Postgraduate study

Comparative Literature MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Comparative Literature

As the first UNESCO World City of Literature, and a major cultural hub, Edinburgh is the ideal place for the comparative study of literature and the relationship of literature to other art forms.

Our one-year taught Masters programme (formerly known as the MSc in Comparative and General Literature) draws on world-class teaching and research expertise across literatures, languages and cultures, from Scotland to Asia, Scandinavia to the Middle East. It can also be completed part-time over two years.

Bringing together an international community of learners, we live comparative literature in the classroom, where you’ll sharpen your critical, analytical and methodological skills, and explore a range of literary works from different linguistic and cultural systems.

You’ll also be encouraged to develop your own area of interest and expertise, with specially-designed option courses offering a detailed focus on literary themes, genres, and historical periods, critical theory and translation, and the relationship of the written word to other arts, such as music, painting and film. This leads to a final dissertation, pursuing your research interests further and developing your research skills.

Based in a world-leading festival city, our MSc draws on the expertise of research-active teaching staff from across the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC). Literature has been taught here for over 250 years and we offer one of the widest variety of languages of any UK university.

You’ll be part of a friendly, international community of staff and students from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, each with their own perspective on literature and the arts, with lots of opportunities to discuss and present your work. LLC has excellent links with other Schools in the University of Edinburgh, as well as cultural partners in the city.

Combining core courses with optional courses, training in research skills, methods and problems, and a dissertation, will help you understand the practice and context of Comparative Literature, as well as developing your independent research skills to publication standard. Many of our graduates have gone on to complete PhDs.

You’ll have access to a wide range of resources, including The University of Edinburgh Library, the National Library of Scotland, Scottish Poetry Library, and numerous theatres and cinemas, including the Traverse Theatre, National Galleries of Scotland, and Filmhouse.

You can take the MSc in Comparative Literature over one year, full-time, or two years, part-time.

Over the duration of the programme, you’ll take four core courses, and two optional courses. Each course is worth 20 credits.

The core courses are in Theories and Methods of Literary Study, and Research Skills, Methods and Problems, moving from general research skills to specific research problems, theories and methods in literature and cultural studies, preparing you for your dissertation.

We make recommendations for optional courses based on their comparative element, but there are a broad range of subjects to choose from every year.

The final element of the programme is your dissertation, a piece of independent research - 15,000 words (worth 60 credits) - written with the advice and support of a designated supervisor.

On completion of the programme you will have gained:

  • a thorough understanding of Comparative Literature, as a subject and as a practice
  • knowledge of a number of literary theories and different approaches to literary study, and the ability to use them for literary analysis
  • the ability to focus on detail on literary themes, genres and historical periods from a comparative perspective
  • transferable skills such as critical thinking, analytical and interpretative ability, communication and writing skills

This interdisciplinary programme will give you the skills and experience to develop your independent research interests in a broad range of fields.

You may decide to concentrate on an academic career, or apply your learning in industry, from publishing to cultural heritage.

The discipline and confidence you’ll develop from a range of activities - from evaluating, comparing and analysing texts, to writing and speaking about your work - are invaluable in a range of professional roles.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH