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MA English and Related Literature (by research)

Carry out a research project on any period of English literature under the guidance of our expert academics.

Carry out extended research from across a range of literary periods and genres. Develop your ideas under the guidance of expert academics to build a sustained argument.

  Length Start dates (semester dates)
MA by research

1 year full-time
2 years part-time

Apply for MA by research


Your research

The MA by research is available on a full-time or part-time basis. You'll receive training in research methods and an opportunity for supervised study leading to the presentation of a dissertation which offers a sustained argument in relation to any period of English literature, or any of our related areas of study.

You'll write a supervised dissertation of between 25,000 and 30,000 words. This word limit includes quotations and footnotes, but excludes the bibliography and plate/figure captions.


Explore funding for postgraduate researchers in the Department of English and Related Literature.


Explore the expertise of our staff and identify a potential supervisor.

Research training

You'll receive training in research methods and skills appropriate to the stage you've reached and the nature of your work. In addition to regular supervisory meetings to discuss planning, researching and writing the thesis, we offer sessions on bibliographic and archival resources (digital, print and manuscript). You'll receive guidance in applying to and presenting at professional conferences, preparing and submitting material for publication and applying for jobs. We meet other training needs in handling research data, various modern languages, palaeography and bibliography. Classical and medieval Latin are also available.

You'll also benefit from the rich array of research and training sessions at the Humanities Research Centre.

Course location

This course is run by the Department of English and Related Literature.

You'll be based on Campus West, though your research may take you further afield.

Entry requirements

For an MA by research, you should hold or be predicted to achieve a first-class degree with honours (or equivalent international qualification). A Masters degree is not necessary. 

The undergraduate degree should be in literature, or in a related subject that is closely tied to the proposed research project. 

Other relevant experience and expertise may also be considered:

  • Evidence of training in research techniques may be an advantage.
  • It is expected that you would be familiar with the recent published work of your proposed supervisor.
  • Publications are not required and we don't expect you to have been published before you start your research degrees.

Supervisors interview prospective research students to ensure good supervisory match and to help with funding applications.

The core deciding factor for admission is the quality of the research proposal, though your whole academic profile will be taken into account. We're committed to ensuring that no prospective or existing student is treated less favourably. See our admissions policy for more information.


Take a look at the supporting documents you may need for your application.

Before applying, we advise you to identify a potential supervisor in the department. Preliminary enquiries are welcomed and should be made as early as possible. Please email one member of staff at a time, after checking that their research expertise matches your project. Emailing several staff members at a time regardless of the relationship between their research interests and yours means that you are unlikely to find a good supervisory match. 

If it's not clear which member of staff is appropriate, you should email the Graduate Chair.

Apply for MA English and Related Literature (by research)

Find out more about how to apply.

English language requirements

You'll need to provide evidence of your proficiency in English if it's not your first language.

Check your English language requirements

Research proposal

In order to apply for an MRes, we ask that you submit a research proposal as part of your application.

When making your application, you're advised to make your research proposals as specific and clear as possible. Please indicate the member(s) of staff that you'd wish to work with

You’ll need to provide a summary of between 250 and 350 words in length of your research proposal and a longer version of around 800 words (limit of 1000). The proposal for the MA in English (by research) should be 400–500 words.

Your research proposal should:

  • Identify the precise topic of your topic and communicate the main aim of your research.
  • Provide a rigorous and thorough description of your proposed research, including the contributions you will make to current scholarly conversations and debates. Creative Writing proposals should include plans for a critical research and a creative component.
  • Describe any previous work you have done in this area, with reference to relevant literature you have read so far.
  • Communicate the central sources that the project will address and engage.
  • Offer an outline of the argument’s main claims and contributions. Give a clear indication of the authors and texts that your project will address.
  • Include the academic factors, such as university facilities, libraries resources, centres, other resources, and / or staff, which have specifically led you to apply to York.

What we look for:

  • How you place your topic in conversation with the scholarly landscape: what has been accomplished and what you plan to achieve. This is your chance to show that you have a good understanding of the relevant work on your topic and that you have identified a new way or research question to approach the topic.
  • Your voice as a scholar and critical thinker. In clean, clear prose, show those who will assess your application how your proposal demonstrates your original thinking and the potential of your research.
  • Your fit with York, including the reasons for working with your supervisor and relevant research schools and centres.
  • Above all, remember that there isn’t one uniform way to structure and arrange your research proposal, and that your approach will necessarily reflect your chosen topic.

Careers and skills

Our dedicated careers team offer specific support, including a programme of professional researcher development. We also offer careers workshops and 1:1 career support sessions. They will help you to build up your employability portfolio and to engage in activities that will improve your skills and experience within and outside your research work.

Our postgraduates go into academia and teaching, arts administration, journalism, broadcasting, public relations, social work, politics, the civil service, management consultancy and many more professions.

Find out more

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We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

Why York

Discover more about our researchers, facilities and why York is the perfect choice for your research degree.

Graduate Research School

Connect with researchers across all disciplines to get the most out of your research project.

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