MA English Literary Studies

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
  • English
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September


The Masters in English Literary Studies is aimed at the study of literature, culture and film, and embraces the particular strengths of the Department of English and Film at Exeter. Our Masters degrees offer excellent opportunities to broaden and deepen your work in English and Film studies and to learn the skills needed for further postgraduate research.

The English Literary Studies MA offers an unusually large choice of modules and pathways, with expert tuition in all areas of English and Film including Early Modern and Renaissance studies, Romanticism, Victorian literature, American and Atlantic studies, Modern, Contemporary and World literatures and cultures, Critical Theory and Film Studies.

Many of our MA students go on to undertake PhD research here, where they are joined by research students from universities from across the world. The Queen’s Building, where the Department of English and Film is based, offers a dedicated postgraduate common room with computer facilities and a number of study carrels available for research students. Our Library and Special Collections offer modern study facilities and a vast amount of original source material, and if you’re interested in film or visual culture then the on-site Bill Douglas Cinema Museum is an invaluable resource.

We are one of the strongest English and Film departments in the UK with an excellent reputation for high quality research. Our Postgraduate students are an important part of our research community, and if you choose to join us at Exeter then you will be too.

There are many reasons why you might choose our English Literary Studies MA. The programme suits students interested in the areas of literature, culture, or film studies. It is specifically designed for those seeking high level training prior to embarking on doctoral research, recent graduates wishing to extend and enhance their studies by a year before taking up a career, individuals already in employment who are interested in career development, and those who simply wish to broaden their intellectual horizons. If you are thinking about taking your study of English to the next level then our Department has the knowledge to give you the high level training you need to set you on your chosen path.

Our flexible programme enables you to choose either a specific pathway or a selection of modules. If you elect to specialise, you will have one of these pathways named in your degree title. Students on the general programme are free to choose from all modules on offer in each year.

Specialist pathways include:

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

We believe in collaborative, small group learning and teaching for your modules will be delivered through seminar groups. You will be encouraged to discuss your ideas and interact with your fellow students and academic staff. You will be expected to play an active role in debating and presenting your work. Throughout your programme you will develop and enhance your communication, analytical, and critical thinking skills.

On your modules you will be assisted by the coursework you produce such as critical essays. The final assessment piece will be your dissertation, the culmination of your programme of study. You will conceive, plan, research and write an independent 15,000 word piece that will display your subject knowledge and methodological skills. The dissertation is your opportunity to explore a topic that interests you in greater detail, something which may form the basis of further research or other portfolio.


An English degree is a uniquely versatile qualification valued by employers for the combination of communication and analytical skills as well as combining an understanding of literature and media in a historical and cultural context. For some of our students the MA is a step on the path to doctoral study, for others it opens up a range of career paths in areas such as teaching, publishing, media, journalism, advertising and communications.

In recent years the positions some of our graduates have gone on to include:

  • Copywriter
  • Marketing Assistant
  • Assistant Editor
  • Publishing Assistant
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Freelance Journalist
  • Writer

Careers and employment support

While studying at Exeter you can also access a range of activities, advice and practical help to give you the best chance of following your chosen career path. For more information visit our Careers pages.

Research areas

You will join a vibrant postgraduate and research community. The Department hosts a series of events, conferences and symposia every year and is home to several research groups and centres, including the Centre for Victorian Studies, The Centre for Interdisciplinary Film Research and the Centre for Literature and Archives. We are a world-leading English and Film Department for research, with extensive expertise that stretches from medieval to modern literature and culture. Dedicated research centres and groupings within our department include:

All our staff belong to one or more research group which plan and develop research initiatives across the humanities. Research activity is carried out collaboratively by staff at our Exeter and Cornwall Campuses.

Our research groups include academic and post-doctoral staff, PhD students and other Postgraduates, including MA students. Each group works together to plan and develop research initiatives across their specialist areas. Research is at the heart of what we do at Exeter and we hope that you will become an active member of our research community.

To find out more about our staff research interests have a look at our staff profile pages.


You will be able to use the whole range of Library services during your time at Exeter. We have modern study spaces, an extensive Academic Library, inter-Library loan system, and an extensive Digital Library to all of which you will have full access.

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, housed within the University’s Old Library, holds a unique archival collection with particular strength in the area of British Film.

The University also houses its own Special Collections which includes original papers relating to important South West literary figures such as Ted Hughes, Daphne Du Maurier, John Fowles, John Betjeman, Agatha Christie, and Henry Williamson.

The University has invested £1.2 million into Digital Humanities to create a state-of-the-art lab and research space for the examination and preservation of important historical, literary and visual artefacts. The lab will allow you to use high-tech equipment to find out more about our cultural heritage, examine items in greater detail and share discoveries with the public. For more information view our Digital Humanities Lab page.

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent, preferably in English (which is defined as English Literature, English and American Studies, etc.) or related disciplines (which are defined as Film Studies, Drama, Creative Writing, or any degree with a significant component of cultural or literary analysis).

Applicants whose native language is not English will be required to provide evidence of a very high standard of written English.

NOTE: applicants with degrees in English language only do not meet the standard criteria.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.


Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2019/20

  • UK/EU: £8,300 full-time; £4,150 part-time
  • International: £17,700 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,609 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Scholarships and other funding

Find out about funding opportunities available to students on our taught Masters programmes in English.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2019.

Contact us

Web: Enquire online

Department of English
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725309

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