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English Literature (MA)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

Pursue your passion for English Literature, inspired by experts at the forefront of world-leading research.


Forge your own path

You have the freedom to assemble a programme of study tailored to your personal and professional interests.


Focus on research

High-level training in the latest research methods, critical theory and scholarly writing and presentation skills.


Hone your craft

Popular two-day conference and workshop, where you will have the opportunity to present short 15-minute papers in a supportive and lively atmosphere.


Your career in mind

One-day symposium dedicated to increasing your employability skills.

English Literature at Cardiff is taught by staff with an international reputation for innovative and influential research. Our passion for the subject and the strength and range of our scholarship enable us to offer a degree which is:

  • Inclusive. We teach across the whole chronological span of English Literature, from Middle English to texts of the twenty-first century.  We offer modules in a range of critical approaches, from editorial and textual studies to the latest advances in critical theory. Our textual range encompasses drama, film studies, contemporary women’s writing, queer textualities, material culture, and archives. We are intrigued by the connections between literature and popular culture and literature and theory, and our teaching reflects these interests.
  • Challenging. Staff offer modules in their areas of research expertise. This means that you will engage with new, up-to-date ideas that are helping to shape and define the future of the discipline.
  • Supportive. The core modules in Research Methods and Communication will allow you to practise and perfect a range of core professional research and communication skills that will assist you on the course and beyond. 
  • Diverse. A wide range of optional modules gives you the freedom to develop critical and textual specialisms, grounded in flexible research pathways.

Where you'll study

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

Powered by pioneering research, we celebrate curiosity, engage in informed debate and critical analysis, and encourage creative thinking - across and beyond our disciplines.

  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 9066
  • MarkerColum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:1 honours degree in any subject, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 7.0 with 6.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area or have a 2:2 honours degree you may still apply but should provide additional evidence to support your application such as a CV and references. You should also provide a sample essay on a literary topic of your choice. Something you have submitted previously for part of your assessment for a previous degree will be acceptable.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

Our flexible structure allows you to assemble programmes of study tailored to your personal and professional interests. You can opt for the open pathway, or choose one of our specialist pathways –  Medieval and Renaissance; Romantic and Victorian Studies; Modern and Contemporary Literature; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Critical and Cultural Theory – which bring together groups of taught modules with related research activities and skills training available in the School.

You will complete 180 credits in total, comprised of two 20-credit core modules and four 20-credit optional modules plus one 60-credit dissertation.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

You will take 60 credits each semester. There are two core 20-credit modules and four optional 20-credit modules, which you will select from a range of specialist options. You take two optional modules per semester.

Upon successful completion of the taught stage you will progress onto Part Two (the dissertation stage).

Upon successful completion of Part 1, you will undertake a dissertation of 15,000-16,000 words on a subject of your choice, developed in consultation with a supervisor in the field. You begin to plan and research your dissertation in the second semester.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

All teaching is by seminars and workshops structured around student participation, featuring opportunities to present your work. Each module consists of a two-hour seminar per week.

The teaching in the optional modules is text-based and revolves around the exploration of concepts and ideas from a range of literary, historical, and theoretical perspectives within the broad field of English Literature.

The learning activities vary from module to module as appropriate but will include such activities as interactive discussions of prepared texts/topics and, in some cases, student-led presentations.

You are strongly encouraged to explore our excellent library resources. You are expected to undertake preparation including wide-ranging reading to enable full participation. 

Teaching for the core Research Methods and Communications I and II will be delivered via a two-hour weekly seminar throughout the autumn and spring semesters.  

How will I be assessed?

Part One is assessed by a range of methods that are designed to develop your ability to present your own thoughts in formal speech and writing, including essays, oral presentations (which are largely formative and aimed at clarifying your essay ideas in advance of summative assessment) and other assessment types that are designed to improve your research and communication skills; for example, a project that allows you to explore communication forms such as recorded presentations (a video essay); blog, wiki, Twitter stream, website presentation or podcast.

Part Two is examined by a 15,000 to 16,000-word dissertation. The dissertation is developed through formal meetings with your supervisor, who provides feedback on draft sections and discusses any ideas that you present orally at the meeting.

There are opportunities for formative assessment on each module; you are also encouraged to discuss ideas for your assessed work with the module leader or supervisor.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor who will meet you at least once per semester, helping you to reflect on your work and advising you, including directing you to available support relating to study techniques, or student support services in the University. The formal meetings with your personal tutor are designed to formulate concrete strategies to help you reach your full academic and professional potential. Your personal tutor is your first point of contact if you experience any difficulties during your MA studies.

Module leaders are available in their office hours or by appointment to discuss any matters relating specifically to their module. You are encouraged to discuss topics and readings for assessments with your module leaders in the first instance.

You can meet the MA English Literature Programme Director to discuss your progress and any difficulties that you might face.

Reasonable adjustments can be made for disabilities and dyslexia.

Writing skills support is available to all students from academic staff and via the ENCAP Writing Support team.

Careers support includes one-to-one career planning advice meetings and information about placement opportunities. 

University support is available for navigating financial, health and wellbeing difficulties.

Feedback: Discussion of essay plans and dissertation proposals is offered throughout the programme, and written feedback is provided on both formative and summative assessments so that you can develop future assessments in the light of your feedback. Further feedback on progress can be received during seminar discussions and at the student conference.

The MA Dissertation: You will receive individual one-to-one supervision after the Easter vacation and up to the end of July and will be supported by the core modules Research Methods and Communication I and II that will run throughout both semesters. 

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. 

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a systematic understanding of the relationships between literary texts and their cultural, historical, and aesthetic contexts;
  • evaluate critically current and other relevant research in the discipline;
  • produce original research that demonstrates a systematic conceptual knowledge of the relevant issues and understanding of the conventions of academic writing at postgraduate level.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to

  • comprehensively analyse and interpret texts drawn from a variety of sources while showing a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights in the discipline;
  • undertake critically sophisticated, self-aware, and advanced original research.

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to

  • synthesise information from multiple sources while dealing with complex issues both systematically and creatively;
  • communicate sophisticated and independently researched ideas clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development, initiative, and personal responsibility;
  • knowledge of the appropriate methods and approaches for communicating research to diverse audiences.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £10,700 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £22,700 £2,500

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You will be provided with essential specialised materials, including computer access and core course materials (books, journal articles) via the Arts and Social Studies Library.

You will be responsible for covering non-essential or basic costs associated with your studies. This can include travel to university, general stationery, laptop computers, copying and printing, and personal copies of books.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Career prospects

Postgraduate study is a gateway to many careers within and beyond academia. From the public to the private sector, we enable careers in an impressively wide range of fields.

Many of our alumni enter (or return to) various professions including: academia, primary and secondary education, journalism, publishing, archival and library work, the Civil Service, arts administration and the creative industries.

Next steps


Open Day visits

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Make an enquiry

Contact us for more information about this course.


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Related searches: English literature, Language and communications

HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.