On this Masters in English, you will develop an advanced and critical understanding of literary and cultural history, as well as some of the key issues that shape the contemporary world. It is a course for intellectually curious and ambitious individuals.
£7,825 for the full course or £870 per 20 credits* (2023/24)
£14,900 for the full course (2023/24)
Kedleston Road, Derby Campus
You will cover a varied range of theoretical approaches to literature: from the cutting-edge to the historically significant
The modules are grouped by theme rather than historical periods, so you will see connections between texts from different times and places, from early-modern Europe to contemporary Africa
We encourage original thinking and intellectual self-reflection and apply this to contemporary debates around issues like sustainability and decolonisation
We’ll make sure you have an exceptional student experience, with more contact hours than most universities and staff that go the extra mile.
Understand how narratives shape our world
We can learn a lot from studying English literature. By rigorously assessing literary history, we can better understand cultural history and the narratives that continue to shape our contemporary world: from ‘fake news’ to gender or racial identity, human impact on the environment and freedom of expression.
On this MA English, we encourage you to think and write critically about some of these major concerns through the study of diverse and exciting literary texts, informed by intellectual, theoretical and historical context. We’ll provide a solid grounding in literary and cultural theory, which will complement the extensive research you will undertake yourself.
These are the key themes you will explore:
Theory, culture and criticism
The representation of landscape and changing attitudes to the natural world
The role of humour, satire and the carnivalesque
Global literature and travel writing
Blasphemy, obscenity and censorship.
You will read literature from a variety of nations and gain an insight into the relationship between different cultures and perspectives. You will critically reflect on how your own and other people’s cultural values have been shaped in our increasingly globalised world.
A strong research core
You will develop advanced research skills during this programme, building on the ones you acquired during your first degree, and preparing you for further research at doctorate level if that’s something you want to do. In fact, you will have the opportunity to attend workshops on preparing for PhD and funding applications.
We’ve created a structure and set of assessments that help you develop increasing independence as you progress, so by the final trimester, you will be able to approach your Independent Study (dissertation) with confidence. For instance, you will study the ‘Theory, Culture and Criticism’ module, which blends research methodology with complex theoretical perspectives on literary study, arguing that they are inseparable.
In the final stage of the programme, you will use these theories and research methodologies to undertake your Independent Study, which needs to be a substantial piece of original research in an area of your choice. You will be allocated a supervisor to guide you, who has considerable research expertise.
A powerful set of skills
This MA develops a wide set of skills, including:
advanced analytical thinking
advanced written and verbal communication skills
the ability to:
appraise concepts and ideas
create well-researched, well-structured arguments
operate as an independent learner or researcher
critically reflect on advanced personal learning and respond productively to constructive feedback.
These will not only help to make you a much better literary critic but also make you highly valuable to society, and highly employable.
Postgraduate Open Event
Join us at an upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, where you will get the opportunity to meet our expert academics and find out more about your course.
Taking and Making Offence: Blasphemy, Obscenity and Censorship from Milton to Rushdie
Global Literatures: Travel Writing
Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.
How you will learn
You will learn through lectures, seminars, workshops and field trips, but because this is a masters, there is an emphasis on self-directed study and one-to-one tutorials. You will also find materials for all modules online, in our virtual learning environment, and be able to contact tutors and fellow students here too.
Because of the nature of the English discipline, our teaching style is interactive, with classroom sessions always including plenty of discussion. This will help you to develop your confidence, your critical thinking and communication skills, as well as your understanding of the subject.
How you are assessed
For most modules, you can choose the topic of your assessments and propose your own essay questions. This enables you to pursue your own interests and take responsibility for your own learning.
Our assessments ensure you are gradually building skills and expertise throughout the programme. Essays remain a key form of assessment because they are an excellent test of your ability to form a coherent and focused argument. However, there are a variety of other written assignments that will help you write to different lengths and for different purposes, such as a literature review, a case study, and an appraisal.
Unlike many universities however, we also consider your broader understanding and knowledge throughout each module, not just your in-depth knowledge of a certain text. We do this by assessing your participation in seminars, as well as by asking you to complete activities such as:
leading seminars and giving high-level presentations
keeping diaries of the wider reading you’ve done
writing reflective pieces on these activities.
Who you will meet
MA English has a research-active teaching team, which has particularly strong expertise in literary and cultural theory. The following people will be teaching you.
Dr Paul Whickman is the Programme Leader for MA English. He specialises in eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature, particularly the Romantic period and the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Having published on Byron and Shelley, Paul’s particular research interests are in literary blasphemy, eighteenth-century conceptions of press freedom, copyright and the aesthetics of dissent.
Dr Robin Sims is the Programme Leader for BA (Hons) English. His specialisms include literary theory, modernism and postmodernism, and he has published on psychoanalytic approaches to literature and on the construction of the Green Man in twentieth-century culture.
Professor Samuel Kasule is a Professor of Post-colonial Theatre and Performance. His specialisms include drama, postcolonial literatures and postcolonial theory. He has published on Black British theatre, postcolonial writing, and postcolonial performance and drama.
Dr Aled Ganobcsik-Williams is a Senior Lecturer in English whose specialisms include Romanticism, nineteenth-century literature, and modern and contemporary poetry. He has published on Romantic-period literature, contemporary poetry, and on student writing development in higher education.
Dr Alice Haines is a Lecturer in English Language with expertise in literary linguistics, including stylistics, cognitive poetics, narratology and pragmatics. Her research focuses on how readers recognise and appreciate humour in fiction and poetry.
Dr Amanda Blake Davis is a Lecturer in English Literature. Her research focuses on eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature and culture, with particular emphasis on Romantic poetry.
Dr Anna Burton is a Lecturer in English Literature. Her research is concerned with environmental perception and writing about nature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
You will need a good honours degree (1st or 2:1) in any subject, or its international equivalent. Applications may be considered if you have a 2:2 honours degree and/or significant relevant professional experience.
It is important that we get to know you, your aspirations and your expectations. Therefore, all successful applicants will have been invited to interview before being offered a place. We will interview applicants whose applications demonstrate promise, or we think would benefit from the opportunity to provide additional context. This may be a virtual interview or can be done over the telephone as well as face to face.
Non-standard applicants are encouraged to apply. Applications in these circumstances will be considered on their own individual merits.
Applications from European and international students are welcomed. To begin the course with us, you will need to have qualifications and experience that are at the same level as we would expect from a UK student applying for the same course.
English language skills
If English is not your first language you will need to have passed the International English Language Teaching System (IELTS) at the overall level IELTS 7.0, including a minimum score of 6.5 in each test category. The test must be taken within the last two years leading up to the course start date and must still be valid when Visa is issued. (Where appropriate the University's International Admissions office can give further details, including information regarding approved IELTS test centres.)
The test must be taken within the last two years leading up to the course start date and must still be valid when Visa is issued. The English language qualification required by this programme is at a higher level than that required for other University programmes: the reason for this is that throughout the MA programme you will have to work with the English language at an advanced level.
You will be invited to a selection day which includes an interview.
£7,825 for the full course or £870 per 20 credits*
£870 per 20 credits
£14,900 for the full course
Please note fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase after one year of study.
* UK full-time fees paid within one academic year are rounded down to the nearest £50 if applicable
Please note at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the respective awards. If you have any questions please contact us.
MA or MSc
This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.
Funding your studies
Find out more about fees, postgraduate loans and support you may be entitled to.
You will leave our MA English with high-level transferable skills that are valued by employers, such as oral and written communication skills, as well as the ability to assess and analyse information, to work with others in a group setting, and to undertake an independent research project. More importantly, you will be a well-informed, articulate and critical thinker, who is culturally rich, and able to contribute to the major debates on issues that shape our future.
With your new knowledge, skills and attitudes, you could move onto a range of careers in the civil service, local government, law, journalism, publishing, advertising and the creative industries. Having completed training in research methodologies and an extended research project, you will also be ideally prepared for doctoral-level study.
Many English graduates progress to a teaching qualification, and with a masters qualification, you’ll be more competitive and may be able to obtain higher levels of government funding.
If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.
Included in your fees
Your fee includes any mandatory study visits and some social events
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
Purchase of set texts and copies of core text books; costs will vary depending on the source
Optional costs not included in your fees
Printing and binding of one copy of dissertation, approx. cost £6
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.