English Literary Studies MLitt

English Literary Studies, MLitt


MLitt English Literary Studies is an advanced programme which explores the theory and criticism of a range of literary periods and national literatures.

Key Facts

1 Year / 2 Years
Study Mode
Full Time / Part Time
Start Month
September / January
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

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The MLitt in English Literary Studies is primarily intended to provide a basis for undertaking research in English literature, including the literature of Scotland and Ireland. Research 'training' involves the acquisition of practical skills and knowledge and of specialised knowledge and understanding of literary periods and issues that will be directly relevant to each candidate's proposed field of research. You can take this degree as a stand-alone one-year or two-year part-time Masters degree, or as a first step towards an MPhil or PhD (subject to admission to a further degree programme either at Aberdeen or elsewhere). The programme is likely to appeal to you if you wish to create a solid foundation on which to build a PhD research proposal, or if you wish to teach literature, or to study literature at a postgraduate level to further an interest in culture and life-long learning.

The MLitt in English Literary Studies is taught by experts in English, Irish and Scottish literature. It can serve as preparation for more intensive and specialist research at doctoral level, but it is equally appropriate for graduates who simply want the challenge and enjoyment of a further year of literary study. We welcome mature students who wish to re‑experience the stimulation of university after some years away. Students may take the degree part time over two years.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning MLitt programme which runs in September and January. You will find information about other ways to study this programme in the next section on this page.

Semester 1


Each candidate's curriculum is personalised, so courses undertaken provide everyone with a programme that fits their interests and their needs.

The courses centre on the four areas of the Department's research: Renaissance literature; Enlightenment, Romantic, and Victorian literature; Modern and Contemporary literature; Scottish and Irish literature.

Courses include training in theory and methods of research, plus a large variety of options covering both different periods and genres.

Compulsory Courses

Approaching Literature (EL5092)

This course examines some of the main critical approaches and theories that have shaped modern literary inquiry. An organising theme of the course is different notions of ‘text’, ranging from historicist definitions of the ‘material text’ to poststructuralist theories of intertextuality and the practice of modern textual editing. The relevance to literature of different types of context is also explored, as are the interpretative possibilities of various forms of ideological critique, including feminism and post-colonialism. Throughout the course students are exposed to a wide variety of primary and secondary texts from a range of historical periods and geographical locations.

Optional Courses

Novel Ideas: Reading Prose Fiction (EL5089)

Novel Ideas: Reading Prose Fiction explores the many different voices of the novel from the eighteenth century to the present day, and considers how these voices are assimilated by readers and reading communities. It looks at how this literary form, sometimes regarded as trivial entertainment, has developed into a powerful and highly theorised literary genre, capable of handling complex cultural and psychological material, and of effecting profound social impact.

Crosscurrents in Irish and Scottish Literature (EL50A2)

This course explores the intimate and enduring relationship between Scotland and Ireland, its impact on cultural life, and on the ways in which nation and national identity are experienced and imagined. Embracing the historical range of Scottish and Irish literary tradition, it asks students to consider the conceptualisation of national cultures in the context of contemporary critical theory; the social agency of language and its literary representation; and the merits of national/translational approaches.

Critical Approaches to Literature, Science and Medicine (EL50A4)

Interactions between literature and science, medicine and technology take place on many different levels. Poets allude to scientific theories; scientists use narrative to explain the natural world or the human body and mind; novelists experiment on their readers’ nerves; science writers present natural history as a poetic pursuit or earth history as a drama. Different scholarly approaches, both literary and historical, are required to understand these diverse forms of engagement. This course will introduce students to a wide range of scholarly approaches to these interactions, within literary studies, medical humanities and the history of science.

M.litt Special Study in Language and Literature 1 (EL50A9)

This course option is designed to allow the creation of a programme of individual study where other appropriate course options at masters level are not available. It will run at the discretion of the programme co-ordinator. In discussion with a designated supervisor students will be able to identify and design a programme of research and study, which may include the completion of an undergraduate course, with assessments appropriate to masters-level work, or which may be consist of a short programme of research conducted over one semester.

Creative Writing Iii: Non - Fiction (EL5095)

This course is devoted to the development of non-fiction creative prose. Among the themes and genres engaged with will be: travel writing, psychogeography, non-academic critical writing, prose poetry, diary, memoir, and the fragment. Students will study examples across the genre and build up a portfolio of work, discussion of which will form the basis of weekly workshops.

Migration and Postcolonial Theory in Context (FR5012)

This course will examine the ideas and writings of a number of major postcolonial theorists and will involve an exploration of colonialism and decolonisation, transnational migration, diasporic experiences, neo-colonialism and power in postcolonial societies. A range of cultural, literary and theoretical texts from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America will be studied.

Semester 2


Elective courses totalling 30 credit points from a designated list of options.

Availability of courses will vary from year to year.

Optional Courses

Contemporary Irish and Scottish Women’s Fiction (EL55A3)

This course will look at a wide range of recent women’s writing to consider interconnected questions of national, individual, and gendered identity. It will examine how contemporary authors renegotiate ideas of self and nation, and even challenge any concept of stable identity. Authors to be studied may include A.L. Kennedy, Emma Donoghue, Ali Smith, Deirdre Madden, and Eimear McBride.

Irish and Scottish Science Fiction (EL55A6)

This course will look at a wide range of science fiction writing, beginning from the ‘fantasy science’ of Tait and Balfour’s The Unseen Universe, through early science fiction in the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle to the science fiction of major modern Scottish writers such as Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Naomi Mitchison. On the Irish side, the course will explore how the fantasy science of the Celtic Twilight (W.B.Yeats’s ‘experiments’ in occultism) lead on the modernist science fantasies of Flann O’Brien and Francis Stuart.

M.litt Special Study in Language and Literature 1 (EL55A9)

This course option is designed to allow the creation of a programme of individual study where other appropriate course options at masters level are not available. It will run at the discretion of the programme co-ordinator. In discussion with a designated supervisor students will be able to identify and design a programme of research and study, which may include the completion of an undergraduate course, with assessments appropriate to masters-level work, or which may be consist of a short programme of research conducted over one semester.

Locations and Dislocations: the Role of Place in Literature (EL5590)

This course examines the social, political and cultural construction of place in literary texts. The imaginative co-ordinates of places such as ‘Scotland’, or ‘England’ exist in a constant state of flux, refusing to yield an essential, authentic image. Using core texts from the early modern period paired with more recent literary responses we explore the idea of place in its various forms. Key themes and issues to be discussed will include the rural and urban divide; literature and nationhood; the nature of community; the significance of emigration, and displacement; walking texts, metropolitan literature, and ideas of the “new world”

Creative Writing: Narrative, Medicine, Psychology (EL55B6)

This course offers students the opportunity to develop their understanding of, and practical skills in, the writing of prose fiction. This skills-based course is structured around six wide-ranging and overlapping discussion areas: character; setting and the senses; point of view (voice, perspective and degrees of knowing); showing/telling; plot and structure; fact and fiction (life-writing, memory, and the use of scientific/medical/psychological detail).

The Making of Middle Scots (EL55B8)

This course focusses on the part Middle Scots poets play in constructing ideas of a national literary tradition. It will consider the ways in which these texts articulate changing conceptions of vernaculars and vernacular writing, and their reception in the work of the seventeenth-century poet and collector Allan Ramsay. It will also explore the role of the publishing society founded by Sir Walter Scott, the Bannatyne Club (1823-61) and examine the role of medieval texts and medievalism in shaping influential narratives of Scottish literary history, and their on-going impact upon perceptions of Scottish and British identity.

Scott in Context: Walter Scott and His World (EL55B2)

Walter Scott’s first novel Waverley (1814) sold more copies than all other novels published in that year put together. As a result he has become Scotland’s most significant writer of fiction and has played a pivotal role in the development of the novel both in English and internationally. This course will consider Scott in all his contexts; as editor, poet, collector and writer of fiction and within the wider sphere of literature in the Romantic period. While Scott will be the main focus, his work will be considered alongside authors such as James Hogg, John Galt, Jane Austen and Byron.

Semester 3


Elective courses totalling 30 credit points from a designated list of options.

Compulsory Courses

English Literary Studies: Dissertation (EL5904)

Candidates will be required to research and write a 15,000 dissertation on a subject and in an area approved by the supervisor and the Head of School.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Individual Projects
  • Group Projects


Assessment methods vary by individual course and include essays, reports, presentations, written exercises and written and oral examinations. The MLitt also requires a 15,000 word dissertation, while the diploma consists of coursework alone.

Courses are assessed through essays, presentations, group and project work. The variety of assessment in the programme ensures that students apply theory to practice and become expert communicators and team players.

Why Study English Literary Studies?

  • An M.Litt in English Literary Studies provides an excellent platform for further academic study.
  • It also offers valuable experience for those wishing to work in a range of careers such as teaching, media and heritage, and for all those who have an interest in literature.
  • The programme is taught by a range of published experts and researchers.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

For international students entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study.

Fees and Funding Table for HOME, EU, RUK and International Students
Nationality Status Amount
Home / EU / RUK Students Tuition fee for main award £4,500
International Students Tuition fee for main award £13,800
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trip courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


View all funding options in our Funding Database.

English Literary Studies 1894 Study at Aberdeen

Our centre for creative writing and English Literary Studies was founded in 1894

Entry Requirements


A 2.1 Honours degree or the equivalent in English Literature or a relevant cognate discipline in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempted from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

  • Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
  • Personal Statementa detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme


There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

Dr Hazel Hutchison

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture
University of Aberdeen
King's College


AB24 3UB
+44 (0)1224 272625
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