2022 entry

MA Portuguese and English Literature

UCAS code: RQM3

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Portuguese and English Literature

For centuries, both English and Portuguese-speaking cultures have had a profound international influence on literature.

This programme aims to develop your critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills by engaging with a broad range of texts in both English and Portuguese, and a variety of approaches to reading.

Through intensive language training, including a year in a Portuguese-speaking country, you have the opportunity to:

  • learn to read, write and speak Portuguese to a high standard

  • gain the broad cultural education prized by graduate employers

Portuguese is the ninth most widely spoken language in the world. From Brazil to Mozambique, the many countries where it's spoken have fascinatingly rich and varied cultures.

On this joint programme, you’ll learn the Portuguese language in the context of an extraordinary range of literature, film, music and arts from Europe, Latin America and Lusophone Africa, past and present.

Likewise, our English Literature curriculum explores the cultural contexts of writing in English from the late Middle Ages to the present.

By enhancing your unique literary and critical faculties, the programme prepares you to contribute to a society in which an understanding of texts of all kinds is crucially important.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this programme is its flexibility.

This means that in Years 1 and 2, you'll choose option courses drawn from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Portuguese and English Literature.

As well as broadening your education, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Year 1


You will study Portuguese 1, which caters for both beginners and more advanced students.

As well as language learning, this course will introduce you to Portuguese-speaking literature through a selection of short stories from Mozambique, Angola, Brazil and Portugal.

English Literature

You will take two ‘Literary Studies’ courses which will introduce you to the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of the core literary genres of:

  • poetry

  • drama

  • prose

You will read works of literature written in English from around the world, and encounter a range of ideas about the nature and purpose of literary study.

Option courses

You'll complete your studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

These include - but are not limited to - courses in:

  • business

  • politics

  • social policy

  • informatics

  • economics

  • history (including art and architectural history)

  • classics

  • archaeology

  • philosophy

  • philosophy

  • divinity

You can also opt to study another language, with classes suitable for complete beginners.

Year 2


You will continue to develop your spoken and written language with Portuguese Language 2.

You will also study the cultures and the societies of the Portuguese-speaking world through literature, film and the arts.

English Literature

You will be introduced to the study of English literature in its cultural and historical contexts, focusing on a selection of major periods.

These courses will explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will also choose from a wide range of option courses offered by the University.

These include a great selection in European languages and cultures, allowing you to study literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts, or to study Basque or Catalan.

Year 3

Year abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in Portugal, Brazil or Lusophone Africa, turning classroom learning into living engagement with Lusophone culture and either studying or completing a work/teaching placement.

During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning, cultural awareness and skills development.

You will complete prescribed work in both English Literature and Portuguese, for example taking an e-learning language course which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your final year language courses.

Alternative arrangements

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with your subjects, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and preparing you for your final year.

Year 4

You will study advanced language courses and choose from a range of specialist courses in both Portuguese and English Literature.

This will enable you to explore different periods, topics and approaches to your subjects, according to your area of interest.

You will also complete your dissertation or long essay.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2021/22)

Our facilities

Teaching takes place in and around the University of Edinburgh's central area.

The University has excellent computing and audiovisual resources, support services and social spaces, including many in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

We are the oldest department of English Literature in the UK, one of the longest established in the world.

The Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies brings together staff and students from a number of different subject areas. Our Portuguese Language Centre is supported by Instituto Camões.

We are home to multiple student societies for literature, language and drama enthusiasts, as well as a thriving Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme (LitPALS) and a fantastic Writer-in-Residence.

Our online magazine, Babble, is the place to publish your creative writing in Portuguese.

Portuguese and literature in Edinburgh city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city, the first UNESCO World City of Literature and home of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The city's outstanding libraries, collections and literary venues include the:

  • National Library of Scotland

  • Scottish Poetry Library

  • Writers’ Museum

  • Scottish Storytelling Centre

Portugal has an honorary consulate here, and there's a large community of Portuguese speakers.

Edinburgh's world cinema scene is particularly strong, with Portuguese-language films regularly included in festivals such as Africa in Motion and IberoDocs.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you'll spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) in a Portuguese-speaking country.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Lusophone culture, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures

  • seminars

  • tutorials

  • computer-assisted learning

You will be expected to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for classes in English Literature.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a combination of coursework, including:

  • close reading exercises

  • assignments

  • presentations

  • podcasts

  • posters

  • exams, including oral exams

The ninth most widely spoken language in the world, Portuguese is estimated to have around 220 million native speakers (234 million total speakers).

It is an official language in ten countries, including:

  • Brazil

  • Mozambique

  • Angola

  • Portugal

  • Guinea-Bissau

  • East Timor

  • Equatorial Guinea

  • Macau

  • Cape Verde

  • São Tomé and Príncipe

Together with English, it is your gateway to a great many countries, literatures and cultures.

Some of our graduates choose career paths both at home and abroad in:* translation

  • interpreting

  • teaching

  • business

Others go on to work within:

  • the public or third sector, including for international charities or institutions of the European Union (both English and Portuguese are official working languages of the EU)

  • the creative industries, tourism and travel

Employers increasingly value:

  • the excellent communication skills that come with language learning

  • the intercultural and critical awareness provided by international experiences

  • the critical, analytical and imaginative thinking associated with the humanities

Careers where these skills are particularly useful include:

  • marketing

*publishing and creative writing

  • law

  • politics and policy work

There are also opportunities to continue studying at postgraduate level, both in the UK and internationally.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA-AAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: English and a language other than English at B.
  • A Levels: a language other than English at B, and either English Literature or combined English at B.
  • IB: HL: English at 5 and a language other than English at 5.

Additional requirements

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree 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.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Portuguese and English Literature

Additional costs

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. Your costs will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Universities may charge you a fee for courses, but we will reimburse you for this provided the course has been approved.

You will be informed about the cost implications as you plan your year abroad, during Year 2.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding