2022 start September 

English Literature

School of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Our most flexible MA programme. Choose to focus your studies on a particular specialism or to create your own pathway by choosing from our extensive range of optional modules.
Student reading a book

Course description

This is our most flexible course. It’s designed to let you explore modules from across our degree programmes to create your own pathway.

You can choose to focus your studies in a particular specialism through our pathways in American Literature, Film, Gothic Studies and Literary Linguistics among others, or choose from any of the modules to create the degree that best suits your interests.

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You may choose modules from any of the School of English MAs or pathways:

  • American Literature pathway
  • Medieval and Early Modern pathway
  • Modern and Contemporary pathway
  • Film pathway
  • Literary-Linguistics pathway
  • Gothic Studies pathway

Develop your knowledge across a range of fields including narrative, poetry, cinema and race studies. You’ll cover contemporary and recent American fiction and the way ‘real history’ appears in the texts. You may be able to take selected modules in history offered by the History Department.

In addition to those who have a general fascination with America, this pathway may be of particular interest to students considering a PhD in American literature or culture. A previous background in American literature is not required.

Optional modules may include:

Memory and Trauma in Contemporary Literature

The fictional narratives of Greco-Roman antiquity play a foundational role in the Western literary tradition. In this module students will encounter the extant masterworks of Chariton, Xenophon of Ephesus, Achilles Tatius, Longus, Heliodorus, and Apuleius - authors once widely read in the ancient world - as well as two Jewish and Christian examples: Joseph and Aseneth and the Acts of Paul and Thecla. The ancient novels, the earliest examples of the genre, are a ripe literary field to explore the construction of gender, human sexualities, the relation of lovers to family and society, and the intersection of eroticism with ancient religious sensibilities.

30 credits
Scenes in 20th Century American Poetry

“Scenes in 20th Century American Poetry” offers students an opportunity to focus on a specific episode in the rich and diverse history of American poetic innovation in the last century. The curriculum will change from year to year but topics may include (for example) modernism, confessional poetics, the Beat Generation, or the Black Arts Movement. Looking in detail at this year's topic will allow you to read a small group of poets in depth and to explore their complex positions with their wider cultural scenes, doing so using a variety of methodological approaches.

30 credits
Contemporary Cinemas

This module provides the opportunity for both in-depth and wide-ranging analysis of international cinematic texts drawn from the contemporary period

30 credits
American Nightmares: Socio-political Discourses in American Gothic Literature

Have you ever wondered why there are so many haunted “Indian” burial grounds in Stephen King’s stories or why none of Poe’s heroines ever survive? Have you been struck by how often American socio-political discourse sound like Gothic fictions? The Gothic is a pervasive mode in America, one which expresses and negotiates a variety of social anxieties such as racial identity, patriarchy and the rise of feminism, and class antagonism. This course will examine a variety of Gothic texts from the 1800s onward to consider how they express and negotiate various socio-political anxieties and shifts. We will also contextualize the narratives by reviewing the relevant socio-political ideologies and debates contemporary to the texts. In doing so, the course will clarify the numerous chasms between the American ideal and the brutal American reality.

30 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.


Teaching is by seminars.


You’ll be assessed on your essays, coursework and a 12,000-word dissertation.


  • 1 year full-time
  • 2 years part-time

Student profiles

Profile picture of MA student Elizabeth Gass.

The University of Sheffield stood out for me because of its wonderful English programme and facilities for students. Being a postgraduate in the department has been a challenging and fantastic learning experience

Elizabeth Gass
MA English student

Entry requirements

At least a 2:1 honours degree in English literature, language, linguistics, or a related discipline (e.g. history, philosophy, modern languages) is usually required.

Overall IELTS score of 7.5 with a minimum of 7.0 in each component, or equivalent.

Pathway programme for international students

If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Fees and funding


There are a number of studentships and fee bursaries available, funded by the University. Deadlines for funding applications are usually in winter/early spring.


You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

+44 114 222 8473

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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