English Literature: Writing in the Modern Age

MA ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )


Writing in the Modern Age examines how modernism and modern writing interact with politics, art history, philosophy, psychoanalysis, theology, postcolonialism, and critical theory.

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This pathway offers a historically wide-ranging, theoretically rigorous, and generically diverse grounding in twentieth-century literary culture. It examines modernism alongside non- and post-modernist writing, and situates all three in relation to politics, philosophy, and other artistic media of the twentieth century.

The pathway has a global outlook, asking how modernism may look from Cape Town, Dublin, or Kingstown, Jamaica, as well as from London, Paris or New York. It stresses the diversity of modern experience, and of literature striving to express the nature of ‘modernity’ itself.

The compulsory module, ‘Modernism and After’, tracks the central debates that run through modern writing and criticism. What is ‘modern’ and what comes after it? What counts as ‘art’? How have relations between ‘high’ and ‘low’ altered over time? How does writing relate to racial or gendered ‘otherness’? How has writing rethought the politics of freedom and containment? How does literature change with new recording and distribution formats? How can criticism deal with creativity? These questions open up the last 120 years or so of literary and cultural innovation, and frame the other modules you choose to take.

The Department of English has notable research and teaching strengths in the field of Modernist literature and culture, and is a leading centre of Modernist research in London and the UK. Staff working in Modernism at Queen Mary include Suzanne Hobson (author of Angels of Modernism: Religion, Culture, Aesthetics, 1910-1960 [Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011]), Scott McCracken (currently editing the Dorothy Richardson Scholarly Editions Project, a major joint collaboration between Queen Mary, the University of Oxford, the University of Birmingham, and Birkbeck, and author of Masculinities, Modernist Fiction and the Urban Public Sphere [Manchester University Press, 2007]), Morag Shiach (whose extensive and wide-ranging work on the literature and culture of Modernism includes the important monograph, Modernism, Labour and Selfhood in British Literature and Culture, 1890-1930 [Cambridge: CUP, 2004]), and Michèle Barrett (renowned authority on Virginia Woolf and the cultural history of the First World War). Other staff whose work touches upon the period include Sam Halliday, who works on science and technology in culture, and Peter Howarth, an authority on twentieth-century poetry. Suzanne Hobson and Scott McCracken also co-organise the preeminent Modernist research seminar in London, the Modernism Research Seminar, at the Institute of English Studies.

For more information please have a look at the School of English and Drama website.


The MA in Writing in the Modern Age is currently available for one year full-time study, or two years part-time study.

Modules are taught in weekly two-hour seminars. The research-training module will involve visits to archives and galleries which may each take up an afternoon. The dissertation is supervised through sessions with a specially designated supervisor. In addition to the timetabled sessions, you will be asked to attend meetings with your adviser and course tutor. You will also need to undertake many hours of independent learning and research in order to progress at the required level. When coursework deadlines are approaching independent learning hours may need to increase significantly.

You will take four assessed modules, an unassessed skills module training module as well as the 15,000-word dissertation. The dissertation is taught through a combination of workshops, supervisions, and offers an opportunity for you to present your ideas at the MA Conference which is held in June.


You will take four assessed modules (two in each semester) and one non-assessed research training module (in Semester One) before proceeding to the 15,000-word dissertation.


We understand the need for flexibility for part-time students. In your first year, you take the compulsory core module, an unassessed skills module, and one optional module. In your second year you take two optional modules and the dissertation. The dissertation is taught through a combination of workshops, supervisions, and offers an opportunity for you to present your ideas at the MA Conference which is held in June. Teaching takes place during the day.


Compulsory modules

  • Modernism and After
  • Resources for Research (unassessed)
  • Dissertation

Option modules

You choose three modules (one of which may be from another School in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences or College of the University of London).

In 2019-20 we hope to offer the following. If members of our specialist research staff win research funding it will mean that their module won’t run, so for that reason this list is indicative only.  

  • Benjamin and Adorno
  • Cultural Legacies of the First World War
  • Imagining the Caribbean
  • The State of the Novel

You may, subject to availability and the approval of the School, take one of your option modules from across a range offered by other Schools in the Humanities and Social Science Faculty, or from other Colleges of the University of London.

In addition to taught modules, we run a range of research seminars to which all MA students are invited. Some of these are linked to our interdisciplinary Research Centres, such as the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, the Centre for Religion and Literature in English and the Centre for the History of the Emotions. Others are collaborations with other institutions, such as the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar. With visiting speakers from across the world, these seminars are an opportunity to meet other postgraduate students and members of staff and to learn about the latest developments in research.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Most applicants will have an undergraduate degree with a first or good upper second class honours (or the equivalent) in English or such related fields as history, cultural studies and media studies. Where a North American marking scheme is used, applicants should have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5.

Promising applicants who do not meet the formal academic criteria but who possess relevant credentials and who can demonstrate their ability to produce written work at masters level will also be considered. Applicants may be invited to interview or asked to submit examples of written and/or creative work. We welcome applications from mature and non-traditional students.

International applicants: Students from outside of the UK help form a global community here at Queen Mary. For detailed country specific entry requirements please visit the International section of our website. If your first language is not English, you must provide evidence of your English language proficiency. You can find details on our English language entry requirements here: www.qmul.ac.uk/international/languagerequirements

If you do not meet language or scholarly requirements it might be possible for you to undertake foundation or pre-sessional programmes that will prepare you for the masters programme. For more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

Learning and teaching


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £9,150
Part time £4,575

Tuition fees for International students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £16,350
Part time £8,175

Part time fees are charged per annum over two years for a two year programme and per annum over three years for a three year programme. A percentage increase may be applied to the fees in years two and three.

This increase is defined each year and published on the intranet and in the Tuition Fee Regulations. A 3% increase was applied to the unregulated university fees in 2019/20. Further information can be viewed on our University Fees webpage, including details about annual increases.


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079
email bursaries@qmul.ac.uk

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717



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