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American Literature (MA Literary Studies)

Course Description

The Aberystwyth MA in Literary Studies pathway in American Literature gives students the opportunity to interrogate the major preoccupations and cultural range of American writing. It also offers a firm grounding in the latest developments in literary criticism and analysis, and provides you with the key skills to undertake your own detailed research project successfully. Thus a special feature of the Aberystwyth MA in Literary Studies American Literature pathway is the combination of the study of imaginative writing alongside the development of key transferable skills. As a student on the MA in Literary Studies, pathway in American Literature at Aberystwyth, you will have free access to both the University’s superb library and information technology resources and to the unrivalled collections of the National Library of Wales.

See the website http://courses.aber.ac.uk/postgraduate/literary-studies-american-studies-masters/

- Assessment:
Assessment takes the form of: a research proposal, including a related bibliographic element; a case study; examined oral presentations; and 6,000-word assignments. Each student will complete a MA Dissertation of 15,000 words which deals specifically with an area of American Literature in the third semester.


You will study two core modules together with two optional modules. A specialist module in American literature provides a rigorous and detailed engagement with particular aspects of the literature of America. The course covers a range of research preparation skills including exploiting library resources, using electronic journals and other IT skills, building a bibliography, researching and writing a proposal, structuring a Dissertation, developing and sustaining an argument, footnotes and referencing, and oral presentation skills. The course will also illustrate and interrogate the different kinds of 'textuality', or aspects of the literary text, that need to be taken into account in the study of literature at postgraduate level.

An important part of the course is the writing of a 15,000-word Dissertation in a field of American Literature that is of particular interest to you. Aberystwyth University takes great care in assigning students a supervisor whose interests will be matched as closely as possible to your own.

The department has a proud tradition of research excellence, as demonstrated in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014) assessment. It found that 97% of research assessed was found to be of international standing or higher.

- Application Details:
In addition to completing the standard University application package (How to apply), candidates are asked by the Department to supply the following supplementary documents:

1. A letter of application (1 side of A4) that explains why you want to enrol on the Literary Studies (or the particular Literary Studies pathway) MA. It should include a brief account of your academic study to date, touching on relevant literary/critical issues as appropriate – you might mention, for example, the authors to whose work you are particularly drawn, the topics and ideas that are of special significance to you, and the methodologies you have found particularly valuable in your encounter with literary works. The account will be important in helping us to arrive at a decision about your general suitability for the programme.

2. A representative sample of critical work, written during the past three years, of no more than 3000 words. You are allowed to send work submitted as part of a previous degree.


Qualification: MA in Literary Studies, pathway in American Literature

This degree will suit you...
- If you have a specific interest in American Literature
- If you want a rigorous training for future work as a researcher
- If you want to develop your literary research skills
- If you are interested in the theoretical and historical debates behind literary studies

- Employability:
The MA in Literary Studies, pathway in American Literature provides you with both an in-depth knowledge of American Literature and key transferable skills. Thus it provides a natural entry for further academic study for a PhD and to a range of employment opportunities. Specialist modules on research techniques, presentation, analysis, professional standards of writing and oral presentations provide you with core skills that are highly valued by a diverse range of employers. The creative industries are an increasingly important part of the modern economy and this degree is an excellent stepping stone to a career in a broad range of fields in the arts, literature, journalism and many more.

- Key Skills and Competencies:
Study Skills
You will learn how to gain access to the relevant literature and materials in this field and how to use them in critical discussion of the issues covered by this subject and in relation to your own specific needs. Practical advice is given in research methods and sources. The ability to quickly assemble, assimilate, interpret and present a broad range of information is a skill which is keenly sought by many employers from the civil service to journalism, to industry and commerce.

- Self-Motivation and discipline:
Studying at Masters’ level is a very disciplined process. You will be guided and aided by expert University staff, but you will be expected to conduct your own scholarly research and work independently. The final Dissertation in particular teaches you how to employ your own skills and knowledge to produce high standards of work. The practice of self-motivation and discipline will prepare you for what will be expected in the working world.

- Transferable Skill:
The MA in Literary Studies, pathway in American Studies provides you with key skills which are transferable to all areas of employment. When you graduate you will be able to structure and communicate ideas efficiently, write for and speak to a range of audiences, evaluate and organize information, work effectively with others, work within time frames and to specific deadlines.

Find out how to apply here http://courses.aber.ac.uk/postgraduate/literary-studies-american-studies-masters/#how-to-apply

Visit the American Literature (MA Literary Studies) page on the Aberystwyth University website for more details!

Student Profiles

Postgraduate Studentship - 5 Awards

In Summer 2013, the Department of English and Creative Writing will award a number of postgraduate studentships. The awards, covering fees, are open to MA and PhD applicants in all areas of literary studies and creative writing, and to all MA schemes. In order to be considered for these awards, you must have been offered a place on an MA/PhD scheme by 1 August 2013. Further details may be obtained from Julie Roberts ([email protected]).

Value of Scholarship(s)



All applicants for these scholarships must have demonstrated excellent academic achievement and have excellent research potential. The usual entry requirements remain. Please see: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/before-you-apply/

Application Procedure

There is no separate application form for these studentships. Applicants must apply for an MA/PhD degree in the standard way. Please see the How to apply page http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/ for further information.


Aberystwyth Masters Scholarship 2015 - 20+ Awards

Scholarships, each worth £1,000 towards tuition fees will be available for UK/EU students commencing full-time Taught Masters courses in September 2015. Part-time students would be eligible for £500 for Year 1 and Year 2 of their Masters. The scholarships will be awarded for academic excellence (minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree or the equivalent award. In order to be considered for one of these awards, an application for a place on a taught Masters degree at Aberystwyth University must be received by 31st July 2015.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Students from the UK/EU that will be studying an on campus taught Masters and that have good results from their undergraduate degree will be entitled to an Aberystwyth Masters Scholarship worth around £1000.

Application Procedure

Separate application forms are not required. Therefore it is essential that the application for a place be received by the (AU) Postgraduate Admissions Office by 31st July 2015 at the very latest.

Further Information



International Postgraduate Excellence Scholarship - 20+ Awards

The scholarships will be awarded for academic excellence (minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree or the equivalent award, either already achieved or predicted by the candidate’s awarding university).In order to be considered for one of these awards, an application for a place on a taught Masters degree at Aberystwyth University must be received by 31st August 2015.Up to 72 scholarships worth £2500 towards tuition fees for full-time non-EU students on taught Masters courses are available for students who commence their studies in September 2015 on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Up to 72 scholarships, each worth £2,500 towards tuition fees will be available for non-UK/EU students commencing full-time Taught Masters courses in September 2015.

Application Procedure

Separate application forms are not required. Therefore it is essential that the application for a place be received by the AU Postgraduate Admissions Office by 31st August 2015 at the very latest. Selection will be on the basis of academic excellence and the applicant’s suitability for their proposed course. A minimum (UK) 2.i Honours (or equivalent) is required for an award. Information on the comparability of non-UK degrees is available at http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/before-you-apply/comparability/.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Good Undergraduate degree 2.2 (UK) (or above) equating to a mark of 56.5 or above in a related subject.

Course Fees

Full-time: UK/EU £5,600, International £11,250

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