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MA Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture

Explore key issues central to modernity through literature

Year of entry: 2019

Length

1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2019 (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.

World-leading research

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, we had the highest proportion of world-leading (4*) research of all UK English departments.

Global top 30

English at York is ranked top 30 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

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 one core module (20 credits) and choose three modules (20 credits each) from a range of options offered by the Department of English and Related Literature and other arts and humanities departments. You'll study two short research skills training modules (10 credits each), and complete a research dissertation (80 credits). The total number of credits for the course is 180.

Modules

The core module addresses 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, focusing 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 

Option modules

You'll choose three option modules:

As a Modern and Contemporary Literature Masters student you'll be given priority for these modules if they are available, for example:

  • Narrative, Fiction, Theory
  • Modern Theatre and the Political Imagination
  • Unspeakable Bodies: Theorising Queer and Abject Embodiment
  • Sugar, subjectivity, sexuality and style: The fiction of Elizabeth Bowen

You may also choose available modules from other Arts and Humanities departments.

This reading list, compiled by our tutors, gives an idea of the criticism, anthologies, and core texts featured on this course:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Dissertation

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.

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. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

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 in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,810£17,370
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
£3,905
year 1 fee
£8,685
year 1 fee

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

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.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

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

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

Home/EU students

International students

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. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

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 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

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

You'll develop a range of transferable skills including:

  • 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

Qualification Typical offer
Degree

You should have, or be about to complete, a 2:1 undergraduate degree 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.

If you are unsure about your eligibility, or want an informal chat about whether this course would be suitable for you, please contact us.

The international equivalents of UK qualifications are shown on our country-specific pages. You can also contact the international team for guidance.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability.

Pre-sessional courses in English Language skills, to be taken before the commencement of the degree courses, may be recommended or required.

  • IELTS: 7.0, no less than 6.0 in Listening and Speaking, a minimum of 6.5 in Reading, and of 7.0 in Writing
  • PTE: 67, with no less than 55 in Listening and Speaking, a minimum of 61 in Reading and of 67 in Writing
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 185, with a minimum of 169 in Listening and Speaking, a minimum of 176 in Reading, and of 185 in Writing
  • TOEFL: 96, with a minimum of 21 in Listening and Speaking, a minimum of 23 in Reading, and of 24 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Distinction in all components

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

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Dr Adam Kelly

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Department of English and Related Literature

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