English: Issues in Modern Culture MA

London, Bloomsbury

Cement your skills for possible future careers in research, the media or communications through this programme that explores literary works and societal developments from c. 1900 onwards. The English: Issues in Modern Culture MA enables you to study a range of media, forms and genres while developing crucial research skills. Taught at UCL, with its acclaimed academics, leading research and literary collections, this is a unique opportunity. 

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 05 Apr 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

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).

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

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

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The programme explores a range of media, forms and genres using a variety of scholarly approaches, and encourages the development of independent research skills. The Modern Literature and Culture module encourages close reading of works by writers of the period, while the Critical Contexts and the Special Topics modules offer the opportunity to analyse technologies, media, philosophical perspectives and art forms underpinning writing from c.1900 to the present.

Who this course is for

The programme is particularly suitable for graduates with a first degree in English, although applicants holding a degree in a related 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.

What this course will give you

UCL English has an outstanding research record, with 94% of our research outputs being graded as 4* 'world leading' or 3* 'internationally excellent' in the REF 2021. Staff publish in mainstream as well as academic media, and some publish original creative work.

Excellent facilities are provided by the UCL library. It has several important holdings including the James Joyce Collection, the Little Magazines, Alternative Press and Poetry Store Collections, and the George Orwell Archive.

Students have access to an incomparable range of resources, including those at Senate House Library and the British Library nearby. The department holds regular research seminars and facilitates engagement with a range of events and institutions of literary culture in London.

The foundation of your career

Graduates from this MA will be strongly equipped to find employment in fields such as professional writing, publishing, journalism, film and television, advertising and marketing, third-sector work, social enterprise, and teaching. The programme is also an ideal preliminary stage for doctoral research in literature; candidates who obtain the MA and have found a promising subject requiring further study are encouraged to apply to the UCL MPhil/PhD programme.


Studying on this MA programme will help students to develop their written and oral communication skills; their ability to analyse and synthesise ideas and to organise complex materials in a lucid manner; their capacity for logical argumentation and critical thinking; and their time management and independent working skills.


Students enrolled on the MA in Issues in Modern Culture benefit from a number of networking opportunities over the course of their degree. An Alumni/Careers event held towards the end of every autumn term provides students with a chance to hear, meet, and ask questions of a number of returning alumni (these typically include journalists, editors, publishers, writers, teachers, and early-career academics). The Departmental graduate research seminar, which runs throughout the year, also affords students regular occasions to hear visiting speakers, staff members, and fellow graduate students give presentations about their work. These talks are followed by a drinks reception during which students can mingle with academics operating in different fields and at different levels. Likewise, the annual graduate conference, held in the summer term of every year, allows students to hear and give academic papers, and to network with both illustrious and fledgling academics.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a mix of seminars, one-to-one tutorials, as well as private study and research. The Modern Literature and Culture and Critical Contexts modules run over two terms; the Special Topics modules run over one term. A module will involve two hours of contact time per week. You are actively encouraged to take part in the learning process by asking questions about, and critically evaluating, the content of your teaching. During the programme, you will write essays and, for the Critical Contexts module and Dissertation, abstracts, which you will discuss in one-to-one tutorials.

Each module is taught through a weekly two-hour seminar. The Modern Literature and Culture, Critical Contexts and Special Topics modules are assessed by essay. The final piece of assessment is a Dissertation research project. Abstracts for the Critical Contexts essay and Dissertation will be discussed in one-to-one tutorials.

Across the whole programme, 40 hours of a student's time are spent in seminars, 3 hours in one-to-one tutorials, and typically 1760 hours in independent study, which will include self-study, coursework and dissertation writing. Students will also attend a viva in term 3 to discuss their dissertation research (term 3 of the second year for part-time students).


In terms 1 and 2 you will study the compulsory module, ‘Modern Literature and Culture’, which is taught weekly and orchestrates close reading and discussions of some of the genres and concepts which have influenced writers and culture in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. The themes typically covered include The Contemporary, Modernisms, Experiments in Form, and Popular & Visual Cultures.

In addition, in term 1 you will study the Critical Contexts module which reads literature and other art forms (ranging from the high-brow to the popular) in the context of a broad range of theoretical, societal, philosophical, and technological developments.

In term 2, in addition to the Modern Literature and Culture module, you will take the modules Special Topics in Modern Culture 1 and Special Topics in Modern Culture 2, each of which runs for five weeks. These Special Topics modules explore specific authors, periods, movements or thematic concerns of related works of literature or films. In recent years, this has included an exploration of themes such as: Cultures of Offence; Cultures of Chance: Accident, Error and Catastrophe in Literature and Culture from 1960; The American Counterculture; Contemporary Poetry; Inventions of Cinema; History and Fantasy in Modernist Literature; Global Anglophone Fiction; Afrofuturism; Modern Ecologies: Literature and the Environment.

The modules are designed to give you a thorough grounding in the skills needed for independent research. Emphasis is placed on the production of a dissertation in which you have extensive scope to develop your own individual research interests. The title of the Dissertation, together with an abstract of the proposed topic, will be submitted to the Course Convenor at the beginning of term 3. You will then discuss the proposed topic in a half-hour viva with your primary and secondary supervisor. You will have two further half-hour tutorials with your primary supervisor while you are writing the dissertation during term 3 and the summer months.

If you are studying on a part-time basis, you will take Modern Literature and Culture in your first year, and the Critical Contexts and Special Topics modules in your second year. The Dissertation will be submitted at the end of your second year. 

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in English: Issues in Modern Culture.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £15,100 £7,550
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

Additional costs may include expenses such as books, stationery, printing or photocopying, and conference registration fees.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

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

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

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