Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

English Literature MScR

Awards: MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: English Literature

A Masters by Research (MScR) programme is ideal if you have a clear idea of the independent research you wish to undertake at masters level. The programme is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

As a Masters by Research student, you will be part of a wider masters community while specialising in what most interests you right from the beginning of the programme. This is how it is different to a taught Masters (MSc).

Our highly flexible programme enables you to complete an MScR degree through a combination of coursework and a final dissertation of 15,000 words.

Your coursework will take the form of two essays of 6,000 words on topics related to your research focus. You will also complete assignments in research skills and methods.

Research excellence

Based on our performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF), over 90 per cent of our research and impact is classed as world-leading and internationally excellent by Research Professional. 69 per cent is graded at the world-leading level – the highest of REF’s four categories.

In Times Higher Education's REF analysis, English at Edinburgh is ranked fifth in the UK (out of more than 90 institutions) for:

  • the overall quality of our publications and other outputs
  • the impact of our research on people’s lives
  • our supportive research environment

Our interdisciplinary environment brings together specialists in all periods and genres of literature and literary analysis.

Given the breadth and depth of our expertise, we are able to support students wishing to develop research projects in any field of Anglophone literary studies. These include American studies, literary and critical theory, the history of the book, gender and sexuality studies, and global Anglophone literatures - where our specialisms include Pacific, African, South Asian, and African-American writing.

We have particular strengths in each of the main periods of English and Scottish Literature:

  • Medieval
  • Renaissance/early modern
  • Enlightenment
  • Romantic
  • Victorian
  • Modernist
  • Post-war
  • 21st century
  • Contemporary

Emergent research themes in the department include the digital humanities, the economic humanities, the environmental humanities and literature and medicine.

Go beyond the books

Beyond the Books is a podcast from the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at research and the people who make it happen.

Listen to a mix of PhD, early career and established researchers talk about their journey to and through academia and about their current and recent research.

This programme is delivered and assessed through:

  • two 20-credit courses on research skills, methods and problems, including one specifically for English Literature
  • two 40-credit supervised research assignments, each of 6,000 words
  • one 60-credit supervised 15,000 word dissertation

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
MScREnglish Literature1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24
MScREnglish Literature2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

Between the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the Careers Service, and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), you’ll find a range of programmes and resources to help you develop your postgraduate skills.

You will also have access to the University’s fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.

Part of a community

As part of our research community, you will be immersed in a world of knowledge exchange, with lots of opportunities to share ideas, learning and creative work.

Activities range from talks by visiting speakers and work-in-progress seminars, to reading groups, conferences, workshops, performances, online journals and forums, many of which are student led.

Our graduates tell us that they value LLC’s friendliness, the connections they make here and the in-depth guidance they receive from our staff, who are published experts in their field.

A UNESCO World City of Literature, Edinburgh is a remarkable place to study, write, publish, discuss and perform prose, poetry and drama.

Take a Masters by Research with us and you will be based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) in the historic centre of this world-leading festival city.

On campus

You will have access to the University’s many literary treasures. These include the libraries of:

  • William Drummond
  • Lewis Grassic Gibbon
  • Hugh MacDiarmid
  • Norman MacCaig

The Centre for Research Collections holds the W.H. Auden collection; the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott; and the Ramage collection of poetry pamphlets.

It also holds a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays put together by the 19th century Shakespearean James Halliwell-Phillipps, the correspondence of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle (the focus of one of the major editorial projects in Victorian studies of the last half-century), and the extensive Laing collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts, as well as letters and papers by - and relating to - authors including:

  • Christopher Isherwood
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • John Middleton Murry
  • Walter de la Mare
  • Edwin Muir
  • George Mackay Brown
  • Compton Mackenzie

In the city

Our buildings are close to the National Library of Scotland (where collections include the Bute Collection of early modern English drama and the John Murray Archive), Edinburgh Central Library, Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Writers’ Museum and a fantastic range of publishing houses, bookshops, and theatres.

We have strong links with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which annually welcomes around 1,000 authors to our literary city.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

MScR: 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

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

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.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

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
MScREnglish Literature1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScREnglish Literature2 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:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 30 June 2024

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