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English: Issues in Modern Culture - MA

Course Description

This MA programme introduces students to major works of 19th and 20th-century British, French and American writers and provides a context for those works in philosophical and technological developments of the period. The programme explores a wide range of genres and authors and encourages the development of independent research skills.

Degree information

The core module develops a close reading of works by writers of the period, while the optional modules offer the opportunity to analyse some of the technologies, media, philosophical perspectives and art forms whose development during the 20th century has made itself felt in modernist and postmodernist writing.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of one core module (60 credits), three optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core module
-Authors (including Gustave Flaubert, D.H. Lawrence; T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Ellison, Alfred Hitchcock, Slyvia Plath, Toni Morrison, Alan Hollinghurst, David Foster Wallace).

Optional modules - the majority of students elect to take Contexts, which explores the relationship between modern culture and the city from the 1860s to the present day, and may include the following topics:
-The Body and Technology
-Catastrophe and the City
-Class and the City
-The Harlem Renaissance
-Hollywood Fiction
-Queer Fictions and the City

Students then take further optional modules. Options available change every year, but in recent years have included:
-Contemporary Poetry
-American Counter-Culture
-21st Century Fiction
-Modernism, Sex and Redemption
-Inventions of Cinema
-Marxist Aesthetics in the 20th Century
-Cultures of Chance: Accident, Error, and Catastrophe in post-1945 Literature and Culture
-Global Anglophone Literature

All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000 words.

Teaching and learning
Each course is taught through a weekly seminar. Assessment is through take-home written examination, essays and the research dissertation.


The programme is an ideal preliminary stage to doctoral research and candidates who obtain the MA and have found a promising subject requiring further study are encouraged to apply to the UCL MPhil/PhD programme.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Graduate Account Executive, Hall & Partners
-Business Development Executive, CBRE
-Phd English Literature, University of Oxford
-Editor, CGP

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL English has an outstanding record for research; many staff publish in mainstream as well as academic media: some are regular reviewers for newspapers and periodicals.

Excellent facilities are provided by the UCL library. It has several important holdings including the James Joyce Collection and the George Orwell Archive.

Our graduate students have access to an incomparable range of archives and libraries, including Senate House Library and the British Library, both of which are nearby.

Visit the English: Issues in Modern Culture - MA page on the University College London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard will normally be required. This is a competitive MA, however, and the majority of our successful applicants either have, or are predicted to gain, a first class undergraduate degree (or overseas equivalent).

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