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English Literature: Early Modern Literature, 1300-1700

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


Postgraduate Virtual Open Day 18 July 2018

12 -3pm, Find out more

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The MA in English Literature: Early Modern Studies, 1300-1700 pathway offers you the opportunity to explore the culture of the English Middle Ages and Renaissance within its European framework.

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The Early Modern Studies pathway invites you to study the vibrant culture of Europe between 1300 and 1700. Our approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on aspects of history, religion, and visual culture from the period as well as on its literature. In order to develop your understanding of pre-modern documentary and material culture, our teaching involves close study of original manuscripts and early printed texts and of early objects.

Working alongside distinguished scholars in English Literature you will be asked to think about what we mean by the terms ‘Medieval’ and ‘Early Modern’, and to formulate conclusions using a profoundly interdisciplinary approach: you will examine the literature, history, religion, visual culture, social relations, and politics of the period. Imaginative and ambitious themed modules enable you to study some of the most influential writers working between the 14th and 17th centuries within their cultural and historical context: Chaucer, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Donne, and Milton amongst others. You’ll construct a historical understanding of the key movements, debates, and ideas that shaped the period in preparation for researching and writing your dissertation.

Queen Mary’s strong early-modern cluster is widely recognised for its vibrant teaching and research strengths. The early-modern MA programme offers core study in medieval and early-modern historiography, and archival, bibliographical, and research skills. The optional modules draw on the interests of our leading researchers and vary from year to year. We have particular concentrations in globalisation, trade, the exotic, and cartography (Jerry Brotton, Alfred Hiatt); book history, the material text, and editing (David Colclough, Joad Raymond, Claire Preston, Julia Boffey, Tamara Atkin, Jaclyn Rasjic); epistolarity, early newspapers, news networks, the circulation of books and manuscripts (Ruth Ahnert, Joad Raymond, Warren Boutcher); and women’s writing (Andrea Brady).

Other research specialisms include prison writing, network theory, the history of reading, late-medieval London literary production, forgery, early-modern political thought, literary-scientific relations, medieval chronicles, prison writing, pre-Shakespearean drama, John Donne, John Milton, Thomas Browne.

You will be trained to a very high level in research skills and you’ll get hands-on experience of working with a variety of early modern items, with access to otherwise uncatalogued and unexplored materials. You’ll work with rare books and manuscripts during this training. Throughout, you’ll be considering the impact of developments in manuscript culture and the new technologies in printing and publishing in the period.

The optional modules draw on the interests of our leading researchers and vary from year to year. We have particular concentrations in globalisation, trade, the exotic, and cartography (Jerry Brotton, Alfred Hiatt); book history, the material text, and editing (David Colclough, Joad Raymond, Claire Preston, Julia Boffey, Tamara Atkin, Jaclyn Rasjic); epistolarity, early newspapers, news networks, the circulation of books and manuscripts (Ruth Ahnert, Joad Raymond, Warren Boutcher); and women’s writing (Andrea Brady).



The Early Modern Studies pathway is currently available for one year full-time study, or two years part-time study.

You take two compulsory modules and a 15,000-word dissertation.

Modules are taught in weekly two-hour seminars. The research-training module will involve visits to archives and galleries which may each take up to four hours. 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.


In addition to the compulsory modules, you choose two optional modules.


We understand the need for flexibility for part-time students. In your first year, you take one compulsory module and one optional module.  In your second year you take one compulsory module and one optional module, plus the dissertation. You are encouraged to begin work on your dissertation at the end of the first year, and will submit it in August of your second year. Teaching takes place during the day.

Timetables are likely to be finalised in September but you may be able to get an idea of the teaching hours if you contact the course convenor.

Compulsory modules

  • Writing in the Pre-Modern World
  • The Material Text, 1300-1700
  • Dissertation

Option modules:

You choose two modules from a list of options that changes from year to year (one can be from the range of modules offered across the MA English Studies curriculum). In 2017-2018 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. 

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

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:

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

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is primarily by small group seminars complemented, where relevant, with visits to museums, galleries, and archives in London. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and will involve you discussing with your peers your reflections on a range of primary and secondary materials.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; researching; producing written work; and completing projects.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


English modules are typically assessed via 4,000-word essays, although some modules offer alternative modes of assessment. You will also prepare a dissertation of 15,000 words following the completion of your taught modules. The module essays make up 67% of your overall mark, while the dissertation is worth 33%. Some modules ask you to complete a shorter piece of writing of 1,000; these pieces don't contribute to your overall grade but do allow us to provide formative feedback on your progress.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2018/19 Academic Year

Full time £8,700
Part time £4,350

Tuition fees for International students

2018/19 Academic Year

Full time £15,750
Part time £7,900


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

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

Graduate employment

Graduate Employment

English at Queen Mary produces independent researchers who can pursue careers in academia, the cultural sector, and a range of other professions.

Research training

Our masters programmes include compulsory research training elements. Many of these elements are period-specific and will help to enhance your understanding of certain literary periods and allow you to pursue successful independent research for your dissertation. Other elements work to develop key transferable skills in communication and research.

Professional development

Pursuing postgraduate study in English will make you an excellent researcher and investigator. Many of our graduates use these skills to pursue careers in academia. Others find these skills useful for a range of complementary professions, including archivist, librarian, researcher, and journalist. Studying English with us will also give you a range of higher-level skills in research, analysis, and communication.


Throughout your studies, you will have opportunities to establish formal and informal relationships with a diverse array of archives, libraries, museums, charities, bookshops, and disparate other institutions. Some of our graduates have gone on to work in institutions first encountered during their postgraduate studies.

Graduate destinations

The range of skills gained through our programmes, coupled with networking opportunities and extracurricular activities, has enabled our students to move into a range of careers including:

  • Magazine Editor, Vine magazine
  • Editorial Assistant, Times Literary Supplement
  • Project Coordinator, The Poetry Society
  • Assistant Producer, Touch Press
  • Research Assistant, Inspirit Brands
  • Funded PhD Student, Yale
  • Reader in English Literature, Kingston University



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