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Masters Degrees (Ecocriticism)

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Essex is one of the oldest inhabited areas of the British Isles, a landscape shaped by human history. Our MA Wild Writing allows you to explore this landscape and the wilder landscapes of Britain, as well as those across the world, through a combination of science and literature modules. Read more
Essex is one of the oldest inhabited areas of the British Isles, a landscape shaped by human history. Our MA Wild Writing allows you to explore this landscape and the wilder landscapes of Britain, as well as those across the world, through a combination of science and literature modules. Our field trips take you outside the classroom, often in sun, sometimes in snow or rain. You gain an understanding of key environmental challenges while building your own ways of approaching writing about the wild: creative, critical, and scientific.

One of only five universities in the UK to offer a taught postgraduate course on literature and the environment, we are unique in our combination of modules on contemporary nature writing, ecocriticism, and psychogeographic literature.

Our full-year focus on writing about landscape, place, and the environment allows you the choice of focusing on developing your scholarly abilities through exploring ecocriticism, or on developing your creative writing practice about the natural world – or you can aim to advance both.

Your core modules cover topics including:
-The emergent creative non-fiction genre exemplified by figures such as Robert Macfarlane, Kathleen Jamie, and Helen Macdonald
19th – 21st century environmental poetry and prose
-Contemporary ecocriticism and environmental literature
-Psychogeography

An unusual collaboration between the departments of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies and Biological Sciences, we also offer you the opportunity to gain a greater scientific depth of knowledge about the natural world as you develop as a writer. You might want to explore the impacts and management of pollution or the ecology of fisheries.

You will explore the literature of landscape and the environment both within the seminar room and beyond, exploring the wild spaces of Essex and East Anglia through field trips that take you to wonderfully wild worlds in the company of leading experts. We visit inspiring areas including Mersea Island, Orford Ness, Tilbury, and the Norfolk Fens.

Our expert staff

Our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies is ranked Top 200 in the QS World University Rankings (2016), with three-quarters of our research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014).

Teachers on the course include the internationally renowned ecocriticism scholar Dr Susan Oliver, who is a specialist in Romantic and 19th-century studies; the poet and nature writer Dr Chris McCully; and, environmental scholar and writer Professor Jules Pretty.

The MA Wild Writing is led by the writer Dr James Canton, who recently spoke on Radio 4’s ‘Open Country’ about the landscapes of Essex, and specialises in nature and travel writing.

Specialist facilities

-Start to get some publications to your name by writing for our student nature writing blog Wildeasters
-Access our archives – the University of Essex is home to the notebooks, diaries, maps, letters, and binoculars of J. A. Baker, author of the critically acclaimed The Peregrine (1967)
-Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
-Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading literature specialists at the Essex Book Festival – the festival director is based in our department, and loads of events take place on campus
-Get involved onstage or behind the scenes at our on-campus Lakeside Theatre
-Learn a language for free alongside your course

Your future

A number of our graduates from the MA Wild Writing have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers; others are practicing artists, scholars or environmentalists. One now works on climate change in Washington, another is a “wild practitioner” who work on the relation between nature and mental health and another now works for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police around Chesapeake Bay!

We work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by Dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages. Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK, which means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

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How does literature debate and reflect humanity’s relationship with ‘Nature’? What makes ‘the country’, ‘the wilderness’ or ‘the city’ what it is? How does literature respond to environmental destruction? Is it influenced by modern environmental movements?. Read more
How does literature debate and reflect humanity’s relationship with ‘Nature’? What makes ‘the country’, ‘the wilderness’ or ‘the city’ what it is? How does literature respond to environmental destruction? Is it influenced by modern environmental movements?

The MA in Literature, Landscape and Environment examines how literature reflects and shapes the way in which we see the landscape and the environment and it gives you the opportunity to study the kind of analyses that are becoming increasingly important to the direction of modern English literary studies. The MA is designed for students interested in further study or for those looking for careers in the rapidly expanding green industry.

The MA is taught by Bath Spa staff who are internationally recognised for their research in this field. In addition, we are located in a World Heritage site at the centre of a region rich with literary connections and with some of the finest landscapes in the country.

COURSE STUCTURE AND CONTENT

The programme aims to provide you with an excitingly wide range of issues and approaches in relation to the representations of various kinds of landscapes. It will present:

• a mix of thematic topics, types of landscape and regions
• a balance between literature pre- and post-1900
• a range of methodologies and approaches
• although its main focus is literary, you will also engage with real landscapes and environments (for example, an eighteenth-century country estate; London; the Eden Project; Quantock Hills; Hardy country).

To visit the course blog-site, visit http://literaturelandenvironment.org.uk/

TEACHING METHODS AND RESOURCES

You will be taught at our Corsham Court Campus, an eighteenth-century country house currently owned by the Methuen family and Bath Spa University’s postgraduate centre. Teaching and learning on the taught modules will primarily be via seminars, but opportunities for other types of engagement may be offered as an alternative to seminars, depending upon the nature of the thematic strand for research, for example: skills workshops, field-trips, directed research, and independent research associated with the Dissertation or Project. Assessment will be via essays, proposals, and a final Dissertation or Project.

Our Library offers access to high-quality electronic resources such as Eighteenth-century Collections Online (ECCO), Early English Books Online (EEBO). You will also be to able to gain access to research libraries such as the British Library and we also have established links with bodies such as the Science Museum collection at Swindon and Bath Central Library, as well as close connections with archives at the city of London, and the Thomas Hardy archives at Dorchester.

The MA is founded upon our staff’s expertise and substantial publications record in the areas of ecocriticism, contemporary environmental writing, early modern London, postmodern American cities, and literary journeys in modernist/postmodernist literature. Tracey Hill is the author of a prize-winning book on early-modern London; Richard Kerridge has won the BBC Wildlife Award for Nature Writing and launched the first ever course on ecocriticism in the UK; and Greg Garrard is the author of Ecocriticism (now in its second edition). Kerridge and Garrard have been chairs of the UK branch of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. In addition, Bath Spa University is the home of the journal Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism. The MA draws upon and is supported by three research centres: Writing and the Environment; Book, Text and Place 1500-1750; Contemporary Writing. You will become members of the research centres and, therefore, part of the School’s research culture.

The MA draws upon Bath Spa University’s location. We are at the centre of a region whose writers have been intimately engaged with their environment: Coleridge (Nether Stowey and the Quantock Hills), Hardy (Dorchester), Austen (Bath), and the region is also associated with the writers Richard Jeffries, John Cooper Powys and Sylvia Townsend Warner. In addition, the area has some of the finest examples of the English country estate in the UK, for example, Stourhead, Prior Park, Dryham Park and Bowood House, in addition to our own campuses at Newton Park and Corsham Court. Stourhead, for instance, offers a learning space with talks and access to archival material, and has welcomed the prospect of students shadowing the estate guides. We are, then, uniquely positioned to build links with other regional organisations; for example, environmental organisations such as the RSPB or the Forestry Commission, as well as country estates, places of literary heritage run by the National Trust and Bath Preservation Trust.

COURSE ASSESSMENT

The course is assesed by essays, an annotated bibliography, research proposals, and a dissertation or project.
Career opportunities
Typical career destinations include:
• Traditional English postgraduate destinations (e.g. Higher Research degree programmes, public and private sector research careers, book and publishing industries)
• Environmental sector and 'Green' careers (e.g. advocacy, communications, charities, education, internships, ecotourism, urban planning)
• Heritage and tourism sector (e.g. charities and trusts, visitor centres, private estates, local government, planning, management, communications)
• Creative industries (e.g. radio, TV, cable and satellite broadcasters, book publishing, web media, news and magazine media).

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This programme is concerned with the relationships we hold with our 'wild' environments, and how these evolved. You will develop a knowledge of environmental debates from both cultural and scientific perspectives, and learn to communicate environmental issues using a variety of tools and strategies. Read more
This programme is concerned with the relationships we hold with our 'wild' environments, and how these evolved. You will develop a knowledge of environmental debates from both cultural and scientific perspectives, and learn to communicate environmental issues using a variety of tools and strategies.

Why this programme

-This programme focuses on the emerging subject area related to ecocriticism and green studies in order to better understand environmental issues from multiple perspectives.
-Teaching is closely linked with the Solway Centre for Environment & Culture, a research centre providing opportunity for further research and collaboration.
-The degree features a programme of guest speakers from relevant fields and publications.
-The School of Interdisciplinary Studies is one of the UK’s foremost pockets of expertise in interdisciplinary environmental teaching and research.
-Dumfries & Galloway, in south west Scotland, is an ideal location for environmental study and research. The unspoilt beaches, hills and forests provide a stunning and diverse outdoor classroom, while the region’s thriving artistic community, which specialises in environmental art, is a great source of inspiration.

Programme structure

You will take three core and three optional courses. There is a choice of project work: you can choose to engage with a particular contemporary environmental issue or case study, OR to undertake a personal interaction with the features of a particular location, examining notions of place creatively.

The final assessment is a 12,500 word dissertation, through which you can develop and demonstrate independent research skills.

Core courses
-Environmental communication*
-Environmental politics and society*
-Reading the environment: old and new world romanticisms
-Writing the environment: modern and contemporary nature writing.

*You must take at least one of these courses.

Optional courses
-Climate change: impacts on ecology
-Environment, technology and society
-Environmental ethics and behavioural change
-Tourism, sustainability and climate change

Projects

The programme has a number of unique features, which will enhance your experience and add to your knowledge.
-A fieldtrip each semester to a location relevant to issues confronted on core courses.
-Regular seminars from guest speakers and practitioners.
-The opportunity to design a project which permits personal and creative interaction with environments and places, with assessment negotiated with the course convenor.
-Links with journals which encourage student submissions, with class time devoted to the development of materials for publication.

Career prospects

Graduates are prepared to enter fields from environmental journalism and education, to public relations, advertising and consultancy roles. The interdisciplinary nature of the programme means your skills are also tailored towards emerging fields such as negotiating between scientific fact and cultural understanding of climate change, and the ‘anticipatory history’ that must inform landscape management in the future. Graduates have gone on to work for environmental NGOs, ecological arts organisations, and undertaken further study at PhD level.

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The School of English and Journalism offers advanced research opportunities within the subjects of English and Creative Writing. Read more
The School of English and Journalism offers advanced research opportunities within the subjects of English and Creative Writing.

As a research student, you can benefit from a dedicated doctoral training programme designed for English students, which gives you the opportunity to develop the practical and critical skills necessary for investigation and study at doctoral level. Expert and experienced direction will be available from your supervisory team and you can benefit from the School’s research expertise in areas including contemporary literature, 18-19th century literature, early modern literature, women’s writing, Gothic literature, utopianism and American fiction.

Regular research seminars, symposia and conferences provide a lively research environment, in which students are encouraged to participate. An interdisciplinary research culture facilitates collaboration with colleagues across topics and strong links exist with the Schools of Film and Media, History and Heritage, and Fine and Performing Arts.

Research Areas, Projects & Topics

Research areas covered within the School include:
-21st Century literature and drama
-19th Century literature
-Life writing/testimony/memory studies
-Women’s writing 18-21st Centuries
-American literature 19-21st Centuries
-Renaissance literature
-Utopian studies
-Ecocriticism
-Gothic literature
-Postcolonial literature
-Trauma studies

How You Study

Study at MPhil/PhD level takes the form of supervised individual research. You work on one topic of your choice for the duration of the study period. On a regular basis, you are expected to produce appropriate written work, submit it to your supervisors, then meet with your supervisors to receive feedback on your submission and agree the next stage of work.

Due to the nature of postgraduate research programmes, the vast majority of your time will be spent in independent study and research. You will have meetings with your academic supervisor, however the regularity of these will vary depending on your own individual requirements, subject area, staff availability and the stage of your programme.

How You Are Assessed

The assessment at this level of study takes the form of an 80,000 word thesis.

A PhD is awarded based on the quality of your thesis and your ability in an oral examination (viva voce) to present and successfully defend your chosen research topic to a group of academics. You are also expected to demonstrate how your research findings have contributed to knowledge or developed existing theory or understanding.

Career and Personal Development

A doctoral qualification may be regarded as the capstone of academic achievement and may mark the beginning of a career in academia or research.

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