MA in Eighteenth Century Studies

The name of this MA has been updated from MA in Eighteenth Century Studies: Representations and Contexts 

CECS will be offering several £1000 scholarships towards fees for the MA for 2019-20. See Funding and Money for details.

Staff teaching on the MA may include: Helen Cowie, Jon Finch, Hannah Greig, Natasha Glaisyer, Joanna de Groot, Mark Jenner, Richard Johns, Catriona Kennedy, Alison O'Byrne, Emma Major, Jon Mee, Jim Watt, Chloe Wigston Smith 

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This is a fully interdisciplinary programme, involving the Departments of English, History, History of Art, and Archaeology. It offers the opportunity for you to study the culture and cultural history of the eighteenth century from new perspectives, as well as to lay foundations for higher degrees within the various disciplines involved in the programme.

We do not assume that you have any prior knowledge of more than one discipline, or that you wish to abandon whatever discipline you pursued in your earlier studies. Our aim is to encourage you to develop a kind of intellectual curiosity that is open to different methods of inquiry, and interested in exploring many different aspects of the period.

The MA can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two years.

Core module

Core module

The core module, Changes of Meaning, Narratives of Change, looks at some of the most important terms and narratives by which writers attempted to explain changes in the structures and values of their societies, such as ‘manly’, ‘feminine’, 'luxury', 'progress', 'public', and 'private'. These questions are studied mainly in relation to Britain, but with attention also to how they were being addressed in France.

The module also addresses some of the issues raised by the rapid expansion of empire, and provides an opportunity to consider the implications of commercial and cultural colonialism.

The primary texts studied on the module are concerned with politics, history, literary history, the history of art, the law, and political economy. The module invites students to examine how far these now-separate disciplines were involved in a common debate about the processes and effects of cultural change in an era of developing global consciousness, and how far they are beginning to develop divergent and specialised accounts of those processes and effects.

MA structure

MA structure

In addition to their core module, students follow one optional module in the first term, and two optional modules in the second term. A range of module courses taught by staff from the Archaeology, English, History, and History of Art Departments are available each year.

All courses are taught by weekly two-hour seminars. Assessment is by four term papers and a 14,000-16,000-word dissertation written over the summer term and vacation. Part-time students are encouraged to use the first summer term of their two years to begin working on their dissertation topic.

Students will also complete the Postgraduate Life in Practice module, which runs from the Autumn to Summer terms.



We welcome applications from holders of good honours degrees, usually an upper second or above, in any suitable subject or combination of subjects, for full-time or part-time degrees. We will also sympathetically consider your application if you are a mature candidate seeking specialist qualifications after professional experience (such as an in-service teacher) or if you wish to return after an interval to continue your education, whether or not you have recent and conventional qualifications.

The University Postgraduate Study webpages offer general information about studying at the University of York, including information about fees and scholarships, as well as online application forms.

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Please note: You will find the MA in Eighteenth Century Studies under the Department of English and Related Literature in the course listings.

Your application can completed in stages as our online system allows you to save your progress and come back later to finish it.


All applications for postgraduate study are handled by the Postgraduate Student Admissions office -  please contact them directly with any enquiries you may have about your application:

Postgraduate Admissions
Student Recruitment and Admissions
University of York

Email: (for applicants using the online application route)

Tel: +44 (1904) 322142

See also Student Recruitment and Admissions and Registry Services


Language requirements

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic: 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency: 176, with a minimum of 169 each component
TOEFL: 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in Listening, 21 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 21 in Writing
Trinity ISE III: Merit in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.


The interdisciplinary methods that I was exposed to during the MA have shaped both my research interests and my working methods in profound ways during my PhD research, and in my subsequent work as a lecturer and researcher, where I combine my study of literature with an interest in political expression, print culture, and the history of science.

Mary, former MA and PhD student