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This innovative English Literature MA course focuses on dissident writing and transgressive texts, from the early modern period to the present, and from contexts around the globe.
Engaging with recent developments in theoretical and critical practice, the course will develop your knowledge and understanding of English literature and will sharpen your skills of literary research, writing and analysis.
Course assessment is flexible and innovative, ranging from traditional essays and dissertations to blogs and multimedia presentations.
Capitalising on our London location, several modules are complemented by optional field trips to enhance and support your learning experience.
If you are planning to join this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021), please view the information about changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19.
Students who are continuing their studies with Kingston University in 2020/21 should refer to their Course Handbook for information about specific changes that have been, or may be, made to their course or modules being delivered in 2020/21. Course Handbooks are located within the Canvas Course page.
The English Literature MA is a rigorous, challenging and fascinating course which enables you to study diverse literary texts and engage with cutting-edge theoretical and critical approaches.
You will complete 180 credits in total, which will include the 30-credit compulsory module Transgression and Dissidence, three optional 30-credit modules and the final 60-credit Dissertation module.
The core module, Transgression and Dissidence, introduces the course's central themes by focusing on texts that explore the limits of human experience and contravene cultural boundaries.
Your three option modules provide opportunities to analyse and discuss a range of contentious issues across different historical periods and with respect to different genres.
Your 15,000-word dissertation will allow you to research a subject of your choice, produced under the supervision of a specialist academic member of staff.
This is a core module for the MA in English. It consists of supervised independent research and writing and enables you to conduct detailed and extensive research into a distinctive area of enquiry and to present that research in a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words.
The birth of modern literature is bloody, ill-tempered and violent in the flights of its newfound poetic imagination. Terror and sensation define the novel and degeneration underpins imperial encounters with modes of otherness it can neither conquer nor avoid. Modern challenges to conventions of form also spill over and disturb the bounds of experience, consciousness and good taste amid changing social mechanisms; later provocations – obscene and disturbing in terms of theme and content – assume a role in the vanguard of social and political liberations of consciousness, sexuality, and nation: democratic contestations and freedoms are found and founder in apparently darker literary impulses.
This core module on the English Literature MA examines the transgressive potentiality of literature. It focuses on textual material that explores the limits of human experience, contravenes cultural boundaries and troubles established verities. It also asks how literature, through such transgressions, has provided opportunities for dissent and resistance, and considers the extent to which literature has thereby acted as a catalyst for social and political change. It interrogates a range of critical approaches to literature, transgression and dissent, and assesses the possibilities and limitations of various modes of dissident scholarship.
Students will engage with five literary texts drawn from different periods and contexts (these might include a Renaissance drama, an eighteenth-century Gothic novel, a nineteenth century sensation novel; a twentieth-century postmodern novel; and a contemporary work of postcolonial fiction); each will be approached through a selection of critical materials that provide complimentary and competing frameworks for evaluating literary transgression and the scope literature offers for political and sexual dissidence. In so doing the module also introduces students to several of the thematic and theoretical preoccupations of the MA course's optional and special studies modules.
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.
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.
The module is designed to introduce students to some issues of critical and literary theory. The module is also designed to make students more aware of how their work impacts upon wider literary, cultural, political and philosophical issues. Awareness of these theories and of some of the issues surrounding the production and reception of literary texts will stimulate them, encouraging creative and conceptual thinking. The module will explore debates about literature and the practice of creative writing through readings of essays and texts that are relevant to criticism and theory. The academic component of the assessment will support the creative work with the objective that students will also have to demonstrate critical, academic, analytical skills.
Salman Rushdie, Mary Wollstonecraft, Geoffrey Chaucer, Audre Lorde, Charlotte Bronte, Chinua Achebe, Mary Shelley, John Milton, Lawrence Sterne, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison...the list is endless. At every point in literary history there are writers who break the mould and challenge the status quo. Whether it is through writing epics that endure through centuries, addressing the injustices of the time or challenging the very notion of what a novel, poem or a play can do, writers can be radical in a number of exciting ways. This module looks at works by radical writers in depth, studying one famous text in detail by a range of writers from different time periods and taught by lecturers who are experts in these writers. We will look at the context of each text as well as the way the text is written, determining why these radical writers have been so successful and looking at the effects their texts have had on the world around them. We will look at the idea of the literary 'canon', made up of writers who have been radical in some way, and consider the way that this idea can be challenged, reinvigorated or refreshed.
Throughout its history, the American nation has centred its identity upon notions of protest, resistance and dissent: a questioning of authority that has come to define American ideas of democratic freedom and individuality. This module explores how writers of poetry and prose from the 19th century to the present have asserted the American consciousness through literatures of counter-cultural resistance, challenging political ideologies, and questioning established modes of thinking. We will explore movements such as Transcendentalism, the Beats, Black Arts, and the New York School and their production of a counter-cultural aesthetic. Alongside this, we will consider individual writers who have responded to dominant discourses surrounding race, gender, nationalism, capitalism, and war - writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Leslie Marmon Silko, George Saunders and Thomas Pynchon. How, we ask, have these writers and movements both responded to and shaped the idea of American identity through a politics that is both radical and anti-authoritarian? The module is assessed by a combination of two short essays, discussion posts and a long critical essay.
This optional Level 6 module allows you to pursue Shakespeare studies at an advanced level and is founded upon a detailed and extensive study of the writer and his works. Consideration will be given to a range of critical approaches to Shakespeare as well as the long history and dynamic status of Shakespeare in performance and adaptation, for example in relation to questions of gender, identity and globalisation. You will be encouraged to reflect upon the role of Shakespeare in culture now as well as relevant contemporary contexts such as the nature of early modern theatregoing alongside crucial political and religious conditions. Teaching on the module will be closely aligned with the rich resources available at the Rose Theatre and in particular will afford you the opportunity to participate in the stimulating series of talks and events organised as part of the Kingston Shakespeare Seminar (KiSS).
This module traces how literature from the 19th century to the present has concerned itself with questions of gender identity and sexuality, often offering a radical voice for those - including both women and LGBTQ+ voices - excluded from dominant and mainstream discourses. Rooted in feminist and queer theory, we will explore how feminist writing has critiqued patriarchy, how literature has challenged normative gender roles, how it has engaged with powerful questions regarding the body and the politics of desire, and how it has represented the debates within different facets of the feminist and queer community. We will also consider how writers have employed literary form and genre - for example the use of experimental writing, dramatic or poetic form, or the romance genre - and to what extent debates surrounding these forms and genre contribute to a gendered politics of cultural production. Explicitly intersectional in its approach, we will frame our discussions with an interrogation of how the politics of gender and sexuality is shaped by its relationship with questions of class, race, disability, and religion. Examples of authors studied might include Jeanette Winterson, Fleur Adock, Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Kushner, Clare Macintyre, Leila Aboulela, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Virginia Woolf.
Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Tier 4 visa.
Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.
The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.
We normally expect applicants to have a good second-class degree in English literature or a related subject. We will consider non-standard entrants on an individual basis.
You must also submit a 3,000-word piece of critical writing on a literary topic or work, a personal statement (1,000 words).
Applicants with prior qualifications and learning will be considered on an individual basis.
All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 7.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all other elements. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.
Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.
The teaching on each 30-credit module will comprise weekly two-hour or three-hour seminars. These sessions are dynamic and flexible, and typically feature a combination of teacher-led presentations, class discussion and individual student presentations.
The two core modules are supplemented by a series of workshops which are focused on developing the advanced skills you will need for the study of literature at postgraduate level.
When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy documents and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.
Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.
At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.
Year 1: 17% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.
Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.
Type of teaching and learning
Assessment typically comprises practical elements (e.g. presentations) and coursework (e.g. essays, reports, portfolios, dissertation).
The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:
Type of assessment
We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.
To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 6-12 students and lecture sizes are normally 4-12. However, numbers can vary by module and academic year.
You will be taught by committed, enthusiastic staff who are experts in their fields.
You will also benefit from exciting, challenging talks and performances given by visiting scholars and artists. Recent events have featured the philosopher Emanuela Bianchi (New York University) and the performance artist Travis Alabanza.
Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.
Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:
If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.
We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:
The campus at Penrhyn Road is a hive of activity, housing the main student restaurant, the learning resources centre (LRC), and a host of teaching rooms and lecture theatres.
The library offers:
At the heart of the campus is the John Galsworthy building, a six-storey complex that brings together lecture theatres, flexible teaching space and information technology suites around a landscaped courtyard.
Kingston University hosts two major archives relating to Iris Murdoch, a significant philosopher and one of the twentieth century's greatest novelists. These archives currently comprise:
Kingston is just a 30 minute train journey away from central London. Here you can access a wealth of additional libraries and archives, including the British Library.
This English Literature course is designed for students who have a personal or a professional interest in literature. It is particularly suited for those wishing to enhance their careers in areas such as:
For those interested in further research, the course also provides an excellent foundation for MPhil/PhD-level study in English literature.
I can say without a doubt that the MA prepared me properly for further study. The friendly and intellectually stimulating environment gave me confidence in my academic ability and continues to provide a supportive network. Progressing on to doctoral study was fully supported by the faculty and my supervisor, who had an excellent understanding of the funding opportunities available and the process of application.
The English Literature MA at Kingston is well structured and offers a range of different modules. The core theme of transgression is explored through monstrosity, gender, race and sexuality, maintaining relevance to the social, economic and technological landscapes of the twenty-first century. The final dissertation is a great opportunity for developing an independent research project under the guidance of the knowledgeable teaching team.
There are a number of social and academic events organised throughout the year, and there is a real sense of community within the department which makes it a truly great place to study.
Inspiring, terrifying, stimulating, intellectually stretching – just a few of the responses evoked by my two years part-time reading for an English MA at Kingston.
As a mature student, newly retired, I was initially daunted by my rash decision to take up postgraduate study, especially never having formally studied English before. However, after my initial panic, the course opened a world of new ideas and extended my thinking around earlier passions – slavery, loss, gender; and new ones – post-coloniality, the writings of minority groups; modern philosophers – lots of struggle, but also wonderful surprises.
Being part time allowed time to investigate and explore my chosen themes, and my fellow students were unfailingly friendly and welcoming. Tuition was always thought-provoking and staff invariably supportive, while there was a wide choice of modules and freedom to explore my particular interests.
The English Literature MA gave me a good grounding in essential questions regarding gender, race, oppressions, sexuality, and ethics, as well as refinement in academic conventions – the finer details of referencing and style – and a valuable introduction to sustained self-directed study, in the form of the final dissertation.
I can safely say that my year at Kingston has provided the sturdiest of stepping stones into doctoral study.
The University is a place to which I certainly want to return; I will feel proud to be counted among its alumni, due to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere, the engaging and lively calendar of social and academic events, and the magnificence of the teaching staff.
We maintain links with institutions and organisations including:
A range of additional events and lectures will enhance your studies and add an extra perspective to your learning. Activities for this course include:
The literary magazine Woke is edited by MA students, providing:
The department is characterised by an active research unit. This ensures they are in touch with the latest thinking and bring best practice to your studies.
Research in English literature at Kingston University covers the following areas:
It focuses around the following research initiatives:
We do not anticipate making any changes to the composition of the course, i.e. the number of modules or credits in a year for part-time postgraduate courses, as a result of the pandemic.
In order to safeguard our students' health and safety and to minimise the risk of disruption to their studies, the University has postponed all Study Abroad programmes for outgoing students in the first teaching block of 2020/21 (from September 2020 to December 2020). The University will review this decision before the second teaching block and will take into account relevant government advice at that time.
Changes can be made to courses as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to the composition of the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
We do not anticipate making any changes to module titles and summaries or to the availability of modules as a result of the pandemic.
Changes can be made to modules as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to module titles and/or availability of modules will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through and graduate from the course without delay.
In exceptional circumstances the sequence of learning and teaching activities may be changed, e.g. re-sequencing those modules that can be delivered more effectively under the current restrictions with those which would be more difficult to deliver, such as practical modules and placements.
We have not changed entry requirements as a result of the pandemic. However, the range of accepted alternatives have increased as has the way in which we select students, which now includes virtual interviews and online portfolios.
We have not changed entry requirements for international students as a result of the pandemic. However, in response to the pandemic, we now accept a much broader list of English language exams for entry to the course; the level of these exams remain the same.
Due to the current pandemic the course's teaching and learning activities will be delivered through both online and on-campus methods (blended learning) in 2020/21. In order to provide all students with a comparable on-campus experience, the University has committed to ensuring that all courses provide at least 30% of their teaching and learning activities on-campus.
While physical distancing measures remain in place, you will receive your learning and teaching via a blend of on-campus and on-line activities. Should your circumstances prevent your attendance at on-campus sessions, you will still be able to engage with your course in a way that allows you to progress. Where this is not possible, support will be available to consider what options are open to you.
The University will continue to closely monitor government announcements and advice in relation to the current pandemic and, where required, will take any necessary action in order to comply with such advice.
In the event that a further lockdown is enforced the University will aim to deliver the course fully online. This may require some additional changes being made to planned teaching and learning activities, including assessments. The majority of our courses are prepared to be delivered fully online if the situation requires it. Where the quality of the student experience may be compromised significantly, or the course is unable to be delivered fully online, the University may need to suspend the delivery of that course until a time that it can be delivered appropriately. Students will be supported in these situations to ensure they are able to make the right choices for their particular circumstances.
In the event that the current social distancing restrictions are fully lifted and the University is able to resume normal delivery of teaching and learning activities, courses will assess whether it is in the students' interest to resume normal delivery. In some cases it may be better to continue and complete modules under the planned blended delivery mode.
Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours will not be made as a result of the pandemic. However, it is possible that some adjustments might be made at module level, e.g. a few more scheduled activities, in order to help ensure student engagement with blended learning.
Any changes made to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
'Scheduled teaching' includes teaching that is online either live or recorded / on demand.
Your individualised timetable for teaching block 1 (i.e. from September 2020 to December 2020) should be available by the end of August 2020. Timetables for teaching block 2 (i.e. from January 2021) will not be available until the autumn. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9am and 9pm. To accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing, we will need to maximise the time available for teaching. This means, we may have to use Wednesday afternoons and enrichment week for additional teaching slots. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.
On campus classes, class sizes will be smaller, in line with social distancing measures. Online (synchronous) activities will be delivered via videoconferencing apps that will enable a full range of class sizes to be used as appropriate.
Changes can be made to modules, including how they are assessed, as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our modules up to date with current developments in that subject area. Due to the current restrictions in place, i.e. social distancing, it is anticipated that many formal on-campus examinations, including practical examinations, will be replaced with alternative assessments which can be completed online. These changes will be considered and approved through the University's processes to ensure that student assessments will be able to demonstrate they have achieved the expected learning outcomes. The approval process will also assess whether the change impacts the status of any professional body accreditation the course benefits from.
Any changes to the overall methods of assessment for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
No changes are expected to the general level of experience or status of staff involved in delivering the course.
As a result of the social distancing restrictions in place, on-campus teaching activities may need to be split into smaller groups which may require the support of teaching assistants and student mentors, who will be managed by experienced staff.
There will be no changes to published tuition fees for 2020/21.
As a result of the blended delivery of courses in 2020/21, where a significant proportion of the teaching will be done online, students will need a personal laptop or computer and access to the internet to participate in online teaching and learning activities. Students who are able to travel will have access to computers on campus, however, it should be noted that access to on-campus facilities will be restricted due to social distancing requirements.
The University is considering how best to provide support to students who do not have access to suitable hardware and software requirements and access to the internet. Identifying students who require this type of support is an important milestone for the University in our journey to ensure equity of access while we continue to deliver our blended approach. Information about the support that will be available will be provided to students during the induction period.
There will be no changes to any existing University funding arrangements for 2020/21. Currently there are no indications from the UK government that there will be any changes to government funding arrangements.
There will be no changes to published tuition fees or funding arrangements specifically relating to international students for 2020/21.
Placements (including work and clinical placements) and field trips included as part of the course will go ahead as planned. However, to ensure students are able to gain maximum value from these activities, it may be necessary to reschedule them to later in the year when current restrictions have been lifted. We acknowledge that this year it may be more difficult for students to secure appropriate placements. In those situations, students will be guided and supported through the various options that will be available to them, including switching courses or interrupting their studies until a time when they can complete their placement.
Any proposed changes to placements or field trips would go through University's agreed processes where the impact of the change will be carefully considered. Students will be advised of any changes that may become necessary and appropriate support will be available to students to guide them through the various options that may be available to them.
In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our students, the University will ensure that appropriate risk assessments are made before students are sent on a placement.
Courses which require placements or field trips to be completed in order to pass relevant modules will have contingency plans in place in the event that a placement or field trip cannot be completed due to another lockdown or more stringent social distancing measures.
Voluntary placements or field trips may be rescheduled, or, as a last resort, cancelled if it becomes difficult to deliver them and doing so is in the interest of the health and safety of our staff and students.
No changes will be made to the qualification awarded, e.g. MSc, as a result of the pandemic.
Changes can be made to courses, including the qualification awarded (although very rare), as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area. Any changes made to the qualification awarded for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
International students should maintain awareness of the UK government's and their home country's government advice on possible travel restrictions. The University will closely monitor advice and guidance published by the UK government and assess its impact on our international students. Appropriate advice and guidance will be provided as and when required.
The University will ensure students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities are able to effectively engage with their studies remotely. For certain courses an inability to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities may not be in the students best interest, as it may impede their chances of succeeding in the course or lead to them receiving a poor learning experience. In such cases students will be advised and guided through the various options available to them, such as deferring their studies until they can engage fully with the course.