English Literature MA

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)


January, September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Course duration: 12 months full-time or up to 3 years part-time (September starts); 15 months full-time or up to 3 years part-time (January starts)

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Pursue your love of literature at an advanced level, study modules on topics from the Renaissance to the modern day, and gain research skills that will help you stand out to employers or progress to a PhD. Our Masters course is ideal if you want to advance your teaching career or begin the move into academia.

Find out more about teaching options and studying during COVID-19 in the Entry requirements section, below.

Full description


This course will give you the higher-level skills to stand out in today’s competitive job market.

If you are a teacher, you could study with us to update your knowledge and further your existing career, or even move into another discipline. Or, if you are hoping to move on to an academic post, this course will give you the research skills you will need for a PhD.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Major Project
    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a Masters dissertation, allowing you to explore in-depth a particular topic that reflects your academic interest.
  • Shakespeare and Society
    On this module, you will focus on a detailed study of Shakespeare's works and their later performance, history and creative reception in the context of the social changes at work both in his era and in the centuries which followed. You will study a wide-ranging selection of Shakespeare’s works, including examples from all major genres. You will explore key cultural contexts, such as gender, race, politics and power, in relation to both the early modern stage and to later adaptations and performances. From the seventeenth century to the present day, Shakespeare's works have been re-appropriated within a range of different cultural, geographical and political contexts. This module will require you to examine an indicative selection of these: global performances, film versions, poetic and visual responses, prequels and sequels in fiction and drama. You will also be required to engage with relevant critical and theoretical debates. Your two assessment elements for this module consist of a 1000-word critical review and a 5000-word essay.
  • Revolution and Reform in the Long Nineteenth Century
    On this module, you will examine writing produced during the ‘long’ 19th century that relates to or engages with the revolutions and major reforms between 1789 and 1914. The controversies and revolutions of the period are political, religious, social, cultural, and scientific: for example, the political ferment in Britain following the French Revolution and after the Napoleonic Wars, and the continuing pressures for a widening of the franchise throughout the Victorian period and beyond; the socio-scientific debates about sanitation in overcrowded Victorian cities; social, political, medical and legal debates about the status of women; and the changing scientific and religious divisions prompted by evolutionary hypothesis and discovery. You will consider the imaginative use of contemporary debate in the work of, for example, Wordsworth, Shelley, Dickens, Tennyson, Gaskell, Eliot and E.B. Browning alongside the strategies in a wide range of other writing and graphic art, paying close attention to the changing historical and political context. Your assessment will consist of two elements: a 10-minute oral presentation using PowerPoint or Prezi in which you will analyse a critical essay or article and assess its usefulness in relation to a literary text or texts, and a 5000-word essay on a topic of your choice, devised in consultation with the module leader.
  • Twentieth and Twenty First Century Fiction and Social Change
    This module provides a survey of literature from the 20th and 21st centuries. You will analyse fiction within a framework of social and political change. Centring on a number of key developments – the first and second world wars, gendered and sexual change, migration and multiculturalism, the rise of neo-liberalism and 9/11 – you will explore a range of literary and theoretical texts. Your assessment will include two elements, the first a 1000-word literature review discussing one key area of social change and its relationship to developments in fiction, the second comprises a 5000-word essay on a topic of your choice, devised in consultation with the module team.
  • Research Methods - English Literature
    This module covers the research methods necessary for completion of the MA dissertation, including topics such as developing research questions, critical practice and theory, archives, research methodologies, bibliographies, library searches, writing review essays, drafting proposals and structuring a dissertation. It will prepare you for the dissertation and give you an understanding of the literature and research methods in a specific aspect of the discipline of English. You will also have the opportunity to reflect on the nature of research and the discipline of English. You assessment will include three tasks, each of which will focus on your individual dissertation topic.


Modules are subject to change and availability.

In consultation with the Course Leader, you will have the opportunity to replace one core module with an Independent Learning Module or a module from the MA Publishing or MA Creative Writing.

Publishing modules include:

  • Creativity and Content in Publishing
  • Legal Rights and Digital Issues in Publishing
  • The Business of Publishing
  • Production Processes in Publishing

Creative Writing modules include:

  • Patterns of Story: Fiction and Forms
  • Workshop: the Short Story
  • Workshop: the novel

NB: To be considered for enrolment on any of the Creative Writing modules, you will be asked to submit a sample of your own writing and information on any creative writing study or experience you have in the semester before their chosen workshop begins. Please contact the Course Leader for further information in the first instance.

Your assessment will comprise a combination of essays, critical reviews and presentations, as well as a 15,000-word dissertation.

You can get advice on essay writing at consultation workshops which are built into the course.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, we believe in thinking critically about the past, present and future to challenge perceptions and better understand communities and people.

With expertise from gender issues to literary analysis to exploring how the past has shaped our modern world, all our staff members are active researchers. This is reflected in our teaching, allowing us to support our students with the latest theories and practices, as well as essential employability advice.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Specialist facilities

You’ll be able to access the world-class library at the University of Cambridge as well as our own campus library, plus electronic resources including Early English Books Online and JSTOR, an interdisciplinary archive of academic journals, books and primary sources.

Events and short courses

We organise many extra-curricular activities include an annual three-day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, poetry and writing evenings, and research symposia and conferences. You can also join societies through the Student Union, such as the Creative Writing or Harry Potter society.

You will be able to take our publishing and editing short courses at a discounted price, including:

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


UK students starting 2021/22 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (part-time, per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

Additional costs

Various optional trips

How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for postgraduate students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university.

International students

As well as a number of scholarships, we offer an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2021, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2021-22.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email answers@aru.ac.uk for further information.

Teaching options

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our students can choose to study face to face on campus or online only. They're also able to change their mode of delivery on given dates in each trimester.

For on-campus teaching, we offer at least four hours face-to-face teaching related contact time per week for our undergraduate full-time courses, supported by online learning using our established online learning systems. The number of contact hours varies course by course, and you can contact us for further information. The provision offered is subject to change due to the possibility of further Government restrictions, however we remain committed to delivering face-to-face teaching and ensuring a COVID-19 secure environment.

In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place due to the pandemic, we may need to move some courses online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.

View the impact of the current restrictions.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Check the standard entry requirements for IELTS requirements for this course.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online