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Contemporary Literature and Culture (2000-present)

MA

Key Information

Course Overview

Our MA Contemporary Literature and Culture (2000-present) offers you the chance 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.

Informed by our world-class research in contemporary literary and cultural studies, on this course you will examine:

  • the effects of new technologies on narrative form
  • the aesthetic, spatial and political coordinates of writing produced in an increasingly networked and globalised world
  • literature’s role among a vibrant and diverse range of digital, visual and multimedia texts.

You will develop your expertise in key topics, such as: migrants’ narratives and refugee film-making; precarity fiction and emergent pandemic storytelling; anti-gentrification zines and the low-fi aesthetics of resistance; nonhuman forms of agency; post-gender feminism; the relationship of genres such as science fiction, horror and the fantastic to literary fiction; trans aesthetics in film and TV; African American poetry and performance; contemporary black aesthetics.

This MA also gives you the opportunity to pursue your own interests, whether they lie in contemporary poetics; in African American culture, or indigenous futurisms; in literary and cultural responses to environmental crisis; in the changing forms of the book in a digital age; or in historical approaches to issues like nation, race, gender and sexuality.

This course is part of our new Birkbeck Flexible Master’s UK, which gives you the choice of how you want to study - on campus, online or via flexible learning, which combines both.

Discover the career opportunities available by taking Contemporary Literature and Culture (2000-present) (MA).

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Highlights

Course Structure

Birkbeck makes all reasonable efforts to deliver educational services, modules and programmes of study as described on our website. In the event that there are material changes to our offering (for example, due to matters beyond our control), we will update applicant and student facing information as quickly as possible and offer alternatives to applicants, offer-holders and current students.

  • Entry Requirements Entry Requirements

    Entry Requirements

    Our standard postgraduate entry requirement is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university, or an equivalent international qualification. Your first degree does not have to be in English Literature.

    Applications are reviewed on their individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

    On your application form, please list all your relevant qualifications and experience, including those you expect to achieve.

    Apply now to secure your place. The earlier you apply, the sooner your application can be considered and you can enrol. You do not need to have completed your current qualification to start your application.

    International students: if you need a Student visa to study in the UK, you must meet certain minimum in-person attendance requirements. You will be required to primarily study on campus and so will only be able to apply for the on-campus study mode.

    English Language 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 and foundation programmes 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.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and accredited prior learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university, 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.

  • Fees Fees

    Fees

    Contemporary Literature and Culture MA: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time, on campus, starting September 2023

    Starting September 2023

    To be confirmed

    Contemporary Literature and Culture MA: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time, flexible learning, starting September 2023

    Starting September 2023

    To be confirmed

    Contemporary Literature and Culture MA: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time, online, starting September 2023

    Starting September 2023

    To be confirmed

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Discover the financial support available to you to help with your studies at Birkbeck.

    International Scholarships

    We provide a range of scholarships for eligible international students, including our Global Future Scholarship. Discover if you are eligible for a scholarship.

  • Teaching and Assessment Teaching and Assessment

    Teaching

    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 access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    A mixture of lectures and small-group seminars.

    Key teaching staff on this course

    Teaching hours

    Our evening hours are normally between 6pm and 9pm (6-7.30pm and 7.30-9pm). Some programmes also offer teaching during the day and this will be clearly signposted to you where it is available.

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Scheduled teaching sessions may include lectures, seminars, workshops or laboratory work. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and field trips. On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project (if applicable).

    Alongside your contact hours, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. The amount of time you need to allocate to study both for taught sessions (this might include online sessions and/or in-person sessions) and personal study will depend on how much you are studying during the year and whether you are studying full time or part time.

    Birkbeck’s courses are made up of modules and allocated ‘credit’. One credit is equivalent to ten hours of learning time. Modules are usually in 15, 30 or 60 credit units. A 15-credit module will mean around 150 hours of learning, including taught sessions and independent study or group work. This is spread out over the whole period of that module and includes the time you spend on any assessments, including in examinations, preparing and writing assessments or engaged in practical work as well as any study support sessions to help you in your learning.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students is encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies.

    Timetables

    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 larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    Study skills and additional support

    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

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    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.

  • Careers and employability Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Our graduates are trained to be effective researchers with effective communication skills and an ability to critically assess a wide range of textual and other cultural materials. 

    You will find graduates of this MA in the following kinds of roles:

    • journalism
    • professional writing, including creative writing careers
    • arts administration or research
    • civil service
    • law and business professions
    • publishing
    • political advisor roles
    • social media management
    • film and TV production
    • teaching in schools or as lecturers in further and higher education
    • museum and cultural heritage work
    • curation.

    A number of our master’s students go on to study at PhD level and we provide structured support and guidance if you are interested in this progression.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers Service - Birkbeck Futures - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

  • How to apply How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

    You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification.

    When to apply

    You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol.

    You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply - Birkbeck can offer you a place that is conditional on your results.

    You will also receive information about subject-specific induction sessions over the summer.

    Help and advice with your application

    Get all the information you need about the application, admission and enrolment process at Birkbeck.

    Our online personal statement tool will guide you through every step of writing the personal statement part of your application.

    Apply for your course

    Apply for your course using the apply now button in the key information section at the top of this page.