UCL Graduate degrees


English: Issues in Modern Culture MA

This MA programme introduces students to major works of 19th and 20th-century British, French and American writers and provides a context for those works in philosophical and technological developments of the period. The programme explores a wide range of genres and authors and encourages the development of independent research skills.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2018

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2018/19)

£10,140 (FT) £5,120 (PT)
£21,160 (FT) £10,740 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 16 October 2017
Close: 29 June 2018

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard will normally be required. This is a competitive MA, however, and the majority of our successful applicants either have, or are predicted to gain, a first class undergraduate degree (or overseas equivalent).

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

About this degree

The core module develops a close reading of works by writers of the period, while the optional modules offer the opportunity to analyse some of the technologies, media, philosophical perspectives and art forms whose development during the 20th century has made itself felt in modernist and postmodernist writing.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of one core module (60 credits), three optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core module

  • Authors (including Gustave Flaubert, D.H. Lawrence; T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Ellison, Alfred Hitchcock, Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison, Alan Hollinghurst, David Foster Wallace). Please see UCL English website for more.

Optional modules

  • The majority of students elect to take Contexts, which explores the relationship between modern culture and the city from the 1860s to the present day, and may include the following topics:
  • The Body and Technology
  • Catastrophe and the City
  • Psychogeography
  • Class and the City
  • The Harlem Renaissance
  • Hollywood Fiction
  • Queer Fictions and the City
  • Students then take further optional modules. Options available change every year, but in recent years have included:
  • Contemporary Poetry
  • American Counter-Culture
  • 21st Century Fiction
  • Modernism, Sex and Redemption
  • Afrofuturism
  • Inventions of Cinema
  • Marxist Aesthetics in the 20th Century
  • Cultures of Chance: Accident, Error, and Catastrophe in post-1945 Literature and Culture
  • Global Anglophone Literature


All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000 words.

Teaching and learning

Each module is taught through a weekly seminar. Assessment is through take-home written examination, essays and the research dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: English: Issues in Modern Culture MA


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


The programme is an ideal preliminary stage to doctoral research and candidates who obtain the MA and have found a promising subject requiring further study are encouraged to apply to the UCL MPhil/PhD programme.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Assistant Editor, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Commissioning Editor, CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
  • Copywriter / Strategist, Zenith Optimedia
  • Researcher, AMVBBDO
  • Copywriter, Freelance Copywriter

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL English has an outstanding record for research; many staff publish in mainstream as well as academic media: some are regular reviewers for newspapers and periodicals.

Excellent facilities are provided by the UCL library. It has several important holdings including the James Joyce Collection and the George Orwell Archive.

Our graduate students have access to an incomparable range of archives and libraries, including Senate House Library and the British Library, both of which are nearby.

Department: English Language & Literature

Student / staff numbers › 33 staff including 2 postdocs › 67 taught students › 49 research students
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: English Language & Literature
85% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

What our students and staff say

Staff view

"UCL English is a world-class department with a reputation both for prioritising the pedagogic relationship between academic staff and students and for nurturing original literary-historical scholarship. My research over the last few years has focused on the history and representation of metropolitan cities, especially at night. The various modules are terrifically rewarding, especially as the department encourages thinking outside narrow scholarly specialisms."

Professor Matthew Beaumont

English: Issues in Modern Culture
UCL English Language and Literature

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Application fee: There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. More details about the application fee can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

The programme is particularly suitable for graduates with a first degree in English, although applicants holding a degree in another subject will be considered. The programme gives students a thorough grounding in the skills needed for independent research, and is an ideal foundation for further academic study in this field.

Application deadlines

All applicants
29 June 2018

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study English: Issues in Modern Culture at graduate level
  • why you want to study English: Issues in Modern Culture at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Contact information

Page last modified on 3 May 2018 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing