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Masters Degrees (Pre-Raphaelite)

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Taught by experts from the Centre for Victorian Studies, this course offers you the opportunity to study nineteenth-century literature and art history in… Read more

Taught by experts from the Centre for Victorian Studies, this course offers you the opportunity to study nineteenth-century literature and art history in the midst of the outstanding Victorian architecture of our Egham campus. With the magnificent Victorian Founder’s Building and unique resources including the College’s own Victorian Picture Gallery and archives you couldn’t ask for a better location in which to study this fascinating period.

A central element of the course is the study of Victorian London; you will explore a variety of texts from a range of perspectives, from Dickens to the phenomenon of the department store; from the painters of fashionable life to the panic surrounding the Whitechapel murders. With London just a short train ride away from the main College campus, you will benefit from first-hand experience of the Victorian cityscape and access to archives.

You will also complete three other courses covering specialist areas of this rich period of literature and art and immerse yourself in a topic of your choice when completing the dissertation.

  • You will be supported by academic experts who work in the disciplines of art history, literature, or cultural history.
  • You will be offered the unique opportunity to undertake an optional internship of 4-6 weeks in the summer, in a leading library, museum, publisher or other setting.
  • You will be invited to participate in the regular research seminars and graduate reading groups organised under the auspices of the Centre for Victorian Studies as a route to preparing for PhD research.

Join a department that's joint 2nd in the UK for outstanding and world-leading research environments (REF 2014). You'll benefit from our incredible research: over two thirds of our research was judged ‘world leading and internationally excellent’ in REF 2014. All staff in the department are highly regarded scholars, writers and critics who are engaged in research, writing ground-breaking books, talking to or writing in the national media, and providing expert advice to organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Department for Education and other national and international bodies.

Designed to be flexible, this course can be studied full-time for one year or part-time over two years.

Course structure

Core modules

Methods and Materials of Research

This module is designed to introduce you to a number of key topics related to the methods of postgraduate research, and to some of the resources and materials that will be useful to your studies.

Aestheticism and Decadence in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

This module aims to provide an advanced understanding of the complex field of aestheticism in nineteenth-century literature and culture, with particular attention to concepts of ‘decadence’ and the relationship between the written word and the visual arts. Classes cover key theoretical and critical interventions into nineteenth-century aesthetic debates, from Ruskin and Pater through to Oscar Wilde and selected women writers of the 1880s and 1890s. 

Victorian London

This module provides a point of coherence for the interdisciplinary study of Victorian Culture. You will be introduced to the theories and methods of a variety of humanities disciplines through the medium of an in-depth study of the literature, history, geography, and visual culture of nineteenth-century London. You will be asked to reflect critically on your own approach to the material studied, through engagement with both primary materials and a variety of recent secondary sources.

The Nineteenth-Century Novel - Contexts, Theories and Readers

This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the mid nineteenth-century novel in the context of Victorian publishing, reading and critical practices. In the first half you will read three Dickens novels in depth, and while in the second half you will concentrates on theories of realism and the 19th Century novel. The module seeks to integrate reflections on recent critical approaches to the texts in order to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the critical techniques and discourses that will be applicable to your own advanced scholarship in the assessed essay and final dissertation.

The Pre-Raphaelite Revolution - Poetry and Painting

This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement in the context of Victorian art criticism, attitudes to gender and poetics. The first five-week block concentrates on poetry and the visual arts in the first decade of the movement; the second five-week block of the course deals with second generation of Pre-Raphaelites and their links with Aestheticism.


This will be a piece of original written work, of between 12,000 and 15,000 words. The topic of the dissertation will be agreed between you and whichever member of staff is allotted as supervisor and is normally required to be submitted by the beginning of September in the year of the completion of the programme.

Your future career

The Department has an impressive record for placing graduates in academic jobs and in prominent position outside academia. In the field of Shakespeare and Renaissance studies alone, our postgraduates have recently secured positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Sussex and Leeds, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the National University of Ireland. Recent postgraduates in America literature, modern and contemporary literature and theory have secured prestigious appointments in London.

The English Department also prepares postgraduates for successful careers in a variety of the other areas, such as:

  • teaching
  • writing and journalism
  • administration
  • marketing

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