Postgraduate study

English Literature: US Literature - Cultural Values from Revolution to Empire MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Marilynne Robinson, our taught Masters programme gives you the opportunity to explore a wide and stimulating range of works spanning America’s history, from its revolutionary beginnings to its current position as a superpower in contemporary global politics.

Taking in the rich diversity of American writing, from the canonical to the sometimes neglected, the programme will encourage you to engage with competing and conflicting narratives of American nationhood and modernity, covering issues of racial identity and struggle, reconstruction and regional identity, and the implications of an American “empire”.

Examining examples of literary, cultural and political crisis and transformation, it will deepen your understanding of literature’s role in the development, interrogation and revision of notions of national identity and culture.

Our MSc in US Literature draws upon the outstanding research and teaching strengths of members of the Department of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, whose specialisms range from the role of the public intellectual in the development of American culture, to the (post)modernist and regional novel, American Republicanism, Black American writing, and US women's writing.

Studying the programme in Edinburgh, you will be part of a community of students from a range of international backgrounds and cultural perspectives, each with their own particular interest in US literature, and a School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures with one of the longest established centres of literary education in Britain and, indeed, the world.

Combining core courses with optional courses, research training, and a dissertation will give you a broad understanding of the subject, while allowing you to focus on and develop your own area of interest and expertise.

The University of Edinburgh Library has strong holdings in all aspects of American literature and culture, and the nearby National Library of Scotland holds the Hugh Sharp Collection (over 300 volumes) of first editions of English and North American authors, and the Henderson Memorial Library of Books on America (over 700 volumes).

The MSc is taught over one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

Over the course of the programme, you’ll take two core courses (each worth 20 credits) and two optional courses (each worth 20 credits, and chosen from a wide range of subjects).

For each of these four taught core and optional courses, you’ll write a 4,000-word essay.

You will also take two compulsory courses in research methods (each worth 20 credits), which will help you prepare to research and write your dissertation.

The final element of the programme is your dissertation, a piece of independent research - no more than 15,000 words long (worth 60 credits) - written with the advice and support of a designated supervisor.

Students who successfully complete this programme will gain:

  • a detailed knowledge of a range of literary writing that responds to and informs concepts of American identity
  • an understanding of the role of political and ideological structures in the production of national historiographies
  • a grounding in the research methods of literary studies

Completing the MSc in US Literature will help you develop and refine your research and analytical skills in ways that will prepare you either for further postgraduate study or for employment beyond the university.

Being able to read and evaluate often complex material, to articulate your ideas in extended written form, and to manage your time effectively, are all tools that are essential employment attributes.

Recent graduates from this programme are working in journalism, publishing (for companies such as Random House), and electronic publishing.

The transferable skills you will acquire on this programme will prove highly valuable to potential employers in whatever field you choose to enter.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in English literature or 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

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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScEnglish Literature: United States Literature - Cultural Values from Revolution to Empire1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScEnglish Literature: United States Literature - Cultural Values from Revolution to Empire2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

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
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 31 July 2020

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.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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