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MPhil in English Studies: Modern and Contemporary Literature

Course Description

The MPhil in Modern and Contemporary Literature is a nine-month course that runs from October to June. This exciting MPhil explores the rich array of literature in English from 1830 to the present, and encourages students to pay particular attention to the relationship of literary texts and their historical and intellectual contexts.

The course structure is designed to enable flexibility in terms of period and specialism: you can choose to concentrate on nineteenth- or twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature, or take a selection of seminars in both. The flexible framework allows you to build a programme of specialised study in line with your own particular research interests. Guidance on developing your course of study will be given by a designated Faculty member who will also act each term as your dissertation supervisor.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/elelmpmcl

Course detail

Having completed the MPhil, students should have:

1. Developed a deeper knowledge of literature written between 1830 and the present day in general, and their chosen area of research in particular.
2. Developed an understanding of critical and theoretical debates which enable the evaluation of current research in their dissertation field.
3. Developed a sophisticated understanding of how literary form engages with history between 1830 to the present.
4. Demonstrated independent judgment based on their own research.


The required elements of the course consist of two seminars in both Michaelmas and Lent term selected from the course-options offered. In Michaelmas Term the student is required to choose at least one of the two Core courses, and can take both. If one Core course is taken in Michaelmas then the second can be taken from one of the two designated Modern and Contemporary options, or (under particular circumstances) a shared option from the M.Phil. in Criticism and Culture or the M.Phil. in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies. In Lent Term the student will be able to choose two courses from a pool of options that is shared between a number of the Faculty’s M.Phil. programmes. in the Faculty and in special circumstance may be able to take an option offered in another Faculty subject to the approval of the convenor.

Students are required to take the M.Phil’s Research Methods course in Michaelmas Term.

Students will be expected to attend training sessions provided by the University Library on bibliographical and library skills, along with sessions on electronic resources such as LION and the MLA bibliography.

Students are required to attend a minimum of ten sessions a year of any of the following fortnightly Graduate Research Seminars: the Nineteenth-Century Graduate Seminar; the Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Literature Graduate Seminar; the Criticism and Culture Graduate Seminar (a speaker series); the Postcolonial Graduate Seminar; the American Literature Graduate Seminar.

Each student has a supervisor who gives advice on planning the year’s work and the dissertation in particular. Supervision on the coursework essays is offered by the convenor of the appropriate class. Documentation offering specifications and guidance in relation to each element of assessed work is provided to students. Progress is monitored through the discussion with each student of draft sections of their dissertations by their supervisor and through submitted work: The short-written exercise, which is submitted in Michaelmas Term, receives feedback from the supervisor; the first course-work which is submitted at the end of Michaelmas term is returned with examiner’s comments at the beginning of Lent term; the Lent-term course-work essay returned with comments at the beginning of Easter term. Supervisors write termly reports online which can be accessed by the student.


- A 12,000 – 15,000 word dissertation submitted at the end of Easter term which contributes 50% to the final mark.
- A short-written exercise which is marked on a pass/resubmission basis.
- Two 5,000-word essays. One is submitted at the end of Michaelmas Term the other at the end of Lent Term. These relate to the work pursued in the seminars taken and contribute 25% each to the final mark.


If you wish to continue from the MPhil to the PhD you must obtain a minimum of 70 across the coursework with a minimum of 70 for the dissertation.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

There are no specific funding opportunities advertised for this course. For information on more general funding opportunities, please follow the link below.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the MPhil in English Studies: Modern and Contemporary Literature page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II.i Honours Degree. At least a high 2.i honours degree from a UK university or equivalent. Applicants should note, however, that the majority of those accepted onto English Faculty MPhils have a first-class honours degree or equivalent. Applicants will normally be expected to have taken a substantial number of English courses at university level and to possess a sound background in the literature of the period covered by the course.

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