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Course overview

Do you love nothing more than a good book? Or perhaps you're fascinated by the inner workings of your favourite texts? If so, this course is for you.

Our published staff will support you to build your research skills and explore a range of literary genres, from Romantic poetry to dystopias. We focus on:

  • questions of genre
  • establishing and challenging a literary canon
  • the idea of the archive, notions of orality and performance
  • the relationship between manuscript and print cultures
  • editorial practice and politics

We also investigate textual and critical issues involved in studying literatures in their cultural and historical contexts. For example, you might trace the textual history of a modernist novel through its drafts, or investigate the epistolary networks which shaped court poetry.

You can also study what you enjoy the most, with optional modules in:

  • Late Middle English poetry
  • Early Modern Drama
  • Regional Literature

Why choose this course?

Ranked 9th

in the UK by 'research power'

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Get ‘Off The Page’

meet established and emerging writers at our creative writing event series

Top 100 University

Ranked in the top 100 Universities

QS World University rankings 2021

Want flexible study?

specialise in one of ten areas on our MA Applied English Distance Learning Programme

Explore opportunity

Course content

Pre-arrival reading lists will be sent out with registration information before you join your course, where available.

The total credits for this course are 180, which in a full-time degree is made up of three 20-credit modules in autumn, three 20-credit modules in spring, then a 60-credit dissertation over the summer.

For part time students, completing the course in 24 months, you will typically choose three 20-credit modules in the first and second years of study, and complete the 60-credit dissertation over two summers.

All classes take place during weekdays.

Modules

You will take one of the following two modules (worth 20 credits each):

Mastering the Arts: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research

This module has been developed to introduce you to a range of research techniques and methodologies. It will also help you develop a variety of valuable transferable skills for your future career.

You will achieve:

  • greater confidence in dealing with original research
  • a recognition of the huge range of approaches that can be used to address research questions.

We build on the research skills you have already developed during both your undergraduate degree and discipline-specific MA modules. The emphasis is on:

  • ensuring you are possessed of a range of practical ways to approach research
  • making you think about the nature of your discipline-specific approaches within a context of growing interdisciplinarity.

You will have the chance to consider topics as varied as:

  • academic publishing
  • digital transformations
  • use of illustrations in dissertations.

You will also have the opportunity to hear academics from across the Faculty talk about the problems they have confronted and how they overcame them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Mastering the Arts introductory video 

Arts in Society

We will help you to apply your arts MA across society to enhance your career and contribute to wider society.

We'll demonstrate how the arts can be used to:

  • transform society, politics and culture
  • enhance the careers of arts and humanities MA students.

You'll be able to explore, explain and then detail how your disciplinary skills can impact upon wider issues to emphasise the applicability of the arts and humanities. From the role of the scholar activist to understanding ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘public engagement’, you'll develop professional skills in preparation for a career within academia or across a range of sectors.

You will:

  • harness the ways in which the arts and humanities enable us to think differently and to innovate
  • work on issues of research, networking, grant-writing and cultural exchange
  • learn how to engage, communicate and create.

This module is worth 20 credits.

 

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 Monday 07 December 2020.

This is a flexible course, which allows you to solely take English literature modules, or to incorporate some modules from elsewhere in the school if you wish.

Literature: 1500 - The Present modules (20 credits each):

Literary Histories

It has often been suggested that the very idea of literary history of a narrative that understands, classifies, and explains, the English literary past is an inherent impossibility. The relationship between literature and the history of the time of its creation is an equally vexed and productive question. This module will look at the various ways in which literature in the last few centuries has combined with the study of history, with significant changes in the ways in which works of the past are viewed, and also how histories of literature began to be constructed (a history of literary histories, so to speak) paying attention to such questions as the development of the literary canon, periodicity, inclusions and exclusions, rediscoveries, and lack of representation. It will also look at the ways in which literary biography, autobiography and life-writing relate to the creation of literary histories. This will be a team-taught module, introducing key topics in the area and apply them to a variety of types of literature from different historical periods, and the myriad critical ways in which such literature has been viewed, retrospectively.

Literature in Britain Since 1950

This module embraces literature in Britain since the Second World War, taking 1950 as the starting point, after which distinctive post-war cultural and social trends began to emerge. The critical trend to divide the period into two, with 1979 as a watershed, will be subjected to critical scrutiny: continuities as well as discontinuities in the literature written before and after 1979 will be considered. Key practitioners will be discussed, but the aim is not to provide an exhaustive overview of the period, but rather to present a developed account of important topics and debates, using an appropriate combination of teaching blocks. We aim to offer a level of study that is appropriate for MA level, whilst clearly giving prospective doctoral students the opportunity to begin important work in the study of contemporary writing.The module concentrates on the novel.

Modernism and the Avant-Garde in Literature and Drama

This module will investigate radical strategies of aesthetic presentation and the challenge they offered to prevailing limits of personal, gender and national identity between 1890 and 1960. Through a selection of key literary, dramatic, cultural, and critical texts, the module will examine ways that modernist and avant-garde writings draw their formal, generic and political borders, how they reconfigure ideas of the self, and what the political consequences of that reconfiguration are. The module will also consider the multiple meanings of 'radicalism' in an aesthetic and literary context, relating those meanings to questions of taste, community, and the market. This will be a team-taught module which examines a wide spectrum of literature and drama, including as well the era's cultural criticism and more recent critical and theoretical studies. Some of the texts are difficult; students will be expected to have read material thoroughly before each seminar, and to come prepared to discuss its theoretical, aesthetic and political implications.

Place, Region, Empire

This module will explore the relationship between literary texts and cultural concepts of place. Students will be introduced to a selection of texts that can range from the 16C to the present, and a range of approaches deriving from recent interdisciplinary convergences between disciplines including literary criticism, cultural geography, literary history and theories of nationalism and postcolonialism. Topics for discussion might include: maps and cultural cartographies; urbanism and the literature of cities; travel and literary tourism; regional and provincial literature; nationalism and cosmopolitanism; colonialism and the postcolonial; the literature of empire; ideas of community and dwelling; the relation between literary and spatial forms. Writers to be considered will vary from year to year.

Poetry: Best words, Best Order

This module will look at various authors, movements, and genres in the history of poetry written in English from 1500 to the present, offering both an overview of certain key chronological areas, and cases studies of more specific movements or ideas. Themes and areas of focus may include: late medieval, the 'drab', religious verse, poetry and science, Epicureanism, verse epistles, gender and recovery, 'minor' poets and failure, Empire and Romanticism, the dramatic monologue, modernist poetics, free verse, ecopoetics.

Speculative Fictions

This module will introduce students to the study of speculative fiction from across a broad historical spectrum ranging from the Medieval period to the present, including an awareness of the historical contexts out of which speculative genres emerge and of their ongoing cultural relevance. Not only is speculative fiction 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 authors and will choose two particular authors either from the same historical period or from different periods  to study in depth. The module will engage with a variety of genres and media, such as prose, poetry, film, the graphic novel and the illuminated manuscript(the exact selection of texts and type of text will vary).

Textualities: Defining, making and using text

This module provides an introduction to the presentation of text through editing and anthologising.It considers modes of transmission, both manuscript and print, and modes of representation, including scholarly editions and anthologies, both print and digital. It interrogates editorial theory and practice, including ‘best text’, genetic editing and single witness. Students are encouraged to apply questions of editing to their own areas of interest, and work through the practicalities of producing an edition themselves.

Dramatic Discourse

Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, this module explores the relationship between the ‘dramatic text’ of the written script and the ‘theatrical text’ of the script in performance through the lens of linguistic analysis. Drawing on facets of stylistics and discourse analysis, 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.

Shakespeare: Text, Stage and Screen

This module offers students the opportunity to explore the fluidity and interpretive possibilities of the Shakespeare work and text across multiple genres. Built around three theatre trips, this module will go into depth on three plays, looking at their literary interest (from textual history and sources to thematic concerns and characterisation) and their performative possibilities, including at least one stage and one screen adaptation of each play. By approaching the plays from multiple angles, students will be able to consider the varied potential for reinterpretation and recreation that each text offers. Students will build on seminar explorations (taught by a team of tutors) to develop their own project question about the interpretive possibilities opened up by different versions, and the choices made by specific interpreters of the text. Projects will be developed in consultation with tutors to take into account the interplay of performance and text.

Riotous Performance: Drama, Disruption and Protest

This module allows you to engage with a range of modern drama, all themed around the idea of riot.This module explores the phenomenon of the riot, examining both how such a notion is defined and how it might relate to other kinds of western performance event. In particular, the module asks students to analyse the way that riots have both been triggered by, and represented in, an assortment of other performances, and students will be encouraged to compare and contrast material from a range of different chronological periods and across a range of different genres. Although the module is largely focused upon dramatic texts, it will allow students the opportunity to consider an assortment of other performance events, as we analyse the drama of Synge and O’Casey, the ballet of Stravinsky and Nijinsky, and the performance poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson.

If you would like to take modules from elsewhere in the school, you can take modules from the representative list shown below:

English Language and Applied Linguistics modules (20 credits each):

Cognition and Literature

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.

Consciousness in Fiction

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.

Drama and Creative Writing modules (20 credits each):

Creative Writing Conventions and Techniques

Develop your writing practice by exploring a range of creative techniques and media as they apply to both prose and poetry. You will be encouraged to reflect on your writing output and incorporate the critiques of others when editing and developing your work.

Writing Workshop: Fiction

Examine the process of novel writing by exploring various structures, techniques, and methodologies and engaging with an international body of work in genres such as fiction, creative non-fiction, and autofiction.

Writing Workshop: Poetry

Explore a range of poetic conventions and the contexts in which poetry is produced whilst developing your own poetic style. Through the ‘practitioner’ approach, students are not only supported in their craft but encouraged to work towards submitting their work for publication. The reading list includes poetry magazines; new writers’ anthologies; debut poetry collections; poetry in performance.

Learning to Publish: Contemporary Forms & Practices

This module is designed to introduce students to the broad publishing landscape, including: journals, small presses, online writing and social media. Students will explore the landscape of contemporary literary journals both offline and online, and study the practical skills needed to research, write, edit and publish writing across a range of forms and platforms. The module will be structured around practical work in support of The Letters Page literary journal, and will be a mixture of lecture-style content on relevant topics and practical writing workshops.

Learning to Read: Criticism for Creative Writers

Analyse how reading and writing techniques can be affected by literary, theoretical, personal, and cultural contexts. You will explore a wide range of texts, including hybrid forms such as the creative critical essay, the poem-essay, and art-writing.

Dramatic Discourse

Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, this module explores the relationship between the ‘dramatic text’ of the written script and the ‘theatrical text’ of the script in performance through the lens of linguistic analysis. Drawing on facets of stylistics and discourse analysis, 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.

Medieval Language and Literature modules (20 credits each):

The History of the Book: 1200-1600

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.

Middle English Romance

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.

Reading Old English

This module provides an intensive introduction to the Old English language, taking students through its grammar and through a selection of texts in prose and verse. Each week an aspect of language will be studied through exercises and focussed work on extracts from ‘real’ Old English. By the end of the module, students will have an understanding of the Old English grammar and syntax, and will be familiar with texts from a number of genres, extracts of which they will have translated. Understanding of the language and of the set texts and their literary and cultural context will be tested in the coursework assessment.

Reading Old Norse

This course provides an intensive introduction to the Old Norse language, taking students through its grammar and through a selection of texts in prose and verse. Each week an aspect of language will be studied through exercises and focussed work on extracts from ‘real’ Old Norse. By the end of the module, students will have an understanding of Old Norse grammar and syntax, and will be familiar with texts from a number of genres, extracts of which they will have translated. Understanding of the language and of the set texts and their literary and cultural context will be tested in the coursework assessment.

Research Methods in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies

The module provides a substantial grounding in the research resources and methods appropriate to interdisciplinary Viking and Anglo-Saxon studies. All teaching takes place through an intensive extended field-trip and a series of workshops. The workshops will introduce you to a variety of approaches to the study of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, including runology and name-studies, as well as providing a practical insight to public engagement and museums. You will also be given basic bibliographical training and the field-trip will provide an opportunity for you to discover a range of material and linguistic evidence relevant to the study of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, and to understand the importance of interpreting the evidence within its landscape setting. You will produce a portfolio of assessed work to reflect your learning in these areas. Please note that the timing and location of the field-trip are to be decided. As part of this module students will also have the opportunity to learn about public engagement through the well-established 'Vikings/Anglo-Saxons for Schools' project.

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 Monday 07 December 2020.

You will complete a 60-credit dissertation:

English Literature MA Dissertation

The final element of the course is a 60-credit, 14,000-word dissertation, which you complete over the summer period.

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 Monday 07 December 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Group study

Students are taught in small seminar groups, so there is plenty of opportunity for discussion of ideas and development of our students as researchers.

MA Dissertation Preparation Day

This is an opportunity for students to learn more about the challenges of a larger-scale research project, about supervision and support, and about the resources available to Masters researchers. It is also a social occasion, bringing together our postgraduate students as an academic community. 

Find out more about the Dissertation Preparation Day.

Peer mentoring

All new postgraduate taught students can opt into our peer mentoring scheme. Your peer mentor will help you settle into life at Nottingham and access support if needed. 

More about peer mentoring.

How you will be assessed

  • Essay
  • Dissertation

Most modules are assessed by written work of varying lengths, corresponding with the content and weighting of the module.

Your course tutors provide detailed comments on assignments.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 14,000-word dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area.

Your dissertation supervisor will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research. 

Contact time and study hours

You'll have around six hours of seminars (or equivalent) each week, which feeds into your independent study and research during the rest of the week.

As a guide, a 20-credit module is about 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) in English literature or a related arts or humanities subject

Applying

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

How to apply

Fees

Qualification All
Home / UK To be confirmed in 2020
International To be confirmed in 2020

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (for example Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Funding

Midlands4Cities Nottingham Masters Studentships

These financial awards are for students wishing to pursue a full-time on-site masters over a maximum period of one year.

Apply to the M4C programme

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

The University also offers masters scholarships for international and EU students. Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about funding postgraduate study.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

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.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Graduate destinations

Our graduates enter a diverse rage of careers. The skills gained during this degree stand our graduates in good stead in areas from publishing to the heritage sector, and from marketing to academia.

You will gain a range of transferable skills, including:

  • collating information
  • writing persuasively
  • managing deadlines
  • balancing creative and analytical thinking

Career progression

For postgraduate taught students from the School of English: 

  • 97.4% are in work or study 15 months after graduating
  • 81.6% are in graduate level work or study 15 months after graduating 

Source: University of Nottingham derived figures from HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey of the Class of 2017/18 (Open Data Release 23rd June 2020)

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" The power to think critically, write persuasively, and read with a fine sensitivity to the nuances of prose and poetry are three remarkable skills that you will take away from your advanced studies of English Literature at Nottingham. These things will provide the basis for a truly enhanced appreciation of Literature and literary studies and will equip you for a competitive job market. "
Dr Rebekah Scott, Programme Director

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Monday 07 December 2020. 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.