Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

MA English Language and Literature

UCAS code: Q300

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA English Language and Literature

Many of the world's most fascinating and influential literary works have been written in English. This programme offers you the opportunity to study the development of the English language alongside the literature of the English-speaking world in its cultural contexts.

You can also choose to study Scots language, which has its own rich linguistic and literary tradition.

The programme aims to develop your critical, analytic, linguistic, literary and creative skills by engaging with a broad range of texts and a variety of approaches to reading.

You will also deepen your understanding of:

  • the principles of theoretical linguistics

  • the way we learn language

  • the regional and social variations of language in general (and of the English language in particular)

  • methods of communication

In the second part of the programme, you will study research-led courses selected on the basis of your own interests. In English Literature, for example, this might be a topic or set of texts from a particular period between the late middle-ages and the present.

Edinburgh is the first UNESCO World City of Literature, a fantastic literary city which many greats of English literature have called home.

Year 1

English Language

In English Language, you will take two semester-long introductory courses:

  • Linguistics and English Language 1A offers a brief introduction to the study of language in general and of English in particular.

  • Linguistics and English Language 1B will help you develop the tools and knowledge needed to investigate the different subsystems of language in a systematic way.

English Literature

In 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

In addition, you will choose from a range of option courses outside your primary subjects.

Year 2

English Language

You will take two further semester-long courses in Linguistics and English Language. They look at:

  • linguistic theory

  • the structure and history of English

English Literature

In your second year English Literature courses, 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 choose from a range of option courses outside your primary subjects.

Year 3

English Language

You can start to specialise and choose the topics that interest you most. Advanced courses in English language available at this level typically include:

  • English Historical Syntax
  • Global Englishes
  • Stylistics
  • Scots and Scottish English

You'll also be able to choose from a wide range of courses in other areas of linguistics.

English Literature

Courses offered in literature at this level span a number of different periods, topics and approaches.

Year 4

You will continue to choose advanced courses according to your interests.

You will also write an honours dissertation, which is regarded by many students as the most formative experience of their undergraduate studies.

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.

This area has excellent computing and audiovisual resources, support services and social spaces, including many in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences and neighbouring School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Our linguistics and phonetics equipment - for use experimentally and in fieldwork - is among the best in the world.

Events and activities

There’s lots going on in our subject areas, including:

  • multiple student societies for language, literature and drama enthusiasts

  • reading and writers’ groups

  • poetry slams

  • creative writing magazines

  • guest seminars

English Literature's Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme - LitPALS - is one of the University's largest.

Study abroad

Opportunities to study abroad are available in this subject area.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures

  • tutorials

  • some small group project work

You will also do some independent practical work in Year 2 and more independent study in Years 3 and 4.

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

How will I be assessed?

In Years 1 and 2, assessment methods will vary depending on the courses chosen. In English Language, for example, you will undergo continuous assessment through tests and assignments.

In Years 3 and 4 you will be assessed through:

  • coursework

  • exams

  • projects

  • your dissertation

Popular career paths for English language and literature graduates include:

  • journalism

  • publishing

  • PR

  • advertising

  • speech and language therapy (with additional training)

You can also train to teach English in the UK or abroad.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA-AABB by end of S5 or AAAA-AAAB by end of S6. 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 at B.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B.
  • IB: HL: English at 5.

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 English Language and Literature

Additional costs



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