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1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

As a lover of the written word, our MA English Literary Studies offers you the freedom to explore a wide range of themes, genres and periods of time in literature. 

We have a commitment to research-led teaching which is carried out by globally renowned scholars. The breadth and depth of activity in the Department fosters a lively learning environment and offers plenty of opportunities to follow your own interests or explore new areas of study.

You will select three modules from a broad range of themes and genres – these might range from Narrative Transformations to Creative Non-fiction, or Romanticism and the Forms of Romance to Writing the Body in the Long Twentieth Century. Your studies will benefit from the work taking place in research centres and institutes within Durham University, such as the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Poetry and Poetics, the Centre for Modern Conflicts and Cultures, and the Institute for Medical Humanities.

We offer this MA course as a one-year full-time option or through part-time study over two years. The flexibility and broad choice mean you will be able to study fields of literature that interest you and give you the greatest pleasure, all within a learning framework that supports your work.

Course structure

All the MA programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities consist of three components:

  • a Major Research Project to the value of at least 60 credits

  • Core Modules to the value of 0-90 credits, depending on the programme

  • Elective Modules, making up the total number of credits to 180; some of these modules will be defined as Recommended Electives for particular programmes.

For students studying the MA in English Literary Studies, the Integrated Dissertation (Major Research Project (90 credits)) is an in-depth study of a particular topic, author, or genre that aims to encourage the development of sophisticated argument, the marshalling of evidence, and the reading of relevant criticism and contextual material. It offers you a wide range of learning opportunities in research methods and resources in literary studies, the development of your thinking about bibliographical issues as well as accuracy, consistency and integrity in the presentation of material and the use of secondary sources.

Additionally, you will choose 90 credits of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180.


The MA offers flexibility and independence and a wide range of literary optional modules which allows you to tailor your studies to your interests.

Each module is taught in small seminar groups of up to 10 students including 18 hours of contact time over the academic year. Given the emphasis on research-led work, you will be expected to do a considerable amount of preparation for the seminars including short presentations and workshop-related activity.

You will also undertake a major dissertation on a subject of your choice that will contribute a further 22 hours of contact time over the first two terms through fortnightly seminars, plus five dedicated individual consultations with your dissertation supervisor in the third term.

In preparation for the dissertation, you will write a research proposal at the start of the second term and draft a chapter that will be reviewed by your supervisor.


While your options are broad, assessment is rigorous, and the majority of modules are assessed by coursework, usually two essays per module.

You will also be required to produce a 12,000-word dissertation on your specialist area which could be based on a theme, genre or period. In preparation, you will submit a research proposal for which you will receive feedback and then you will produce a draft chapter which will be commented on by your supervisor.

Entry requirements

You will normally require an English or English-related Honours degree (at least a 2:1 or equivalent) from a recognised university.

You are required to submit the following information with your online application:

  • Academic Transcripts and Certificates, if available and if degree already attained
  • Personal statement of about 500 words describing background in English studies / areas of interest and study.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,750 per year
EU students £24,750 per year
Island students £11,750 per year
International students £24,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,500 per year
EU students £13,700 per year
Island students £6,500 per year
International students £13,700 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

English Studies

The Department’s reputation for the quality and intellectual rigour of its teaching means students are in possession of skills and experience that are much sought after by potential employers around the world.

Our postgraduates are equipped with highly transferable skills and the ability to analyse, assess and communicate knowledge effectively. Many choose to take these newly acquired abilities into professional roles in sectors including arts and theatre management, broadcasting, publishing and journalism, business, accounting, marketing and advertising, teaching, higher education, law, third sector and government positions. Others choose to continue their academic study at a higher level.

For further information on career options please visit our web pages.

Department information

English Studies

The Department of English Studies is one of Europe’s leading centres for research in literary studies. We carry out important and influential research into a wide range of literary topics with compelling historical and cultural themes.

We are one of the few departments in the world who teach and research in literature produced in Britain from the early medieval period to the present day as well as in anglophone literature from across the globe.

Courses are taught by leading subject experts and include MAs in Creative Writing, English Literary Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies, Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies, Studies in Poetry and Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literary Studies.

The Department offers valuable partnerships with interdisciplinary research institutes and centres within the University. These include the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Poetry and Poetics, the Centre for Modern Conflicts and Cultures, and the Institute for Medical Humanities.

Our overriding aim is to enable you to develop the skills and abilities to produce research built on evidence-based argument, rigorous analysis, verbal accuracy and independent and creative thinking. We provide a vibrant learning community that is supportive and inclusive.

For more information see our department webpages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024 and 3rd in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the English Studies web pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 90% of our research activity was judged to be 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' in (REF 2021)


The Department of English Studies is mainly situated in two buildings that are close to the historic city and centre with its glorious cathedral and UNESCO World Heritage status. Hallgarth House is a Georgian-listed building and Elvet Riverside stands beside the picturesque River Wear.

Our community of around 60 taught postgraduates and 60 PhD researchers have wide-ranging access to the extensive general collections in literary studies which are housed in the University library as well as to a number of specialist collections and archives in nearby Palace Green.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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