Postgraduate study

English Literature: Literature and Modernity: 1900 to the Present MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

This programme examines a range of literary and theoretical contexts, introducing ways that writing and imagination shape and share in cultural and political processes.

You will explore the ways literature since 1900 has sought to change and modernise itself, in the context of wider developments of modernity characterising the age.

Your studies will take you through a broad and fascinating field, from the originators of literary ‘modernity’ – including TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf – to the present day and the continuing impact of their innovations.

Studying in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, you will analyse the most challenging and exciting literature written in English since 1900, and explore the range of historical, intellectual, cultural, political and philosophical factors informing the period’s writing – particularly in its highly innovative modernist and postmodernist phases.

The impact of COVID-19 on this programme

The challenges of COVID-19 have caused the University – along with every other Higher Education institution across the world – to adapt quickly to best support our students. For the 2020/21 academic year we are planning a hybrid approach – a blend of on campus teaching and digital elements.

In practical terms this means that if you can’t make it to Edinburgh for part of the academic year, we will use technology to keep you close to us (socially and intellectually) despite the physical distance until you are able to join us. If you can be in Edinburgh, then we will be welcoming you on campus for classes and using that same technology for certain aspects of your teaching. There will be some face-to-face teaching, supported by expanded digital resources, as well as academic and pastoral support.

Making these changes and ensuring that we continue to teach the core elements of the degree will let us maintain the highest standards. The core aims and objectives of the degree programme will remain the same and the graduate qualities and attributes will enable you to achieve the same excellent outcomes.

*(Revised 29 May 2020 with COVID-19 update.)

The programme will be taught through a combination of seminars and tutorials. You take one compulsory and one option course in each of two semesters, along with a course in research methods. You will then complete an independently researched dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

  • Literature and Modernity I: Modernist Aesthetics
  • Literature and Modernity II: Late Modernism and Beyond

Option courses may include:

  • Critical Theory: Issues and Debates
  • Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature
  • Poet-Critics
  • Modernism and Empire
  • Contemporary Post-Colonial Writing
  • Theatre, Performance, Performativity
  • Queering Fictions in the Twentieth Century
  • Contemporary American Fiction

On successful completion of this programme you will have gained:

  • practical knowledge of the range of theoretical and philosophical ideas informing modern and postmodern literary criticism
  • knowledge and understanding of the role of literary writing in the formation of contemporary culture
  • a grounding in the research methods of literary studies

Graduates of this programme will acquire a thorough knowledge and understanding of literary history and culture post-1900, and a range of transferable skills in research and enquiry, critical thinking and evaluation, and varieties of written and oral communication. This programme will also provide you with research and analytical skills that can be extended into future advanced study in the subject area.

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

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

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

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.

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

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

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