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MA Eighteenth Century Studies

Explore the 18th century in a dynamic and stimulating interdisciplinary environment

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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Study the literature, culture and history of the long 18th century from new perspectives. 

Develop your understanding of some of the major issues, debates and discourses that shaped British cultures and their relation to other cultures in the 18th century. Taught by world-leading scholars from the Departments of English, History, History of Art, and Archaeology, you’ll explore many different aspects of the era. You can construct a distinct programme of study from a range of options across the different disciplines. You'll develop an intellectual curiosity that is open to different methods of inquiry, and will carry out a substantial piece of independent research.

You’ll engage with the wider research culture of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, which is based in the historic King's Manor, and be part of the Humanities Research Centre, a vibrant interdisciplinary hub.

Top world rankings

Archaeology is top 20, English is top 25, and History is in the top 50 of the QS World Rankings 2020.

Follow your interests

Choose from a wide range of option modules with global reach across different fields of study.

Rich local resources

Study in a beautiful historic city, and use the York Minster Library, King's Manor and the Borthwick Institute.

Course content

How did writers, artists and others attempt to explain changes in the structure and value of their societies, with issues such as the revolution in France, the status and function of the arts, the relationship between the sexes, the authority of the aristocracy and the effects of Empire? Investigate these questions through a range of literary, visual and material sources.

You can study from 1650-1850, and you'll be introduced to staff specialisms in subjects such as gender, the body and women’s writing; empire, exploration and the cultural history of warfare; reading communities and literary networks; science and medicine; landscape and visual culture; and fashion, material culture and consumption. 

Whatever your disciplinary background we'll introduce you to a range of conceptual and analytical tools to explore some of the languages, images and central themes of the history and culture of the period. Our staff have research teaching and expertise from Archaeology, English, History and History of Art.


Core modules

Option modules

You'll choose three 20-credit option modules. Recent modules have included:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


Your dissertation offers you the chance to examine a topic in depth and to develop your research skills.

In Summer Term and over the vacation you'll work on a 14,000-16,000-word dissertation with regular supervision from a member of staff. You'll submit your dissertation in September.

If you are studying part-time we encourage you to use the first Summer Term of your two years to begin working on your dissertation topic.

Recent dissertation topics have included:

  • Encountering China post-Macartney: Romantic Theatre and Cultural Translation in Cherry and Corri's The Travellers
  • Equine Emotions: How Horses Shaped Conceptions of Animal Feeling, Soldierly Sensitivity and National Identity in the Peninsular Campaign, 1808-1814
  • "[H]e put almost a handful of gold in my hand": The Sexual Subtext of Economic Exchanges in Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders and Roxana


The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Analyse textual, visual and material sources from the long eighteenth century closely and critically, interpreting them with reference to the social, political, economic and/or aesthetic contexts in which they were produced, reproduced and received.
  • Evaluate and deploy perspectives and approaches from different disciplines.
  • Interrogate and contribute to advanced scholarly debates in eighteenth century studies.
  • Initiate, conduct, and take responsibility for independent research, drawing on skills honed by graduate-level research training, research-led teaching, and the completion of a substantial dissertation project.
  • Communicate sophisticated written arguments in a clear, accurate and persuasive fashion, synthesising evidence from multiple sources so as to convey information creatively and convincingly.
  • Engage in verbal discussion of complex textual material, demonstrating versatility, rigour, and confidence in the reception, appreciation, and articulation of high-level ideas and perspectives.
  • Direct their own development, bringing new knowledge and skills to bear upon a range of contexts including (but not limited to) doctoral study in eighteenth-century studies and related fields.
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

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £8,440£18,700
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2021/22 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies awards

We offer four bursaries for this MA, each worth £1,000 towards fees. All successful applications accepted by 30 June will be automatically considered, unless another major award has already been allocated. These are open to all eligible UK, EU and international applicants.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Taught by world-leading researchers

We had the highest proportion of world-leading (4*) research of all UK English departments. We are first in the UK for History of Art research impact. The Department of History is second in the UK for research performance, and Archaeology is top five in the UK for research impact. (Times Higher Education’s ranking of the most recent Research Excellence Framework 2014)

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Coronavirus (Covid-19): changes to courses

We've made some changes to the way our courses are delivered to minimise potential disruption from the ongoing global pandemic.

Teaching format

You'll normally attend two 2-hour seminars each week during the Autumn and Spring Terms. If you are a part-time student you'll attend one 2-hour seminar a week during the Autumn and Spring Terms of Year 1 and Year 2.

Seminar groups consist of fewer that 15 students in most modules, though some core modules may involve a larger number of students. You'll complete essential reading for each seminar, and we encourage you to read more widely around the topic.

You'll attend a series of training lectures and workshops, designed to address presenting your work, writing at MA level, transferable skills, and career development.

Over the course of the year, you'll give regular seminar presentations and attend research seminars and day conferences hosted by the Centre and other arts and humanities departments. 


Almost all the major online databases for research into the 18th and early 19th centuries – including ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online), EEBO (Early English Books Online), the British Periodicals Collection, the 19th-century British Library Newspaper Collection and the 17th- and 18th-century Burney Newspaper Collection – are available at the University.

You'll have access to the extensive resources of libraries on the Heslington campus, including special collections of rare books, the comprehensive collection of more than 12,000 reels of microfilmed 18th-century books and ephemera, and the unique and extensive archival resources of the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

King’s Manor Library has a large collection of 18th-century resources, including microfilm collections of prints, images, periodicals and newspapers. King’s Manor is next door to the York City Art Gallery and York City Archives, and a few minutes from the major 18th-century collections at York Minster Library. York’s excellent resources are backed up by the presence of the British Library at Boston Spa, easily accessible using the University’s free minibus service.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at King's Manor in the city. Most of your contact hours will be at King's Manor with some additional teaching on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll submit an essay for each module of approximately 4,500 words. The Postgraduate Life in Practice module will be assessed on the completion of a series of tasks connected to your core work for the MA. Your final assessment is a dissertation of 14,000-16,000 words.

Art Gallery Columns King's Manor
When completing an MA at the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies you’re encouraged not to confine yourself to one set of interests, but instead to explore a variety of areas of study with an open mind.
Olivia, MA Eighteenth Century Studies

Careers and skills

Our postgraduates go into academia and teaching, arts administration, journalism, broadcasting, public relations, social work, politics, the civil service, and management consultancy. Many alumni have also gone on to become successful novelists, poets and playwrights.

Career opportunities

  • Advertising, marketing, and public relations
  • Arts administration
  • Civil and diplomatic services
  • Film, radio, social media, television, and theatre
  • Journalism and broadcasting
  • Law
  • Government
  • Academia
  • Publishing
  • Teaching

Transferable skills

  • Developing your creativity
  • Improving your ability to filter and analyse complex information
  • Intellectual independence and independent working
  • Time management and people skills
  • Communicating your research
  • Methodological skills
The fortnightly Research Seminars where visiting academics present papers on their own research have been interesting and have helped me to widen my areas of interest. They have inspired further reading on topics which are new to me, improving my own research skills.
Eleanor, MA Eighteenth Century Studies

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent qualification. 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. We will consider applications from students with lower qualifications, particularly if you have high marks in relevant modules or appropriate professional experience.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will need to submit examples of written work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting written work.

English language

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

Minimum requirement
IELTS 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, minimum 176 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 110 in all other components
PTE Academic 67, minimum 61 in each component
TOEFL 96, minimum 23 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Mary Fairclough

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Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies

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