English Studies MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

English MA combines the study of literatures, linguistics, critical theory and creative writing. The course is incredibly flexible and you can pursue your personal goals for intellectual enquiry and literary exploration, with inspiration and encouragement from our widely-published lecturers.

There is a very clear link between teaching and research on the degree with all the modules above drawing on publications by the module leaders (all of whom were recognised as ‘Internationally Excellent’ or ‘Internationally Recognised’ in the recent REF).

You will first undertake an innovative introductory module called ‘Approaching Literature’ which allows you to study applied literary, critical and linguistic theory as a basis to your whole degree. There is then a wide choice of modules based on the research specialisms of the staff including: 'Gothic', 'Late Victorian Gothic', 'Writing the Borders', ‘Language and Ideology in Children’s Fictions’, 'Early Humans in Fiction', ‘Irish Literature 1790 to 1831’, ‘Critical Theory and Creative Writing’ and 'Language and Ideology in Children’s Fictions’.

You will negotiate the topic of your Masters dissertation to reflect your personal interests. We like to push boundaries and develop modules that combine our research expertise with an awareness of your future career prospects.

The market for places on postgraduate teaching qualifications is becoming increasingly competitive. Many of our students enrol on the MA to improve their subject specialism, thereby giving them a greater chance of success at securing a place on one of these courses. With this in mind, we are attentive to developments in the GSCE and A Level curriculums, in order that our students have relevant, research led subject knowledge to bring to bear on applications.

Through the channels of Spectral Visions Press students are invited to submit their work for publication. If selected original work will be published in one of our professionally assembled annual anthologies the last two of which are currently available on Amazon.  Furthermore, many of our students have written articles, reviews and interviews for organisations such as the International Gothic Association; An International Community of Gothic Scholars; and other scholarly networks such as the Open Graves; Open Minds project, Sibeal, and Feminist Studies. These networking opportunities give our students valuable access to the wider academic community, and aid in employment and progression opportunities.

Your training in research skills, together with Masters-level critical thinking, will be transferable to many different types of employment.

We also offer a part-time English MA of this course, which may suit you if you want to combine studying for a Masters degree with other commitments.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Core module

  • Approaching Literature (30 Credits)

Choose three optional modules from a list that may include the following modules

  • Gothic (30 Credits)
  • The 1790s (30 Credits)
  • Late Victorian Gothic (30 Credits)
  • ‘What Ish My Nation?’: Postcolonial Irish Literatures (30 Credits)
  • Language and Ideology in Children’s Fictions (30 Credits)
  • Reading ‘Ulysses’ (30 Credits)
  • The Global City: Modern to Postmodern (30 Credits)
  • Orientalism: Representations of the East in Western Travel Literature and Arab and Iranian Novels (30 Credits)
  • ‘Strange Country’: Irish Literature 1790 to 1831 (30 Credits)
  • Critical Theory and Creative Writing (30 Credits)
  • Early Humans in Fiction (30 Credits)
  • Reading the Anglo-Scots Borders (30 Credits)
  • Reading and Writing the Fantastic, the Marvellous and the Gothic (30 Credits)
  • Irish Literature and the Supernatural (30 Credits)

Plus the compulsory dissertation

  • Dissertation on a topic that you negotiate with your supervisor (60 Credits)

Lecturers teaching an English programme talk about the benefits of studying at the University of Sunderland:

(Video produced by postgraduatesearch.com)

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include seminars and discussion groups. We often have visiting speakers and a range of research seminars to enhance your learning opportunities. This includes our widely acclaimed Spectral Visions event, held annually at the University.

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters course requires a higher level of independent working.

Assessment methods include mainly essays. Some options require oral presentations.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

Course location

The course is based at the Priestman Building on City Campus, just a few minutes from the main Murray Library and close to Sunderland city centre. It’s a very vibrant and supportive environment with excellent resources for teaching and learning.

University Library Services

We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on topics related to English and literature, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for your course include:

  • Early English Books Online, which provides digital images of virtually every work printed in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and British North America during 1473-1800
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online, which provides 136,000 full-text publications from 1701-1800
  • Periodicals Archive Online, which provides digitised literary journals
  • Project Muse, which provides over 180 full-text humanities and social sciences journals

IT provision

When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in the David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s Library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.


Priestman Building

City Campus, Albion Place,
Sunderland, SR1 3PZ

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold at least a second class honours degree (usually a 2:1) or equivalent.

Applicants whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum IELTS band score of 6.5, with no less than 5.5 in any element.

After 6 April 2015 you must take your IELTS exams at one of the test centres listed on the UKVI website. If you took your IELTS exam before 6 April 2015 this does not apply, and your qualification is still valid regardless of which test centre you used.

The University of Sunderland runs English for Academic Purposes University Preparation (EAP) courses, which are tailored to students who don’t speak English as their first language and need to reach an IELTS 6.5. as part of the entry requirements. 

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,750 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

This course is relevant to a wide range of occupations because it sharpens your skills of analysis and persuasive communication. At the same time it advances your intellectual development. A Masters degree in English is a qualification that is well-recognised by employers across all sectors.

Past graduates have gained employment in areas such as:

  • Teaching
  • Media and journalism
  • Civil Service
  • Publishing
  • Communications
  • Freelance writing
  • Arts and creative industries

A Masters degree will also enhance opportunities in academic roles or further study towards a PhD.

The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751
Email: enterprise@sunderland.ac.uk


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will meet with you at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland. You will also have the option of participating in academic conferences and events such as our acclaimed Spectral Visions initiative.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"I really liked the lectures, the variety of module choice, the extra-curricular activity, my course has made me a brighter, happier and more fulfilled person."

CS _ Antonia Armstrong - MA English 143

Antonia Armstrong

Graduate - MA English

“I chose the MA English course because of how well it was complied, it offered me the whole breadth of knowledge I needed for my teaching career coupled with the room for me to explore my creative ability through writing. I had the best of both worlds with English and Creative writing, it had all the academic rigor I needed and an opportunity to pursue my hobby of writing.

"My most memorable experience was Spectral Visions, our photo shoot, the opportunity to meet the most professional gifted academics in the Gothic field. I cannot thank my lectures enough for this opportunity. I really liked the lectures, the variety of module choice, the extra-curricular activity, my course has made me a brighter, happier and more fulfilled person.

"During my first week at the University of Sunderland I felt nervous and apprehensive, one nudge from my tutor into the correct room and after the first lecture I was hooked. I got on very well with my tutors, they are a true inspiration. They are amazing people with a genuine care for their students, they make a point of knowing each of us individually and they accomplish a pastoral role as well as a tutor. I had my son halfway through my third year of university. I would have given up if it had not have been for their constant emails to check how I was coping, their forwarding of lectures and their general concern for my well-being. I knew I could do my Masters with them because they are always there, for whatever problem no matter how small to get you through your degree.

"Their academic knowledge is so vast that they are in my eyes genius but they still make the time to let you voice your own opinion. Their lectures are intriguing and engaging and enjoyable I defy anyone to sit in on one of their lectures and not be completely enthralled by them, they make you laugh and are so passionate about their work that it rubs off on every student they teach. They are amazing, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have been taught by such amazing lecturers. My favourite part of the course and university life was the people I have had the opportunity to meet.”

"After I have completed my masters I would like to study on the PCET course as my dream is to become an English Literature lecturer just like the people who have inspired me during my time at the University of Sunderland."

CS - Christa Chapman CID143

Christa Chapman

Student - MA English

"After completing my undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature, I decided to stay on at the University of Sunderland to study MA English Studies. I chose to study my masters at this university as I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate degree and became inspired by the excellent English team who are absolutely wonderful! The thing I love most about my course is how supportive the lecturers are with their students.

"My favourite module on the masters was ‘Gothic Literature’. I really enjoyed this module as I really love the way in which my tutor conducted the sessions; from powerpoints to handouts, and one-to-one discussions, along with the wonderful choice of texts to read and study, such as Dracula and the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Because of the varied and innovative approach I always felt like I learned a lot in the sessions. After I have completed my masters I would like to study on the PCET course as my dream is to become an English Literature lecturer just like the people who have inspired me during my time at the University of Sunderland.

"When I am not studying I work part-time yet still find the time to socialise with my friends. During my first week at the university I felt very excited to begin the postgraduate journey. I adore literature and could not wait to progress further in this subject. From my time and experience at the University of Sunderland, I can truly say that these have been the best years of my life. I have met lots of fabulous people from different backgrounds and have made many new friends because of this. I have become inspired by the superb English team which has encouraged me into aiming further up the career ladder. I am so pleased to have studied my undergraduate degree and my postgraduate degree at this university."

“Their love of literature and teaching is contagious and is why I am also considering returning to the University, at some point, to try and get a PhD.”

CS - Robert Murray CID143

Robert Murray

Graduate - MA English

"Sunderland University made the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate studies easy due to the welcoming nature of the University and the people who are a part of it.

"The lecturers were welcoming to both those who studied at the University before and those who were new. The modules were interesting, as they were based around genres of literature I had not looked into much before, such as Gothic fiction.

“The lecturers were highly engaging and made everyone feel like they were contributing to the lectures. We did not just sit in a room and listen, as is the case in some universities, but discussed the issues at length. We even had debates on the subjects that increased our interest and understanding of the material we researched.

"The energy and passion shown by our lecturers, has made me consider becoming a teacher or a lecturer which I had not thought of before. Their love of literature and teaching is contagious and is why I am also considering returning to the University, at some point, to try and get a PhD. This is due to my time at the University of Sunderland, as it was here that my love of literature was expanded and I was reminded of how much more there is to learn."

"The lessons are amazing and really help students to develop new skills."

Nancy and Rita - Masters of English Studies

Nancy Castrogiovanni and Rita Milano

Graduates - MA English Studies

Mother and daughter both graduate the MA English Studies degree!

Nancy says: "The lessons are amazing and really help students to develop new skills, which can improve the chance of a career in this field, but also in different types of work or in everyday life.

"In February 2014 I will begin my PhD in English at the University of Sunderland and I am looking forward to getting started. Life as a student at the University is beautiful and it really made a big impact on my life, I would recommend it to everyone."

Rita says: "I enrolled on 19th September 2009 and at the end of my first year, I achieved 170 credits rather than 120 credits. This gave me the desire to continue my studies and give the best. In June 2009 I completed my undergraduate course achieving a BA English (Hons). In September 2012 I started with my daughter Nancy my MA in English, and in November 2013 I completed my Master Degree.

"I would definitely recommend the University of Sunderland to everyone, and I am sure that new students will love Sunderland, the University life and the lessons."

"This University has a long-established reputation for excellence in English, with many of the lecturers here regarded as international authorities in their fields."

Alison Younger - MA English FT143 and PT400

Alison Younger - Academic

Senior Programme Leader - MA English

"This University has a long-established reputation for excellence in English, with many of the lecturers here regarded as international authorities in their fields. It is this passion and expertise that keeps the programmes fresh, enabling our graduates to pursue a variety of top careers.

"We instil a sense of value within the students for who they are and when they walk away from Sunderland, they possess a valued qualification that will take them into a variety of professions from teaching and journalism to acting, copy editing and managerial positions within the industry.

"Crucially, our Masters qualifications are also designed to help graduates develop skills of critical thinking, time management, communication, analysis and confidence - attributes that employers throughout the world are looking for and it is what makes our English graduates much sought after by employers."

Apply for this course

Applications to study a postgraduate qualification are submitted directly to the University. You can apply online using the link below.

Visit one of our Open Days and speak to our staff and current students, or drop-in to see us at The Gateway on the City Campus.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Programme Leader:

Alison Younger
Tel: 0191 515 2189
Email: alison.younger@sunderland.ac.uk

Alternatively, contact the Admissions Tutor: 

Colin Younger
Tel: 0191 515 2988
Email: colin.younger@sunderland.ac.uk

Contact the recruitment team for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Recruitment Team
Telephone: 0191 515 3000 
Email: student.helpline@sunderland.ac.uk

Programme Starts  
Monday 16th October 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name English Studies
Classification MA
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting To be confirmed
UK/EU Fee £4750
Intl Fee £11500

Entry requirements

Good honours degree (2:1 or above) - preferable

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