MA in English Literary Research

12 months Full Time /24 months Part Time

If you have a clear idea about a particular area of study you may prefer to take a Research MA rather than to follow a taught course programme. This course of study will be more individualised, more specialist and is centred on a one-to-one relationship with a supervisor. The MA is valuable in itself, but also provides an excellent bridge to higher degrees.

Your main activity as a student will be the writing of a thesis (of between 30,000 and 35,000 words) on a topic agreed with a personal supervisor. A third of the way through the course you will be expected to present a 5,000 word paper, fully articulating the topic and locating it in relation to existing work on it. Assessment is based partly on this paper (22%), partly on the compulsory Research Methodology (6%) but mainly on the thesis (72%) to which it leads. The course is available either full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 years).

As well as receiving regular personal supervision, you will also work with other research students by participating in a number of seminar programmes, which provide an essential focus for study as well as practical guidance in thesis preparation:

Research Methodology (compulsory)

This module is intended for all MA students and for new first year PhD students who have not taken an MA at Lancaster. It will run across all three terms, fortnightly, and is designed in accordance with AHRC research training requirements. The module will include generic sessions on research skills; archival sessions; and sessions which address key theoretical questions and positions. Assessment is by tasks related to these sessions. The term by term structure culminates in a final conference for the students at which they each give a paper.

Faculty Research Methods

This offers a portfolio of short courses for you to choose from, providing training on all aspects of literary research and thesis preparation.

Postgraduate Work-in-Progress Group

This group is run by the Director of Graduate Studies, fortnightly throughout the year.

Postgraduate Reading Groups

Numerous reading groups centered on specific research interests take place regularly within the department.

Departmental Seminar Series

Regular seminars with a range of invited speakers and staff papers across all periods.


Total assessment is based on 3 elements:

  • Compulsory Research Methodology module portfolio (6%)
  • 5,000 word paper (22%)
  • 30,000-35000 word, dissertation (72%)

While accepting applications in all literary fields, we particularly welcome applications to work in the following areas:

  • Shakespeare and his contemporaries
  • Romanticism, particularly Wordsworth, Byron and the Lake Poets
  • Nineteenth-century Literature
  • Twentieth-century literature and theory
  • Critical and Creative Writing
  • Literature and Film
  • Literature and Religion

Entry Requirements

Applicants for all research degrees should normally have a good first degree in English (2:1 or above). When applying they must outline (in up to 500 words) their preferred area of research, giving such details as the authors, themes and approaches they would hope to pursue, with some indication of the reading they have already done in this field.

A piece of written work of approx 2,000 words in length must be submitted with the application. We also welcome overseas applicants with the equivalent qualifications from another country.

For the Research MA candidates may be invited for an informal interview with the Director of Graduate studies and the proposed supervisor.