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Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literary Studies (MA)

Course Description

Our taught MA pathway in Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Literary Studies offers choice, flexibility and the opportunity to specialise within this field. You can learn from the rich variety of research expertise in the Department and you also have the chance to concentrate on a particular area of literary study within the field. Our commitment to research-led teaching means that students are able to explore the cutting edge of the discipline - from the beginnings of the literature of revolution, to life writing, to contemporary US crime narrative. We provide an intimate, dynamic and supportive environment for students of all backgrounds and nationalities.

Our programme offers up-to-date training in research methods and skills. You will choose three modules, at least two of which are from within the pathway, and you will write a dissertation on a subject related to twentieth- and twenty-first-century studies.

An MA in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Literary Studies is often the platform for further research at PhD level, as well as providing an excellent grounding for jobs in education, the arts and the media.

Course Structure

If you choose to take this named pathway, you will be expected to select at least two modules from those available within the pathway and to write your dissertation in an area related to it. Your third optional module may, if you wish, be chosen from the full list of MA modules on offer in the Department. Students may, with permission, take one module from other modules on offer elsewhere in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. All students must take the core Research Methods and Resources module and the dissertation alongside their three optional modules.

Core Modules

-Research Methods and Resources

Optional Modules

Typical modules might include:
-Modern Poetry
-Literatures of Slavery
-Modernism and Touch
-Life Narratives
-Representing the Self: From Sophocles to the Sopranos
-Post-War British Drama
-The Contemporary US Novel
-The Writing of Poetry
-Blood and Soil: Regionalism and Contemporary US Crime Narrative.
-Modules are subject to staff availability and normally no more than five of the above will run in any one year.

Please use the 'additional comments' section of the application form to indicate your choice of modules as well as to provide a personal statemen

Learning and Teaching

One of the distinctive features of the Durham MA in Literary Studies is that it permits both a broad-based, eclectic study of literary topics from the earliest periods of literature to the present and the possibility of specialisation through designated pathways in such areas as Medieval and Renaissance Studies or Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Studies. All students take 3 modules, taught in small seminar groups of up to 10, with each module generating eighteen hours of contact time (9 seminars x 2 hours) over the academic year. A strong emphasis is placed on independent research, and seminars usually involve a considerable amount of preparation, including short presentations and workshop activities.

All students register for the Research Methods and Resources module, which generates an additional 20 hours of teaching over the academic year. Again, a strong emphasis is given to independent research. Written work for the RMR module involves significant preparation for the MA dissertation (and in some cases for doctoral study later on). The MA dissertation is supported by three and a half hours of dedicated individual supervision time. Drafts of the dissertation are read and commented upon by the supervisor.

Throughout the taught MA degree programme, all students are strongly encouraged to participate in a lively series of staff-postgraduate research seminars, usually involving invited guest speakers from the UK and beyond.

Other admission requirements

Please use the 'additional comments' section of the application form to provide a personal statement. In addition to your three module choices, you will also need to include a piece of written work of approximately 2,000 words in length on a literary subject. This can be any piece of literary-critical work you have completed recently and may be emailed direct to the Department if you wish ().

We welcome applications from holders of international qualifications. For advice on the equivalency of international qualifications, please contact our International Office at

Visit the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literary Studies (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

You will normally require an English or English-related Honours degree (at least a 2:1 or equivalent) from a recognised university. See course description for further admission details.

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