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Course content

This programme examines a range of literary and theoretical contexts, introducing ways that writing and imagination shape and share in cultural and political processes.

You will explore the ways literature since 1900 has sought to change and modernise itself, in the context of wider developments of modernity characterising the age.

Your studies will take you through a broad and fascinating field, from the originators of literary ‘modernity’ – including TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf – to the present day and the continuing impact of their innovations.

Studying in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, you will analyse the most challenging and exciting literature written in English since 1900, and explore the range of historical, intellectual, cultural, political and philosophical factors informing the period’s writing – particularly in its highly innovative modernist and postmodernist phases.

Programme structure

The programme will be taught through a combination of seminars and tutorials. You take one compulsory and one option course in each of two semesters, along with a course in research methods. You will then complete an independently researched dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

  • Literature and Modernity I: Modernist Aesthetics
  • Literature and Modernity II: Late Modernism and Beyond

Option courses may include:

  • Critical Theory: Issues and Debates
  • Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature
  • Poet-Critics
  • Modernism and Empire
  • Contemporary Post-Colonial Writing
  • Theatre, Performance, Performativity
  • Queering Fictions in the Twentieth Century
  • Contemporary American Fiction

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this programme you will have gained:

  • practical knowledge of the range of theoretical and philosophical ideas informing modern and postmodern literary criticism
  • knowledge and understanding of the role of literary writing in the formation of contemporary culture
  • a grounding in the research methods of literary studies

Career opportunities

Graduates of this programme will acquire a thorough knowledge and understanding of literary history and culture post-1900, and a range of transferable skills in research and enquiry, critical thinking and evaluation, and varieties of written and oral communication. This programme will also provide you with research and analytical skills that can be extended into future advanced study in the subject area.


Visit the English Literature: Literature and Modernity 1900 to present (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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