Postgraduate study

Comparative Literature MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Comparative Literature

At Edinburgh I learned to properly discuss literature. Before that, even during my first degree, my relationship to books was quite a solitary one, just reading alone and writing essays. Whereas in Edinburgh it was all about small group discussions. This taught me a lot about arguing but also questioning, looking critically both at fiction as well as literary theory and criticism. All this made me into a much more careful and independent reader.

Cristina Sandu, prize-winning writer and translator MSc in Comparative and General Literature, 2015

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.

Why Edinburgh

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 typically 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.

Core courses

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.

Optional courses

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

Dissertation

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.

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
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2021/22
MSc2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2021/22

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 in 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.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

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

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

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 Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • 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
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 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
  • 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
12 September 2022 30 June 2022

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2022/23:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 08 November 2021 16 December 2021
2 14 January 2022 15 March 2022
3 08 March 2022 28 April 2022
4 23 May 2022 26 July 2022
5 30 June 2022 10 August 2022

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

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