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Literature and Philosophy MA

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year Two days per week To be confirmed
Part time 2 years One day per week To be confirmed

Please note this course is subject to validation.

Choose Kingston's Literature and Philosophy MA

The Literature and Philosophy MA draws on the interdisciplinary relationship between literature and philosophy. It combines rigorous philosophical and cutting-edge literary study, at the same time as critically examining questions pertaining to the relationship between the two disciplines in an inclusive, critical and non-partisan manner.

The course demands the best of its students, while at the same time providing a supportive pedagogical environment, in which teaching is student-centred and research led. You will be challenged to engage in critical thinking in ways that will prepare you for a range of careers.

On the course you will be able to draw on the resources of not only literature and philosophy, but also creative writing, journalism and publishing, and in a faculty that incorporates the study of film, psychoanalysis, drama and dance. You can therefore take advantage of a broad range of intellectual and creative resources.

What will you study?

The course offers you a broad range of topics in English, including gender, race theory and postcolonial literature and theory medieval literature, Shakespeare, the gothic, the American Suburban novel, Iris Murdoch, slavery and empire. It also offers you the chance to engage in continental philosophy with an emphasis on deconstruction, French thought, German idealism, critical theory, aesthetics, contemporary feminist, modern continental thought and psychoanalysis. The core module offers you the chance to interrogate the boundary between English and philosophy, focusing on their divergent assumptions as well as their connections. It pushes you to think about what is unique to each discipline, and what each discipline can bring to the other.


Coursework and dissertation.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.


  • Interdisciplinary Investigations: An Introduction to Literature and Philosophy
  • This optional module problematizes the notion of ‘the human’ from a range of critical and philosophical standpoints. It asks whether technological developments, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality, have decentred our traditional understandings of consciousness, perception and embodiment, and if new political and social formations undermine any meaningful sense of shared human experience. It also interrogates the moral and epistemological bases for significant relationships between humans and other species, and asks what, if anything, humans can learn from non-human agents. These questions inform a critical engagement with a selection contemporary works of global literature.

  • This module examines the ways literature has helped to imagine, construct and reconceive spaces, places, and populations, from those at home and in the city, to ones of exploration and empire. The module approaches diverse literary material of the colonial period – from travel writing to adventure fiction – through theoretical frameworks derived from critical geography, postcolonial criticism and cultural studies. Key concepts such as the contact zone, transculturation, hybridity, mimicry, and borderland are examined and debated in order to develop a critical understanding of how literature maps territories, represents places, and transgresses spatial and subjective boundaries. The module also pays particular attention to how gender, race, class and national identity intersect and inform the ways in which writers engage with particular spaces.

  • This optional module in the MA course in English Literature studies early modern gender, culture and international exchange. You will explore cultural exchanges – of goods, styles, individuals, texts, artworks, and ideas – between sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain and the Continent, with a special concentration on London’s emergence as a world capital. The module studies these international exchanges largely through the lives and works of early modern women and through male-authored works which comment upon women’s roles, for two reasons. First, although men’s and women’s experiences were similar, important differences in early modern culture placed women in a tense, symbolic relationship to foreign influences. This is especially true in England, where the island’s national and cultural insularity was often gendered as feminine, reflecting the reign of a female monarch throughout most of the sixteenth century. Secondly, women’s strategies for stepping beyond domestic boundaries to publish or circulate texts parallels the political and social strategies informing exchanges from one national or cultural context to another. Thus the period’s ‘traffic in women,’ to borrow Gayle Rubin’s familiar phrase, provides a concise metaphor for its traffic in goods and ideas.

  • Literature has a long history of representing the erotic, and of exploring, affirming and contesting ideas about the body. This optional module explores how modern writers have, from the late-nineteenth century to the present, engaged with moral, legal and scientific understandings of sexuality, and considers the impact of feminist criticism, queer theory and pornography studies upon how we think about the complex and often difficult relationship between sex and writing. You will critically examine provocative and formally challenging textual material in order to debate a range of contentious issues and themes, such as sexual morality and censorship, literary and journalist accounts of prostitution, the supposed distinctions between literature, erotica and pornography, the effects of new technologies on the representation of sexual desire, and utopian and radical visions of sex and society.

  • Personal testimonies and oral and textual representations of traumatic experience are the life force of human rights work, and rights claims have brought profound power to the practice of historical and autobiographically based writing. This module uses a range of approaches from a number of disciplines to explore the connections and conversations between human rights and the representation of familial and socio/historical traumatic experiences in writing. We will examine traumatogenic works by survivor-writers who are eyewitnesses to slavery, genocide, and forced displacement as well as those who have experienced personal, familial violence and rights abuse. We will also look at works by theorists of trauma and autobiographical writing, documentary filmmakers and human rights advocates making use of literary/critical, historical, psychological, and rights advocacy approaches in our discussions.

    The module will have four key sections sections—testimony, recognition, representation, and justice—evoking the key stages in turning experience into a human rights story. In doing so it attends to such diverse and varied arts as autobiography, documentary film, report, oral history, blog, and verbatim theater. It will begin by looking at moving personal accounts from those who have endured persecution, imprisonment, and torture; turn to meditations on experiences of injustice and protest by creative writers and filmmakers; and finally explore innovative research on ways that digital media, commodification, and geopolitics are shaping what is possible to hear and say.

  • This module involves guided study of two or three major works of twentieth-century French philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two related thinkers. Possible topics include: Sartre or de Beauvoir's existentialism, Levinasian ethics, Merleau-Ponty's theory of embodied perception, Foucault's theory of power, Derrida's practice of deconstruction, Deleuze's conception of difference, Badiou's concepts of the subject and truth.

  • Plasticity and Form
  • Based on a study of artists’ texts, art criticism, art history and philosophical writings on art, this module comprises a critical examination of the legacy and possibilities of modernist and avant-garde criticism in contemporary art theory. As well as introducing students to some of the major texts and ideas in these traditions of art theory and art criticism, the modules aims to enable students to reflect critically on works of contemporary art in the light of their study.


You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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Contact us

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
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