Key Facts

Course Title: English Literatures
Course type: MA
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Dr Rachel Adcock
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Humanities


The MA English in Literatures offers a structured learning environment, a good grounding in literary theory, and the opportunity to specialise in an area of your choice.  

All students:

    • follow a full research training programme 
    • take dedicated masters modules designed to deepen their understanding of issues in literature and theory
    • choose an elective module from a variety of offerings, including modules from the MA in Creative Writing or from those offered as part of our English and American Literatures research-led undergraduate teaching
    • work with a research-active supervisor to develop and pursue a dissertation topic of their own choosing

Aims of the Course

‌The Masters programme aims to enable students to:

  • Engage in wide and varied reading among the regional and global varieties of literature and literary criticism.
  • Think both critically and creatively about literature in English.
  • Assess the form and meaning of literary and filmic texts.
  • Develop their understanding of the characteristics of key literary genres (prose fiction, poetry, and drama) and periods (post-1500), and of the principles of canonisation that elevate and marginalise texts and their authors.
  • Understand, evaluate, and apply to literary texts a range of critical ideas and theories relevant to textual criticism at Masters level.
  • Communicate ideas and arguments with clarity and care in a number of different forms—including essays, oral presentations, reflective diaries—using appropriate language and techniques of presentation.
  • Work both constructively and critically, by themselves and as part of a team, to deliver specific projects.
  • Reflect productively on their strengths, weaknesses, and methods of learning.
  • Develop research skills commensurate with postgraduate study in the field of English Literary Studies.

Please also refer to MA English Literatures Handbook 2017-18

Entry Requirements

Students are accepted onto the Programme on the basis of an honours degree at second class (normally a 2.1), or higher (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject.  Applicants with other qualifications and appropriate experience are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students registered at overseas Institutions which are ERASMUS partners or have existing exchange agreements with Keele and who wish to take parts of this Programme as an exchange student will be required to satisfy the criteria for qualification for such an exchange agreed by their home institution in consultation with CIED.

Students for whom English is a second language will be required to satisfy the criteria outlined in the first paragraph of this section, however we will also require English language proficiency of at least IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in each sub-test. 

Course Content

Below is an indicative range of modules you could study as part of the MA English Literatures Programme:




Humanities Masters Research Training: Research Skills in the Humanities (15)


Humanities Masters Research Training: Reflective Practice in the Humanities (15)

Dissertation (60)

Canon, Anti-Canon, Context (30)



Criticism, Analysis, Theory (30)


Option Module (30) from a selection of modules. 

An illustrative list of modules follows. 


Life/Writing  1700-1900

The Writer As Critic, The Critic As Writer.  

Postcolonial and World Literature in English 

Contemporary British Fiction

Contemporary American Fiction

Shakespearean Stages: Advanced Studies in the Plays of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries 

Words and Pictures: The Contemporary American Graphic Novel


30 credits




Modules change yearly according to staff availability; where modules are augmented level 6 modules they are not available to continuing Keele students who took those modules as undergraduate students.

Free-standing Masters level modules in English Literatures.

These credit-bearing units can be taken as free-standing modules, either for interest or professional development, or as a taster session for pursuit of a full Masters degree.  Entry requirements are similar to those of the MA degree: a 2-1 or higher at BA level (or its equivalent,) in English or a comparable discipline.  Students are able to use these modules as part of the requirements for a full Masters degree if they wish subsequently to do so.  All MA teaching takes place on weekday evenings between 5 and 7.


ENG-40007: Criticism, Analysis, Theory (30 credits)

‘Criticism, Analysis, Theory’ is a 30-credit module delivered in Semester one.  It focuses on a selection of key theoretical and critical issues and methods in contemporary literary and cultural analysis. It introduces students to a common framework of critical discourse in order to: (a) showcase the great variety of interpretive methods presently at work in the discipline of English; (b) enable students to draw distinctions between major paradigms in literary criticism and cultural and critical theory; and (c) help students to make informed decisions about their individual critical priorities and methods in the light of collective debate and discussion, and give them confidence in applying such theory to a range of literary texts.  Assessment for the module consists of a 1500-word essay on textual criticism/ book history submitted in the middle of the semester, and a 4000-word research essay, which should be primarily focused on the relative strengths and limitations of a given approach to literature submitted at the end of the module.


ENG-40032: Canon, Anti-Canon, Context

Canon, Anti-Canon, Context is a 30-credit module which is taught across the year over both semesters.  It enables advanced students of literature to explore key questions of literary value and function common to literatures of different genres, and from different periods and contexts. The module will ask questions such as: what is a 'literary' text, and in what ways is it different from non-literary texts, or from filmic ones? How might such texts relate to one another? How does a text become 'canonical'? What prevents other texts from being classified as 'canonical'? How do canonical and non-canonical texts construct and communicate different constructions of identity? How do these texts and identities come to be recovered, and perhaps evaluated differently in different social and intellectual contexts? Assessment for this module consists of a presentation and a 5000-word essay.




Teaching and Assessment

Assessments are varied and will include some or all of the following types.

  • Essays test the quality and application of subject knowledge.  They allow students to demonstrate their ability to carry out bibliographic research and to communicate their ideas effectively in writing in an appropriate scholarly style using appropriate systems of referencing.
  • Critical Analyses of other scholars’ work test students’ ability to identify and summarise the key points of a text and to evaluate the quality of arguments and the evidence used to support them. Critical analyses also assess students’ knowledge of research methodologies and their ability to make critical judgements about the appropriateness of different approaches.
  • Annotated Bibliographies test students’ ability to analyse and evaluate critically a range of secondary and source materials with a view towards specific areas of research.
  • Project Outlines test students’ ability to plan, prepare, and structure a viable research project. They also test the students’ knowledge of relevant and important areas of research within English literary studies, and to assess the originality and impact of certain areas of research to the field.
  • Reflective Study Diaries test students’ ability to engage self-reflexively with their study and practice within their field. They encourage students to develop a critical engagement with their modes and practices of study, learning and development of research topics.
  • Short research papers test student’s knowledge of different research methodologies. They also enable students to demonstrate their ability to formulate research questions and to answer them using an appropriate strategy.
  • Oral presentations, either by individual students or in groups, assess students’ subject knowledge and understanding. Where applicable, they also test their ability to work effectively as members of a team, to communicate what they know orally and visually, and to reflect on these processes as part of their own personal development.
  • Dissertations test students’ ability to carry out independent research and communicate findings in an extended piece of written work following recognised academic standards of presentation.

Marks are awarded for summative assessments designed to assess students’ achievement of learning outcomes. Students are also assessed formatively to enable them to monitor their own progress and to assist staff in identifying and addressing any specific learning needs. Formative assessment is not formally marked. Feedback, including guidance on how students can improve the quality of their work, is also provided on all summative assessments and more informally in the course of tutorial and seminar discussions.

Additional Costs

Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this post graduate programme.