The wide range of modules on offer allows you to pursue your specific interests:
"I chose Birmingham as the university to study my MA because I did my undergraduate degree at the university, and was impressed by the academic staff, the topics on offer to study, the wealth of research materials in the libraries, as well as the beauty of the campus itself. I chose to undertake the MA English Literature over the University's other Literature MAs because of the wide range of modules on offer, which cover many different periods and topics, so I wasn't limited to one area of study. The modules are engaging and well taught and have introduced me to new texts and ways of thinking which I did not come across during undergraduate study."
"The aspect that I enjoyed most about the MA at Birmingham was the variety of literature you get to study. The course, and the lecturers that taught on it, introduced me to authors that I would never have found on my own, and opened my eyes to research areas that I would never have noticed before. The course encourages you to pursue your own areas of research interest and the lecturers support you in that pursuit. It strikes a good balance between the taught elements, whilst still feeling like a research-led programme. And the fact that it is such beautiful, red brick surroundings, doesn't hurt either!"
In addition, the University of Birmingham's Department of English offers a supportive environment and gives you access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise.
"I am an English Literature Taught Masters student, currently halfway through my course. So far I have absolutely loved it. Not only is the teaching excellent, but I have been happily surprised with just how helpful every one of the tutors has been. They are always willing to help and offer advice, and it has made a huge difference to me. I highly recommend the course."
You must study one of following:
Research Skills A (semester 1) and B (semester 2) (for most English Literature MA students)
These modules enable you to pursue effective independent research and to acquire the skills essential to the preparation and writing of a Masters dissertation. You will learn to develop a research topic, to plan and present your work, and to mount an effective argument; you’ll be trained in archival and bibliographical techniques, be introduced to practising scholars and to current theoretical debates. These skills will aid your professional and personal development whether you intend to stay on for the PhD or go into the non-academic world.
Resources and Methods for Medieval Literary Studies (semester 1) (for English Literature MA students intending to specialise in medieval topics)
This module introduces the key resources and methods used in working with original medieval literary sources. You will be introduced to the examination of medieval manuscript books and to the principles and practices of editing texts from manuscript. Classes in language study and transcription will support work on the original texts; you may focus on Old English or Middle English - undergraduate study or equivalent of the variety chosen will be required for registration on the module.
You will also choose a total of four optional modules (two in each semester) from a range which includes:
Contemporary Literary Cultures: Politics
This module investigates key problems in performance history and historiography. You will consider a range of conceptual and methodological issues raised by the historical analysis of theatre and performance. You will focus particularly on the strategies and politics of historical representation in drama and theatre studies, looking at how performance practices have been narrated within theatre studies and how these narratives represent theatre's relationship with other social practices. NB: this module has limited spaces.
Contemporary Literary Cultures: Performance
Focusing on texts written since about 1990, this module explores the production and dissemination of literary texts, as well as recent developments of style and content. You will consider contemporary literary cultures from a variety of perspectives, and to employ a range of methodological, theoretical and critical approaches that enable the appraisal of the literary work within diverse social and artistic contexts. NB: this module has limited spaces.
Film, Theory, Politics
This module examines the interaction between film, film theory, and politics. It will provide you with a solid grounding in some of the critical debates of the discipline, and in related cultural issues central to its development and our focus on American Film. As such, it will enable you to assess the impact of politics on various levels of film analysis and production: from the ideology of the classical apparatus and text to the race or sexual politics of Hollywood cinema, from the censoring of the Production Code era to the attempted radicalism of post-modern film practices.
Language and Literature
This module aims to equip you with an understanding of how language works, so that this understanding can be used in the analysis of literary and non-literary texts. You will gain an understanding of the principles of stylistic analysis and theory and will review core topics of stylistic analysis (such as textual cohesion and coherence, modality, transitivity, speech act analysis, the discoursal representation of speech and thought, face and politeness, presupposition, etc.), applying them to authors and texts from historical and contemporary periods of English literature. You will also critique the evolution of stylistic theory and practice, and its position within linguistic and literary domains.
This module will enhance your knowledge of a range of key issues within the study of literature in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, introducing some of the more challenging texts written during these years, as well as recent scholarly thinking on the literature of the period more generally. You will be encouraged to rethink mainstream definitions of the literary history of the early twentieth-century, and examine the complexity of the literary and cultural moment of modernism. Major topics to be covered include: literary innovation and philosophies of language, narrative and memory, the concept of Modernism, High Modernism and its aftermath, Surrealism and the social and aesthetic politics of the 1930s. These will be studied across a variety of genres and authors, with reference to formative theorists/philosophers of the period.
Narrative Analysis in Fiction and Film
This module provides an introduction to some of the fundamental components of narratives, approached from a linguistic and narratological point of view. We will explore: temporal manipulation; point of view (or focalisation); setting; structure; characterisation; narrativity and the non-narrative; the semiotics of visual images; narrative expectation; suspense, surprise, secrets and gaps; print and TV narratives (in news, documentary, adverts, etc.). A particular focus will be those similarities and differences between prose narrative fiction and film narrative fiction which stem from (or in the case of similarities, transcend) their different media and technologies. N.B. You will need some basic knowledge of linguistics for this module.
Plays and Poems of Shakespeare A: Comedies, Histories, Poems
This module engages in the detailed examination of most of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and poems. NB: this module is the prerequisite for Plays and Poems B.
Plays and Poems of Shakespeare B: Problem Plays, Tragedies, Late Plays
This module engages in the detailed examination of most of Shakespeare’s problem plays, tragedies and late plays. NB: you must have taken Plays and Poems A to be eligible for this module.
Topics in Medieval Texts, Cultures, and Societies
This module tackles problems and issues that are at the forefront of current research on medieval texts, cultures and societies. Working independently, but with the regular guidance and feedback of a supervisor, the student researches and writes an essay on a current problem or issue related to the chosen topic, selected in consultation with the supervisor.
Victorian Modernity: 1880-1910
This module will enable you to explore the diversity of literary impulses in a turn-of-the-century period characterised by literary non-conformity. Major topics to be covered include: the late nineteenth-century city, decadence, imperialism, aestheticism, and early modernism. These will be studied across a variety of genres and authors, with reference to formative theorists/philosophers of the period. In spite of its interest in diversity the module will be unified by two themes that are characteristic of the period: an intense interest in the past as well as fascination with the future.
Writing Revolutions 1: Politics, Publics and Professionalism in Literary Culture, 1580-1700.
This modules provides a theme and topic-based survey of English literature of the period 1580-1700 (excluding Shakespeare). It encompasses literature from all the principal genres of the period, addressing literary texts, from the time of Sidney and Spenser through the Civil War to Dryden and Rochester in the late seventeenth-century.
Writing Revolutions 2: Politics, Publics and Professionalism in Literary Culture, 1700-1832.
This module provides a theme and topic-based survey of English literature of the period 1700-1832, again encompassing literature from the principal genres of the period. The module will examine literary writing within the dynamic and radically changing cultural context of Britain in this period. It will engage with such issues as politics, literary patronage and professionalism, the form and function of the novel, drama and the theatre, landscape, and the representation of gender.
You can also choose from the following optional modules available on the MA Medieval Studies: