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Course content

This MA programme introduces students to major works of 19th and 20th-century British, French and American writers and provides a context for those works in philosophical and technological developments of the period. The programme explores a wide range of genres and authors and encourages the development of independent research skills.

About this degree

The core module develops a close reading of works by writers of the period, while the optional modules offer the opportunity to analyse some of the technologies, media, philosophical perspectives and art forms whose development during the 20th century has made itself felt in modernist and postmodernist writing.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of one core module (60 credits), three optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core module

  • Authors (including Gustave Flaubert, D.H. Lawrence; T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Ellison, Alfred Hitchcock, Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison, Alan Hollinghurst, David Foster Wallace). Please see UCL English website for more.

Optional modules

  • The majority of students elect to take Contexts, which explores the relationship between modern culture and the city from the 1860s to the present day, and may include the following topics:
  • The Body and Technology
  • Catastrophe and the City
  • Psychogeography
  • Class and the City
  • The Harlem Renaissance
  • Hollywood Fiction
  • Queer Fictions and the City
  • Students then take further optional modules. Options available change every year, but in recent years have included:
  • Contemporary Poetry
  • American Counter-Culture
  • 21st Century Fiction
  • Modernism, Sex and Redemption
  • Afrofuturism
  • Inventions of Cinema
  • Marxist Aesthetics in the 20th Century
  • Cultures of Chance: Accident, Error, and Catastrophe in post-1945 Literature and Culture
  • Global Anglophone Literature


All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000 words.

Teaching and learning

Each module is taught through a weekly seminar. Assessment is through take-home written examination, essays and the research dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: English: Issues in Modern Culture MA


The programme is an ideal preliminary stage to doctoral research and candidates who obtain the MA and have found a promising subject requiring further study are encouraged to apply to the UCL MPhil/PhD programme.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Assistant Editor, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Commissioning Editor, CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
  • Copywriter / Strategist, Zenith Optimedia
  • Researcher, AMVBBDO
  • Copywriter, Freelance Copywriter

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL English has an outstanding record for research; many staff publish in mainstream as well as academic media: some are regular reviewers for newspapers and periodicals.

Excellent facilities are provided by the UCL library. It has several important holdings including the James Joyce Collection and the George Orwell Archive.

Our graduate students have access to an incomparable range of archives and libraries, including Senate House Library and the British Library, both of which are nearby.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: English Language & Literature

85% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

Visit the English: Issues in Modern Culture (MA) page on the University College London website for more details!





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