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MLitt in Modern Scottish Writing

Course Description


After more than a decade of devolution, Scotland’s national status ‘is both dangled before us and tantalisingly withheld’ (Don Paterson)
The Stirling Master's course views Scottish literature in the light of this ambiguity from a perspective shaped by critical theory as well as traditional literary history. Our focus is the unusually strong role played by literature in sustaining the reality and difference of Scottish culture over the past three centuries – not forgetting the role of novelists and poets in integrating Scottish identity into the project of Britishness. As debate intensifies over Scotland’s political status, the time is ripe to examine the role of writing in shaping the image and reality of the nation.

Key information

- Degree type: MLitt, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
- Study methods: Full-time, Part-time
- Duration: Full-time: MLitt-12 months, PG Diploma-9 months, PG Certificate 4 months Part-time: MLitt 27 months, PG Diploma-21 months, PG Certificate-9 months
- Start date: September
- Course Director: Dr Scott Hames and Dr Suzanne Gilbert

Course objectives

This course explores modern Scottish literature in relation to the ambivalent condition of Scottish history and identity.
We focus on writing from Robert Burns, Walter Scott and James Hogg, through Victorian and late 19th-century writers (Galt, Buchan, Stevenson) to the modernist experiments of Hugh MacDiarmid and his followers, and on to provocative 20th-century experiments in language, textuality and historical re-telling (Welsh, Galloway, Kelman, Spark, Gray, Saadi, Robertson).
No previous experience in studying Scottish literature is required. Leading Scottish writers and critics feature prominently in assigned reading, as do theorists of cultural modernity.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:
- IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
- Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
- Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
- IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements https://www.stir.ac.uk/study-in-the-uk/entry-requirements/english/

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View the range of pre-sessional courses http://www.intohigher.com/uk/en-gb/our-centres/into-university-of-stirling/studying/our-courses/course-list/pre-sessional-english.aspx .

Delivery and assessment

The most significant piece of work on the course will be a dissertation of 15,000 words, written during the summer on a subject of your choosing in consultation with a member of teaching staff. You may choose to develop work initiated on one of the modules you have studied. Those who do not embark on the dissertation may be awarded a Diploma. The work of the best students completing the course may be deemed worthy of an MLitt with Distinction.


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


Over half of our submissions in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) were found to be ‘Internationally Excellent’ or ‘World-leading’.

Visit the MLitt in Modern Scottish Writing page on the University of Stirling website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Arianna Introna

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?
I decided to study a postgraduate course in order to continue exploration of Scottish writing, to which my undergraduate degree in Scottish Studies had introduced me.

What attracted you to Stirling?
I choose this specific MLitt because of the intriguing angle it promised to turn on Scottish literature, combining attention to the established debates in the field with innovative theoretical approaches.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University?
During my time here I especially enjoyed the lively atmosphere in which thought-provoking discussions unfolded during tutorials, and how we were encouraged to pursue the insights these yielded both by attending cultural events and through original research.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?
The aspect of the programme I enjoyed the most was how exploration of traditional concerns and debates in Scottish literature, such as a privileged preoccupation with the national paradigm, was paralleled by attention to a variety of other issues in Scottish writing and of theoretical approaches in literary criticism. This double focus has allowed me to appreciate the complexity of Scottish literature, opening up exciting questions for future investigation.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?
The degree has equipped me with the necessary skills and theoretical background to undertake research in modern Scottish literature at PhD level. On the one hand, it has provided me with a solid grounding in Scottish writing, culture and literary criticism which is proving extremely helpful. On the other hand, it has given me the confidence and intellectual stimulation which is driving my pursuit of original research.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?
My MLitt year has been one of the happiest of my life because of the intellectual energy it provided. Not only did the course introduce me to exciting themes and issues in Scottish writing, but it did so in a most inspiring and supportive academic environment.

(Student Profile)

Johan McGuinne

As someone with a background mainly in linguistics – and who has always been an avid reader – choosing to study literature was a choice I made in order to broaden my horizons.

I had previously spent an exchange semester at Stirling as a visiting student from Sweden, studying Scottish Literature among other things. So it seemed natural to return here.

Stirling has one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, and I believe the lecturers are some of the best within their respective fields. They encourage you to challenge yourself, without ever using their academic experience to put you down.

Studying Modern Scottish Literature has been both an academic and a personal experience. My father’s family are Gaels, and my mother’s family are Swedish Saami, so in one way I have grown up surrounded by the feeling that I am very much part of ‘old, marginalised cultures’.

The course introduced me to writers I wouldn’t otherwise have read, and it offered me a philosophical, historical and critical foundation on which to base my future studies. Most importantly however, my MLitt has made me challenge the stereotypical views of minorities (which are often found in mainstream media) by giving me the tools needed to formulate a thought-through, well-founded critique of the same.

In the near future I see myself taking the skills and knowledge I’ve accumulated over the year to work for an NGO focusing on indigenous issues and minority rights. Later on, I intend to pursue doctoral studies at a university in Sweden.

(Student Profile)

Fiona Robertson

After completing my first degree, I was lucky enough to find a job quickly in my chosen sector – museums and the arts. I then moved into a range of wider public sector management roles. However I always planned to return to postgraduate study at some point if I could.

I chose this Programme as it was an area I'd always wanted to understand in more depth. The core modules provided an overview of how Scottish writing has developed since the 18th century and the option modules were directly relevant to the research questions in which I was particularly interested.

As a part-time mature student, I found the University environment very welcoming. Support was always available from my tutors when I needed it and the mix of perspectives and experience from other students was extremely stimulating.

Completing my Master’s Degree has given me a lot of personal satisfaction.


Entry Requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply. A sample of work (e.g. English Essay) is required.

Course Fees

2015/16: Home/EU £4,500; Overseas £11,900

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