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Birkbeck, University of London: Contemporary Literature and Culture (2000-present)

Institution Birkbeck, University of London View institution profile
Department School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
Telephone 0203 907 0700
Study type Taught


Our MA Contemporary Literature and Culture (2000-present) offers you the chance to specialise in twenty-first-century literature and culture, as well as exposing you to the most important literary and theoretical developments of the last few decades.

Informed by our world-class research in contemporary literary and cultural studies, on this course you will examine:

  • the effects of new technologies on narrative form

  • the aesthetic, spatial and political coordinates of writing produced in an increasingly networked and globalised world

  • literature’s role among a vibrant and diverse range of digital, visual and multimedia texts.

You will develop your expertise in key topics, such as: migrants’ narratives and refugee film-making; precarity fiction and emergent pandemic storytelling; anti-gentrification zines and the low-fi aesthetics of resistance; nonhuman forms of agency; post-gender feminism; the relationship of genres such as science fiction, horror and the fantastic to literary fiction; trans aesthetics in film and TV; African American poetry and performance; contemporary black aesthetics.

This MA also gives you the opportunity to pursue your own interests, whether they lie in contemporary poetics; in African American culture, or indigenous futurisms; in literary and cultural responses to environmental crisis; in the changing forms of the book in a digital age; or in historical approaches to issues like nation, race, gender and sexuality.

This course is part of our new Birkbeck Flexible Master’s UK, which gives you the choice of how you want to study - on campus, online or via flexible learning, which combines both. Please note, full-time students may only study this course on campus.


  • Birkbeck was ranked 2nd in the UK for its English Language and Literature research in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

  • In particular, this environment is fostered by close links between the MA and the Centre for Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, which runs a wide variety of talks and conferences in this field. You will have access to a host of other relevant research centres, including the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, the Centre for Contemporary Theatre and the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre. We are also actively involved in a number of institutes specifically designed to foster work across disciplines at Birkbeck and beyond: Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality and the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism.

  • Birkbeck is located in the heart of literary London, in Bloomsbury, WC1. You could be studying in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and frequented by members of the Bloomsbury Group. The building houses our own creative hub which includes the Peltz Gallery, the Gordon Square Cinema and a theatre and performance space.

  • The Summer Research Programme is a series of events run for our MAs, on a weekly basis throughout the 11-week summer term. It includes a series of dissertation workshops that supplement one-to-one supervision, but it also reflects the dynamic and wide-ranging nature of our contemporary studies courses. It includes guest speakers, debates and film screenings, takes in Birkbeck’s annual Arts Week and is concluded by a student-led conference that showcases the work of our MA students.

  • We offer a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.

Careers and employability

You will find graduates of this MA in the following kinds of roles:

  • journalism

  • writing, including creative writing

  • arts administration or research

  • civil service

  • law and business professions

  • publishing

  • political adviser roles

  • social media management

  • film and TV production

  • teaching

  • museum and cultural heritage work

  • curation.


Birkbeck, part of the University of London, offers nearly 300 taught and research postgraduate programmes across arts and humanities, business and economics, law, science and social science. As an evening teaching specialist, Birkbeck offers its taught postgraduate courses between 6-9pm, with some courses available through distance learning. As with undergraduate courses, postgraduates can study full-time or part-time.

Home to 44 research and specialist institutes, Birkbeck is the sixth largest provider of taught postgrad courses for UK and EU students - some 44% of its 11,000-plus students are on postgrad programmes. Around 90% of its academics are active in research, and …

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