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MA Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture

Explore key issues central to modernity through literature

Year of entry: 2022 (September)

Length

1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2022 (term dates)

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The MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture offers you an intensive and exciting survey of the literary culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

You’ll be introduced to key authors, texts, ideas and critical methods from the period, and construct a distinct, individually chosen programme of study from a wide range of options. You’ll develop your research skills and apply these to a substantial piece of independent research.

Taught and supervised by world-leading scholars in one of the UK’s largest research centres in modern English, you’ll gain a foundation for doctoral research in modern literature, as well as transferable skills for related careers in teaching, publishing, arts management and journalism.

You’ll engage with the wider research culture of the Department of English and the Centre for Modern Studies, and there will be a diverse schedule of seminars, conferences and reading groups for you to attend. You’ll also be part of the Humanities Research Centre, a vibrant interdisciplinary hub which will enable you to form close social and intellectual bonds over the course of your study.

I've studied everything from Flaubert to Margaret Atwood and have learned so much, not only about the literary texts at hand but also about all kinds of contemporary debates. The Department has specialists in so many niche areas of literature that there's always someone on hand to discuss ideas with.
Alex, MA Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture

Global top 30

English at York is ranked 28th in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022.

UK top 10

English at York is ranked 8th in the UK in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022.

University of the Year shortlisted

We're proud to announce that we've been shortlisted for two prestigious University of the Year awards.

  • Times Higher Education Awards 2021
  • The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Find out more about our nominations

Course content

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You'll study the development of ‘modernity’ in association with particular genres and writers, and assess the importance of political movements and new identities to modern writing. You'll investigate the cultural meanings and associations of important developments in literary technique in the 20th century. You'll develop an understanding of the interplay of modern writing with a range of cultural issues, and learn some of the ways in which modern historical and technological development affected notions of writing.

You'll study modules from a range of options offered by the Department of English and Related Literature and other arts and humanities departments. You'll also hone your research skills with dedicated training, and complete a research dissertation. You'll study 180 credits in total.

Modules

You'll address some of the major literary trends and cultural debates of modern and contemporary times. You'll consider the different ways that ‘modernity’ has been understood, focussing on the multiple art-forms and theories of art that this understanding yielded. You'll examine a broad swathe of writers, genres and intellectual disciplines. Typical subtopics include modernist difficulty, utopian fiction, confessional poetry, race and modernity, and neoliberalism. Typical authors studied include James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein, Aldous Huxley, Samuel Beckett, Ralph Ellison, John Berryman, Paul Muldoon, and Zadie Smith. On the Postgraduate Life in Practice module, you'll learn valuable skills in research, writing, reflection, presentation, publishing and career development.

Core modules 

Your core modules will cover topics such as:

Option modules

Option modules may cover topics such as:

There are also a wide range of further option modules offered across all the Department's MA programmes which are available to you.

You may also choose available modules from other arts and humanities departments.

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.

Dissertation

Your dissertation offers you the chance to examine a topic in depth and to develop your research skills. You'll work on a 14,000-16,000-word dissertation with regular supervision from a member of staff. You'll submit your dissertation at the end of your course.

Recent dissertation topics include:

  • 'Mad Men' and Masculinity
  • Coping through Comics: Junot Diaz's Pop Culture Pain
  • Oral Poetry in the Digital Age
  • The Individual and Loneliness in the Fiction of Joshua Ferris
  • German Interwar Women's Writing
  • Revelations in the Work by T S Eliot and Jules Laforgue
  • The Artist in the Fiction of Anthony Burgess

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 significant literary and cultural texts from the modern period 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 contribute to scholarly debates around literary modernism, and around the legacies of modernism in twentieth-century and contemporary literature and culture
  • deploy knowledge of specialist fields within the broader remit of modern literature and culture – for example American fiction, narrative theory, political theatre, poetry and poetics, Cold War culture, world-systems theory – in order to ask and answer innovative questions regarding the origins, contexts, and underlying conditions of the modern world
  • 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 modern English literature and related fields
The courses I have taken in my MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture have all been thought-provoking, but very importantly, pertinent to my research interests and philosophical concerns.
Kirby, MA Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2022/23

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,290£19,950
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£4,645£9,975

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.

Additional costs

You'll need copies of the texts set for each module. Where possible, we will provide digital access. We'll let you know which texts and editions you'll need to buy (whether new or second-hand) before the start of each term.

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 2022/23 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

Department scholarship information

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.

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.

Teaching format

You'll normally attend two 2-hour seminars each week. If you are a part-time student you'll attend one 2-hour seminar a week.

Seminar groups consist of fewer than 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 Department. Many of these events will be organised through the Humanities Research Centre, a state-of-the-art facility unique to York.

Facilities

​​Writers at York is a lively programme of readings and workshops, and aims to celebrate and explore the work of emerging and established contemporary writers.

Writers at York is supported by the University of York's External Engagement Awards and the Festival of Ideas.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of English and Related Literature on Campus West. Most of your contact hours will be in locations nearby 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.

English teaching Adam Kelly
Ulysses close up seminar laptop
The warmth with which I was received into the York community clinched the deal - after a long and difficult search, I was delighted that my final decision was so easily made.
Judith, MA Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture

Careers and skills

Our postgraduates go into a wide variety of industries, from arts administration to law. Many of our alumni have also gone on to become successful novelists, poets and playwrights.

Career opportunities

  • Account executive at a publishing company
  • English teacher
  • Publishing editor
  • Market researcher
  • Website editor
  • PR executive

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

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent. 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
LanguageCert C1 Expert High Pass with 33/50 in each component
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.

Applying

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.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Victoria Coulson

Learn more

Department of English and Related Literature

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