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Studying English Literature at postgraduate level opens up a whole host of vibrant and intellectually stimulating avenues to explore.

At this level, English literary texts from the medieval period to present day are studied in and alongside their many different contexts – historical, social, political and/or material – and approached from a multitude of theoretical and methodological perspectives, enabling you to develop new and highly skilled ways of reading and interpreting a wide variety of cultural documents.

Our innovative programme draws on the wide-ranging research expertise of our staff in order to develop your critical and analytical skills in the field of literary and cultural studies. The programme allows you to take a general route, choosing core and optional from a variety of literary periods, or take one of a number of pathways, each focusing on a different historical period from the medieval through to the contemporary.

Please note: We offer additional opportunities to specialise in medieval literature via the MA Medieval Studiesand MRes Medieval Literature.

Course details

This programme will provide a solid grounding in the key intellectual debates within the scholarship surrounding a range of period and context specialisms, introduce you to the latest research in the field, and support your development of the skills required for writing a dissertation.

It includes a mixture of core and optional modules taken across the autumn and spring semesters.

Alongside the programme you will also have the chance to participate in a bespoke MA conference and become part of the department’s thriving academic research community.

Core modules 

Your core modules will either be from the same pathway, if you are specialising in a literary period, or can be chosen from different pathways if you are taking a general route through the degree.

  • Medieval pathway: Meeting Medieval Manuscripts; Understanding Medieval Literature
  • Reformation to Reform pathway: Writing Revolutions 1: Politics, Publics, and Professionalism in Literary Culture, 1580-1700 and Writing Revolutions 2: Politics, Publics and Professionalism in Literary Culture, 1700-1832
  • The Long Nineteenth Century pathway: Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Studies; Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Literature: Modernism; Contemporary Literature.

All pathways also include a compulsory ‘Research Skills’ module. For full descriptions, see 'modules' below.

Optional modules

You will choose optional modules from a range covering a variety of authors and themes from the medieval period to the 21st century. If you are following a pathway through the MA, one of your options can be taken from outside your literary period. If you are following a more general route through the degree you can pick optional modules from any literary period.

Assessment

Most modules are assessed by written assignment although some also require a presentation.

Over the course of the year you will also complete a supervised 15,000-word dissertation, with support from a supervisor. In order to complete your dissertation you will undertake independent research which may be based on (but will certainly extend) work undertaken for previous modules in the programme. There should be some element of originality to the research and staff will support your research in this regard; work should also aim towards making some contribution toward the field of study.

Please note: this programme outline relates to 2017/18 and is subject to change in future years.

Learning and teaching

You will be supported by literature staff in the department who research, publish, and teach across the full chronological range of English Literature from Old English to the present day, helping you to explore your specific interests.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Employability

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: English Literature

Birmingham's English Literature postgraduates develop a range of skills including presentation, communication and analytical skills, as well as the ability to work independently, think critically and develop opinions.

Over the past three years, over 94% of English Literature postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our graduates go on to further study or academia, while others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations including copywriting, PR, marketing, publishing and teaching.


Visit the Literature and Culture - MA page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

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