2 years part-time or 1 year full-time
One evening a week part-time or two evenings a week full-time, October to October
Birkbeck’s MA Contemporary Literature and Culture offers you the opportunity to specialise in twenty-first-century literature and culture, as well as exposing you to the most important literary and theoretical developments of the last few decades. This MA considers the legacy of postmodernism, the effects of new technologies on narrative form, and the aesthetic, spatial and political coordinates of writing produced in an increasingly networked and globalised world.
Through a range of literary and interdisciplinary options, you have the opportunity to pursue your own interests, whether they lie in contemporary poetics; in fiction from Britain, the US, Europe or postcolonial nations; in the changing forms of the book in a digital age; or in historical approaches to issues like nation, race, gender and sexuality. The MA's programme of study opens up the aesthetic, historical and political dimensions of contemporary literature and culture.
Why study this course at Birkbeck?
- Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
- Introduces you to the cutting-edge of contemporary literature and culture, offering the unique opportunity to specialise in the post-2000 period.
- Provides grounding in some of the key concepts that shape understandings of the contemporary world, including consideration of terms like hybridity, performance, trauma, memory and the uncanny, as well as wider cultural conceptualisations like globalisation and postcoloniality.
- Exposes you to a wider community of scholars and thinkers via a uniquely rich and diverse research culture, involving graduate seminars, reading groups, guest lectures - including those by practising writers - and the wider arts network accessible in Central London.
- In particular, this environment is fostered by close links between the MA and the at Birkbeck, which runs a wide variety of talks and conferences in this field.
- You will also have access to a host of other relevant research centres in the School of Arts, including the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, the and the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre.
- The School is also actively involved in a number of College-wide institutes specifically designed to foster work across disciplines at Birkbeck and beyond: Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism. These institutes are driven by the work of world-class scholars including Laura Mulvey, Slavoj Žižek, Lynne Segal and David Feldman.
- Birkbeck is at the geographical centre of London’s research library complex, a short distance from the British Library, the University of London Library and the Institute of Historical Research.
- In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), English Language and Literature at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 91% of eligible staff submitted research, of which 75% was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
- The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.
- Find out more about our range of world-class research resources.
- Watch videos of our postgraduate students discussing their experience of studying at Birkbeck.
You take two core modules and two option modules (which vary from year to year).
You write a dissertation on any aspect of contemporary literature and culture from Easter to September in your final year.
The Summer Research Programme is a programme of events run for a closely connected cluster of MAs in the School of Arts, on a weekly basis throughout the 11-week summer term. The programme includes a series of dissertation workshops that supplement one-to-one supervision, but it also reflects the dynamic and wide-ranging nature of contemporary studies in the School. It includes guest speakers, debates and film screenings, takes in Birkbeck’s annual Arts Week and is concluded by a student-led conference that showcases the work of MA students across the School.
Indicative option modules
- A Confusion of Tongues: Illness, Language, Writing
- Contemporary British Poetry
- Contemporary US Fiction
- Memory Trauma and Cultural Identity
- Narrating Nation after 9/11
- Reading Time in the Twentieth Century
- The Book Unbound
- Twenty-First Century Feminist Fiction and the World in Crisis
- Voiceworks: Collaborative Song Project
Option modules vary from year to year and this list is indicative. You may be able, with the permission of the Programme Director, to take option modules available in different subject areas from across the School of Arts.
We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.
A good second-class honours undergraduate degree in literature, cultural studies, history or another relevant subject.
International entry requirements
If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.
If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.
Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.
Fees and finance
We are committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies.
FeesPart-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa
Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa
Part-time overseas students: £ 7225 pa
Full-time overseas students: £ 14450 pa
Teaching and assessment
Our innovative, engaging teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments.
A mixture of lectures and small-group seminars.
Key staff teaching on this programme
All assessment will be via coursework essays rather than examinations. For the core courses and most of the option modules, assessment will consist of one 5000-word essay for each module; the dissertation will be 15,000 words.
Careers and employability
To help you get ahead in your career, we offer free advice and training and our recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, can connect you with employers.
Careers and employability
Graduates go in to careers in writing and journalism, editing and publishing, research, marketing, public relations and education. Possible professions include writing, editing, or publishing. This degree can also be useful in becoming an editorial assistant, public relations officer, magazine or newspaper journalist, or advertising copywriter.
Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.
We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.
How to apply
You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.
Need help with your application? Watch videos featuring our academic experts giving advice on applying to Birkbeck and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.
Application deadlines and interviews
We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.
Life at Birkbeck
Birkbeck offers a unique combination of evening study and a matchless central London location, right in the geographic and academic centre of the city, giving you exceptional opportunities.
Most of our students live in private accommodation, but we also offer student accommodation and access to the professional services of the University of London Housing Services.
The Birkbeck experience
Birkbeck is different: our classes are held in the evening, so your days are free - to study, work, volunteer or just do your own thing.
Birkbeck is committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies. Find out about what is available, how to apply and the advice and support we provide.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck. We can give you the advice and support you need.
Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research universities. Discover more about our vibrant, intellectually challenging and exciting research culture.
Boost your career
Discover how Birkbeck's unique evening teaching, coupled with our comprehensive careers and employability services, can help you get ahead in a highly competitive job market.
Fees and payment
With government loans for undergraduate and postgraduate study, fantastic financial support packages and flexible payment options, there’s never been a better time to study at Birkbeck.
There are lots of ways to come and visit us and meet our staff and former students, including Open Evenings, Open Days and guided campus tours. Discover more here.
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