Postgraduate study

English Literature: Scottish Literature MScR

Awards: MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

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.

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, this programme offers you the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of supervised independent research in your chosen area.

Research topics

We offer supervision in all areas of Scottish literature, and have particular strengths in:

  • medieval Scottish writing
  • comparative approaches to Scottish literature
  • Scotland’s transatlantic connections
  • the relationship between literature and philosophy in Scotland
  • 18th and 19th century writing and culture
  • modern and contemporary Scottish literature

The research of staff has made valuable contributions to the areas of:

  • literature and philosophy
  • modernism/postmodernism
  • medieval and early modern literature
  • history of the book
  • romanticism
  • transatlantic studies
  • performance studies

English Literature at Edinburgh

English Literature houses the Centre for the History of the Book and is one of the UK's leading forces in this area.

It works closely with the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and with the National Library of Scotland.

The latter's recently acquired Murray Archive is crucial for studies in Romanticism, Book History, Bibliography and Archive Studies.

The programme includes a 15,000-word dissertation, completed under the supervision of one or more of the course tutors.

You will undertake a seminar-based programme of research methods training in core research skills and subject specific methodologies.

You will also take two option courses covering areas of Scottish literature related to your chosen fields and will write two extended essays in relation to these courses.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScR1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
MScR2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

The academic staff you will be working with are all active researchers or authors, many of them prize winners and leading scholars in their fields.

As well as benefiting from their expert supervision, you will undertake a seminar-based programme of training in core research skills and subject-specific methodologies.

You will also have the opportunity to develop other transferable skills through the University’s Institute for Academic Development.

We encourage you to share your research and learn from the work of others through a vibrant programme of Work-in-Progress seminars, reading groups, visiting speakers and conferences.

Our postgraduate journal, Forum, is a valuable conduit for research findings, and provides an opportunity for editorial experience.

Our location gives you easy access to the University’s general facilities, such as the Main Library and our collections, as well as to the National Museum, National Library and National Galleries of Scotland at the heart of the city.

In addition to the impressive range of resources available at the University’s Main Library (more than two million printed volumes and generous online resources) and the nearby National Library of Scotland, we host a number of collections of rare and valuable archival materials, all of which will be readily available to you as a postgraduate student.

Among the literary treasures are the libraries of:

  • William Drummond
  • Lewis Grassic Gibbon
  • Hugh MacDiarmid
  • Adam Smith
  • Dugald Stewart
  • Norman MacCaig

There is also the:

  • WH Auden collection
  • Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott
  • Ramage collection of poetry pamphlets

Our cultural collections are highly regarded and include a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays, and world-class manuscript and archival collections.

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

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 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

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 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
MScR1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScR2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

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
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 31 July 2021

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 two references with your application.

The online application process involves the completion of a web form and the submission of supporting documents.

For a Masters by Research programme, you should include:

  • a sample of written work of about 3,000 words (this can be a previous piece of work from an undergraduate degree)
  • a research proposal - an outline of your proposed area of study, helping us gain a clearer picture of what you hope to achieve

See our guidance:

Before you apply, you should look at the interests and expertise of our research community on the programme website. This will help you decide if this programme is right for you and your supervision needs.

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

Further information

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