Our MA in English Literature is taught by a team of distinguished critics, scholars and creative writers, all working at the cutting edge of their disciplines. As well as developing your skills as a critical thinker, you will join a thriving intellectual community, and benefit from a range of guest seminars and masterclasses, many of which are organized through our Institute of Creative and Critical Writing.
The course is aimed at undergraduates who want to take their interest in literature to the next level, as a career development opportunity or simply for the love of the subject. Students with interests in both literary criticism and creative writing can opt to take a module from our MA in Creative Writing.
At the centre of the course is the module ‘Literature and Place’, which encourages students to think about how literary writing responds to, and creates, the places we inhabit and move through. Situated in the heart of a culturally diverse and always evolving city, you will be perfectly located to think about how writing intersects with the world it describes.
Texts for study are drawn from a range of historical periods, but the intellectual focus is distinctly contemporary.
As well as receiving specialist tuition from expert tutors, you’ll attend our programme of guest speakers and public events devoted to the ongoing life of literary writing.
"This new MA has been in development for quite some time, and everyone involved in teaching literature at BCU is really excited about welcoming the first cohort of students to Birmingham" Dr Anthony Howe, Course Director
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
Do you have a question about this course? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Send your question to the Course Director and they’ll get back to you shortly.
Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate open day.
This course is in the final stages of approval to ensure it meets the very highest standards of quality, creativity and applied learning.
2.2 or above in English Literature or relevant subject and interview.
If your application is shortlisted you will be invited to attend an interview. This will give us the opportunity to ensure a good fit between you and the course in terms of your interests and aspirations.
Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.
Starting: Sep 2020
Starting: Sep 2020
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.
Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
Did you know that you can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 for some courses and options?
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 140 credits)
Texts in Transition
This module allows students to explore the evolution and transformation of literary texts through processes of writing, publishing, editing and adapting. There is a focus on the roles of different participants (authors, publishers, editors, readers) in respect of three case studies from different periods and genres (normally but not exclusively a play, a collection of poems, and a work of prose fiction, one of which will usually be by a living writer). So doing, the module provides an introduction to Master’s level study of key critical issues and debates concerning authorship, the literary canon, and the roles of publishers, performers, editors and readers in the production of meaning. An editorial exercise forms part of the assessment regime, encouraging skills of research, pedagogy, transcription and critical evaluation.
The module will centre on William Shakespeare, Macbeth; Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805 and 1850 versions) and a contemporary novel.
Literature and Place
The content of this module will be drawn from a range of historical periods, relating to locations and environments, both real and imagined. You will be encouraged to think about the connection between writing, place and placelessness as it develops through history. The module is also interested in the ‘place’ of literature in our own local, national and global contexts: how does an informed understanding of writing and its relation to place (or displacement), through time, help us to see how literature might intervene in, or modify, the world now. Indicative texts for study: The country house tradition of poetry; dystopian/utopian writing – e.g. Thomas More, Utopia; Romanticism and ideas of nationhood (e.g. the poetry of Robert Burns); contemporary fiction and statelessness (e.g. Abdulrazak Gurnah, By the Sea).
The 20-credit bespoke Research Methods module focuses on the skills necessary to complete a major project: project management, networking, liaising with partners, extended writing skills, archival skills. It is carefully placed to support the initial stages of the major project and your progression on to a significant piece of independent research. Assessment will involve organizing a conference with your classmates, at which you will each give a 20-minute presentation.
During the second semester you will begin your 60-credit Major Project. You will have developed a proposal for your major project as part of the Research Methods module. The field will be restricted only by academic credibility and availability of supervision. You may wish to pursue a traditional English Studies option as a PhD route in. You will also be encouraged to develop projects with other areas of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media (Literature and Visual Arts; Literature and Musical Composition). Tuition will be arranged between you and a dedicated tutor until the end of May and your project will be submitted and marked in September.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.
Literature and Truth
Literature and Truth is a provocative and original module that typifies the MA in exploring a range of literary and intellectual concerns while enabling a focus on the here and now. We will take an in-depth look at literature preoccupied with the presence and absence of truth. We will consider literary experience as a distinct mode of truthfulness, dystopian fiction, social critique, and the role writing plays in creating individual identity.
Indicative texts for study: Shakespeare’s Othello; Swift, A Tale of a Tub; George Eliot, Daniel Deronda; Ezra Pound’s poetry; D. H. Lawrence, The Rainbow and Fantasia of the Unconscious; Sylvia Townsend Warner, Summer Will Show.
In this module, you will study the nature and practice of creative nonfiction, exploring the distinctive issues it raises for writers in recent published works and in your own, including the ethical considerations involved in drawing from real-life subjects as source material, the quality of truth, and the interplay between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’. You will explore several forms of creative nonfiction, including memoir, travel writing, nature writing, auto/biography, the personal essay, the nonfiction thriller, and literary journalism, and consider the variations in style these might involve.
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.
MA English Literature is full time, taught over two semesters, and incorporates 180 credits. You will take one 40 credit and one 20 credit taught module in each semester. A major project or dissertation extends from semester two into the summer vacation.
Taught seminars will be supplemented by guest speakers who are concerned in various ways with the positive role that literature and literary study might take on in our present political and social climate (nationally and globally). This will include experts drawn from our impressive range of professional and creative sector contacts: e.g. Birmingham Literature Festival and Writing West Midlands.
Assessment briefs will allow you to develop a range of projects in the form of extended essays, and you will also develop a major project. This might have a traditional English Literature academic focus, but there is also scope to develop original projects with other parts of the Faculty (Media, Fine Art, Music) or in pedagogical theory (e.g.. a project concerned with innovate teaching techniques).
Your Major Project is an excellent opportunity to develop a potential PhD project, and apply for Midlands 4 Cities doctoral funding.
Studying MA English Literature will help you to develop a range of high-level skills and knowledge.
Upon completion of the course you will be able to:
The School of English has links with local and regional arts organisations, authors, poets, and many more leading professionals. Our staff and students have worked with:
Find out more about how we work with industry here.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.
You’ll study at both the home of the School of English in Millennium Point, and at our £63 million development the Curzon Building, located on our City Centre campus in the vibrant second city that is Birmingham.
Discover your bright and open learning spaces, your 24 hour (during term time) library, drama, media and radio studios, along with state of the art lecture theatres, and a variety of sociable break-out areas, all adding to your unique learning experience.
Anna writes prose and poetry. She is particularly interested in the interaction of the magical and the mundane, and her first novel, Ruby’s Spoon (Chatto & Windus, 2010), is set in a fictional Black Country town where witches and mermaids may (or may not) reside: Susan Hill wrote that this was “one of the best first novels I’ve ever read”. Her critical writing on Margaret Mahy and prize-winning poetry explores similar territory.
Before coming to Birmingham City University, and after leaving her job as a trainee prison governor, she facilitated community writing workshops and site-specific writing projects. Anna gained a first class degree from the University of Oxford.
Major project supervisors will be drawn from across the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.