English Literature

Postgraduate study

Choose from a range of taught and research-led programmes, from one-year masters degrees to PhDs.

What's it like to study here?

As the oldest department of English Literature in the UK, based in one of the largest and most diverse Schools in the University of Edinburgh, we are the ideal place for postgraduate study.

Two people reading books
June Laurenson (l) and Vivek Santayana (r), two of our Student Readers for the 2019 James Tait Black Prizes, Britain’s only major literary awards judged by scholars and students. Image © Neil Hanna.

Our interdisciplinary environment brings together specialists in all periods and genres of literature with experts in theatre, book history, creative writing and playwriting. Working with colleagues elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and across the wider University, we are able to support research which crosses boundaries between disciplines and/or languages.

You’ll be immersed in a world of learning, with lots of opportunities to participate in our postgraduate community beyond your own study. Events range from talks by visiting speakers and work-in-progress seminars, to reading groups, conferences, workshops, performances, online journals and forums, many of which are student-led. Highlights include annual industry event The Business, the publication of our Creative Writing students' work in From Arthur's Seat, the judging of the James Tait Black Prizes, in which students play a key role, and the professional reading of our Playwriting students' work at Traverse Theatre.

Our graduates tell us that they value LLC’s friendliness, the connections they make here and the in-depth guidance they receive from our staff, who are experts in their field. Between LLC, the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development, you’ll find a range of programmes and resources to help you develop your postgraduate skills, as well as having access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.

What can I study?

Taught masters (MSc) programmes

A taught masters (MSc) programme is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your existing skills, develop new ones, and sharpen your focus on the aspects of your subject that interest you most. Usually completed over one year (if studying full-time), these programmes typically comprise a combination of core and optional courses taught by specialists in the field, training in research methods, coursework, and an independent dissertation.

Browse our range of taught postgraduate programmes

Masters by Research (MScR) programmes

Ideal if you have a clear idea of the independent research you wish to undertake, a Masters (MSc) by Research programme is usually completed over one year (if studying full-time). There are various pathways of study depending on whether you also want to attend taught classes and complete coursework as well as receiving training in research methods and writing a dissertation under expert supervision.

Browse our range of Masters by Research programmes

PhD (doctoral) programmes

Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to expand upon your interests and expertise in a community that really values research; and to make an original, positive contribution to learning in literature and related fields. Over the course of your PhD, you’ll be expected to complete an original body of work under the expert guidance of your supervisors leading to a dissertation of between 70,000 and 100,000 words (for a research-based project) or of an equivalent scale for work in creative writing.

Full-time, three years (part-time, six years for UK/EU students on selected programmes).

Browse our range of PhD programmes

Not sure which programme is right for you?

We're happy to help you decide between taught and research-led programmes.

Email us about postgraduate study in English Literature