English Literature

How to pick the right programme for you

Confused by the different programmes on offer? This guide is designed to help you pick the type of programme which suits you best.

Taught Masters

Sign in front of the George Square maze

A taught Masters programme offers you the chance to explore an area of study through programme-specific core courses and relevant options, and to acquire study and research skills which will be useful to you in both further research and many professions. You will also have the opportunity to work in depth and detail towards a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choice under the guidance of an experienced supervisor.

It is ideal for you if:

  • you would like to take advantage of our innovative and distinctive programmes, put together by experts to give you unique understanding of a particular field of study.
  • you wish to pursue postgraduate level study in English but don’t have considerable experience of literary studies.
  • you are returning to the study of literature after a long break, and wish to refresh your memory of scholarly research, practise your academic writing, and catch up with the latest developments in the field.
  • you have a general interest in an area of the discipline but do not yet have a particular research project in mind – over two semesters of taught courses you will be encouraged and advised in developing the dissertation project which suits you best.

Research Masters

A research Masters gives you the opportunity to explore areas of study in which we do not yet offer a full taught masters programme, to pursue in-depth research on a selection of topics within a specialised area of the discipline, or to conduct an individual research project of your own design.

It is ideal for you if:

  • you have already completed a taught Masters but do not feel ready for a PhD.
  • you already have a strong idea of a research project you wish to carry out.
  • you are confident of your ability to work independently, under the guidance of a supervisor.


A PhD is a research project taking three years (full-time), or up to six years (part-time), conducted under the supervision of an experienced academic. We would normally expect applicants for a PhD to have completed, or to be in the process of completing a Masters degree.

It is ideal for you if:

  • You already have experience of research at postgraduate level (either a research Masters, or the dissertation for a taught Masters).
  • You have a strong idea for an individual research project of the appropriate scale.