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English Literature: Literature and Society Enlightenment, Romantic and Victorian (MSc)

Course content

This programme offers students an introduction to the study of the ways in which writing in English has shaped or mediated political identities in England, Scotland and Ireland.

This programme introduces you to the relationship between literary writing and political and social discourse in Britain and Ireland between the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 and the end of the 19th century. This is the period of the creation of the Britain in which we live today, and also the time in which ancient British, Scottish and Irish national cultures were conceptualised as a response to radical literary, social and political innovations.

In examining the role of literary writing in this period, you will evaluate the ways in which it changed in response to social and political developments. You will also explore how Romantic conceptions of history, society and the aesthetic are developed and questioned during the course of the 19th century.

Programme structure

The programme will be taught through a combination of seminars and tutorials over two semesters, after which you will complete an independently researched dissertation. You will complete two compulsory and two option courses, along with courses in research methods.

Compulsory courses:

  • Enlightenment and Romanticism 1688–1815
  • Romanticism and Victorian Society 1815–1900
  • Research Skills and Methods

Option courses may include:

  • Poet-Critics: the Style of Modern Poetry
  • Fairy Tales
  • Digital Humanities for Literary Studies
  • Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature
  • The Long Summer: Edwardian Texts and Contexts 1900–1910
  • Shakespeare Adapted
  • Fairy Tales

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully follow this programme will gain:

  • knowledge and understanding of the role of literary writing in the formation of British, Scottish, Irish and English national identities in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • practical knowledge of the range of theoretical and philosophical ideas informing contemporary literary criticism
  • a grounding in the research methods of literary studies

Career opportunities

This programme will help you to identify possible topics for advanced research in English literature, potentially leading to an academic career. The transferable skills you gain, such as communication, project management and analysis, will give you an edge in a competitive employment market.


Visit the English Literature: Literature and Society Enlightenment, Romantic and Victorian (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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