One year full-time or two years part-time
Two evenings a week full-time or one evening a week part-time, October to October
Birkbeck’s MA Contemporary Literature and Culture offers you the opportunity to specialise in 21st-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.
- Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 13th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2016-17 World University Subject Rankings.
- 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 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.
- 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.
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.
Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)
If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.
We offer advice on all the options for financing your studies. You can pay your fees interest-free by direct debit and postgraduate loans are available for all Home/EU students.
Fees (2017/8)Part-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.
At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.
Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.
Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.
In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.
Methods of teaching on this course
A mixture of lectures and small-group seminars.
Key staff teaching on this programme
Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).
Indicative class size
Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.
Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:
- academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
- written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
- numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).
Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.
Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.
Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.
Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.
Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.
Methods of assessment on this course
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.
As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.
Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.
Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.
Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.
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.
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.
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