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MA in English

If you wish to develop your research and analytical skills and upgrade your qualifications the MA in English course is for you. You need appropriate entry qualifications, and should have a passion for literature and enjoy an intellectual challenge.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

If you wish to pursue an academic career in higher education or research this degree will provide a pathway toward a higher level research qualification (e.g. Ph.D.), which is essential for such a career. A masters degree can be useful in pursuing a teaching career in schools. If you expect to pursue a career in media, culture or knowledge industries - or are employed already in such industries and seek further qualifications to enhance career progression - a masters degree, alongside relevant skills and experience, can be useful. This degree is relevant to those careers that directly call upon knowledge of English literature and culture. It may also be relevant for careers that demand skills in the creative use and analysis of texts of various sorts, critical thinking and organisation, and understanding of culture in a broad sense.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this masters degree you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
MA English part 1 (A815)

Expand on your previous study and prepare for your dissertation through an exploration of a rich variety of literary texts, from the ancient past to the present.

See full description.

120 Sep
MA English part 2 (A816)

In this course you will produce a dissertation which will provide a satisfying culmination to your MA studies and ideal preparation for doctoral level research.

See full description.

60 May

Educational aims

The academic purpose of the MA is to equip you to take higher level study in English by building on your existing knowledge of, and interest in, the study of literature. It will provide you with appropriate training in methods of research in literature at postgraduate level. It will give you the opportunity to carry out a substantial piece of independent research and write this up using the appropriate scholarly apparatus. The MA will function both as a standalone post-graduate qualification and as preparatory training in the research methodologies required for doctoral study.

Learning outcomes

The qualification provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills, and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

You will develop knowledge and understanding of:

  • how competing and overlapping critical and theoretical perspectives bear upon the practice of literary research at postgraduate level
  • how the academic study of literature has developed over time
  • the ability to use a range of research tools and methods appropriate to postgraduate study in literature
  • the importance of textual and bibliographical study in postgraduate work in literature
  • a chosen topic within a specialist area.

Cognitive skills

An ability to:

  • engage critically with a range of literary texts and complex critical, theoretical and historical material
  • contribute in an informed way to current debates about literature
  • recognise a potential area for research in literature.

Practical and/or professional skills

You will develop an ability to:

  • construct and present sophisticated, coherent and persuasive written and oral arguments
  • collect, sift and organise substantial bodies of material, and evaluate their significance
  • independently to design a research proposal
  • plan and write a substantial piece of work, presented with appropriate scholarly apparatus and acknowledgement of the work of others
  • use a research library and a range of electronic information resources.

Key skills

You will develop the ability to:

  • communicate ideas effectively in the form of extended postgraduate-level essays, presented in an appropriately academic manner
  • undertake academic tasks of increasing length and complexity
  • design a programme of independent research and writing
  • use feedback from tutors, fellow students and other resources effectively to improve performance.

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