English Literature: English Literature

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


Our MA in English Literature considers the relationship between literatures from a variety of historical periods.

Register your interest

The English Literature MA pathway is ideal if you don’t wish to be confined to a specific period or disciplinary area. It asks fundamental questions about our ideas of literature and how these might have changed over time.

The pathway’s compulsory module, ‘The Production of Texts in Contexts’, opens up these questions by looking at a broad array of literature from a variety of historic periods. It considers how innovations in printing and publishing have affected writing, and asks to what extent political and social change conditions and defines authorial identities and practices.

Apart from the compulsory core module briefly described below, students taking the generic English Literature pathway take at least one pre-1900 module, and can freely choose their remaining two modules. Below are additional links to those pathways that allow you to see the rich variety of staff research interests and specialisms.

The Production of Texts in Context

The Production of Texts in Context is a trans-historical module that ranges across many different literary periods from the early middle ages to the present day. The module is team-taught so students experience teaching by ten to eleven different staff members, each of whom presents a topic related to their own particular interests and period specialisms. The teaching team and the topics represented vary from year to year according to staff availability, with recent topics including Ballad and Carol (Alfred Hiatt), The Making of Paradise Lost (Joad Raymond), The Eighteenth-Century Newspaper (Chris Reid), Victorian Serialised Fiction (Matt Ingleby), Experimental Writing and Early Twentieth-Century Publishing (Scott McCracken), The Coming of Age Novel in Global Literature (Charlotta Salmi), Book Prizes and Literary Production (Huw Marsh), and Contemporary Graphic Narrative (Sam McBean). For the essay assignment students pick a subject relating to one of the topics and can seek advice from the relevant staff member. There is also a designated member of staff who acts as module convenor, sits in with students on the weekly seminars, and is able to offer general help and guidance.

For more information please register your interest.


The English Literature pathway is currently available for one year full-time study, or two years part-time study.

You take two compulsory modules and three optional modules, as well as the 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 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.

Full Time

You take the compulsory core module, an unassessed skills module, and three optional modules (including one pre-1900 elective), 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.

Part Time

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. At least one of your optional modules must be from the pre-1900 list. Teaching takes place during the day.

All students take these compulsory modules:

Compulsory modules:

  • The Production of Texts in Context
  • Resources for Research (non-assessed)
  • Dissertation

Option modules:

You choose three modules from a wide-ranging list of options that changes from year to year. 

NB 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 take one at least one pre-1900 module from the following list:

  • The Spatial Turn: History, Literature, and Geography
  • Romanticism and Genre
  • Sociability: Literature and the City 1660-1780
  • Aestheticism and fin de siècle Literature
  • Public and Private Cultures in Renaissance England
  • Global Shakespeare: History and Theory and Performance

And then up to two other electives from the list as follows:

  • State of the Novel
  • Imagining the Caribbean
  • Benjamin and Adorno
  • Reading the Middle East
  • What is World Literature?

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: 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

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

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £9,950
Part time £5,000

Tuition fees for International students

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £18,000
Part time £9,000

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

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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