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Victorian Studies (MA)

Course Description

Drawing on Birkbeck's position as a world-leading centre in the field of nineteenth-century studies, this MA offers you the chance to take a genuinely interdisciplinary approach to studying the literature, culture and history of Victorian Britain. You will encounter a compelling range of Victorian texts, contexts, themes and ideas on a degree course that does justice to the energy and variety of the Victorian period.

Two core modules, Progress and Anxiety, 1789-1859 and Modernising Victorians, introduce some of the most significant debates, ideas and events of the long nineteenth century, and offer you the chance to develop new critical approaches to Victorian studies. Weekly seminars take you from the French Revolution to the Boer War and investigate topics such as the discovery of geological time, movements for social and political reform, the aims and limits of realist fiction, the Great Exhibition, Darwinism, aestheticism, the religious imagination and the Gothic revival.

These compulsory courses are supplemented by a wide range of option modules, which allow you to pursue your own interests in the field of Victorian Studies and beyond. Recently offered option modules are listed below.

Students in their final year of study have the chance to take an internship module. Successful interns spend a term working with one of London's Victorian cultural institutions, gaining first-hand experience of working in the cultural sector and using their host institution's archives to develop a unique research project. Previous interns have worked with the Dickens House Museum, the Salvation Army Heritage Centre and Archive, and the Guildhall Art Gallery, and have developed their projects into funded doctoral research topics.

A schedule of visiting speakers and other events, organised by Birkbeck's Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, ensures that you have the opportunity to engage with leading Victorian studies specialists from around the world, and are welcomed into one of the country's liveliest research communities.

Staff teaching on this MA include:

Professor Hilary Fraser
Professor Laurel Brake
Professor David Feldman
Dr Nicola Bown
Dr Carolyn Burdett (Course Director)
Dr Luisa Calè
Dr Julia Laite
Dr David McAllister
Dr Emily Senior
Dr Heather Tilley
Dr Ana Parejo Vadillo.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
Explore this fascinating period through a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together literature, visual art, history and cultural studies.
Our graduates have an impressive record in competing for Arts and Humanities Research Council awards for research degrees.
Our lively Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies organises a dynamic range of year-round events that showcase the research of Birkbeck's academics, researchers and students, including our annual Dickens Day and our Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies. The Centre also established, and for many years hosted, the London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar.
Read 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, our free, open-access online journal that celebrated its tenth anniversary in November 2015 with a special issue on 'The Nineteenth-Century Digital Archive'.
Read more about our Dickens's Our Mutual Friend project, which culminated in November 2015 as part of the tenth-anniversary celebrations of 19.
Birkbeck is at the geographical centre of London's research library complex, a short distance from the British Library, the University of London Library, the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Historical Research.
The University of London Library has an outstanding collection of literary periodicals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Visit the Victorian Studies (MA) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

David Waller

4094.jpg In his day job David looks after the media and helps to promote his company's corporate brand.
'I've got to get my head around financial markets and the investment industry. It's all very complex and fast moving,' he says, ' and I've got to read and listen a lot to keep up with it.'

When the credit crunch hit and the global markets imploded, David was in a previous role at the sharp end, advising the London arm of the Lehman Brothers on how to handle the media. Over the years David has held similar roles for large financial institutions, and was also an advisor to the UKFI (UK Financial Investments), the entity which owns the UK government's stakes in the banking industry. Before that he was a journalist on the Financial Times for the best part of 10 years and was deputy head of the Lex column.

Having graduated from Balliol College, Oxford in 1984, David decided to enrol on Birkbeck's MA Victorian Studies because 'he wanted to study a subject that was intellectually enriching and had no relevance to my day job – which was running a small PR business at the time. I deliberately undertook a course that was not calculated to make me more employable. I have found however that colleagues and clients value a person in the round, so indirectly it has been good for my career.

'I chose Birkbeck because nowhere else was offering this kind of course in a way that really fitted in with my job,' he adds. 'I can only recommend going back into formal education as a mature student. It teaches you how to learn again and this is an enriching and positive experience.'

As a result of his knowledge of the 19th century David gained at Birkbeck, he got the chance to view the archive of materials on which his well received historical biography of the unsurpassed London hostess, Gertrude Tennant, is based. The resulting book, The Magnificent Mrs Tennant (Yale University Press, 2009) became a Daily Telegraph Biography of the Year last year and was a runner-up in the Biographers' Club Prize. David has also published two business books (an account of a big merger and a company history of a stockbroking firm).


Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Normally a good degree in a relevant subject such as English, history, philosophy or history of art, but a degree in other subjects will be considered, as will other qualifications. Prior to interview, you will need to submit a short piece of written work (up to 500 words) on any Victorian topic. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

Last Updated

07 August 2017

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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