MA Literature and Culture

Start date
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fee for 2021:
UK: £9,500 full-time
International: £20,160 full-time
More detail.

This innovative programme gives you the opportunity to explore your literary interests from the medieval period through to present day.

Studying English Literature at postgraduate level opens up a whole host of vibrant and intellectually stimulating avenues to explore. Our unique programme draws on the wide-ranging research expertise of our staff in order to develop your critical and analytical skills in the field of literary and cultural studies. 

This programme will provide a solid grounding in the key intellectual debates within the scholarship surrounding a range of period and context specialisms, introduce you to the latest research in the field, and support your development of the skills required for writing a dissertation.

English literary texts from the medieval period to present day are studied in and alongside their many different contexts – historical, social, political and/or material – and approached from a multitude of theoretical and methodological perspectives, enabling you to develop new and highly skilled ways of reading and interpreting a wide variety of cultural documents.

Alongside the programme you will also have the chance to participate in a bespoke MA conference and become part of the department’s thriving academic research community.

Please note: We offer an additional opportunity to specialise in medieval literature via the MA Medieval Studies.


Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

My favourite module this year has been Evolutions of Popular Culture. Across eleven weeks we got to explore everything from Greek mythology and medieval romance to Chick Lit and Marvel comics. It was fantastic to have so much free reign over my end-of-module assignment. I was also encouraged to find new texts and authors I might have never otherwise encountered.


Why Study this Course?

  • Flexibility – the variety of modules on offer will allow you to study areas of the discipline which interest you the most.
  • Excellent reputation – as one of the leading Departments for the postgraduate study of English Literature and Culture in the UK, you will receive expert teaching and research supervision across a wide range of time periods, genres, media and methods. The University has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study English Language and Literature in the 2019 QS World University Rankings.
  • Foundation for future careers or further study – the programme is ideal for those students looking to develop specific research interests and/or prepare for study at PhD level, but it is also an excellent way of gaining a broader overview of the subject that will prepare students for a career in sectors such as charity, teaching, local government, law, publishing, and media.
  • Active postgraduate community – with conferences, reading groups and events run by postgraduate students as well as academic staff there is always something happening in the Department.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

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The programme is made up of three sets of modules:

  • Core modules: two modules in Research Skills and Dissertation Preparation will equip you with the skills necessary for your written assessments.
  • Foundation modules: a choice of two options from a range of modules which provide a comprehensive introduction to a variety of literary periods and themes.
  • Specialist modules: a choice of two options from a range of modules which explore specific topics within the range of literary periods and themes we offer.

Core modules

All students will take the following modules:

Research Skills

This module will prepare you for your MA dissertation and assist those of you planning to continue to doctoral study in your application for internal and/or external funding. The module will run in Semester 1 and consists of a combination of generic research skills classes and individual supervisions. It aims to equip you with the research skills and familiarity with your chosen field that will assist you in producing strong assessed work at MA level. Topics may include: use of the library and e-resources; planning a research project; referencing methods; book history and textual criticism; and working in archives. The modules also includes sessions in the Cadbury Research Library.

Assessment: 1,000-word research proposal and 3,000-word literature review

Dissertation Preparation

This module builds on the skills developed in the Research Skills module. It is designed to support you in developing your dissertation research topic, and to equip you with the skills and experience that you need to present and communicate your research to an academic audience. The module will develop your ability to structure and present research effectively in different formats, and your confidence in speaking to an audience and responding to questions. You will be supported by individual supervisory tutorials with your project advisor, lectures in poster and oral presentation techniques, and weekly group writing sessions. The mid-module poster presentation and end of module MA conference will give you the opportunity to participate in different modes of research presentation, to discuss your work with academics and fellow MA students, and to demonstrate presentational skills demanded by employers as well as by a career in academic research.
Assessment: Research poster and 15-minute conference presentation

Foundation modules

You will choose two modules from a range which typically includes:

  • Meeting Medieval Manuscripts
  • Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Studies
  • Nineteenth-Century Voices
  • Modernism and Contemporary Literature
  • Evolutions of Popular Literature
  • Meeting Medieval Manuscripts

For full module descriptions, see our Literature and Culture MA modules page.

Specialist modules

You also have a choice of two options from a range of modules which explore specific topics within the range of literary periods and themes we offer. Options vary from year to year, but those available typically include:

  • After the Deluge: Writing and Recovery after the First World War
  • Alternative Facts: Genre, Historicism, and the Fantasy of Other Pasts
  • Byron and Keats
  • Fantasy and Fandom: Writing Back to the Medieval in Modern Fantasy
  • Flourish for the Players (Shakespeare’s Contemporaries)
  • From Cover to Cover: Histories of the Book
  • From Plato to the Postmodern: Theories of Literature and Art
  • Guilty Pleasures: Reading the Historical Romance
  • John Donne and the Metaphysical Poets
  • Modernism in the Magazines
  • Muslim Women’s Popular Fiction
  • Neo-Victorianism
  • Nineteenth-Century Detective Fiction
  • Nineteenth-Century Senses
  • PoMo Historical Fictions
  • The Art of Translation
  • The End of Life As We Know It: The Implications of Digital Technology
  • The Pre-Raphaelite Circle
  • Theories of the Modern

For full module descriptions, see our Literature and Culture MA modules page.


In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.

Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.


We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2021/22 are as follows:

  • UK: £9,500 full-time; £4,750 part-time
  • International: £20,160 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

How To Apply

Please review our Entry Requirements before making your application.

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students to apply is Thursday 1 July 2021. The deadline for UK/EU students is Thursday 9 September 2021.

Making your application

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

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

You should already have completed an honours degree in English Literature or in a cognate subject with a heavy literary element, with at least a high upper-second-class (65 or above) result, or a 3.5/4.0 GPA; 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, and are assumed to have extensive undergraduate exposure to literary studies in English across a broad historical range.

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 an example of your work 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 journalism and creative writing - including poems, stories, or memoirs - are not acceptable). We cannot read more than about 1,500 words of submitted written work, so please either send something of that length, or indicate within a longer work what you would like us to read.

You must also submit a personal statement. This should be an account of your current, developed literary interests arising from your undergraduate or other literary studies and should indicate your plans to extend these as a postgraduate student of English literature.

Learn more about entry requirements.

International students

Academic requirements: we accept a range of qualifications - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: for this course, we ask for IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band, or PTE with 67 in all four skills. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional course – if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

Learn more about international entry requirements.

International Requirements

You will be supported by literature staff in the department who research, publish, and teach across the full chronological range of English Literature from Old English to the present day, helping you to explore your specific interests.

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each term, followed by your dissertation. Depending on the modules you take, you can typically expect six-nine hours of classroom time per week, two or three per module. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation.

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: English Literature

Birmingham's English Literature postgraduates develop a range of skills including presentation, communication and analytical skills, as well as the ability to work independently, think critically and develop opinions.

Over the past 5 years, 78% of English Literature postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). Many of our graduates go on to further study or academia, while others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations including copywriting, project management, publishing and teaching.


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