Taught course

Biography

Institution
University of Buckingham · School of Humanities
Qualifications
MA

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows:

  • a first or second-class honours degree from a recognised university or,
  • a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

Course outline

This cutting-edge programme is unique to Buckingham. A course with wide appeal, it is aimed at anyone who has an interest in biography or in researching and writing biography for themselves. The varied mix of backgrounds and interests that students bring to the course, the experience and commitment of the programme director and the friendly small-group setting allow a lively, enjoyable and intellectually rigorous exchange of ideas. Graduates have gone on to publish their own books, and to win prizes. Some have embarked on further research for the MPhil or the DPhil in Biography.

When it was founded in 1996, the Biography MA was the first of its kind. Since then Life Writing has become part of the postgraduate menu, but the Buckingham course has kept its distinctive edge. Unlike most Life Writing degrees, it is not linked to Creative Writing, and there is a strong emphasis on research and historical biography. The programme is consistently rated ‘excellent’ by external examiners and inspectors.

Course structure

Students have a choice between following the taught MA, or opting for the MA by Research. The taught MA gives an opportunity to produce written term papers on a variety of topics as well as a dissertation of up to 20,000 words. Students accepted for the MA by Research are required to produce written work which includes an extended dissertation of up to 40,000 words. All students produce coursework for the Research Methods module: an annotated bibliography and a short biography, with supporting material, produced according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography format.

Guest seminars on the course are led by leading biographers, critics, publishers and agents. Teachers and speakers on the course have included Andrew Motion, Kathryn Hughes, Frances Wilson, Frances Spalding, Jeremy Lewis, Rupert Shortt, Caroline Dawnay, Andrew Lownie and Miranda Seymour.

Research support

One of the distinctive features of the programme is the value attached to the supervision which is provided for students working on dissertations. One-on-one supervisions are held every two or three weeks during term. While the dissertation must be the candidate’s independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic (if necessary), on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the dissertation. Regular group discussions between research students at all degree levels (MA, MPhil and DPhil) allow the exchange of research experiences and mutual support.

Modules available on this course

All students on the MA Programme – both taught and research – are required to attend the weekly seminars, as are PhD students in their first year. These classes are one of the most distinctive and valuable elements of the MA and take place as follows:

The modules on Biography and Autobiography are designed to combine the study of classic biographies and memoirs with contemporary writing. In addition, the Research Methods module provides an invaluable and innovative training, especially devised for biographers.

- Autobiography

- Dissertation

- Research Methods

- Special Paper in Biography

Information for international students

Buckingham is a truly global community with students of all ages and cultures: over 90 countries are represented. It is a place to establish lasting networks, both professionally and socially. Our alumni networks operate successfully all over the world and we encourage them to stay in touch with us.

Fees and funding

UK students
£9,450
International students
£16,538

Please visit our website for latest information on tuition fees, scholarships and bursaries.

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
  • Further details of qualification

    Start date(s): January or September. Part-time students attend courses over the first year and devote the second year to their dissertation.

Course contact details

Name
HRI Admissions
Email
info@buckingham.ac.uk
Phone
+44 (0)1280 820227