If you want to undertake further English literature study, but don't want to specialise in any one area, MA English Literature may be the perfect course for you. With a wide range of expertise in the department, you have the option to choose units from the MAs in Medieval Studies, Shakespeare, Victorian Literature, Art and Culture and specialist options in Modernism and Contemporary Literature. The course is ideal if you are interested in more than one period of English literature, or if you want to combine or juxtapose the literatures and genres of different periods.
You'll choose the equivalent of two whole modules from across the four MA literature programmes and carry out your own research, writing a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation.
You will be taught by highly regarded scholars, writers and critics who are engaged in research, writing ground-breaking books, talking to or writing in the national media, and providing expert advice to organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Department for Education and other national and international bodies.
You may study this course full-time for one year or part-time over two years.
This module is designed to introduce you to a number of key topics related to the methods of postgraduate research, and to some of the resources and materials that will be useful to your studies.
This will be a piece of original written work, of between 12,000 and 15,000 words. The topic of the dissertation will be agreed between you and whichever member of staff is allotted a supervisor and is normally required to be submitted by the beginning of September in the year of the completion of the programme.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
The course aims to provide an introduction to some of the key texts in modernist and contemporary writing. It seeks to provide students with the critical contexts necessary to engage with the critical debates surrounding these respective areas. It will offer an introduction to the relevant social and historical contexts surrounding the production of literary works during the periods covered. It will familiarise students with key terms such as modernism, postmodernism and late modernism. During the latter part of the course students will be encouraged to compare different works, and the critical debates surrounding them, across historical time frames.
This module spans Shakespeare’s entire career as a playwright and poet, analysing in detail his nineteen major plays – including histories, comedies, tragedies, romances and problem plays – and the Sonnets. The theatrical, historical and theoretical issues raised by the works will be addressed as they emerge out of individual response and class discussion.
This module aims to engage you in a sustained, intensive study of Shakespeare’s supreme tragic masterpiece, the controversies it has provoked, and the diverse ways in which it has been adapted and transformed by poets, dramatists, novelists, and by film and theatre directors, since Shakespeare’s time. You will begin with a detailed discussion of the play itself before turning to critical debate and exploring the creative impact of King Lear on later poetry, drama and fiction. The second term is devoted to studying the creative response to King Lear in the theatre and the cinema, tracking its performance history on stage and screen through in-depth analysis of landmark productions and film adaptations.
This module provides a point of coherence for the interdisciplinary study of Victorian Culture. You will be introduced to the theories and methods of a variety of humanities disciplines through the medium of an in-depth study of the literature, history, geography, and visual culture of nineteenth-century London. You will be asked to reflect critically on your own approach to the material studied, through engagement with both primary materials and a variety of recent secondary sources.
This module aims to provide an advanced understanding of the complex field of aestheticism in nineteenth-century literature and culture, with particular attention to concepts of ‘decadence’ and the relationship between the written word and the visual arts. Classes cover key theoretical and critical interventions into nineteenth-century aesthetic debates, from Ruskin and Pater through to Oscar Wilde and selected women writers of the 1880s and 1890s.
This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the mid nineteenth-century novel in the context of Victorian publishing, reading and critical practices. In the first half, you will read three Dickens novels in depth, and while in the second half you will concentrate on theories of realism and the 19th Century novel. The module seeks to integrate reflections on recent critical approaches to the texts in order to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the critical techniques and discourses that will be applicable to your own advanced scholarship in the assessed essay and final dissertation.
This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement in the context of Victorian art criticism, attitudes to gender and poetics. The first five-week block concentrates on poetry and the visual arts in the first decade of the movement; the second five-week block deals with the second generation of Pre-Raphaelites and their links with Aestheticism.
This interdisciplinary module explores the traditions and forms and varieties of medieval story-telling. You will read texts in Old and Middle English, French, Latin and Italian in translation. You will explore various narrative genres, such as epic, chronicle, romance, and fabliau, and two of the major tale collections of the period, the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales.
This module provides you with an opportunity to explore the mutually illuminating relationship between art and literature in the medieval period. This is a literary rather than an art-historical module, using the procedures of literary study and the interpretation of texts. You will study manuscript art in conjunction with other visual arts. Classes centre on specific texts or themes and you will be encouraged to seek out visual material around these, whether from museum collections, facsimiles, the Web or library collections. You will become familiar with the terminology of iconography and with the techniques and study of manuscript production. You will be able to use the resources of the Museum of London, the Palaeography Room of the Senate House Library, as well as the libraries of Royal Holloway, Senate House and the British Library.
This module examines the development of Arthurian literature and legend across four centuries and three languages. Beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, it focuses on the different ways in which Arthur’s reign was represented and understood in the Middle Ages.
Teaching & assessment
Students on the MA in English Literature choose the equivalent of two whole courses from across the four MA programmes and write a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation, submitted early in the September of the year following their enrolment on the MA.
The courses chosen may be made up of combination of full and half-units (one 'course' equals one full-unit, or two half-units). Some of the available MA programmes are comprised entirely of full-units, as is the case with the MA in Shakespeare, and some of half -units, as is the case with the MA in Victorian Literature, Art and Culture. In addition, all students are registered for the compulsory unassessed course 'Methods and Materials of Research'.
The MA may be taken on a full-time, as a one year basis, or part-time, over two years; in the latter case, the dissertation would be written in the second year of study.
In a related subject.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in relevant subjects but we will consider a high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications in an associated area may be considered. Where a ‘high 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above.
Applicants will be required to submit a sample of recent written work, such as two short essays or an extract from a dissertation.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English (not including some language courses). You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 7.0 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 69 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE IV.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
The Department has an impressive record for placing graduates in academic jobs and in prominent position outside academia. In the field of Shakespeare and Renaissance studies alone, our postgraduates have recently secured positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Sussex and Leeds, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the National University of Ireland. Recent postgraduates in America literature, modern and contemporary literature and theory have secured prestigious appointments in London.
The English Department also prepares postgraduates for successful careers in a variety of the other areas, such as:
- writing and journalism
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £7700
International students tuition fee per year**: £16400
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the programme via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees see our terms and conditions.
Please note that for research programmes, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home/EU tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.