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Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

The MA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures is an exciting, unique and dynamic course that invites you to engage critically with literatures emerging from diverse literary and cultural contexts from around the world. The course has a broad global reach and draws together a wealth of expertise in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Hispanic and Russian Studies.

This global approach to languages, literatures and cultures presents a distinct opportunity for students who wish to pursue a degree in world literatures and comparative studies with a firm emphasis on working on materials in their original language(s), with due attention to the local, national and regional contexts in which they originate.

Whether working with text in one, or several non-English languages, the course invites students to think within an international context, to cross borders, disciplines and canons, to reflect on questions of cultural transmission and exchange in literature, as well as to explore literary interactions with wider intellectual and cultural phenomena, such as translation, philosophy and visual culture.

The course provides an exceptional critical base that prepares and invites students to proceed to a PhD in a corresponding field, encouraging throughout a research-led approach which culminates in the dissertation. With a strong emphasis on urgent current themes and debates, it also equips you with high-level critical skills in literary, cultural and conceptual analysis and argument that can lead to employment in the literary, culture, arts and heritage sectors.

Core module:

Critical Theory and Frameworks

This module introduces and develops knowledge of cutting-edge cultural and literary theories, and allows you to extend your skills of critical analysis. It provides a crucial foundation for the course, and offers you critical and conceptual tools to take forward as you pursue your optional modules and dissertation. The module foregrounds questions about literature and textuality, and covers themes such as identity, gender, race, disability, and ecology, through multiple theoretical frames, from literary theory to psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and cultural studies.


You will write a research-led dissertation of 15,000 or 20,000 words, on a topic of your choice, and are provided with guidance and support in individual supervisions with an expert (or two) in the field.

Examples of optional modules:

You can select from a wide range of optional modules from within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, as well as options from the wider Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Options include:

  • Selected Topics in World Literatures
  • World Literature and Translation
  • Science, Technology and the Re-making of Nature
  • Visual Modernities
  • History of Translation
  • Work Placement
  • Crossing Cultures: Word, Text and Image in Translation
  • Transnational Cinema
  • German Reading Skills for Research 1
  • French Reading Skills for Research 1
  • Things That Matter: Material and Culture in/for the Digital Age
  • Romantic Forms of Grief
  • Classical Modernisms
  • Narrative Transformations: Medieval Romance to Renaissance Epic
  • The Contemporary US novel
  • Women and the Novel in the Eighteenth Century
  • Modernism and Touch
  • Shame
  • Modern Poetry
  • Narrative and Thresholds of Consciousness
  • Anti-Capitalist Poetry and the Modern World System
  • Illness and Narrative Practices
  • Divergance, Deviance, and Disability in Nineteenth-Century Literature
  • Grant-Writing for Master Students
  • The Nature of History: Approaches to Environmental History
  • Transnational History
  • Science and the Enlightenment
  • Current Issues in Aesthetics and Theory of Art
  • Ethics, Medicine and History
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Phenomenology and the Sciences of Mind
  • Ideologies and Political Thought
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • The Politics of East Asia.


The course consists of one core module, two to four optional modules, and a dissertation. The core module sets out the intellectual framework for the course, offering a broad overview of key conceptual debates in World Literature, together with methodologies and critical tools for the study of literatures and cultures.

The optional modules provide further specialised areas of study in related topics of interest to individual students, and the dissertation — with 15,000 and 20,000 word options — involves detailed study of a particular aspect of a topic related to the broad area of world literature.

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.

Two positive academic or equivalent professional references are required.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,700 per year
EU students £23,500 per year
Island students £10,700 per year
International students £23,500 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

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

We carry out research into literature, culture and language as well as film and visual studies that is extensive in historical scope and geographically wide ranging. Nearly 50 full-time, research-active members of staff supervise and teach around 125 postgraduates (over half of whom are international), comprising 75 students in taught programmes and 50 students pursuing MA and PhD research degrees.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 3rd in Chinese and Japanese Studies (Asian Studies), 4th in Italian and Arabic (Middle Eastern & African Studies), 5th in French and Russian, 6th in Spanish and 9th in German (The Complete University Guide 2023)
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2023 for languages


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 of Modern Languages and Cultures is a leading centre of teaching and research in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic, Italian, Japanese and Russian Studies. The language laboratories have excellent audio-visual facilities and both main lecture rooms and small group teaching rooms are equipped for the increasing integration of film and other audio-visual material. The School’s Open Access Centre is situated in the same building, offering further self-access resources.

Durham has first-class library facilities, with the main University collections supplemented by those of college libraries.

Visit Us

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

Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 08/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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Postgraduate Open Days - Online
  • Date: 13/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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