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MA Eighteenth-Century Studies

Course Description

This MA offers an intellectually dynamic introduction to one of the most exciting eras in literary history.

Grounded in and administered from the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, this is an interdisciplinary MA programme that builds upon the expertise and common research interests of 18th-century researchers and teachers across the Faculty of Humanities. The Centre provides an excellent research context for the MA programme and any further postgraduate work that will arise from it.

Among the teachers involved in this MA are Jennie Batchelor (English), Jonathan Friday (History and Philosophy of Art), Donna Landry (English), Paddy Bullard (English) and Ben Thomas (History & Philosophy of Art).

The Eighteenth-Century Studies MA is also available at Canterbury and Paris (https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/221/eighteenth-century-studies-paris). After spending your first term at our Canterbury campus, you relocate to our Paris centre for the spring term to study in the heart of historic Montparnasse.

Visit the website https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/220/eighteenth-century-studies

About the School of English

The School of English has a strong international reputation and global perspective, apparent both in the background of its staff and in the diversity of our teaching and research interests.

Our expertise ranges from the medieval to the postmodern, including British, American and Irish literature, postcolonial writing, 18th-century studies, Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, Victorian studies, modern poetry, critical theory and cultural history. The international standing of the School ensures that we have a lively, confident research culture, sustained by a vibrant, ambitious intellectual community. We also count a number of distinguished creative writers among our staff, and we actively explore crossovers between critical and creative writing in all our areas of teaching and research.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 has produced very strong results for the School of English at Kent. With 74% of our work graded as world-leading or internationally excellent, the School is ranked 10th out of 89 English departments in terms of Research Intensity (Times Higher Education). The School also received an outstanding assessment of the quality of its research environment and public impact work.

Course structure

You take two modules in the autumn term and two in the spring term; two core modules and two optional modules. You are also expected to attend the Faculty and School Research Methods Programmes.

You then write a dissertation or an editorial project between the start of the Summer Term and the end of August.


In the 2014/15 academic year the following two core specialist modules were available: EN832 - Hacks, Dunces and Scribblers: Authorship and the Marketplace in the Eighteenth Century and EN895 - Jane Austen and Material Culture. These should be considered indicative of the types of modules available, which may vary from year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

EN832 - Hacks, Dunces and Scribblers: Authorship and the Marketplace in the Eig (30 credits)
HI826 - Literary Undergrounds and Anarchists in the Basement (12 credits)
HI874 - Religion and Society in Seventeenth-Century England (30 credits)
MT864 - Reading the Medieval Town: Canterbury, an International City (30 credits)
MT865 - Encountering the Holy: Devotion and the Medieval Church (30 credits)
EN834 - Imagining India (30 credits)
EN835 - Dickens, The Victorians and the Body (30 credits)
EN836 - Dickens and the Material Culture of the Victorian Novel (30 credits)
EN842 - Reading the Contemporary (30 credits)
EN850 - Centres and Edges: Modernist and PostcolonialQuest Literature (30 credits)
EN852 - Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses (30 credits)
EN857 - Body and Place in the Postcolonial Text (30 credits)
EN862 - Contemporary Arab Novel (30 credits)
EN865 - Post-45: American Literature and Culture in the Cold War Era (30 credits)
EN866 - The Awkward Age: Transatlantic Culture and Literature in Transition, 18 (30 credits)
EN872 - Provocations and Invitations (30 credits)
EN876 - Dickens and the Condition of England (30 credits)
EN888 - Extremes of Feeling: Literature and Empire in the Eighteenth Century (30 credits)
EN889 - Literary Theory (30 credits)
EN897 - Advanced Critical Reading (30 credits)
EN818 - American Modernism 1900-1930 (Teaching Period I) (30 credits)


Assessment is by a 5-6,000-word essay for each module and a 12-15,000-word dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

- extend and deepen through coursework and research your understanding of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture and its political and cultural contexts

- develop your understanding of, and engagement with, the critical and methodological paradigms that inform the field of eighteenth-century studies today

- develop your independent critical thinking and judgement.

- introduce you to the research methods that facilitate advanced study in the field

- provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach eighteenth-century studies, especially in higher education

- provide an interdisciplinary context for the study of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture.

- develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form

- provide teaching which is informed by current research and scholarship and which requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge

- develop your research skills to the point where you are ready to undertake a research degree.


Many career paths can benefit from the writing and analytical skills that you develop as a postgraduate student in the School of English. Our students have gone on to work in academia, journalism, broadcasting and media, publishing, writing and teaching; as well as more general areas such as banking, marketing analysis and project management.

Find out how to apply here - https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/apply/

Visit the MA Eighteenth-Century Studies page on the University of Kent website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Megan Batterbee

My MA featured everything I enjoyed studying as an undergraduate. The choice of courses was diverse, which meant I could specialise in the areas I found most fascinating. It was brilliant to be able to discuss my favourite novels, and works which I would never have otherwise encountered. The initial focus on critical theory related to the texts aided the study of the texts themselves. The highlight of one module was being able to explore the archives at the Cathedral library, and being allowed to access areas that aren't open to the public. The teaching standard at this level is incredible. Seminar leaders go out of their way to structure their classes on what interests their students most, and are always available to help and support whenever they are needed. Choosing the Eighteenth Century Studies MA was a good decision for me, as it has strengthened my core historical knowledge and reassured me that I am capable of pursuing my passion for the literature of this era to a higher level.

(Student Profile)

Abigail Mann

How are you finding the Eighteenth Century MA?

I’m really loving my MA this year. I enjoy the mature approach to studying as a postgraduate and the level of involvement you can have within the School of English. I feel like I’ve learnt a huge amount from specialising my MA, as the approach to Eighteenth Century Studies is far more comprehensive than anything I had a taste of as an undergraduate. This, combined with an interdisciplinary approach, allowed me to satisfy a desire to take on a philosophy-based comparative literature module. I feel like I’ve really personalised my study this year which, of course, makes it that much more engaging!

Why did you choose to study at Kent and, more specifically, the MA you are studying?

I was familiar with the School and the lecturers from studying for my undergraduate degree at Kent, and from taking Eighteenth Century modules during that time. I knew I wanted to get a more in-depth look into Jane Austen and the culture surrounding her. Kent also has places of historical importance in the local area and it felt appropriate to be near such places as Godmersham Park and the Cathedral; both of which have provided me with opportunities to do original archival research.

What has been your favourite module so far?

It has to be the ‘Hacks, Dunces and Scribblers…’ from my first term. I had very little knowledge of the origins of the publishing industry and literary marketplace before I started. The texts, selected from well-known and little-known authors of the 1700s provided a huge amount of diversity from the standardised Eighteenth Century canon. It allowed me to link up one writer to another due to the (quite often very rude) comments made to each other in print – and from this you get a tangible idea of the reality of publishing during this period.


School of English MA scholarships - 12 Awards

School of English MA scholarships 2015/16Scholarships are still available for excellent candidates applying for our taught-MA programmes.
•Part-time students and students applying for programmes with a term in Paris are also eligible
•Applications will be accepted up until May 15, 2015. All students who make an application to study on one of our MA programmes will automatically be considered for a scholarship (no separate application is required)
•Previous applicants for MA scholarships need not re-apply

Scholarship Fund
The School of English highly values its postgraduate community. Over the last few years the School has continued to invest in its students with a range of scholarships and opportunities that have supported exceptional research from awarded students. To further support the postgraduate community the school will be increasing the MA scholarship fund for 2015/16.
Successful applicants in 2015/16 will be eligible for the following scholarships, all of which aim to support one student on each of our specialist MA programmes. The scholarships will be in the form of a fee waiver, but with an additional maintenance bursary of £1500. Part-time students and students applying for programmes with a term in Paris are also eligible. These scholarships are:
•The Woolf scholarship (for students on the MA in English and American Literature)
•The Dickens scholarship (for students on the MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture)
•The Burney scholarship (for a student on the MA in Eighteenth Century Studies)
•The MA in Postcolonial Studies scholarship
•The MA in Critical Theory scholarship
•The MA in The Contemporary scholarship
•The Creative Writer’s scholarship In addition to these new scholarships the school will continue to offer the following:
•One fully funded School of English MA scholarship – a fee waiver plus an additional stipend at AHRC rate (currently set at £9,681 p/a for 2014/15)
•One international scholarship (to cover fees at the international rate)
•One fee-waiver scholarship for part-time students
•Two departmental awards. The Ian Gregor Scholarship, which pays home fees and a £500 bursary for one year’s full-time study, and the Sasha Roberts Scholarship, which is an award of £2,000. PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of the scholarships is to award candidates with the strongest academic records. The School of English reserves the right to distribute the scholarships amongst candidates in a way that will honour that commitment.

Value of Scholarship(s)



A first or second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent). In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path.These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies. The purpose of the scholarships is to award candidates with the strongest academic records.

Application Procedure

All students who make an application to study on one of our MA programmes will automatically be considered for a scholarship (no separate application is required).

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent). For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages (View Website).

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