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Masters in English Literature

Masters in English Literature studentA Masters in English Literature is a great opportunity to specialise and go more in depth into studying literature. Unlike some subjects, where you simply do an MA in whatever the topic, with English Literature you’ll often find that although the course is known as an English Literature Masters, you’ll choose a particular pathway – perhaps the works of a particular century, or from a specifc writer. For those of you wanting to study the language in depth, rather than the works written in it, take a look at our guide to getting an English Language masters.

In general, studying an English Literature masters is a year-long commitment, done on campus and via full-time study. That said, this is not the only way to study for such a degree, and so it is possible either to do it off campus with distance learning, or over a longer period of time (two or maybe even three years) if you take the part-time option.

The course is similar to an undergraduate degree in that there are lectures, classes and tutorials, but it will differ in the amount of independent research involved – especially when it comes to doing your dissertation.

An English Literature masters is intended to help students develop their research skills, advance their level of writing and to improve their analytical skills. For this reason, part of  the MA in English Literature is studying research methods. This is often a required core module and is designed to help prepare you for the dissertation at the end of the year. There may also be other core modules.

MA in English Literature eligibility requirements

In order to get a place on an MA in English Literature course, you’ll have to fulfil certain requirements. Usually, these are pretty simple. You’ll need an upper second class honours degree (a 2.1) in either English Literature, or a related course with proof of your capability. If you’re an international student, you’ll also be required to provide IELTS or a similar exam results to show that your English is of a high enough standard.

English Literature MA pathways

When it comes to English Literature, the subject is so broad that it would be impossible to teach a bit of everything in just one masters program! Instead, there are various pathways you can choose to follow – examples could be:

  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Shakespeare
  • Victorian Literature
  • Modern Literature (postmodernism)
  • Poetry

Often, a university may offer an open pathway as well, where you can pick and choose modules as you go along. This is a good option if you haven’t decided on an area of specialisation, or if there’s more than one area of interest to you. In addition, universities often allow students to choose a linked module from a related subject – subject areas such as History or English Language may be of use here. There may also be the option to take on some creative writing courses, but this will depend on whether this is taught at your chosen university, and if it is whether it’s offered to students on your course.

English Literature masters funding

So how exactly do you go about funding an English Literature Masters? Well, the best place to start is our funding guide as it’s similar to most other masters courses. We’ll give you a quick overview here though!


Exactly what is sounds like – either you pay with the money you’re earning, have saved, or you get a loan. Should you decide to get a loan, it’s different from your undergraduate loan because you are responsible for organising it and paying it back.

University bursaries

Often, universities will have bursaries and scholarships available if you apply. Some of these will be specifically for students doing an MA in English Literature, others will be nationality- or gender-specific, while others will be open to all. Bursaries can be anything from a small amount to the full fee and a stipend, so make sure to get your research done and apply early. And don’t forget to apply for one of our Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries worth £500 each.

Charities and trusts

Many charities and trusts will have funds to give to students, and often these charities are specific enough that they may only give out awards to students on an English Literature masters course (no, really). That, or it might be based on where you live, or what job your parents have, or various other factors. It’s time-consuming, but definitely worth looking into.

So that’s what it an English Literature MA involves, and what it requires for you to do the course. If you’re interested, take a look through what UK universities offer such a course, and check out the rest of our advice section for more tips on postgraduate study in general.


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