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English Literature: Scottish Literature (MScR)

Course Description

Research profile

From the poetry of Dunbar and Henryson to the fiction of James Kelman and A.L. Kennedy, Scottish literature presents an extraordinarily rich and varied subject of study, whether considered as a tradition in its own right or in terms of its interaction with English, European or world literatures.

Whether you’re interested in poetry, fiction or drama, the literary dimensions of the Scottish Enlightenment, the relationship between modernism and nationalism, Walter Scott or Irvine Welsh, Muriel Spark or Robert Louis Stevenson, this programme offers you the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of supervised independent research in your chosen area.

We are the oldest department of English Literature in the world, and at the last Research Assessment Exercise were awarded the highest research rating possible, of 5*A. We have one of the largest graduate programmes in this area in the country and a rich research culture covering all aspects of literatures in English.

We offer supervision in all areas of Scottish literature, and have particular strengths in medieval Scottish writing, in comparative approaches to Scottish literature, in Scotland’s transatlantic connections, in the relationship between literature and philosophy in Scotland, in 18th and 19th century writing and culture, and in modern and contemporary Scottish literature.

The research of staff has made valuable contributions to the areas of literature and philosophy, modernism/postmodernism, medieval and early modern literature, history of the book, romanticism, transatlantic studies and performance studies.

English Literature houses the Centre for the History of the Book and is one of the UK's leading forces in this area. It works closely with the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and with the National Library of Scotland. The latter's recently acquired Murray Archive is crucial for studies in Romanticism, Book History, Bibliography and Archive Studies.

Training and support

The academic staff you will be working with are all active researchers or authors, many of them prize winners and leading scholars in their fields. As well as benefiting from their expert supervision, you will undertake a seminar-based programme of training in core research skills and subject-specific methodologies. You will also have the opportunity to develop other transferable skills through the University’s Institute for Academic Development

We encourage you to share your research and learn from the work of others through a vibrant programme of Work-in-Progress seminars, reading groups, visiting speakers and conferences.

Our postgraduate journal, Forum, is a valuable conduit for research findings, and provides an opportunity for editorial experience.


On hand are all the amenities you would expect, such as computing facilities, study areas and a common room and kitchen. Our location gives you easy access to the University’s general facilities, such as the Main Library and our collections, as well as to the National Museum, National Library and National Galleries of Scotland at the heart of the city.

In addition to the impressive range of resources available at the University’s Main Library (more than two million printed volumes and generous online resources) and the nearby National Library of Scotland, we host a number of collections of rare and valuable archival materials, all of which will be readily available to you as a postgraduate student.

Among the literary treasures are the libraries of William Drummond, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart and Norman MacCaig, plus the WH Auden collection, the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott and the Ramage collection of poetry pamphlets.

Our cultural collections are highly regarded and include a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays, and world-class manuscript and archival collections.

Visit the English Literature: Scottish Literature (MScR) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A UK 2:1 degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject, normally English Literature.

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