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MA in English Literature

Explore literary culture in greater depth than ever before

Our English Literature MA offers you a varied and flexible approach to graduate study, within one of the leading English departments in the world.

You can tailor your own way through the course with a choice of modules ranging from the classical to the contemporary. Whether you're fascinated by Gothic literature, early-modern drama, Petrofiction or poetics, you can build your course to suit your own interests.

Our warm and vibrant research community is one of the largest in the UK, with around 110 postgraduates each year. We offer a full calendar of seminars, symposiums, and conferences, with a busy diary of speakers from around the world. We also offer funding for postgraduate study and career development support during your time here.

You will study alongside experts who are at the cutting-edge of literary criticism, from contemporary world literature and critical theory, to Shakespeare and Victorian studies. You can join them in contributing to the field of research by completing a dissertation on a topic of your choice, which you might choose to publish and share with others too.

By the end of the course, you'll be well-positioned for further study or employment with the transferable skills you will develop.

Key facts

Qualification: Master of Arts (MA)

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Next intake: October 2025

Contact: Dr Emma Francis

Apply now

Autumn term:

  • Research Methods
  • 2 x 30 CAT modules, assessed by coursework*

Spring term:

  • 2 x 30 CAT modules, assessed by coursework*

Spring/Summer terms:

  • 16,000 word dissertation (worth 60 CATS)

*You can take one 30 CATS module from outside of the department, including the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL).

Modules on offer for the year 2024–2025 include:

Drama and Performance Theory

Critical Theory Today

EN942 - Fundamentals of World Literature 

World Literature and the Anthropocene

Feminist Literary Theory

Critical Environments


Theory from the Margins: Postcolonialism and the Radical Tradition

Shakespeare in History

The British Dramatist in Society

Early Modern Ecologies

Marxism and Modernity

Core module

Any Critical Theory module (any module with a theoretical component).

Optional modules

These vary from year to year, but the list below gives you a flavour of the kinds of topics likely to be open to you:

      • Feminist Literary Theory: Consider some of the most important debates and trends in feminist literary theory over the last few decades. This module explores the intersections of academic and popular, intellectual and activist dimensions of feminist literary theory; we also place emphasis on the articulation of feminist literary practice with representations of race, sexuality and class.
      • Gothic: Gothic fiction is marked by uncertainties about power, law, class, gender, sexuality and religion, holding up an uncanny mirror to the political and religious anxieties of its times. In this module you will peer into the dark recesses of nineteenth-century Gothic, and through it explore the period’s contradictions and anxieties.
      • Fundamentals of World Literature: This module introduces you to the terminology, claims, and points of difference in the debates surrounding World Literature and world-systems theory. Discover ways in which the current disjunction between cultural studies, modern languages, and postcolonialism can be coherently bridged through comparative analyses of a society's incorporation into the capitalist world-economy.
      • Petrofiction: Studies in World Literature: Explore the literature of energy and natural resources through the study of various genres from around the world. Here you will take in theatre, cinema, documentary and photography, all with oil and its social meanings at their core, and interpret them within the wider rubric of ‘petroculture’ in order to reveal international patterns in petroleum's form and content.
      • The Development of English Drama 1558-1659: Trace the development of the drama of the early modern stage, from the accession of Elizabeth I to the end of the English republic. Investigate how the playing conditions of the time were affected both by the physical resources of the stage and the political contexts in which these works intervened. Take note of early modern literary criticism to discover how playwrights interacted with these ideas in their work.
      • The Caribbean: Reading the World-Ecology: This module aims to familiarize students with ecologically-oriented approaches to Caribbean literature, as well as with the critical debates surrounding world literature, ecocriticism, and environmental history. In particular, you will explore the concept of world-ecology and consider its potential as a methodology for reading texts from across the Caribbean archipelago.
      • Drama and Performance Theory: Examine drama and performance theory, by exploring and discussing some of the methodologies, debates and conceptual approaches to drama and performance.
      • World Literature and the Anthropocene: Get to grips with the debates surrounding the ‘Anthropocene’ as a way of revisiting conventional interpretive frameworks and categories, including questions of periodisation, comparative methodology and the ‘worlding’ of literary study.

      Outside modules

      You may also take one 30 CATS module from outside the Department as part of your course.

      For example, you might want to study a topic from the Warwick Writing Programme, History, Film, Modern Languages, or Philosophy, or the modules offered by the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL).


      Alongside your four modules, you also get the chance to pursue your own distinct research interests in the dissertation (16,000 words). This is an opportunity to develop a new idea from one of your modules into something longer. Alternatively, you could write on a subject or a figure that has always fascinated you.

      You can write about anything, within the broadly-conceived boundaries of 'literary studies', although your subject must fall within the interests of an available member of the teaching staff and must be feasible in terms of resources to be accepted.

      People often use their MA dissertations as springboards to PhD projects, and have sometimes gone on to publish parts of their work in scholarly journals.

      You will attend a series of workshops in the autumn term designed to help shape your general ideas into a feasible proposal. You will submit a full proposal towards the end of the autumn term and be assigned an appropriate supervisor. You will begin preliminary work on your dissertation in spring.

      The modules mentioned above may be subject to change. Please read our terms and conditions for more detailed information.

      Our main staff involved in this course are listed below. While you're writing your dissertation you might work with any relevant academic in our department.

      Dr Rashmi Varma

      "I have a BA degree in English (Honours) from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, India and a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi. After teaching briefly at Jesus and Mary College at the University of Delhi, I moved to the United States to work on my PhD in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to Warwick, I was as an Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

      My areas of research include: the postcolonial city, postcolonial Indian and African theory, literature and culture, feminism in a global context, representations of indigeneity in postcolonial India, and the theory of world literature."

      Dr Emma Francis

      "Much of my current research is located at the interface of Victorian studies and feminist thought and I have particular interest in nineteenth-century British women's poetry, especially Amy Levy, Letitia Landon, Emily Brontë and Mathilde Blind. A current project focuses on the intellectual traffic between Bloomsbury and the East End between 1880 and 1920, and its inflection by 'Darwinian Epiphany', considering, among others, Olive Schreiner, Eleanor Marx, Clementina Black, Israel Zangwill and Stewart Headlam. I am also working on a shorter project 'Psychoanalysis in Egypt: Victorian "science" and Freud's "historical novel"', material from which has been trialled in panels and places focusing on the subject of 'Victorian Freud'. I am interested in the issue of embodied knowledge. An early piece of this work is my paper 'Swooning, Swaying, Flushing and Blushing: Pathological Circulations of Early Victorian Poetry', which had a try-out at VSAWC."

      GraemeDr Graeme McDonald

      "Current research interests include Resource Culture in World Literature/Globalisation; Energy Humanities and Petrofiction; Science Fiction and Ecocriticism; Modern and Contemporary Scottish and British Culture. I am editor of Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature (EUP 2011) and Post Theory: New Directions in Criticism (EUP, 1999). I have recently edited a new edition of John McGrath's play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (2015) Currently preparing a monograph, Petrofiction: Oil and World Literature. I am a member of WreC (Warwick Research Collective), who work on new ways to think about World Literature/Literature in the World. We have published a co-written monograph on Peripheral Modernism and World Literature: Combined and Uneven Development: Toward a New Theory of World Literature (LUP: 2015) I am at present Co-Investigator on the RSE Research Network, Connecting with a Low Carbon Scotland (2016-18)"

      Research expertise

      Our department was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, and the 2017 QS World University Rankings placed us in the top 20 English departments in the world.

      Our staff are renowned experts across a broad spectrum of specialisms.

      Thriving research groups

      Our Department is home to several thriving research groups, including Comparative Religions and Literatures (CoRAL) and the Warwick Research Collective (Materialist Studies in World Literature). We have close ties to the Centre for Philosophy, Literature and the Arts, the Eighteenth Century Centre, the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies, and many other ongoing research projects and collectives.

      International conferences

      Our Department is regularly home to major national and international conferences, most recently Tales of Terror: Gothic, Horror, and Weird Short Fiction, C21: Global Victorians: When East Meets West, and Peripheral Postcolonialities.

      Large library at the heart of campus

      The University library's Rare Books and Special Collections include early editions of Smollett, Swift, Scott, and Goethe, and is home to the Modern Records Centre.

      Regional and national connections

      The University campus is approx. 15 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, home to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the largest publically-available collection of Shakespeare material in the world. We are also just over an hour from London, home to world-class museums, galleries, and the British Library - the largest library in the world.

      A lively graduate culture

      You will get a chance to present your work at our annual Postgraduate Symposium. Our graduate students are an important part of our teaching faculty, and for those progressing well with their research, there are opportunities to gain valuable teaching experience across a variety of undergraduate modules.

      A postgraduate English degree is a key route into Higher Education, research, and academic careers, which often require postgraduate qualifications. As part of English’s postgraduate community, you will join a department that values its graduate students and encourages them to become part of our thriving research culture.

      The average mean salary for all postgraduates from Warwick is £39,500 per annum, and 93.7% are currently in work and/or further study (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education).

      Recent graduate destinations for postgraduate courses:

      Barclays Bank; Civil Service Ministry of Justice; Corus Hotels; Coventry University; Deloitte; International Institute for Environment and Development; NewsQuest Media Group; Oxfam; Pan Macmillan; PepsiCo; Royal National Lifeboat Institution; Royal Opera House; Royal Town Planning Institution; TeachFirst; The Burlington Magazine; The Sun; The Times; University of Worcester; V&A Museum; Yale University Press.

      Positions of our recent graduates from postgraduate courses:

      Account Executive; Business Consultant; Community and Events Fundraising Assistant; Compliance Office; Content Executive; Editorial Assistant; English Teacher; Foreign Rights Assistant; Workshop Director; Writer and Researcher; Innovation and Enterprise Consultant; International and Business Performance Assistant; Journalist; Junior Account Executive; Marketing Manager; Publishing Assistant; Research Analyst; Social Media Analyst; TV Researcher; TV Runner, University Lecturer.

      What personal and professional development opportunities and support are available?

      • One-to-one academic mentoring support from your dissertation supervisor and personal tutors
      • Support from the Centre for Arts Doctoral Research Excellence
      • Opportunities to publish in PG student journals (Exchanges and Feminist Dissent)
      • Postgraduate student conferences (Postgraduate Symposium, PG Arts Research Festival, and Café Academique, Arts Out: Annual Faculty of Arts Festival)
      • Student societies (including the Warwick Literature Society)
      • Masters Skills Program, Research Student Skills Program, Transferable Skills Program
      • Arts Faculty workshop series
      • Project, research and placement funding

      Entry Requirements

      65% (or equivalent) in an undergraduate degree in English literature or a related degree. All applicants are encouraged to provide a writing sample to demonstrate suitability for the course and in order to be eligible for any available departmental bursaries.

      English Language Requirements

      Band CLink opens in a new window

      IELTS overall score of 7.5, minimum component scores of two at 6.5/7.0 and the rest at 7.5 or above.

      Course Fees

      See Student Finance


      For information about how to fund your master's degree please consult our own graduate funding page and Postgraduate Taught Financial Support page.

      Additional Course Costs

      Students are expected to buy the set primary texts for each module they study.

      Find out more about fees and funding on the University website.

      All applicants should upload a writing sample of up to 3,000 words with their application. This will be used for the purposes of admission and for Departmental funding competitions.

      We encourage all applicants to apply by the spring. International applicants should apply before June to ensure enough time for visas and processing. We accept home applicants through the summer.

      If you have any queries about whether you are in time to apply, please contact the convenor.

      See how to apply for a postgraduate course at Warwick:

      Apply online now

      You may also like to see our Admissions Advice for International Students

      What do our students say?

      "If given the choice again as to whether or not to undertake the MA English at Warwick, I would do so every time. The course has challenged me to think in new ways and has expanded my ability to learn through independent study. At Warwick I have found helpful, impassioned and caring staff who have been happy to skilfully impart their expertise at every turn. They have built a course that both caters to a broad spectrum of interests in its scope, and encourages its students to advance into the depths of the fields of study that interest them. In my experience, the modules available allow for a foundational preparation for further academic study as well as opportunities to truly expand your mind down the profoundly interesting rabbit holes of the faculty interests. What's more is the huge potential to combine modules across the department which speak to each other -- the shared ecocritical overtones of both World Literature and the Anthropocene and Petrofiction, for instance. There is also a massive amount of freedom afforded to the students to contribute to academic discourse as they see fit which, in my experience, has made the course the most enjoyable endeavour of my academic career."

      Joshua Stride (MA English Literature, 2018–2019)