Comparative Literature MA


Fact file

MA Comparative Literature
1 year full-time, 2-3 years part-time
Entry requirements
A first degree with at least an upper second class honours, or an equivalent qualification.
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.


Combines close study of texts with wider theoretical and cultural contexts, advancing your knowledge and research skills.
Read full overview

This MA offers students the opportunity to study, in comparative perspective, in the original language or in translation as appropriate, a range of national and regional literatures from around the world written in European languages taught in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. In offering literatures in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Serbian/Croatian from Europe, the Americas and Africa, this programme provides one of the most comprehensive comparative literature coverages in the UK. Uniquely students are also given the opportunity to acquire skills in literary translation and the crirical management of such translations by opting for modules from the MA in Translation Studies and partaking in the activities of the School's Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies. The availability of optional modules allows students to put together an individual programme of comparative literature study, drawing on the expertise available in the School, to reflect their own current research interests and future research trajectories.


Course details

The programme consists of a full-time taught course of twelve months or a part-time course over twenty-four to thirty-six months. It is designed for graduates who wish to continue their literary studies in a comparative perspective and offers an excellent springboard for further research. Students are required to complete four 20-credit modules and submit a 60-credit dissertation (15,000 words) to be submitted on 30 September. The four core modules consist of: two offering grounding in research methodologies 'Research Skills in Languages and Intercultural Studies’ and ‘Research Methods: the laboratory of the Arts’; one offering an introduction to the theory and practice of Comparative Literature ‘World Literatures – Texts and Contexts: Introduction to Comparative Literature’; and one module introducing to contemporary theorists ‘Tradition of Critique’. In semester one and semester two, students have the option to take uniquely designed directed reading modules, in collaboration with an academic supervisor, to reflect their particular combination of language competences and their interests. Alternatively students can opt to take one or more Level 4 modules available in the School provided they fulfil the module's prerequisites.  


Subject specific modules


Directed Study for Cultures, Languages and Area Studies - 1 and 2

These two 20 credit modules 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.


Research Methods in Linguistics: Language, History and Society

This module provides an introduction to current theoretical approaches and research methods in linguistics, with particular emphasis on the study of language in its historical and social contexts. In the first part of the module, students are introduced to current topics and methods in sociolinguistics, including language variation, language standardization and de-standardizations, and language status, and to methods including data collection (questionnaire design, interview techniques, ethical considerations) and discourse analysis. The second part of the module deals with historical sociolinguistics: how social factors have interacted with language choices and language change in the past. In the final part of the module, students will be introduced to corpus linguistic approaches to investigating language use in the past, but also in the present (e.g. web as corpus, social media). The module is practical in orientation, and students will be required to try out techniques in research design and data collection in the course of the module.


Research Skills in Modern Languages and Intercultural Studies

Starting with the experience of engaging with foreign languages and cultures in a world marked by international relations and transnational exchange and by the legacies of colonialism and imperialism, this module introduces students to the ways cultures interact, exchange ideas, arts and commodities. Considering relevant theories along with case studies that range from the early modern period to the present day, it takes a cross-disciplinary approach to postgraduate study and research in Modern Languages in the areas of linguistics, history, politics, critical theory, literature, film, the visual arts, and culture and media studies. The module programme covers key areas of intercultural studies in Modern Languages: languages and transcultural experience, empires and the (post) colonial world, nation and immigration, cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism and globalisation, and gender and ethnicity. It also provides Modern Languages students with practical research skills which complement research skills training by the Graduate School and the Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts Graduate Centre, e.g. presentational skills, academic writing skills, and career planning.


World Literatures - Texts and Contexts: Introduction to Comparative Literature

The module introduces the discipline of Comparative Literature (theory and practice). This includes introducing relevant theories of world literature, cultural transfer and translation, and the application of such theories to selected literary material from a range of cultural and literary contexts (case studies). By looking at what is considered a key 'classical' text in different literary traditions the module investigates relations between different literary and cultural contexts, including the difficulties of translation between them. The module is taught in English and texts will be read in translation, but students with additional linguistic competencies will be given the opportunity to access the texts in their original language. The case studies come from the following contexts: Western literature (which may be any one of the following: French, German, English or Hispanic), Russian literature, Chinese literature and Arabic literature.

Professional Development modules

All students will take one of the following two modules:

Research Methods: The Laboratory of the Arts

This module enhances students’ research skills, to support engagement in high-level research on a disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and transdisciplinary basis. An array of research techniques and methodologies will be critically reviewed and students will develop skills in gathering research insights from a range of sources drawn from across the Faculty.

Arts in Society

This module is designed to encourage students to think about the broader context of the Arts: to appreciate, evaluate and communicate the value of the Arts beyond the academy. Students will engage with the practices and techniques required to produce advanced research and develop the skills to communicate this research to a variety of audiences.



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.



If you choose to study with us, there are various sources of funding to which you can apply. Some are administered by the school, others by research bodies to which the school has links, and others by the University and central government sources. These opportunities are often specific to particular degree programmes, or to the fee-status of a student, so it is important to read all related information very carefully.

More information about funding can be found on the following web pages.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies funding pages

University of Nottingham Graduate School funding pages

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



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.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 96.6% of postgraduates from the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £25,314 with the highest being £35,000.**

**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of 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.  

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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