Skip to main content

Literature, Culture and Modernity


School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - English and Creative Writing

Start Dates(s): September


MA (one year full-time or three years part-time)
PgDip (eight months full-time or two years part-time)


UK - £7,560

International - £13,860

In Brief:

  • Study in a dynamic interdisciplinary research and teaching environment
  • Draw upon the resources and expertise of cultural and literary institutions in the region
  • Share your work with peers and academic staff at our Annual MA Conference
  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

This course is your chance to refine your critical skills through analysis of the literature and language of the modern period. During your time with us, you’ll learn in a lively research environment and benefit from the University’s links with local cultural organisations, including the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Your studies will focus on key aspects of literary modernity and explore the interaction between literature and theory. The interdisciplinary nature of the course encourages and stimulates debate on cultural, political and historical issues, as well as analysing the relationships between literature and other cultural forms.

Course Details

MA Literature, Culture and Modernity helps you to acquire specific skills in a number of areas including critical thinking, research methods, cultural and literary theory, analysing literary and cultural texts in the context of debates on modernity.

You will develop your analytical and conceptual thinking skills and gain the expertise to focus on a specific research topic that interests you. During this course you will carry out advanced research and produce original and innovative studies.

Course Structure

The syllabus consists of four taught modules, followed by a dissertation. You will select three option modules from a range which varies from year to year. Modules focus on nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first century literature and culture, exploring literature in relation to popular and working-class culture, analysing the interaction between literature, cinema and theory, and examining issues of identity, gender and power. You will also follow the core module Literary Research Practice which helps prepare for the dissertation and for further study.

The course has both full-time and part-time routes which you can take over one or up to three years respectively:    

Full-time study option

Semester 1

You will concentrate on the beginnings of modernity in the late eighteenth century. You will also have the opportunity of developing advanced theoretical skills, by benefitting from a hands-on approach to applying theory to literary and cultural texts.

A series of lecture-seminars on philosophical contributions to major questions surrounding contemporary writing:

  • What is postmodernism?
  • What is the relationship between language and writing?
  • How can one write politically?
  • How does one’s awareness of gender affect writing?

You will read the work of theorists such as Lyotard, Derrida, Adorno and Butler and examine how a wide variety of contemporary writers have explored these questions in creative practice.

A series of lecture-seminars designed to explore in detail the relationship between a range of cultural forms and their modern context. Topics are likely to include: ; the city; nationalism;  modernist fiction; postmodern poetry and performance. These will be accompanied by theoretical reading of figures such as Baudelaire, Habermas, Adorno and Benjamin.

Semester 2

This semester takes the concept of modernity into the twentieth and twenty first century. You will also have the opportunity of starting to develop your own research topic in close consultation with an expert supervisor, which you could then develop for your Dissertation.

This module explores the ways in which literature features in academic and cultural worlds and is taught in block release sessions. You will learn how to maximise your potential as a researcher and consider the ways in which literary writing and research on literature can be disseminated in the wider cultural world. You will look at topics such as literary events and festivals, arts organisations, arts marketing, networking, publishing online and in print, fundraising and sponsorship. You will also visit local arts organizations, where there are opportunities for work experience, and you will develop an independent research project.

Study Literature in the Academic and Cultural World as a single module.

This module is dedicated to the work of Manchester native Anthony Burgess and his literary contemporaries, with a special emphasis on literary experiment in the 1960s and 1970s in Britain.  It will consider Burgess’ relation to literary culture, his contribution to advances in literary form, and his relation to other writers in the period.  We will be reading novels, journalism, and other critical writing by Burgess, as well as works by such writers as J.G. Ballard, Christine Brooke-Rose, B.S. Johnson, Michael Moorcock, Caryl Phillips, and Harold Pinter.

The module is supported by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF) which is located in Manchester city centre. Parts of the module will be held at the IABF, and students will have the opportunity to use the Burgess archive located there.

Study Anthony Burgess and his Contemporaries as a single module.

Semester 3

This piece of work, 12,000-14,000 words, gives you the opportunity to develop an independent research project in close consultation with a supervisor from among the academic staff with expertise in your area of interest.

Entry Requirements

Normally a 2:1 Honours degree in English or a related Arts subject will be required.

Applicants with a 2:2 Honour's Degree (or equivalent) may begin as a PgDip student. If you passes all modules, you can progress to writing the dissertation to obtain the MA.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International students must provide evidence of proficiency in English – IELTS with an overall band score of 6.5 (no individual band less than 5.5) or an equivalent recognized Secure English Language Test score

Suitable For

Graduates in the humanities who want either a broad-based Master's qualification or who are looking for a disciplined introduction to further study at a PhD level.

Applicant profile

This course is for you if you are interested in literature, cultural texts, theory or the complex cultures of modernity. You will be studying with other students who are enthusiastic about the field and who want to develop their analytical and conceptual thinking skills.

Fees 2018-19

Type of StudyFee
Full-time International£13,860

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

For more information please see our funding section


Teaching for most modules takes place in weekly, two-hour seminars. Personal supervision is provided throughout the course and in support of the writing of the dissertation.  The module Literary Research Practice is taught in three longer block sessions, with additional one-to-one supervisory sessions with a member of staff.


You will be assessed through:

  • Written and oral assignments (66%)
  • Written dissertation(34%)

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Lucia Nigri Module Tutor: MA/PgDip Literature, Culture and Modernity

Lucia Nigri

I am a researcher in the area of Early Modern English Literature and have written articles on intertextuality in John Webster’s plays (Il Confronto Letterario 2007), maternal misrecognition in early modern tragedies (Nuova Cultura 2010), the notion of identity in Shakespeare and his contemporaries (Universitalia 2011), the question of authorship in Arden of Faversham (Memoria di Shakespeare, Bulzoni 2012), the relation between dominant and marginal languages in translating for the theatre (Routledge 2013), and performativity in the Victorian adaptations of The Tempest (Palgrave 2014) and in Shakespeare’s and Webster’s plays (forthcoming). I have also written on the figure of the malcontent (Notes and Queries 2012) and on the diverse ways in which an increasingly sceptical frame of mind in early modern England coupled with inwardness and the contradictions inherent in the expression of the self (English Literature, forthcoming).

I am currently editing with Dr Naya Tsentourou a volume on Forms of Hypocrisy in Early Modern England (Ashgate, forthcoming) and working on the project “Shakespeare European Laureate 1769, 2016, and Beyond” which involves the Shakespeare Institute and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the German Shakespeare Society and two Italian universities (Ca’ Foscari and Verona). The project is part of a networked European research initiative, ‘Shakespeare: a Muse for Europe?’ (2013-2016), which brings together Stratford, Weimar, Verona and Venice in co-ordinated explorations of Shakespeare’s civic possibilities for the Europe of today.


Many graduates of this course have used it as part of their career development in areas as diverse as teaching, librarianship, media, publishing and the arts. Others use it as a means of access to PhD study or further research. You will develop a wide range of skills on this course (writing, communication, presentation and analytical skills) that are transferable to a variety of careers.

Career Prospects

This course will suit you if you want to either progress in a career you already have experience in, re-skill for a different career path or continue the studies you took as an undergraduate.

Graduates from this course have progressed onto a number of careers within the arts, museums, libraries, education and others have progressed to PhD study. Graduates have gone on to work for companies including Hello Magazine, the University of Salford, local museums, secondary schools and further education, and to obtain competitive scholarships for PhD study.

Alumni Profile

Emma Barnes

"One of the great features of this MA is that as well as being a stepping stone to PhD study, in terms of aiding depth and breadth of knowledge on the subject, it also provides students with opportunities to gain skills that are invaluable across a variety of career paths as well as academia.

The course aids transferable skills by encouraging students to actively bring literature and culture together, whether that be working with different institutions, making funding bids, or organising events. Whilst being a well-structured program that offers a huge amount of support, the course gives students enough scope to be creative, original, and able to tailor their work to their interests and goals. It is a step up from a BA degree, but it is a step that is definitely worth taking."

Links with Industry

The English Subject Directorate has links with the BBC at MediaCityUK. We also have links with local publishers and cultural organisations, including:

  • Working Class Movement Library
  • Imperial War Museum North
  • Manchester Jewish Museum
  • John Rylands Library
  • Chetham's Library
  • International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Guest speakers from publishers and from other universities across the UK and from abroad regularly visit the Centre for English Literature and Language, as well as making contributions to the module Literary Research Practice. As an MA student on our course you would be encouraged to attend as many of these guest lecturers as possible. Colleagues in English frequently organise international conferences and specialist workshops to which MA students are also warmly invited.

Further Study

Research in the English Subject Directorate is coordinated by Dr Scott Thurston, Director of the Research Centre for English Literature and Language. There are over 15 research-active academic staff in English and a number of early career researchers engaged in a range of research projects. We welcome PhD applications from MA students. You can find more information and contact details here:

Not the course you're looking for?

If this course isn't for you then please retry our course finder below.


Visit our A-Z list of courses.

A-Z courses