A dynamic combination of the study modern and contemporary English literature and the practice of creative writing, the MA in English Literature at Ulster University offers an exciting opportunity to further your love of literature and evoke your creativity. Whether you are a recent graduate, a budding creative writer, a teacher keen to upskill, or returning to education for your own personal development, the variety and breadth of this programme will appeal to you.
Pioneering research shapes our teaching. Exploration of critical theory and current literary debates will introduce you to how issues such as gender, ecology and psychoanalysis inform the way we read literary texts. A focus on Irish writing in English gives the course a distinctive regional identity, and the creative writing pathway offers you the opportunity to develop individual writing projects under the guidance of published writers. Throughout the course you will be able to hone your research and critical abilities, as well as polish key transferable practical skills.
The MA in English Literature is the perfect route towards further study and research at PhD level, as well as providing a bridge to new and enhanced career opportunities. Graduates have been successful in securing a variety of positions within teaching, publishing, freelance journalism and creative writing, librarianship, the media, public relations and advertising.
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The first part of the course introduces you to the fundamentals of studying literature at postgraduate level. Following this, you'll begin to focus your reserach through more intense study of your chosen specialist area, while cotinuing to develop your aptitudes and strengths as a postgraduate student. The final component of the degree is an individual project: a dissertation or creative writing piece, closely supervised by a memebr of staff with expertise in your chosen topic. Throughout the course you will benefit from teaching by a research-active course team with a wide and diverse range of individual specialisms.
Start dates: September
Duration: Full time: One calendar year September 2020 - September 2021 Part time: Two and a half calendar years (five semesters) e.g. September 2020 - January 2023
Full Time: Two modules per semester. Each taught module involves one three-hour lecture/seminar meeting per week for twelve consecutive weeks. Taught modules are scheduled for evenings 5.15-8.00pm. Independent study modules involve an equivalent number of study hours, with contact hours arranged with supervisory staff.
Part Time: One module per semester. Each taught module involves one three-hour lecture/seminar meeting per week for twelve consecutive weeks. Taught modules are scheduled for evenings 5.15-8.00pm. Independent study modules involve an equivalent number of study hours, with contact hours arranged with supervisory staff.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Each module on the MA in English Literature is assessed by 100% courswork. Teaching is delivered through lectures, seminar debate, creative writing workshops, and one-to-one sessions with individual tutors and project supervisors. In the case of the creative writing modules, visiting professional writers give talks and lead some of the workshops. Individual study and creative writing projects are given progressive feedback, ensuring that you have the opportunity to reflect on and refine your essays and creative projects in light of tutor guidance. Course materials are available online, offering you the flexibility to study at your own pace, any place and time.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Masters courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have four learning outcomes, and no more than two items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6 (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Masters degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The teaching staff on the MA in English Literature are recognised nationally and internationally for our outstanding research and publications in areas including early modern English Literature, English Romanticism, Irish Literature in Translation, Literary Adaptation, Ulster Scots Studies, Beckett Studies and Creative Writing.
Collectively, the English Literature lecturers at Ulster have consistently produced 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent) research. In REF2014 over 80% of our publications and over 60% of the impact of our work on policy and practice beyond Ulster was rated at these levels.
Dr Stephen Butler https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/s-butler
Dr Kate Byrne https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/k-byrne
Dr Kevin de Ornellas https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/k-deornellas
Dr James Ward https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/jg-ward
Dr Frank Ferguson https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/f-ferguson
Dr Tim Hancock https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/tc-hancock
Professor Jan Jedrzejewski https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/jp-jedrzejewski
Dr Andrew Keanie https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/aj-keanie
Dr Kathleen McCracken https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/kl-mccracken
Dr Willa Murphy https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/w-murphy
Dr Frank Sewell https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/f-sewell
Dr Kathryn White https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/k-white
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.
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Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
The module acts an introduction to the study of English at post-graduate level, and covers the main elements of the theory and practice of literary studies as an academic discipline.
Debates in Modern English Literary Studies
The module examines key debates in English literary studies through detailed study of set texts, and will foster students' deep engagement with patterns of connection between fixed texts and the changing Zeitgeist.
Themes in Irish Writing In English
This module will examine some of the key themes and issues in Irish literature (mainly in English) from the early nineteenth century to the present day through a comparative analysis of major representative texts in various genres - novel, poetry, drama - considered in relation to their historical, social, and political contexts.
Creative Writing Project
This module is optional
This module gives students the opportunity to conduct supervised research in an area of Anglophone literature of their own choice, or to undertake the composition of an advanced piece of creative writing under the guidance of published writers.
Special Author / Topic in English
This module is optional
This module encourages focused study of the work of one major author, or significant literary topic, from a selection reflecting the specialisms of the teaching team. Taught by individual consultation and examined by an extended essay, the module will foster deep engagement with specifically related clusters of literary texts.
Writing and Creativity
This module is optional
This module provides students with the opportunity to undertake a genre-specific creative writing project and, through sophisticated self-assessment and constructive supervisory feedback, to develop original work to publication standard.
This module is optional
This module offers student an opportunity to plan, prepare, write up, and present an advanced dissertation of 12000 words on a topic of their own choice and researched under the guidance of a suitably qualified member of staff.
Standard entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
Applicants must normally have gained an upper second class honours degree or better in English Literature or a related discipline, but applicants with a lower second class degree may also be considered. The degree held must be from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard. Applicants may alternatively hold an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification. They must provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent).
In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme provided that they register as students of the University for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award at the highest level. No exemption is permitted from the dissertation.
Students graduating with the MA in English Literature are well-prepared to undertake a variety of occupations, both those related directly to the nature of literary study as an academic discipline and to the subject-specific skills acquired in the course of the programme, and those of a more generally defined postgraduate-level variety.
Some typical careers followed by graduates from the course include:
- PGCE leading to primary and secondary/grammar school teaching
- career advancement and knowledge development for serving teachers of English
- Further study on related Masters programmes at Ulster University such as History (https://www.ulster.ac.uk/courses/201920/history-19755), Contemporary Performance Practices (https://www.ulster.ac.uk/courses/201920/contemporary-performance-practices-19892), Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies (https://www.ulster.ac.uk/courses/201920/cultural-heritage-and-museum-studies-19721), and Museum Practice and Management (https://www.ulster.ac.uk/courses/201920/museum-practice-and-management-19717)
- university lectureship
- full time fiction writer, poet, dramatist, screenwriter
- magazine, newspaper and digital publishing
- archive work
- media work
- public relations
Work placement / study abroad
Not currently available.
Fees and funding
Fees (total cost)
Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and EU Settlement Status Fees
Scholarships, awards and prizes
None available at present.
Additional mandatory costs
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
I completed an MA in English Literature at Ulster University in 2016. I found my time at the university so gratifying and engaging that I am currently working on a PhD in Creative Writing here. The MA programme offers both critical and creative writing modules with a pinch of theory and a dash of presentation work. During my year of study, I greatly improved my skills in research and critical thinking, built invaluable and lifelong connections with students and lecturers, and developed into the best writer I can be. The patient and insightful guidance of my supervisors, as well as the approachability of everyone who teaches on the MA, made my time at Ulster one of the most valuable and enjoyable experiences of my life.
Sveto Manev, 2016 Graduate, current PhD Candidate
Vibrant, diverse and scholarly, the MA in English Literature at Ulster University is a unique and exciting experience, ideal for those wishing to further their study of literature. The course is thoughtfully crafted whilst the expertise of Ulster's English Literature department encourages students to acquire the necessary skills to graduate as Masters of the Arts.
Emma Keanie, 2019 Graduate
Every lecturer teaching on the MA in English Literature is extremely dedicated to helping students reach their full potential. The path of learning in the course allows you to explore different aspects of writing and helped me craft not only my academic abilities but creative too. The most enjoyable part of the MA is how diverse the modules and assignments are, allowing you to cater to your interests and strengths.
Chelsealee Crangle, 2019 Graduate
Ulster University has held a special place in my heart since I completed my BA in English there. When it came time to pick a Masters course the logical choice was to return to a community where I felt challenged and nourished. For me, the highlights on the course were the Critical Theory and Research Methods and the Special Author/ Topic modules. These modules were extremely interesting and gave students the freedom to explore and expand on new topics. Lecturers took time to give extensive feedback and delivered amazing lectures that both engaged and challenged us.
Shannon Guinney, 2019 Graduate
After studying at Ulster University for my undergraduate degree, I was apprehensive about continuing with a Masters at the same university. However, the caring attitude and continuous support of the teaching staff on the MA in English Literature is something for which I am grateful. The past year has been challenging but the diversity of study and lecturers made it all worth while. Modules such as Critical Theory and Debates allowed me to broaden my reading and gave me the freedom to present on topics such as eco-theory in Beat Writing. But the gems of the MA were the creative modules! Here, I was able to develop my own poetry and a write a substantial amount throughout the year. This helped me find my own voice and gave me the freedom to write how I wanted to and draw from as many inspirations as I needed. For my Creative Project, I received seven pages of thorough feedback. This has helped me greatly and shows dedication from my supervisor and the other markers. Another highlight of my year was the success of our own student-led publication The Paperclip, that displayed creative writing from current students and alumni. This was a goal for me and something I can now cherish throughout my academic career.
Niamh McNally, 2019 graduate
The MA in English Literature at Ulster gave me the flexibility and diversity necessary to complete an interdisciplinary degree. My dissertation supervisor presented superb feedback on my dissertation in a prompt and professional manner. This example of excellence is typical of what the English team provide. On a broader subject, Ulster University also allowed me the opportunity to flex various muscles, from co-editing a book publication to service as the international chair on student council. If you are looking for a university that will allow growth both personally and academically - welcome home.
Emily Willauer, International Student and 2019 Graduate
For me personally the course is helping me further develop my self-confidence and self-esteem. The subjects are also all very unique and passionately taught and the lecturers are always happy to lend a hand. The University itself and its Arts and Humanities faculty were very open and welcoming during my undergraduate years, and the Master's degree takes it to a new level.
Kirsty Comac, MA student, 2020
I have found the course thoroughly engaging and thought provoking. The lecturers are passionate and eager to help with all aspects of the academic experience. In short, it is a continuation of the very positive experience I have had throughout my undergraduate years at Ulster University.
Zakk Gowing, MA student, 2020
The Master’s program at Ulster is a rich and rewarding experience for all involved. The lecturers clearly adore the work they teach and the approaches to the literature are broad enough to apply them to any text you like.
Jordan Rafferty, MA Student, 2020
The Master’s course pleasantly focuses on learning rather than assessment. Furthermore, the variety of lectures provides a welcome change each session which helps sustain interest.