English Literature MA

Ideal for students wishing to pursue doctoral research and for those who wish to achieve a broad overview of Anglophone literary culture.

Why Surrey?

This programme combines the internationally recognised research and teaching strengths of the School of English and Languages with provisions across the range of literary periods, from the medieval to the contemporary.

Programme overview

The programme is designed to equip you with a critical understanding of English literary studies and respond to significant questions: How have ideas about literature and literary value changed over time? What effects do innovations in printing and publishing have on writing? To what extent do political and social factors condition and define authorial identities and practices?

The MA in English Literature invites students to reflect on such questions and to consider the relationship between literatures from a variety of historical periods, regions, contexts and theoretical paradigms. The programme will be ideal for both those who intend to pursue doctoral research and those who wish to achieve a broad overview of anglophone literary culture.

As a student on this Masters, you will benefit from the expertise of a vibrant, multidisciplinary group of published academics and authors.

You will also have access to a number of conferences, seminars and workshops hosted throughout the year. These events cover a range of topics to broaden your thinking in the fields of literature, language and linguistics, cultural studies and creative writing. Academics to have recently spoken the University of Surrey Surrey include critics Rod Mengham, Bernard O’Donoghue, Edward Larrisy, Robert Hampson, Adam Roberts, Helen Hester and John Wrighton as well as poets and academics J.H. Prynne, Robert Fitterman, Allen Fisher, Barbara Hardy and Gilbert Adair. They have been joined by novelists Iain Sinclair, Monica Ali, Jaspreet Singh and Nikita Lalwani, to name a few.

Each year’s cultural activities begin with the Morag Morris Poetry Lecture on campus by a visiting speaker and feature readings by students at the Guildford School of Acting.

Module Overview

Compulsory Modules

  • Research Skills
  • Literary Scholarship and Creativity
  • English Literature Dissertation (15,000 words)

Optional Modules

Students have an opportunity to choose from a range of optional modules offered by English and other programmes in the School of English and Languages.

Particular strengths in Surrey’s English programme include:

  • Contemporary Literature and Culture
  • 19th-Century Literature and Culture
  • Innovative Poetry
  • Transnational and World Literatures in English
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Travel Writing
  • Creative Writing
  • Gender and Sexuality

Options this year include Theorizing Gender and Sexuality, Beat Writing, Realism and its Critics, Narrative and the Body, Found Materials, Identity: Marketing and Communication in Practice, Organisations and Written Communications, and Issues in Literary Translation.

In addition, there are options for individual student-led research as part of the English Literature MA in our ‘Open Essay’ and ‘Special Author’ modules each semester, in which a student chooses a specific topic and is guided by an expert in the field. These modules are suited to students who like to work independently or to test their ability to research independently, those who wish to study a specific author or topic in depth with expert supervision, and those students who might wish take a first stab at something relevant for further study or to gain specific knowledge useful for a particular future career.

Where appropriate, students will also have the option of choosing modules offered by the MA in Creative Writing and other MA programmes in the School.


The MA in English Literature provides both structure and flexibility, combining specially designed core modules with the opportunity to select further related options from across our graduate programs.

The core modules – Research Skills, and Literary Scholarship and Creativity – both consider how texts have been produced, disseminated and received throughout history, and examine how this kind of historical enquiry might influence our own textual interpretations.

Students will then have an opportunity to choose from a range of optional modules that focus on specific periods, theoretical paradigms or individual authors.

Provision is in small group seminars and/or one-on-one tutorials and supervisions.


With the exception of the dissertation proposal and the dissertation itself, the 15-credit modules will normally be assessed by a 3,000 word essay.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Stephen Mooney

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:



Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

Entry is open to applicants with a UK first or 2.1 honours degree or equivalent in English literature or a related subject. Where students do not have a 2.1 in English literature or a related field, the Department / School will make a decision on the basis of submitted written work and an interview.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £6,000 £13,500
Part-time Sep 2016 £3,000 £6,800

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

Find out more


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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