, power and provocation), the role of language in story-telling on stage and the 'management' of performance through stage directions. Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, the module investigates the role of language in shaping character, dialogue, interaction and staging.
Cognition and Literature (15 credits, Spring Semester)
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.
Language and Gender (15 credits, Spring Semester) 
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. 
Research Methods: Corpus Linguistics (15 credits, Spring Semester) 
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3) Students can then choose modules from any of those in the School of English (subject to convenor's agreement)

These include modules in the areas of: applied linguistics, English language, medieval studies, Viking & Anglo-Saxon studies, creative writing and English literature. Some optional modules may have pre-requisites; if so, these are specified in the module catalogue.

Further details on our modules can be found in the Module Catalogue.

Students choose their modules at the beginning of the Autumn Semester.

Please note that all modules are subject to availability and are therefore liable to change.

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

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.

However, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities. Please visit the School’s website for the latest information about funding opportunities.

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. Previous MA Literary Linguistics graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers, with a particularly high proportion continuing their dissertation research into doctorates and into academic posts at universities around the world.

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 from the School of English at 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.

Average starting salary and career progression

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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Graham Hancock
Postgraduate Administrator
School of English
The University of Nottingham
University Park
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