You will study two core modules, Literary Research Methods or Resources and Methods for Medieval Literary Studies, and Guided Reading.
You will also choose two sets of linked modules (a total of four modules) from a range covering a variety of authors and themes from the medieval period to the 20th century.
The core modules are assessed in a variety of ways; the four linked modules are each assessed by a 4,000-word essay.
You will also complete a supervised 15,000-word dissertation.
You will study two core modules:
Research Skills and Methods OR Resources and Methods for Medieval Literary Studies
Research Skills and Methods. This module enables you to pursue effective independent research and to develop the skills essential to the preparation and writing of a Masters dissertation. You will also develop key transferable skills in areas of personal and professional development appropriate to either further study or a chosen career path.
Resources and Methods for Medieval Literary Studies
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.
Guided Reading for Dissertation
This module is designed to lay the foundation of the 15,000-word dissertation and to establish your ability in research and critical inquiry. The module is based on meetings between you and your dissertation supervisor, working from a starting synopsis of the proposed dissertation to develop an outline, extend research into primary and secondary sources, and test and refine an analysis.
You will also choose two of the following sets of linked modules:
Literature and Culture
Literature and Culture of the Medieval West Midlands.
This module introduces key topics in medieval literary and cultural analysis through focus on the rich heritage of literature and material culture associated with the English West Midlands. Topics discussed will vary according to the interests of the group. You will be given opportunities to engage with tutors' ongoing research on manuscripts and materials from the region (such as the Staffordshire Hoard and the Vernon manuscript) and will be invited to choose a topic for research and writing according to your own interests in consultation with module tutors.
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.
Plays and Poems of Shakespeare
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.
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.
Both modules enable you to develop your critical thinking in the light of current criticism.
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.
Modernity and Modernism
Victorian Modernity: 1880-1910.
This module will enhance students' 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.
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.
Contemporary Literary Cultures
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.
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.
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.
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.
Modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.
Fees and funding
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2013/14 are as follows:
Home/EU: £5,130 full-time
Overseas: £13,200 full-time
Part-time programme fees are one half of the full-time programme fees.
Learn more about fees and funding
Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available.
For further information, visit the College of Arts and Law scholarships page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.
You should already have completed an honours degree in English Literature with at least an upper-second-class (or equivalent) result; candidates with joint honours in English Literature and another cognate subject, or single honours in a cognate subject that includes substantial work in English Literature, are also encouraged to apply. All successful candidates must have a very high competence in written English.
All prospective students must also submit a sample of written work as part of the online application process. You can do this before you submit your form, or return to the application to upload your sample at a later date; however, we will need to see your piece of writing before an offer is made. This should be a piece of academic writing from your first degree, on English (or Anglophone) literature, that demonstrates your ability as a critic and scholar of literature. (Please note that creative writing - including poems, stories, or memoirs - is not acceptable.) We would also encourage you to use your personal statement to describe your precise interests in English literature - interests which you hope to extend and deepen by joining an MA degree course.
Learn more about entry requirements
We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
How to apply
When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages