English Literature MA

To learn more about Surrey and what we offer, sign up to a webinar.

Why Surrey?

This programme encourages you to consider the relationship between literature from a variety of historical periods, regions, contexts and theoretical paradigms.

You will benefit from the expertise of a vibrant, multidisciplinary group of published authors and academics and will have access to a full calendar of thought provoking literary events.

Programme overview

The MA in English Literature will equip you with a critical understanding of English literary studies, and the ability to reflect on significant questions: How have ideas about literature and literary value changed over time? What effects do innovations in printing and publishing have on writing? How much do political and social factors condition and define authorial identities and practices?

It is ideal for students wishing to pursue doctoral research, those who seek a broad overview of Anglophone literary culture, and those looking to develop expertise in specific literary areas.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time over two academic years. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation.

On successful completion of the programme, students may go on to do the PhD in English literature.

Example module listing

The following modules 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.

Academics and events

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 at the University of Surrey include:

  • Rod Mengham
  • Bernard O’Donoghue
  • Edward Larrisy
  • Robert Hampson
  • Adam Roberts
  • Helen Hester
  • John Wrighton
  • J.H. Prynne
  • Robert Fitterman
  • Allen Fisher
  • Barbara Hardy
  • 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.

Educational aims of the programme

The English Literature MA programme will prepare graduates to undertake a PhD programme in the relevant field.

It will also provide students with the transferable skills of critical thinking, analysis, communication, and textuality that are attractive to a wide range of employers, from the cultural industries to marketing and advertising to tourism and leisure to the civil service and public/private partnerships.

Devoted to the requirements and complexities of textual analysis and critical reading, the programme also provides advanced understanding of the contexts, theoretical paradigms, methodologies and modes of interpretation that are vital in contemporary literary studies.

The main aims are to:

  • Acquire sound knowledge of the major principles of literary criticism
  • Develop the critical language and terminology to carry out in-depth analyses of literary texts from across the diverse range of periods, areas, and approaches to the study of English literature
  • Reflect on their own practice as literary critics

The programme will help students to apply scholarly approaches to critically evaluate the major schools of literary criticism and literary theory in light of current and the possibilities of future development.

As a Master’s level programme, it also aims to instil in students the capacity for carrying out independent research in an area of literary studies.

Programme learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the main principles and challenges of literary studies
  • Relate developments in the field of literary studies to the social, political and historical contexts of the literary work (or works)
  • Distinguish different approaches to literary studies and reflect upon these in their own
  • Develop a critical engagement with various theoretical approaches and methods
  • Recognize the critical language required in advanced literary studies
  • Identify and explain relevant techniques and strategies for analyzing texts from a variety of perspectives

Intellectual / cognitive skills

After the course, students will be:

  • Able to critically appraise scholarly writing on a wide range of literary studies subjects
  • Able to strategically develop research skills for retrieving information crucial for understanding the context of textual production
  • Able to conduct conceptual and advanced research related to specific periods in the study of literature
  • Able to formulate and address research questions relating to the field of study

Professional practical skills

Upon completion, students will be:

  • Able to produce high-quality analyses of a variety of literary genres which are appropriate to their context
  • Able to verbally present abstract ideas and concepts in a clear and appropriate fashion
  • Able to confidently deal with reading complex texts
  • Able to acquire a sound knowledge of the key debates in literary studies
  • Able to acquire review/evaluation skills for textual analyses at level 7
  • Able to combine an understanding of text and context within and between periods

Key / transferable skills

Students will be able to:

  • Display competence in a range of skills at postgraduate level, including advanced analysis and synthesis of arguments, presentation, the conducting of independent research, and the efficient processing of complex ideas and arguments
  • Collaborate by working in small groups to exchange ideas and engage in debates
  • Develop knowledge in a specialized subject, area or period and command of terminology
  • Organize, research and deliver a sustained piece of work to a high standard
  • Create and carry out a research project of significant complexity
  • Reflect upon the knowledge gained and incorporate this into independent learning strategies
  • Manage learning self-critically
  • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.

·        Research and Writing Skills I

·        Research and Writing Skills II

·        Literary Scholarship and Creativity

·        English Literature Dissertation

·        Open Essay I

·        Open Essay II

·        Special Author I

·        Special Author II

·        Advanced Studies in 19th Century Literature

·        Issues in Literary Translation

·        Identity: Communication in Practice

·        Organisations and Written Communications

·        Children’s Literature

·        Screenwriting

·        Beat Writing

·        Open Creative Piece I

·        Open Creative Piece II

·        Found Materials: Poetry and Practice

·        Realism and Its Critics

·        Writing Shamanism - Literature and Visual Media

·        Magic, Mysticism, and Modernity

·        Geographies of Nation and Empire: the Victorian novel 1850 - 1890

·        The Age of Chivalry: From Medieval to Early Modern Literature


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2017 £6,000 £14,500
Part-time Sep 2017 £3,000 £7,300

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 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

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:



Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
MA Full-time 12 months Sep 2017
MA Part-time 24 months Sep 2017

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

IELTS 6.5 overall, 7.0 in Writing, 6.0 in each other component (or equivalent)

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.


Loans, scholarships and financial support

There are many streams of funding for postgraduate students including awards, scholarships and loans. Learn more.


For more details

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.

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 modules may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Our alumni