Taught course

English Literary Studies

Durham University · Department of English Studies

Entry requirements

You will normally require an English or English-related Honours degree (at least a 2:1 or equivalent) from a recognised university.

Please use the 'additional comments' section of the application form to provide a personal statement.

In addition to your three module choices, you will also need to include a piece of written work of approximately 2,000 words in length on a literary subject. This can be any piece of literary-critical work you have completed recently and should be emailed to the applicant portal.

Months of entry


Course content

As a lover of the written word, our MA English Literary Studies offers you the freedom to explore a wide range of themes, genres and periods of time in literature. You can choose to study a named pathway, or to designate your own area of study within the broad MA.

We have a commitment to research-led teaching which is carried out by globally renowned scholars. The breadth and depth of activity in the Department fosters a lively learning environment and offers plenty of opportunities to follow your own interests or explore new areas of study.

You will select three modules from a broad range of themes and genres – from Old Norse to TS Eliot and from women and the novel in the eighteenth century to contemporary US crime fiction to Modernism and Touch. You can further tailor the course to your interests through your choice of dissertation.

Your studies will benefit from the work taking place in research centres and institutes within Durham University, such as the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Poetry and Poetics, the Centre for Modern Conflicts and Cultures, and the Institute for Medical Humanities.

We offer this MA course as a one-year full-time option or through part-time study over two years. The flexibility and broad choice mean you will be able to study fields of literature that interest you and give you the greatest pleasure, all within a learning framework that supports your work.

Course structure

Core module:

The Dissertation is an in-depth study of a particular topic, author, or genre that aims to encourage the development of sophisticated argument, the marshalling of evidence, and the reading of relevant criticism and contextual material. It offers you a wide range of learning opportunities in research methods and resources in literary studies, the development of your thinking about bibliographical issues as well as accuracy, consistency and integrity in the presentation of material and the use of secondary sources.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Old Norse
  • Warrior Poets in Heroic Societies
  • Middle English Manuscripts and Texts
  • Narrative Transformations: Medieval Romance to Renaissance Epic
  • Renaissance Humanism
  • Renaissance Tragedy
  • Lyric Poetry of the English Renaissance and Reformation
  • Reflections on Revolution, 1789-1922
  • Romantic Forms of Grief
  • Women and the Novel in the Eighteenth Century
  • Literary Masculinity at the Fin-de-Siècle
  • T. S. Eliot
  • Modernism and Touch
  • Modern Poetry
  • The Writing of Poetry
  • Elegy: from John Milton to Seamus Heaney
  • Reading as a Writer
  • Blood and Soil: Regionalism and Contemporary US Crime Narrative
  • The Contemporary US Novel
  • Thinking with Things in Victorian Literature
  • Shame and Modern Writing
  • Romantic and Victorian Labouring-Class Poetry
  • John Milton: Life, Work and Influence
  • Post-War British Drama
  • Representing the Self: from Sophocles to the Sopranos
  • Reading Medieval Literature
  • The End of (Renaissance) Literature: From Power to Passion
  • The Literatures of Slavery
  • Narrative and Thresholds of Consciousness
  • Adventures in Reading: Romantic Books and Political Possibilities
  • Anti-Capitalist Poetics: Writing and Resisting the Modern WorldSystem
  • Divergence, Deviance, and Disability in Nineteenth-Century Literature
  • Digital Humanities Resources and Techniques
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Reading as a Writer: the Workshop
  • Romanticism and the Forms of Romance
  • Illness and Narrative Practices
  • Minimalisms: Understanding the Aesthetics of Lessness
  • Environmental Posthumanities
  • Neurodiversity and the Humanities
  • Qualitative Approaches to Digital Humanities

Theory and History of the Novel

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details