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Course content

Why Surrey?

This programme encourages you to consider the relationship between literature from a variety of historical periods, regions, contexts and theoretical paradigms.

You will benefit from the expertise of a vibrant, multidisciplinary group of published authors and academics and will have access to a full calendar of thought provoking literary events.

Programme overview

The MA in English Literature will equip you with a critical understanding of English literary studies, and the ability to reflect on significant questions: How have ideas about literature and literary value changed over time? What effects do innovations in printing and publishing have on writing? How much do political and social factors condition and define authorial identities and practices?

It is ideal for students wishing to pursue doctoral research, those who seek a broad overview of Anglophone literary culture, and those looking to develop expertise in specific literary areas.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time over two academic years. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation.

On successful completion of the programme, students may go on to do the PhD in English literature.

Example module listing

The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Academics and events

As a student on this Masters, you will benefit from the expertise of a vibrant, multidisciplinary group of published academics and authors.

You will also have access to a number of conferences, seminars and workshops hosted throughout the year. These events cover a range of topics to broaden your thinking in the fields of literature, language and linguistics, cultural studies and creative writing.

Academics to have recently spoken at the University of Surrey include:

  • Rod Mengham
  • Bernard O’Donoghue
  • Edward Larrisy
  • Robert Hampson
  • Adam Roberts
  • Helen Hester
  • John Wrighton
  • J.H. Prynne
  • Robert Fitterman
  • Allen Fisher
  • Barbara Hardy
  • Gilbert Adair

They have been joined by novelists Iain Sinclair, Monica Ali, Jaspreet Singh and Nikita Lalwani, to name a few.

Each year’s cultural activities begin with the Morag Morris Poetry Lecture on campus by a visiting speaker and feature readings by students at the Guildford School of Acting.

Educational aims of the programme

The English Literature MA programme will prepare graduates to undertake a PhD programme in the relevant field.

It will also provide students with the transferable skills of critical thinking, analysis, communication, and textuality that are attractive to a wide range of employers, from the cultural industries to marketing and advertising to tourism and leisure to the civil service and public/private partnerships.

Devoted to the requirements and complexities of textual analysis and critical reading, the programme also provides advanced understanding of the contexts, theoretical paradigms, methodologies and modes of interpretation that are vital in contemporary literary studies.

The main aims are to:

  • Acquire sound knowledge of the major principles of literary criticism
  • Develop the critical language and terminology to carry out in-depth analyses of literary texts from across the diverse range of periods, areas, and approaches to the study of English literature
  • Reflect on their own practice as literary critics

The programme will help students to apply scholarly approaches to critically evaluate the major schools of literary criticism and literary theory in light of current and the possibilities of future development.

As a Master’s level programme, it also aims to instil in students the capacity for carrying out independent research in an area of literary studies.

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.


Visit the English Literature MA page on the University of Surrey website for more details!

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