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MA English Literary Studies (with specialist pathways)

Course Description

There are many reasons why you might choose our English Literary Studies MA. If you are thinking about taking your study of English to the next level in preparation for a PhD then our Department has the knowledge to give you the high level training you need to set you on that path. If you are a recent graduate looking to stand out in the job market, already working but want to develop further, or simply looking to take your passion for English to the next level then we have the strength and depth of specialisms to fit your interests.

We are one of the strongest English departments in the UK with an excellent reputation for high quality research. Our Postgraduate students are an important part of our research community, and if you choose to join us at Exeter then you will be too.

Our Library and Special Collections offer modern study facilities and a vast amount of original source material, and if you’re interested in film or visual culture then the on-site Bill Douglas Cinema Museum is an invaluable resource.

You can choose to study one of the specialist pathways we have chosen to match the Department’s strengths or you can take an open pathway and tailor your own programme from our wide range of modules.

Programme Structure

Students may opt to follow one of our seven named pathways, each of which has its own pathway leader and associated modules. American and Atlantic Studies, Criticism and Theory, Enlightenment to Romanticism, Film Studies, Renaissance Studies, Modern and Contemporary, Victorian Studies, or opt for the ‘open’ English Literary Studies pathway.


Each Pathway has compulsory and optional modules some of these are listed here;
The Cultures of American Modernism; Beyond the Border: The Politics of Place in Contemporary North American Literature and Culture; Criticism and Theory: Critical and Literary Theory in a Global Context; Revival and Return: Using the Past from Pope to Keats; Body and Identity; Sense, Sensation, and Cinema; Hearing Film: Film Sound and Music; Country City and Court Renaissance Literature 1558-1618; Bodies Politic: Cultural and Sexual Politics in England, 1603-85; From Orientalism to Globalization: Debates in Postcolonial Studies; Beyond the Border: The Politics of Place in Contemporary North American Literature and Culture; Making Progress? Literature in a Changing Environment 1830-1870 and Empire, Decadence and Modernity: Literature 1870-1910.

Constituent modules and pathways may be updated, deleted or replaced in future years as a consequence of programme development. Details at any time may be obtained from the Department website at http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/english/postgraduate/ .


In recent years the positions some of our graduates have gone on to include: Copywriter; Marketing Assistant; Assistant Editor; Publishing Assistant; Editorial Assistant; Freelance Journalist and Writer

Visit the MA English Literary Studies (with specialist pathways) page on the University of Exeter website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Yawei Wu

2243.jpg 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!

(Student Profile)

Samuel Miles

3973.jpg 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!

(Student Profile)

Jim Porteous

3974.jpg 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.

(Student Profile)

Rachel Silver

3975.jpg 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.


Funding for Postgraduate Study - 20+ Awards

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships and studentships for talented students. For 2016 entry, the total value of scholarships for taught postgraduate programmes exceeds £500,000. This is in addition to over 100 PhD studentships we make available each year.Students who reside in England and are interested in our Masters programmes can now take advantage of the UK government's postgraduate loan scheme which offers loans of up to £10,000.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Varies, but most awards are competitive and merit-based.

Application Procedure

Please see the details of each scheme as listed in our search: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/search

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Normally a 2:1, preferably in English, although other subjects are considered. Please see our website for full details

Course Fees

See our web site for more information (click on "Finance) View Website

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