English Literature

MSc Scottish Literature

From the poetry of Dunbar and Henryson to the fiction of James Kelman and A.L. Kennedy, Scottish literature presents an extraordinarily rich and varied subject of study, whether considered as a tradition in its own right or in terms of its interaction with English, European or world literatures.

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Whether you’re interested in poetry, fiction or drama, the literary dimensions of the Scottish Enlightenment, the relationship between modernism and nationalism, Walter Scott or Irvine Welsh, Muriel Spark or Robert Louis Stevenson, the MSc by Research in Scottish Literature offers students the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of supervised independent research in their chosen field.

We can supervise research in any area of Scottish Literature, and have particular strengths in medieval Scottish writing, in comparative approaches to Scottish literature, in Scotland’s transatlantic connections, in the relationship between literature and philosophy in Scotland, in 18th and 19th century writing and culture, and in modern and contemporary Scottish literature.

The University of Edinburgh Special Collections and the National Library of Scotland both hold extensive collections of manuscript and archival material relating to Scottish writers.

Option courses

Please note that your choice of options depends on availability and will be decided in consultation with your supervisor.

Learning outcomes

Students should:

  • develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the Scottish Literature of that period in which they choose to specialise, but also be able to locate that area of specialisation in relation to the history of Scottish Literature more widely. In addition, they should develop a sense of relevant comparative literary contexts for the study of their chosen field.
  • deepen their knowledge and understanding of selected themes and topics in a way that enables them to select and execute an independent piece of research.
  • develop a familiarity with the variety of materials that can be used to explore their chosen area of Scottish literature along with a critical understanding of some of the ways in which Scottish literature and its study have been conceptualised and understood by scholars, past and present.
  • Gain a grasp of the methodological issues and problems of literary and cultural analysis, equipping them with experience of creating original academic work to underpin (where appropriate) further interdisciplinary research at PhD level.


To discuss possible topics and areas for the MSc by Research in Scottish Literature, please contact Dr Robert P Irvine:

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