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English Literary Studies (with specialist pathways) MA

University of Exeter College of Humanities

Full time & Part time September MA 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time.

About the course

Eight flexible pathways and a broad range of modules.

Valued by employers for the combination of communication and analytical skills it fosters, specifically an enhanced understanding of literature and media in their historical and cultural contexts.

Ideal for students wishing to extend and enhance their studies before starting their career.

Specifically designed for those seeking high level training prior to embarking on doctoral research.

Our flexible programme enables you to choose either a specific pathway or a selection of modules, which might be at a much later date than date of entry to the MA in English Literary Studies.

Read more about this course

Entry Requirements

Normally a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

Applicants are also required to meet our English language requirements. Please see our website for details.

 Course Content

Where is University of Exeter


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Student Profile(s)

Yawei Wu

Since I had made up my mind to study English Literature, I looked for somewhere with great module choices and strong research groups. Exeter is very high in the university rankings for this subject and also as I was looking into the programme structure, I think the content of the modules that I’m interested in is fascinating.

I think Exeter stands out because of the quality of research, especially in my field of study. I think the tutors and module convenors are all very passionate about what they are doing and are willing to give whatever they know to students. They also inspire us to actually have a go at whatever interests us.

The best thing about studying here is that one is exposed to the advanced research community in the subject area and the peace and quietness of the city. My advice would be to just come, you'll be glad you did!

Samuel Miles

What made you choose your degree subject? What made you decide to apply to / stay at Exeter? Did anyone recommend Exeter or your subject to you?

I chose my degree subject because I came to Exeter for my BA in English and just loved it. The department is big and well-regarded, with a wide range of specialisms (I am particularly interested in American Literature and 20th-century literature. The Forum project was built and Library refurbished whilst I was away, working in Madrid and London for several years, and I couldn’t wait to come back and get back into academic study here at Exeter.
Lots of people recommend English at Exeter as being particularly strong, and I think they’re right to do so. It’s a well-regarded, intellectual subject at Exeter, with room to study absolutely anything.
My thesis is very exciting: I’m using the Special Collections archive here at Exeter to examine the edits that the writer David Rees (1936-1993) made to the sexual passages of the books he wrote for teenagers, for their publication in a politically conservative 1980s Britain. His whole archive was bequeathed to Exeter University in 1995, after his death, and I’m one of the first people, to my knowledge, to be sorting through his many manuscripts and correspondence. This thesis is really closely linked to Exeter – I couldn’t study him in the same depth anywhere else – and I didn’t realise until talking with an English lecturer what an interesting lead it would turn out to be.

What do you think of your course so far? Is it what you expected?

I’ve liked the course so far, though nothing can prepare you for the shock of how independent your working has to be. This is the same for any Master’s course – it is independent learning first and foremost – but it’s quite a change from undergraduate. You have little contact time, and need to make the effort yourself to make social connections with your coursemates. That said, when you do it’s great to have a coffee on campus after your seminar, or go for drinks with your module (about 12-15 people in each module) at the end of the semester.
The course is ‘harder’, I guess, than I had predicted, but also I am working at a level higher than I had predicted I would be. There is a LOT of reading, but then that’s kind of what English is all about!

Jim Porteous

How is studying for a Masters degree different to your previous undergraduate studies? What has helped you deal with any difficulties? How are you adapting?

I did my BA in 1974-77 so I’m not sure comparisons will be too relevant! The discipline of English has changed a great deal since then; it seems to be far less overtly radical and political and more precise and careful.

Now that you have been here at Exeter University for a couple of terms, what do you think sets us apart from other Universities that you know of?

Great campus near the city centre; good community links and theatre.
What do you think of your course so far? Is it what you expected?

The texts are interesting and the tutors very knowledgeable and helpful.

Please comment on the course and the teaching.

This has worked out well - I’m really pleased to have given myself time to read over two years: doing all the modules in one year would have seriously upset the work/life balance. Over two years I’ve also got time to read around a lot more, I think.
Have you used any particular resources, like museums, theatres, libraries or galleries, outside of the University for your studies? Have you been on any field trips?

Independent trips to museums, theatre, historical sites etc. There was one organised visit to the Cathedral Library in December.

Rachel Silver

What made you choose your degree subject? What made you decide to apply to / stay at Exeter? Did anyone recommend Exeter or your subject to you?

I chose my degree subject because I have a keen interest in languages and their relationship with literature, translation, and interpretation, which was extremely useful when it came to researching translated literature at PG level. I decided to stay at Exeter for several reasons, primarily because of its fantastic reputation in English research and because the lectures and seminar leaders are so inspiring, but also because of the location of the campus: it’s close to the moors and the coast and is big enough to feel like a city but small enough to feel homely.
I had several friends from UG who stayed on at Exeter while I took a year out to earn enough money to return. I kept in contact with them all year and they all recommended the English MA, especially the Criticism and Theory modules. Several of them are now PhD students at Exeter as well, and one is working with the organisers of literary festivals around the South West which shows how highly an MA in English from Exeter is regarded both within and outside of the University.

Having spent your undergraduate years at Exeter and now doing your Masters here, is there any advice that you would give to current finalists about choosing Masters-level study?

If you are debating whether or not to continue to MA-level I would certainly say 'do it'. The skills learned at UG are good but they are improved immeasurably at MA. The organisation it takes to plan the dissertation for example, while writing the essays for other modules and applying for conferences / publishing in academic journals etc is unlike anything I had ever done at UG. Not to mention the maturity and dedication needed for long presentations and seminars. And the sense of pride on achieving these is a real confidence boost.


We’ve provided the information on our website to help you get started on finding funding opportunities that are available to you: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/

Value of Scholarship(s)

Over £4 million in scholarships available


We recommend you start looking as early as possible for funding, especially if you will need financial assistance to undertake a postgraduate course.

There are a number of ways to fund postgraduate study including: scholarships, studentships, wages, bursaries, savings, inheritance, and, increasingly, alternative methods such as crowdfunding and philanthropy. The options available may depend on your fee status or other criteria.

Application Procedure

See our website for details of funding available and how to apply :https://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/

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