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Course length

1 year full-time


Durham City

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Course details

Our MA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures will draw on a vast wealth of knowledge in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Hispanic and Russian Studies to take you on an intellectual journey across continents through an enthralling study into languages, literatures and cultures and how they are transmitted, exchanged and established.

The course will nurture your interests in world literatures and comparative studies by enabling you to work on literary materials in their original language, understanding their local, regional and national contexts and exploring what happens when they become entwined with intellectual elements such as translation, philosophy and visual culture.

The course is taken full-time over one year and will consist of innovative core and optional modules ranging from women and the novel in the 18th century to anti-capitalist poetics and from science and the enlightenment to environmental philosophy.

You will also be required to complete a dissertation involving the detailed study of a particular aspect of a topic related to world literature.

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures will provide you with a stimulating environment for your study and the strongest emphasis will be on your own research which you will carry out under the supervision of a subject specialist.

The School is also home to several cutting-edge research groups and we will encourage you to become an active member of the academic community, with the important Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures and Centre for Culture and Ecology both offering innovative opportunities for engagement.

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 Languages, Literatures and Cultures, the Dissertation (your Major Research Project) will enable you to carry out your own detailed exploration of an area of languages, literatures and cultures of particular interest to you and to produce a piece of scholarly writing that demonstrates how you are able to understand the relevant theoretical frameworks and apply them appropriately. You can choose between a 15,000-word (60-credit) or a 20,000-word (90-credit) dissertation.

You will also be required to take the following 30-credit core module: 

Critical Theory and Frameworks will give you the methodologies, tools and skills required for the study of literatures and cultures and will provide you with an overview of the crucial debates that take place within cultural studies and critical theory.

Finally, you will choose either 60 or 90 credits (depending on which dissertation you have selected) of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180.


The course is delivered through a mixture of seminars, workshops, lectures, group projects, research seminars and individual tutorials, supported by independent preparation and research. It consists of core modules, optional modules, and a dissertation with the core module setting out the overall intellectual framework for the course.

The optional modules will offer further specialised areas of study in related topics in which you have a particular interest.

The dissertation will require a detailed study of an aspect of a topic within world literature that, again, is of interest to you and will be of either 15,000 (60 credits) or 20,000 (90 credits) words in length.

The learning environment will be relaxed and supportive of your work and will offer you individual time with your supervisors. There will also be an emphasis on independent study.


Assessment is thorough and ongoing and will be carried out by careful analysis of your completed work over the year and will comprise of formative class presentations, as well as summative essays on core coursework and selected modules as well as a dissertation of 15,000 words or 20,000 words in length.

Entry requirements

You will be expected to have a BA degree (upper-second class degree or equivalent) in a relevant subject, such as language (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian), literature or linguistics from a recognised national or international university.

Students holding a degree in a non-language-related field may be admitted provided they can demonstrate they have the required competence (C1 following the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) in one of the above mentioned languages.

You will also need to provide a personal statement of no more than 500 words. You are invited to cover the following points in your personal statement:

  • Why have you chosen the MA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Durham University?
  • What are your specific interests (literature, film, cultural or literary theory; maybe also potential modules you would choose)?
  • In which specific language(s) the School of Modern Languages and Cultures* offers are you interested?
  • How do your prior qualifications prepare you for this degree course? Please focus on the ones you would consider particularly pertinent. 
  • What do you hope to get out of the course? 

*Arabic, Chinese, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,000 per year
EU students £25,000 per year
Island students £11,000 per year
International students £25,000 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of full time 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

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Our approach to learning and research encourages a freedom of thinking and expression about language and cultures that provides sought-after skills and a worldview that will be attractive to top employers.

In an environment of globalisation, the ability to display a knowledge and understanding of the diverse world we inhabit and to understand and communicate effectively is crucial.

Following graduation, we offer the option of building on your research activity at a higher academic level and progressing into teaching with roles at universities across Europe, the USA, Australia and the Middle East a viable option.

If your aspirations lie more towards developing a professional career, our qualifications offer a weather of opportunities with recent graduates taking up positions in university administration, translation, analytics, museum curating, rare bookselling and the French film industry.

For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Department information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures is a world-class centre for teaching and research in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic, Italian, Japanese and Russian Studies. We provide an outstanding environment for research activity, adopting an open and flexible approach to study.

Support and guidance are given by the committed subject experts that can be found in our academic team. They are passionate about their specialisms, which cover the relevant languages, literature, cultural history, cinema and visual culture, and translation.

This significant reservoir of knowledge is reflected in the diversity of the topics being researched in the School. Key areas of in-depth study activity range from Translation Studies and Film Studies through to Science and the Humanities, and Gender and Sexuality.

Our postgraduate community is vibrant and active and is fully involved with events both within the School and within wider University postgraduate groups. Our research postgraduates are involved in organising major conferences and lead research seminars as part of their learning experience.

Language provision at Durham consistently ranks within the top five performing Schools in the UK according to university league tables. We feel this reflects our deep commitment to research that nurtures cultural understanding and inspires a love of languages and forsters an understanding of different cultures in an era of increasing globalisation.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 2nd for Italian Studies in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 5th for Asian Studies in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 5th for Iberian Languages in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Modern Languages and Cultures pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2021)


The School is located on Elvet Riverside, which is close to the ancient Elvet Bridge and within easy walking distance of the University colleges, the Students’ Union and the historic centre of the city of Durham.

Learning facilities include language laboratories, computer classrooms and a large study area. There are also satellite and recording facilities for viewing programmes in all the major taught languages.

The University's fully equipped Centre for Foreign Language Study is housed in the same building, and members of the Languages and Culture School have access to its facilities.

Similarly, the Translation Zone provides a place to meet translators, learn how we teach translation and attend seminars and master classes.


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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