Triangle

Course overview

This course is for the curious. It’s designed for literature lovers who want to explore beyond the surface, questioning how the very language in our favourite literary texts works.

We will explore the role of language in literature, using approaches from discourse analysis to corpus linguistics, from cognitive poetics to narratology. We believe that linguistics and literary study cannot be separated, and aim to turn you into a creative-thinking interdisciplinary expert in literary linguistics.

You will have the opportunity to work with some of the leading scholars in this field, as you develop your own thinking and follow your own research interests.

Explore the interface of language, literature, culture and cognition, all while discovering your own position as a stylistician.

Why choose this course?

Ranked 10th

for grade point average among 92 universities, and 7th in the Russell Group.

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Get involved

and attend research events with the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRAL)

Want flexible study?

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

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.

Part time students will typically take three modules each academic year. You can take one in the autumn term and two in spring, or visa versa, depending on your preference and module choice.

The dissertation will take place over the final summer of your studies.

All classes take place during weekdays.

Modules

All students take the below module:

Mastering the Arts: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research

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.

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 Friday 15 July 2022.

You will take at least three of the following 20-credit modules:

Cognition and Literature

This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It aims to understand the meanings, emotions and effects of literary reading based on our current best understanding of language and mind. This means drawing on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics. You will also develop skills in stylistics and critical theory.

Cognitive poetics attempts to find answers to the following questions:

  • How is it that different readers interpret the same literary work differently?
  • How can we care emotionally about fictional people in books?
  • How do some literary works make you cry, or laugh, or be fearful or joyous?
  • How do we understand the minds of other people, real and imaginary?
  • How do literary works create atmosphere, tone, and ambience?
  • Does reality and fictionality matter?
  • How does language create worlds?

You do not need to have a background in both linguistics and literary studies – either area will be perfect preparation for your exploration of cognitive poetics. You will be taught in a small-group two-hour tutorial discussion.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Consciousness in Fiction

This module studies the representation of fictional consciousness.

Character consciousness has become so fundamental to any narrative, that we hardly think about the problems involved in representing another person's mind.

On this module, you will:

  • explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts
  • 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
  • examine the style of narrative texts that portray consciousness and study the theories that explain their methods
  • consider the historical development of consciousness presentation techniques

The module is worth 20 credits.

Dramatic Discourse

Explore the relationship between the ‘dramatic text’ of the written script, and the ‘theatrical text’ of the script in performance. 

Working with texts from the early modern period to the present day, we will draw on aspects of stylistics and discourse analysis. 

You will consider:

  • 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
  • the 'management' of performance through stage directions 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Literary Linguistics

Explore the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts.

Through a series of practical analyses, you 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 you 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.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Narratology

Study key work in narratology from literary, stylistic and sociolinguistic perspectives.

We will explore narrative texts in terms of:

  • structure
  • temporal organisation
  • characterisation
  • point of view
  • ideology

You will examine both literary and non-literary narratives and gain an understanding of the historical development of narrative techniques.

This module is worth 20 credits.

You then take up to 40-credits of modules from the School of English. This can be from any of the below areas:

  • Applied Linguistics
  • English Language
  • Medieval Studies
  • Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies
  • Creative Writing
  • English Literature
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 Friday 15 July 2022.

You will complete a 60-credit dissertation:

Literary Linguistics MA Dissertation

During the summer, you will complete a 60-credit dissertation (14,000 words). You will be supervised by a member of staff with expertise in your chosen field.

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 Friday 15 July 2022.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Group study

You 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. 

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

  • Exams
  • Essays
  • 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 will typically have six hours of face-to-face timetabled contact a week. Your tutors will also be available during office hours to discuss your work, address any issues, and help you develop your understanding.

Study hours

One credit is approximately 10 hours of student work, so a 20-credit module will be around 200 hours of work.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) in English language/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 MA
Home / UK To Be Confirmed
International To Be Confirmed

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.

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 (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Funding

Routes into Masters Scholarships

Aimed at UK-based students intending to progress on to PhD research. The Scholarships cover:

Apply for a Routes into Masters Scholarship

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

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.

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

This course provides the perfect preparation for a career in:

  • publishing
  • teaching English
  • creative writing
  • journalism

"The MA has been hugely helpful with regards to my career, as it deepened my knowledge of my subject. It also showed to my current employers, and the interviewers for my PGCE, how committed I am to my subject and learning. I'm confident I wouldn't be where I am now without it."

- Jessica Heather, Literary Linguistics MA graduate

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
" Literary Linguistics is a discipline that empowers the reader. It gives us the tools to explain why literary texts affect us so powerfully, why we love some texts more than others, why we feel transported when we read literature. You will be able to understand your own interpretations and those of others through examining how texts are crafted and investigating the techniques that account for their literariness. "
Violeta Sotirova, Associate Professor in Stylistics

Related courses

This content was last updated on Friday 15 July 2022. 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.