Course overview

Do you believe literature holds the key to better understanding a country and its people? Do you have a passion for gaining insights into other cultures?

Our Comparative Literature MA offers you the opportunity to study, in a comparative perspective, a range of literatures from around the world. You may read in either the original language or in translation. 

The department offers literatures in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Serbian/Croatian from Europe, the Americas and Africa, making this programme one of the most comprehensive comparative literature coverages in the UK.

You are given the opportunity to gain skills in literary translation and their critical management by opting for modules from the MA in Translation Studies. You're also invited to get involved with the Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies.

To deepen your knowledge in the area of comparative literature there is also the option to learn a new language or improve skills in a language you've learnt previously.

The range of optional modules allows you to put together an individual programme of comparative literature study, drawing on the expertise available in the department, to reflect your own current research interests and future research trajectories.

Why choose this course?

Explore literatures

Explore literatures either in your chosen language or English translation

Global perspectives

Get to know literatures from around the world

Reading in translation

 Learn about translation in theory and practice

Literary translation

Gain skills in this area through optional modules

Learn a language

Learn a new language or improve skills in a language you've learnt previously

Course content

You are required to complete four 20 credit modules and submit a 60 credit dissertation (15,000 words).


Core modules

Mastering the Arts

This module introduces you to the wide range of interdisciplinary research happening in the Faculty of Arts. We invite you to ‘think outside the box’ in relation to your own research, while learning key research techniques and methods. The module aims to:

  • introduce the ideas, practices, complexities, and opportunities of interdisciplinary research in the arts
  • enable you to practice critical self-reflexivity about the conventions and expectations of your own disciplines in relation to those of others
  • train you in core research skills necessary for graduate-level study
  • develop your confidence in communicating research findings to non-specialist audiences

You will build on your existing research skills gained from your university career to date. Furthermore, you will develop a more nuanced understanding of your own research practice, inspiring you to explore different approaches questions. In addition, you will develop an understanding of professional practice in areas such as:

  • academic publishing
  • knowledge exchange
  • dissertation planning and writing
  • professional communication

This module is worth 20 credits.

World Literatures - Empires and Others 20 credits

This module explores how the relationships between the modern Western colonial empires and their former colonies or nations with which they established relationships, are reflected in twentieth-century short stories in French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

Attention will be paid to the evolution of the short story form during the twentieth century, and to the engagement of these stories with cultures subject to or subjugated by the European colonial powers or the cultures of these powers themselves.

World Literatures - Translating and Adapting Texts of 'Revolution' 20 credits

This module looks at literature of the period ‘around’ the French Revolution (1789-94), including the run-up to it and the political, cultural and literary battle over revolutionary ideas and threats that followed. The focus will be on two ‘canonical’ texts of German ‘revolutionary’ literature - J. W. Goethe’s novel Die Leiden des jungen Werther and Friedrich Schiller’s play Die Räuber - and their reception and adaptations in Britain between 1779 and 1800. One English poem from the post-revolution context, equally ‘canonical’, that attacks efforts to suppress reform in Britain: P. B. Shelley’s Mask of Anarchy will also be included, taking into account its place in Shelley’s work and its reception in Germany.

Through this topic of ‘revolution’ two key areas of comparative literature studies will be explored: transnational literature and the dynamics of cultural transfer and literary circulation.

Dissertation 60 credits

This module consists of the selection, research and writing up of a topic in the field of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, chosen after consultation with the Course Director and other appropriate staff members.

This is a compulsory core module worth 60 credits.

Optional modules

To make up their credits to the full 180 for the year, students need to choose 60 more credits.

Students must choose at least one or both from:

Directed Study for Cultures, Languages and Area Studies I 20 credits

This module will consist of a programme of reading to be agreed with the module director in a field of study within the area of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies.

Directed Study for Cultures, Languages and Area Studies II 20 credits

This module will consist of a programme of reading to be agreed with the module director in a field of study within the area of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies.

In addition, they must also choose either 20 or 40 credits from:

Introduction to Translation Theory

Build a critical and reflective approach to your translation practice by understanding the varying theories that have been prominent in the Western world. You will study the history of translation, potentially including comparative literature, and different translation and transfer models across a range of genres.

You’ll have the opportunity to examine a number of case studies for each theory of translation, in a variety of different languages. But don’t worry, proficiency in these languages is not a prerequisite, as we will focus on translation dynamics.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Translating Texts 20 credits

This module will introduce you to the translation practices for three of the most common types of text: informative (such as news reports), expressive (such as poetry/drama) and operative (such adverts). You will build on the translation theories explored within other modules and have the opportunity to apply them within your own practice.

You’ll learn through lectures and language-specific workshops. Lectures will present various approaches to translation and within the workshops you’ll put your learning into practice by translating texts and discussing why you’ve chosen a particular method.

All our workshop leaders are specialists in their languages(s) and most have experience of working as a translator.

You will be assessed through one piece of summative coursework where you’ll translate three texts, each with an accompanying commentary.

Audiovisual Translation: Accessibility 20 credits

Accessibility is an important consideration in audiovisual translation and this module will introduce you to the key practices involved. You’ll focus on the theory and practice(s) of different aspects of audiovisual translation, with the main focus being on subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and audio description.

You will also examine linguistic, technical, and cultural specificities of audiovisual translation in detail. The module will be delivered in a series of weekly two-hour seminars.

Language modules 10 credits

Whether you’re interested in opening up career opportunities around the world, giving your studies a boost by gaining access to research in other languages or simply planning to travel after your studies, developing foreign language skills will help you stand out from the crowd.

We offer nine languages and you can start as a beginner or at a more advanced level.

  • Arabic
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

You may also choose from the following foreign language-related modules:

  • Language and Language Learning
  • Culture of Arabic Language
  • Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages
  • Exploring Intercultural Awareness

Find out more about learning a language alongside your studies

English for Language Professionals 20 credits

Further develop your English language skills focussing on areas which are important for language professionals:

  • lexis, structure and functions
  • receptive and productive skills
  • textual aspects
  • situational constraints, pragmatics and register
  • relevant cultural background
  • corpus research methods for register, genre and discourse analysis.

You’ll also discover a range valuable sources of information and guidance which will benefit you throughout your career.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 27 July 2023.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars

You will work mainly in small seminar groups, sometimes with Comparative Literature students, sometimes with students on other MA courses, such as Translation Studies.

How you will be assessed

  • Essay
  • Dissertation
  • Coursework

Most modules are assessed by means of essays or coursework. The pass mark for MA study is 50%. You have to pass the taught modules in the first and second semesters in order to proceed to the dissertation stage. Your taught modules make up 120 credits of your degree. The dissertation equals 60 credits and is assessed at the end of the Summer.

Contact time and study hours

Each 20 credit module involves about 3 hours of classroom contact over a 10-12 week period. You will have six 20 credits modules over the year. Directed Study modules involve tutorials with two supervisors on a fortnightly basis in term time. Class sizes vary but are usually between 10-20 students and teaching takes place Monday to Friday.

We're pleased to announce that Modern Languages academics have been awarded seven Lord Dearing Awards over the last five years. These recognise outstanding student learning and are based on nominations from students and other academics. Our Lord Dearing Winners are: Erica Brasil, Pierre-Alexis Mével, Heike Bartel, Jose Rino Soares, Tara Webster-Deakin, Marilena Minoia, Manuel Lagares Alonso

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 ( or international equivalent) in Literature, Languages, Cultural Studies or a similar subject; ideally some knowledge of a European language other than English


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MA
Home / UK £9,250
International £22,600

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

As a student on this course, we do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies, which you would need to factor into your budget.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Many of our postgraduates have taken up academic posts in higher education institutions in the UK and abroad. Others have embarked upon careers in curriculum design, interpreting and translation, publishing and research.

Career progression

90.9% of postgraduates from the School of Modern Languages and Cultures secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £25,028.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" My favourite thing about the course was its diversity. It’s wonderfully dynamic; allowing students to tailor their studies to their specific areas of interest. The course is well-structured and is made up of a mixture of compulsory and optional modules. This provides students with the opportunity to develop the essential skills they require for further study and/or employment. "
Lauren Ogden

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This content was last updated on Thursday 27 July 2023. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.