English Literature: Modern and Contemporary Fictions MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
View course-specific entry requirements
You are required to have a good Honours degree (2:1 or above, or equivalent) in a relevant subject. If your first language is not English you will need an IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent. You will need to submit a 1,500 word critical essay on a literary text of your choice as part of your application.
This course gives you the chance to study English literature in a modern university environment, while taking advantage of the wealth of resources offered by London's rich cultural life. You will examine literary texts in the wider context of cultural production and relate them to the social, historical and political circumstances from which they emerge.
The course team consists of academic specialists who make use of the many nearby museums, galleries and libraries in their teaching. The course will be of particular interest to those wishing to prepare for further study at MPhil or PhD level, and those teaching English who want to gain a further qualification and investigate recent and current developments in the field.
The course is organised around the themes of reading, re-reading and interpretation. You will study a range of periods and issues in literature, to place literary texts in cultural contexts and to understand them within the critical history of literature.
The core modules, Subjects: Modern and Contemporary Fictions and Institutions and Histories: Modern and Contemporary Fictions, are comprised of an examination of classic and contemporary critical texts on literature in relation to ideas in larger contexts, such as history, the visual image, gender, psychoanalysis and post-colonialism. The Dissertation of 10-12,000 words, which can be written on an appropriate topic of your choice, and Research Methods are also core modules.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
Dissertation This extended piece of research work is an opportunity for you to pursue a topic of individual interest, and is conducted through individual study and directed supervision. The module also includes preparation of a detailed research proposal.
INSTITUTIONS AND HISTORIES
This module focuses on the themes of reading and re-reading. An independent module, it is also designed to give you the opportunity for preparatory discussion of topics in optional modules. You will examine a range of topics, including: genre and history; literature's contemporary globalisation; the historical development of English Literature as a discipline; the history and theorisation of the very notion 'literature' itself; and the material cultures of literary production and consumption.
RESEARCH METHODS: KNOWLEDGE, CULTURAL MEMORY, ARCHIVES AND RESEARCH
This introduction to research methods engages with the critical implications of knowledge in the humanities, through interdisciplinary approaches to literature, visual, material, and spatial cultures, as they are understood, interpreted, and mobilised. Highlighting questions raised by discourse on epistemology, memory, archives, and research itself, the module concentrates on the complex links between: organic and technical forms of memory; public and private cultural institutions of knowledge, memory and identity; and informationgathering, retrieval, and analysis.
Subjects: Modern and Contemporary Fictions This module focuses on the themes of reading and re-reading. An independent module, it is also designed to give you the opportunity for preparatory discussion of topics in optional modules. As a part of this, you will explore different critical approaches, such as feminism and deconstruction, as well as looking at key issues in literary studies such as the author and the reader.
Choose four from:
LONDON VORTEX: 20TH CENTURY LITERATURE AND THE CITY
This module examines some of the many texts of the 20th century through to the present day, written about or set in London. Although the main focus is on literary texts, you will also look at the visual culture of London, and there is a strong emphasis on both historical and geographical context and on the spaces of London. The module includes special field trips ? such as a study trip to the Globe Theatre ? and looks at work by, for example, J.G. Ballard, Sam Selvon, Sarah Waters and Virginia Woolf.
READING CONTEMPORARY CULTURE
This module examines the idea of British literary culture since the 1990s. Beginning with Carlyle, the notion of literature as an 'industry' has been resisted by a strong tradition of cultural criticism in Britain. This module discusses what happened to this tradition, whether it still exists, and what may have replaced it. By focusing particularly on the relationships between writing and film, and writing and the visual arts, the module investigates the state and status of literary writing during this period. Authors studied include A. S. Byatt, Sarah Kane, Zadie Smith, Sarah Waters and Irvine Welsh.
READING THE NATION
Through this module you will explore ways in which texts can be contextualised and discussed in terms of the concepts and practices of nationalism, and of attempts to understand the nation as a discursive practice. You will address a variety of texts and relate these to theoretical concepts such as nationalism, decolonisation, colonialism and post-colonialism. You will consider how such concepts intersect with issues concerning gender, race and social class. Authors studied include Howard Brenton, David Hare, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Michael Ondaatje; you will also consider a range of influential theorists, including Benedict Anderson, Homi Bhabha, Michel Foucault and Edward Said.
You will focus on the literature, art and intellectual culture of the first half of the 20th century, and on the heterogenous interpretations of the term modernism itself. The module covers a range of different forms, styles and practices included under the heading of modernism, and seeks to situate modernist literature within an international context. You will also look at the relationship of literature to other art forms, and discuss the central issues within ongoing debates surrounding modernism, including the politics of form, the concept of an avant-garde, myth, tradition, urban experience, and ideas concerning modern space and time.
SEXUALITY AND NARRATIVE
Focusing on the period from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century, you will examine a range of cultural, literary, artistic and theoretical perspectives on sexuality, in order to investigate the complex relationship between sexuality and narrative. Assessing and comparing a diverse range of theoretical writings on sexuality, the module considers the history and development of these distinct but related narratives and discourses. Key authors, artists and theorists studied include Georges Bataille, Judith Butler, Jeffrey Eugenides, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Michael Haneke, Michel Houellebecq, Adrienne Rich and Oscar Wilde.
TEACHING LITERARY THEORY IN THE POST-16 ENGLISH LITERATURE CURRICULUM
This module explores the way in which literary/critical theory can be implemented and taught in the post-16 curriculum. Throughout the module the emphasis is on encouraging you to develop your abilities as a reflective, critical practitioner through the 'action research' model. You must have recent experience of teaching English Literature in post-16 education (eg A Level, Access, International Baccalaureate).
Using a range of theoretical, historical, literary, cinematic, visual and other cultural texts, you will explore the idea of urban culture as it has developed since the mid-19th century. The module considers a variety of different representations of the city, and the ways in which they understand the specificity of urban experience itself. You will also explore the changing global forms and interrelations of 'western' and 'non-western' urban forms. Key authors, artists and theorists studied include Walter Benjamin, Rem Koolhaas, Fritz Lang, Henri Lefebvre, Georg Simmel, Iain Sinclair, the Surrealists and Dziga Vertov.
You will examine the ways in which both the world and 'other worlds' were formed through representation during the latter part of the 19th century. With particular emphasis on the idea of 'exploration', the module focuses on themes such as archaeology and the ruin, mapping the empire and the city, the afterlife, the life of the mind, the natural world, and the scientific world-view. You will consider key concepts in 19th-century culture, such as degeneration and criminality, as well as less investigated aspects of the Victorian imagination. Writers studied include William Booth, Darwin, George Eliot, Edmund Gosse, Richard Jeffries, Max Nordau, H. Rider Haggard, and James Thomson.
The course is particularly relevant to those employed in a range of professions, including English teachers wishing to update their professional skills, and professional researchers. The part-time course would appeal to those interested in studying English literature for career development and general interest.
Length of course
One year, full-time or two years, part-time (January start available)
Central London (Regent)
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.
Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.
We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.
For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.
More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
Career options in your subject area
Our team of careers consultants work closely with Faculty departments to deliver tailored employability support, including subject-specific workshops, employer events and careers information, advice and guidance.
Study in the city
If you study at the University of Westminster, everything that London has to offer is on your doorstep.
Our central London campuses are ideally located for the city's fantastic learning institutions including libraries, archives and museums, as well as opportunities for shopping, eating out, enjoying London's nightlife or just simply relaxing.
After choosing your course, one of your biggest decisions will be where to live, and we aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Whether you want to apply for our Halls of Residence or live in private housing, we can help you to find the right accommodation.
Fees, funding, bursaries and scholarships
In recent years the University of Westminster's scholarship scheme has been the largest university scholarships scheme in the UK, and our Scholarships Department won the Times Higher Education inaugural Award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students.
All students on courses of a year or more and who are registered for more than three modules will be allocated a personal tutor.
Your personal tutor will be there to support you from induction onwards, helping you to integrate into the University, academically and socially, at an early stage. They will be able to give you advice and support on academic and personal matters affecting your study, as well as developmental advice through regular individual and group tutorials.
Polylang is a University-wide programme through which you can study a language as a free choice module.
Personal advice and counselling
While most students overcome any problems with help from friends, family or a personal tutor, the University's free counselling and advice services are there if you need them.
With one of the UK's largest international student populations, the University of Westminster has plenty of experience in giving you the help and support you need to make the most of your time with us.
Study Abroad and Summer School programmes
Westminster's Study Abroad programme has been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the largest in the UK – each year we welcome hundreds of visiting students from universities all over the world.
If you are already studying outside the UK, the programme offers you the opportunity to study with us for one or two semesters, or for a period in the summer.
Sport and recreation
The University has extensive sport and recreation facilities, with a sports hall and gym at Harrow, a state-of-the-art gym at Regent Campus, and the University sports ground by the River Thames at Chiswick.
University of Westminster Students' Union (UWSU) aims to make sure you have the best university experience possible by providing a range of activities and support, from sports clubs to society groups, educational advice and social events.
English - why Westminster?
Social Sciences and Humanities
We offer an exciting breadth of activity across the Social Sciences, Law and the Arts and Humanities. We are one of the country's biggest providers of Modern and Applied Language tuition.