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MAs in English Literature (taught)


MAs in English Literature (taught)

As an MA student of English Literature at York, you will combine your own research interests with intensive seminar study under the guidance of a leading authority in your field. We offer an extraordinarily wide range of taught MA programmes which both reflect the Department’s research standing  (highest in the UK for 4* ‘world-leading’ research in English Literature - REF 2014) and the cultural diversity of our staff and postgraduate community.

You will have the option of specialising in one of five major historical periods of English Literary study with our MAs in Medieval, Renaissance, 18th Century and Romantic, Victorian, and Modern and Contemporary Literature.  Or you might wish to drill down thematically by selecting one of our MAs in Film and Literature, Poetry and Poetics, Medical Humanities, Global Literature, or Culture and Thought after 1945.  And if you cannot make up your mind, there is always English Literary Studies which is the most flexible of all our MA programmes.

“I would say that the thing I enjoy most about my English MA is the opportunity to work with people who are driven, who are invested in their research, who are really interested in the things you are looking at and bringing their passion to it.”  Douglas, MA student (USA)

Our degrees

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and assessment

With the exception of the MAs in Medieval Literatures and Eighteenth Century Studies, all courses are taught and assessed in the same way.


Full-time students normally attend two 2-hour seminars a week during the Autumn and Spring Terms of their year of registration; part-time students normally attend one 2-hour seminar a week during the Autumn and Spring Terms of each year of registration.


The required course work for all MAs consists of four assessed essays of up to 4,500 words each.

In the Summer Term, full-time and part-time students work on their dissertations, on approved topics, usually related to previous course work. Dissertations, which are of between 14,000 and 16,000 words, are individually supervised by regular consultation with a member of staff. The dissertation should be submitted in September.

Successful MA candidates are either awarded a Pass, Merit or Distinction.


All MA students are required to attend a series of training seminars, designed to provide an introduction to research methods and textual criticism, as a preparation for the writing of essays and theses. Introductory classes in computing, word processing and various languages are also available.

In the course of the year, students will be expected to give regular seminar presentations and to attend research seminars and day conferences mounted by the Department.

English Programme Change Proposals MA Students (PDF , 111kb)


Future study

Future study

The taught course introduced me to texts, authors, and theorists which have enriched my research, and have helped to prepare me for a PhD.

Claire, MA in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

A high proportion of students following taught MA courses go on to do MPhil/PhD research at York or elsewhere. It is normally expected that students wishing to pursue doctoral research will take an MA in a relevant subject first.

Many, and in particular those who have achieved an MA with Distinction, have proved successful in attracting funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for further research. The AHRC offers PhD funding only to students who have taken or are taking an MA.

(c) John Houlihan

Who to contact

Graduate admissions