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Course overview

At Nottingham, we go beyond a love of books. Our optional modules means you can tailor your degree to what interests you the most, or even specialise in several areas of English studies at once, including:

  • Literature 1500 to the Present
  • Drama and Medieval Literature and Language
  • English Language and Applied Linguistics

You will be introduced to the main subject-areas within English Studies and explore what it is to be human through the historical, cultural and social contexts of a text.

This course will also develop advanced research skills, explore a range of specialist topics and construct individual programmes of study based on your interests.

Why choose this course?

Ranked 9th

in the UK by 'research power'

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Want flexible study?

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

Top 100 University

Ranked in the top 100 Universities

QS World University rankings 2021

Join the community

meet your tutors and fellow students at our annual Summer School

Course content

This course is made up of 180 credits, broken down into six 20-credit modules and a 60-credit dissertation.

Each module lasts for four months, so students should complete three modules each year. During the first two years of the course, you should therefore complete all six modules, then move onto your dissertation.

Modules

Students must pass the below 20-credit module, in order to progress to the rest of the course:

Approaches to Text

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’.

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 Wednesday 19 August 2020.

You will choose five 20-credit modules from the below:

Literary Linguistics 1

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.

Discourse Analysis 1

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.

Language and Gender 1

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.

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.

What is Literature?

This 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. We want you to come away from this module confident in your ability to use different critical methodologies and theoretical frameworks to read literary texts. 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.

Narratology

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.

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.

Psycholinguistics 1

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
  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).

Investigating Health Communication

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.

From Englisc to Inglish: History of the English Language

This module offers students an introduction to the history of the English language from before the arrival of the first Anglo-Saxon settlers from the Continent in the mid-fifth century to the twenty-first century. The topics covered by the module include, among others, language contact and borrowing, word-formation, phonological, morphological and syntactic changes, dialectal and sociolectal variation, and standardisation. The module heavily relies on literary texts to exemplify linguistic points, hence providing an opportunity to analyse the stylistic effects of particular linguistic choices.

Literary Geographies

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

A range of writers and texts will be considered.

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.

Shakespeare, Space and Place

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. 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 'foreign' or 'other', the urban and the pastoral, and notions of thematic wildness and how these are realised lingustically, 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.

Old English Texts 1

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.

The Gothic

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

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

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 draws on a range of theoretical frameworks for analysing performance, engaging with key critical thinkers such as Brecht, Bakhtin, Carlson and Schechner to consider a range of performances from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries from both conventional and radical stages. 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

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.

English Place-Names: Language, Landscape, History

English place-names are short texts, coined as transparent descriptions in the languages spoken in Britain over the past millennia. Many of them originated in the speech of everyday people, and therefore record perspectives unrecoverable from early texts which emanate from centres of power or learning. They therefore provide valuable evidence of all sorts – about early language(s) (British, Latin, English, Scandinavian, and French), history, historical geography, and landscape. This module will provide a background in onomastic research methodology and the ways in which place-names can be used to explore questions about the past. Students will complete assessments to demonstrate that they are able to take a sound historical-linguistic approach to place-name evidence, and undertake a project which will assess the value of that evidence for research into the past.

DH Lawrence and Modernism

This module will explore DH Lawrence’s relationship to literary modernism and modernity, reading his work in several genres against the aesthetic practises of his modernist contemporaries, while locating it 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 as literary and cultural critic
  • Lawrence and the Great War
  • Lawrence and exile
  • Lawrence, gender and suffragism
Literary Linguistics 2

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

Discourse Analysis

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. The implications for language pedagogy and other branches of applied linguistics (e.g.applications in other professional contexts) are considered, and students are encouraged to consider these in their own written work if appropriate.

Language and Gender

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.

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 Wednesday 19 August 2020.

You will complete a 60-credit dissertation:

English Distance Learning - Dissertation

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 60-credit 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.

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 Wednesday 19 August 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Course materials and teaching are all delivered online over 'Moodle', our virtual learning environment. You will have access to many online resources, including:

  • e-books
  • textbooks
  • articles
  • teaching notes
  • recorded materials
  • links to further reading and resources
  • online communications channels (i.e. Microsoft Teams)

You will also have your own module tutor for each module that you take. They are there to support you with the academic content and your academic development.

Teaching methods include:

  • student-tutor communication via email/Skype/Teams
  • student-student communication via Moodle and Teams
  • self-study
  • university-wide online courses and tutorials

How you will be assessed

All taught modules are assessed by written work of around 4,000 words or equivalent. Your course tutors provide detailed comments on assignments.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 60-credit 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.

Assessment types include:

  • written essays
  • formative assessment (on smaller-scale modules)
  • modules also contain activities and exercises, with the latter being commented on by tutors

Contact time and study hours

Each credit is worth 10 hours of study. How students distribute and allocate this time is entirely up to them, as study is designed to work around their lifestyle and other commitments.

All teaching materials are available 24/7 via Moodle and the online library.

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 degreeTypically 2:1 or above, but we will consider 2:2 (or international equivalent), in English language or literature or a related arts or humanities subject

Applying

You can apply to start your course on either 21 September 2021 or 1 February 2022.

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 texts you’ll need through our online library, though you may wish to buy your own copies.

Summer school

Students who choose to attend our annual Summer School event are required to pay for their own transport and accommodation costs.

Funding

Distance learning fees

Distance learning students are charged a standard fee, with no differentiation between UK/EU and international students.

See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide.

Student loans and course duration

If you are funded by a student loan, there will be restrictions on your course duration. We recommended that you visit the Student Loans from the Student Loans Company page on the website before you register for the course to make sure you understand the implications of this. We also recommended that you contact your funding body, to check you meet their requirements.

If you are funded through the Student Loans Company (SLC), you must complete the course within two years to be eligible for funding. This includes the taught element and your dissertation. If you do not complete the course within two years, you will be ineligible for funding.

The recommended duration of our Distance Learning programmes is three years. We recognise that the majority of our students are in full-time work and have workloads that fluctuate throughout the year, and we find a three-year duration most suitably accommodates this.

If you register for one of our courses with a student loan, we strongly recommend that you contact your personal advisor as soon as possible to let them know that you need to complete the course in two years. This way we can organise your study plan accordingly.

Please note: it is the student’s responsibility to check they meet the requirements of the loan provider before applying. If you have any questions about the requirements of your loan, please contact your funding provider.

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

This course will develop a range of transferable skills, including:

  • the ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly
  • the ability to present your research results in an articulate and effective way across a range of platforms and outputs

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
" This course presented a large number of options. I was not confined to either English language or literature but could choose from either area. The study of Old Norse was a particular interest and the University of Nottingham was one of the few places where I could do this. "
Hilary Kirkland, English Studies by Web-based Distance Learning student

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 Wednesday 19 August 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.