Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
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MA Russian Studies and English Literature

UCAS code: RQ73

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Russian Studies and English Literature

For centuries, alongside English-speaking cultures, the Russophone world has had a profound international influence on literature.

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

Through intensive language study, you will have the opportunity to develop advanced speaking, writing, reading, listening and translating skills in Russian. Our Year 1 courses are streamed according to how much Russian you already know, so it does not matter if you are a complete beginner.

Russian

Around 150 million people in the world speak Russian. It is the official language of four countries, is commonly understood throughout Eastern Europe, and in the last thirty years has seen transnational mobility on an unprecedented scale. For example, there are large communities of Russian-speakers in China, Central Asia, the United States, and Western Europe.

In addition to language learning on this four-year programme, you will explore Russian literature and culture in international political and historical contexts. You can opt to focus on 19th or 20th century Russian literature, take a comparative approach, or balance your literary studies with courses on other aspects of culture and language in its societal context.

English Literature

Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, you will study in the oldest department of English Literature in the UK, one of the longest established in the world.

You will gain the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of poetry, drama and prose and explore the cultural contexts of writing in English from the late Middle Ages to the present.

At honours level, you will select courses on the basis of your own interests in specific topics, periods or literary genres.

Combining literature with a language shows an openness to ideas and perspectives other than your own, an essential attribute in many careers and a global marketplace.

Year 1

Russian

If you have no previous knowledge of Russian you will take Russian Studies 1A, an intensive beginners Russian course.

If you have studied the language before, you will take the Russian Studies 1B course which provides advanced Russian language study.

Both of these courses include a unit on Russian culture. You will be introduced to the main historical events that have shaped Russia, and to the cultural and literary works of Russian speakers.

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 will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, opt to study another language. We offer one of the widest ranges of languages of any UK university. The majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

Russian

You will continue to study Russian language, and will choose one of the following three courses:

  • Transnational Russian Culture
  • 19th century Russian literature
  • 20th century Russian literature

English Literature

You will be introduced to the study of English literature in its cultural and historical contexts via a survey of literature from the late Medieval period to the mid-Twentieth Century.

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 option courses from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

These option courses include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical options include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in a country where Russian is spoken. This gives you the opportunity to improve your language skills and undertake independent study.

Although we are not currently sending our Year 3 students to Russia and Ukraine, we are still able to fully support them to spend the year studying abroad. This year, for example, we have students at Liden & Denz Intercultural Institute of Languages in Riga, Latvia.

Studying abroad will enable you to use your Russian daily and engage with Russophone, Eastern European and other cultures. This will be a great opportunity to develop skills that you will use in Year 4 and after university.

You will also complete work in both English Literature and Russian Studies to ensure continuity for your final year. For example, you will take an e-learning language course which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your final year Russian courses.

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

Year 4

You will develop advanced language skills in spoken and written Russian and choose from a range of specialist courses in both Russian Studies and English Literature.

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

You will also complete your dissertation.

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 (2023/24)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. Its holdings include around 14,400 titles in the Russian language.

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

The Centre's treasures in modern literature include the W.H. Auden collection and the libraries of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig. To go further back in time, it holds a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays, and the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott.

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

We are home to the SWINC project and network, which promotes awareness of the richness and diversity of Scottish writing and culture in the 19th century.

We are the Scottish base of The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Duke-Edinburgh edition, one of the major editorial projects in Victorian studies of the last half-century.

We are collaborators in the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network and have developing strengths in the Digital Humanities. For example, we have led both phases of LitLong, a digital transformation project to interactively map the ways in which Edinburgh has been used as a literary setting over the course of five centuries.

Events and activities

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

The Russian Society, for example, is one of around 300 societies and clubs supported by Edinburgh University Students' Association. The Association also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

Across the University, there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in:

  • reading and writers' groups
  • poetry slams
  • creative writing and publishing
  • student theatre

We publish creative writing in nine European languages – including Russian – in our online magazine, Babble. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

We also have a fantastic Writer in Residence who organises talks and workshops by visiting writers and runs our annual writing prizes. Their drop-in sessions give you the chance to:

  • share your work
  • get feedback
  • meet other student writers
  • get inspiration and prompts for new work

With the support of our students, one of our Teaching Fellows in Russian Studies has been leading activities to help refugee children from Ukraine with education and music tuition, and adults with language skills.

In the city

A UNESCO World City of Literature, Edinburgh is a remarkable place to study, write, publish, discuss and perform prose, poetry and drama. Its world cinema scene is also particularly strong.

The city's resources for studying languages and cultures are exceptional. Many of them are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes.

In addition to a fantastic range of publishing houses, bookshops, theatres, and cinemas, you will study near the:

  • National Library of Scotland - which has significant Russian holdings
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Edinburgh Central Library
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • Writers’ Museum

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

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks) in a country where Russian is spoken.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Russophone, Eastern European and other cultures, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

As well as these classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

We make extensive use of our audio and visual resources, and you will also be encouraged to use online materials.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Support

As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates peer support schemes for both Russian Studies and English Literature, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework, exams and final assessments.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams and assessments take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do in Year 3, the year may include being assessed, in part, by a host university or language centre.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation.

Skills and experience

Combining a language with literature to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

On this joint honours programme, you will develop linguistic, literary and critical skills. You will also gain a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies.

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Programmes combining language and literature are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • research, development and venture acceleration
  • translating and interpreting

Home and away

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates both at home and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in another language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that around 150 million people in the world speak Russian, which is widely used in global cultural and political contexts.

It is the official language of four countries and is commonly understood throughout Eastern Europe. There are also large communities of Russian-speakers in China, Central Asia, the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Norway and the UK.

Further study

The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level.

At the University of Edinburgh, we typically offer:

  • Masters by Research degrees in Russian and in English Literature
  • Taught MScs in Playwriting, Creative Writing and different literary periods
  • Interdisciplinary MSc programmes in Comparative Literature and Intermediality

Each of these programmes is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Beyond literature, cultural study and associated fields, your degree will prepare you for further study in almost any humanities and social science discipline.

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB.
  • IB: 36 points with 665 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. National 5s: a language other than English at B.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B. GCSEs: a language other than English at B or 6.
  • IB: HL: English at 5. SL: 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

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.

SQA, GCSE and IB

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
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at 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: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

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

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

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 Russian Studies and English Literature

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

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