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MA Modern and Contemporary Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Our MA Modern and Contemporary Literature master's course offers an opportunity to become part of an exciting, intellectual group of researchers working in 20th and 21st century literature, culture and theory.

You'll undertake an intensive and challenging investigation of the literatures in this period, as well as units that introduce you to leading research in the broad field of modern and contemporary writing.

Units provide opportunities to study modernism and its margins, postcolonial writing, radical subcultures, American culture, contemporary fiction and much more.

We focus theoretically on the relationships between texts and the various contexts in which they're produced and in which they circulate.

Via detailed engagements with the minutiae of aesthetic form, we consider the connections between aesthetic and political practice, with particular focus on representations and constructions of sexuality, class, gender and race.

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 event series, Literature Live, which brings contemporary novelists and poets to the University to read and engage in conversation. This series attracts an impressive line-up of speakers, such as Martin Amis, Seamus Heaney, Hilary Mantel and Audrey Niffenegger.

Unique collections

John Rylands Library on Deansgate is part of the University and offers the rare opportunity to see a range of archival treasures.

Centre for New Writing

Manchester is home to the Centre for New Writing, a major hub for new writing excellence and home to award-winning teaching staff including Booker-shortlisted M J Hyland and Jeanette Winterson.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a variety of teaching methods, depending on the units you take, including lectures, seminars and independent study.

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

You will be assessed through a variety of methods depending on the units you take, including written assignments.

Course unit details

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

You will take four units, including at least one of the three possible core units:

  • Key Issues in Twentieth-Century Cultural Theory and Literary Criticism
  • Modernism and its Margins
  • Reading the Contemporary

You may also choose up to 30 credits worth of units from another MA course in place of one of your optional units, subject to the approval of the Programme Director.

You will write a 15,000-word dissertation 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
Reading the Contemporary ENGL60081 30 Optional
Queer Cinema and Beyond ENGL60152 30 Optional
Modernism and its Margins ENGL60451 30 Optional
Postcolonial Literatures, Genres and Theories ENGL60461 30 Optional
Shakespeare: Theory and the Archive ENGL60492 15 Optional
The Times of Literature ENGL60761 30 Optional
Space, Place and Text ENGL60781 30 Optional
Wondrous Transformations: Translating the Medieval Past ENGL60872 15 Optional
Before `Sexuality': Bodies, Desires and Discourses, 1660-1900 ENGL60882 15 Optional
Gender, Sexuality and Culture ENGL60971 30 Optional
Key Issues in Twentieth-Century Cultural Theory and Literary Criticism ENGL70032 30 Optional
Forms of Writing I ENGL70041 30 Optional
Forms of Writing II ENGL70042 30 Optional
Contemporary Fiction ENGL71212 30 Optional
Reading Poems ENGL71611 30 Optional
Displaying 10 of 18 course units


You will have access to one of the UK's five National Research Libraries at Manchester, as well as 24/7 study facilities at the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons and cultural assets such as the John Rylands Library, the Whitworth and the Manchester Museum.

Find out more about our facilities .

Disability support

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