Postgraduate study

English Literature: Literature and Society: Enlightenment, Romantic and Victorian MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

This masters programme offers an encounter with a range of topics in literary study centred on the literary history of England, Scotland and Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The core seminar courses (one in each of two semesters) survey the development of literary genres in prose and verse in relation to their intellectual, social and political contexts as these changed from the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 to the end of the Victorian period. These are the centuries which see:

  • in the Enlightenment, the invention and elaboration of modern ‘liberal’ ideas of society
  • Romantic conceptions of nationality and national history
  • the challenge to these ideas presented by industrial society and a global Imperial polity

The core courses of this programme will examine the ways in which novels and poems mediated and resisted these and other developments.

Alongside the core courses, in each semester students will take an additional seminar course chosen from a range of options.

In both semesters, a research methods course helps prepare students for their masters dissertation, written on a topic of their own choosing between April and August.

The programme will be taught in seminars over two semesters, after which you will write an independently researched dissertation.

You will complete:

  • two compulsory (core) courses, each worth 20 credits
  • two option courses, each worth 20 credits
  • 40 credits of mandatory training in research methods.

The core courses will cover the periods 1688 to 1815 and 1815 to 1900 respectively. You can find out more about these courses, and browse indicative reading lists for them, on our Course Catalogue. Please note that the catalogue is for the current academic year, and may be subject to change.

Option courses

You will take two option courses. The choices we will offer you may include:

  • Critical Theory: Issues and Debates
  • The Reign of Terror: Fear and Loathing in Romantic Literature
  • Fairy Tales
  • Digital Humanities for Literary Studies
  • Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature
  • The Long Summer: Edwardian Texts and Contexts 1900–1910
  • The Novel in the Romantic Period: Gender, Gothic, and the Nation
  • Illness Narratives through History
  • The Literary Absolute

Your MSc dissertation will be worth 60 credits.

Students who successfully follow this programme will gain:

  • knowledge and understanding of the role of literary writing in the formation of British, Scottish, Irish and English national identities in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • practical knowledge of the range of theoretical and philosophical ideas informing contemporary literary criticism
  • a grounding in the research methods of literary studies

This programme will help you to identify possible topics for advanced research in English literature, potentially leading to an academic career.

The transferable skills you gain, such as communication, project management and analysis, will give you an edge in a competitive employment market.

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

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

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.
  • 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:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

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:

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 2023/24:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 08 November 2022 15 December 2022
2 13 January 2023 16 March 2023
3 08 March 2023 27 April 2023
4 22 May 2023 25 July 2023
5 30 June 2023 10 August 2023

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