MA English Literature and American Studies

Year of entry: 2024


Degree awarded
Master of Arts (MA)
1 year
Entry requirements

We normally expect students to have a First or Upper Second class honours degree or its overseas equivalent in a humanities-based subject area.

Full entry requirements

How to apply
Apply online

Course options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning

Course overview

  • Broaden and deepen your critical engagement with English and American literature and its contexts.
  • Study at a top five UK university for American Studies (Complete University Guide 2022).
  • Access the exclusive Special Collections of The John Rylands Library, which holds one of the world's largest William Caxton collections, Shakespeare's First Folio and the original archives of Elizabeth Gaskell and Ted Hughes.
  • Explore a wide range of cultural assets in Manchester, a UNESCO City of Literature.

Open days

Find out what it's like to study at Manchester by visiting us on one of our open days .


For entry in the academic year beginning September 2024, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MA (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £12,500
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £26,000
  • MA (part-time)
    UK students (per annum): £6,250
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £13,000

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).


Each year the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures offer a number of School awards and Subject-specific bursaries (the values of which are usually set at Home/EU fees level), open to both Home/EU and international students. The deadline for these is early February each year. Details of all funding opportunities, including deadlines, eligibility and how to apply, can be found on the School's funding page  where you can also find details of the Government Postgraduate Loan Scheme.

See also the University's postgraduate funding database  to see if you are eligible for any other funding opportunities.

For University of Manchester graduates, the Manchester Alumni Bursary offers a £3,000 reduction in tuition fees to University of Manchester alumni who achieved a First within the last three years and are progressing to a postgraduate taught master's course.

The Manchester Master's Bursary is a University-wide scheme that offers 100 bursaries worth £3,000 in funding for students from underrepresented groups.

Contact details

School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Contact name
PG Taught Admissions

See: About us

Courses in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of courses in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

We normally expect students to have a First or Upper Second class honours degree or its overseas equivalent in a humanities-based subject area.

English language

We will only consider a minimum overall grade of 7.0 in IELTS with 7.0 in writing and no skill below 6.5 or 100+ in the TOEFL iBT with a minimum writing score of 25 and no skill below 22.

If you have obtained a different qualification, please check our English language requirements to ensure that it is accepted and equivalent to the required standard.

Please note that this course does not make conditional offers on completing a pre-sessional course. You must already meet the minimum requirements as outlined above or your application will be rejected.

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Other international entry requirements

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries that equate to a UK 2.1. For these and general requirements including English language see  entry requirements from your country  .

If English is not your first language, please provide us with evidence of: 

  • an overall grade 7.0 (with a minimum writing score of 7) in IELTS; or
  • 100+ in the IBT Internet-based TOEFL).

The other language tests we accept can be found here:

Exceptions to needing a language test (if English is NOT your first language) are:

  • if you have successfully completed an academic qualification deemed by UK NARIC as equivalent to at least a UK Bachelors Degree or higher from one of the following countries:

    Antigua & Barbuda; Australia; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Ireland; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; UK; USA.

Other entry requirements

For those applicants whose academic background is not directly related to studies in English and American literature, and/or for whom English is not their mother tongue, we require an academic-standard essay (in English) relevant to the subject  no more than  4,000 words long.

Application and selection

How to apply

Advice to applicants

Writing Sample Requirements: we require an academic-standard essay (in English) no more than 4,000 words long and relevant to subject matter taught on the MA here at Manchester. The sample should follow the standard conventions for academic writing and focus on a topic relating to either the study of literatures in English or cultural studies.

Please upload the writing sample under the 'CV/Resume' option in the Supporting Documents section of the application form.

If English is not your first language, please apply after you have obtained proof of English language that meets our requirements.

How your application is considered

Applications are mainly considered on the basis of an assessment of past and predicted academic achievements and the required supplementary evidence that supports the application. Once we have an application that is ready for a decision, the admissions tutor (often the Programme Director) will relay the decision to the admissions team, who will send you this decision.

Please note that your application is usually received by the School 24 to 48 hours after the time you submit it. If you have not provided documentation that allows the admissions tutor to make a decision, we will contact you.

Overseas (non-UK) applicants

The University will take into account the academic standing of a candidate's University, as advised by our international office using published world and country rankings.

Course details

Course description

Our MA English and American Studies postgraduate taught course prepares you for further research in the discipline while also broadening and deepening your critical engagement with English and American literature and culture.

The structure of the course is flexible, which means you can choose to combine your interests in English and American literature and culture, or focus exclusively on English Literature.

Our department provides vibrant research environment with close links to the Centre for New Writing, involvement in the Manchester Literature Festival and access to the world-class John Rylands Library.

While this course offers you a range of units that are chronologically or geographically specific, all are informed by recent theoretical and historical developments that allow you to think about categories like literature, culture and history in nuanced and fresh ways.

Special features

Literature events

Manchester Literature Festival holds literary events across Manchester throughout the year, many in partnership with the University. The Centre for New Writing also hosts a regular public events series, Literature Live, which brings contemporary novelists and poets to the University to read and engage in conversation.

Unique collections

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library on Deansgate is part of the University and offers the rare opportunity to see a Gutenberg bible, Shakespeare folios and other archival treasures.

Teaching and learning

Depending on the units you take, you will learn through a variety of teaching methods, including seminars, film screenings, research workshops and online activities.

You will also attend seminars on topics such as how to study at MA level, how to research and write a master's thesis, and career options.

Coursework and assessment

Depending on the units you take, you will be assessed through methods such as written assignments and presentations, as well as the dissertation.

Course unit details

Students undertake units totalling 180 credits. Core and optional units combine to make 120 credits, with the remaining 60 credits allocated to the dissertation.

Semester 1

You will choose two of the three core units on offer. Each core unit is worth 30 credits, and will lay the groundwork for your further coursework, as well as preparing you to think about your dissertation. The current core units are: 

  • Approaches to Literary Study: Historicism and the Archive
  • Space, Place and Text (Ecocriticism)
  • American Studies: Theory, Methods, Practice

These units address questions that are at the heart of literary and cultural studies, and will give you conceptual tools relevant to all of the units offered in the second semester. 

Semester 2 

You will choose 60 credits worth of course units. Semester 2 units are primarily weighted at 15 credits, thus allowing you to choose from a wider variety of options and to diversify your engagement with the field. Semester 2 course units explore a range of periods, approaches, and literary cultural productions. Some offer special activities, like the chance to engage with the holdings in the John Rylands Library. 

When your coursework is complete, you will write a 12-15,000-word dissertation, worth 60 credits, supervised by an academic member of staff.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation (MA) ENGL60000 60 Mandatory
American Studies: Theories, Methods, Practice AMER60091 30 Optional
Radical Subcultures AMER60112 15 Optional
Race, Gender and Power in the American South: From Slavery to Segregation AMER62002 15 Optional
The AIDS Crisis: American Cultural Representation AMER62032 15 Optional
Historicising the Contemporary: Literature and Politics 1970-2000 ENGL60081 30 Optional
Modernisms ENGL60451 30 Optional
Postcolonial Literatures, Genres and Theories ENGL60462 30 Optional
Shakespeare: Theory and the Archive ENGL60492 15 Optional
Space, Place and Text ENGL60782 30 Optional
Wondrous Transformations: Translating the Medieval Past ENGL60872 15 Optional
Critical Thinking in Gender and Sexuality Studies ENGL60971 30 Optional
Old English: Writing the Unreadable Past ENGL61161 15 Optional
Vital Matters ENGL64111 15 Optional
Key Issues in Literary and Critical Theory ENGL70032 30 Optional
Literature and the Contemporary Literary Industry ENGL71212 30 Optional
Approaches to Literary Studies: Historicism and the Archive ENGL71821 30 Optional
Global, Cultural and Creative Industries SALC60402 15 Optional
Critical Ecologies SALC61082 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 19 course units


You will have access to a wide range of facilities to enhance your studies at Manchester, including the University Library and John Rylands Library.

You will also have the opportunity to enjoy Manchester's many other cultural assets for both study and recreational purposes, including the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum.

Find out more on our  Facilities  page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:


Career opportunities

Upon successful completion of their course, many English postgraduates go on or return to jobs as teachers or librarians, continue their research, or go on to academic jobs.

Career paths are extremely varied, and other English postgraduates go on or return to careers in law, publishing and retailing, as well as into many other fields.

Read more about our graduate career destinations.

The University has its own dedicated Careers Service that you would have full access to as a student and for two years after you graduate. At Manchester you will have access to a number of opportunities to help boost your employability .