Explore this course:

    Applications for 2024 entry are now open. Apply now or register your interest to hear about postgraduate study and events at the University of Sheffield.

    2024 start September 

    English Literature

    School of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

    Explore the breadth and depth of English literature through fiction, film, prose and creative writing. Focus on a particular time period, genre or theme or create your own bespoke pathway on our flexible MA programme.
    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.


    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

    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    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.

    Core Module

    Core Skills in Postgraduate Study

    This module will help support you in making the transition to MA study. It is taught through a series of workshops on topics such as writing essays at MA level, finding and using secondary materials, giving presentations, and employability. Throughout, you'll be encouraged to reflect on your experiences and expectations, as well as receiving guidance from lecturers. Although the module is not formally assessed, and does not carry credits, it's taken by all students on the MA English Literature programme and as well as helping you to understand the skills you'll be using at MA level will include reflection on your learning and development.

    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
    Making a Scene: Radical American Poetries of the 20th Century

    In “Making a Scene: Radical American Poetries of the 20th Century” you will explore a pivotal moment in the history of challenging, experimental, innovative American poetics. Your focus will be upon a group of poets working with—and sometimes against—one another in a recognised historical-literary network. In “Making a Scene” you will encounter, reflect upon and critique writers who established significant literary scenes and who, consequently, changed the cultures in which they operated.

    30 credits
    Contemporary Cinemas

    This module encourages you to engage with recent developments in world cinema, and to research and interpret films, filmmakers and movements in contemporary film. You will study examples of contemporary international cinema which are currently being researched by academic staff, and be introduced to key critical and theoretical concepts which can be applied to the analysis of film. The films included for study will be actively chosen to reframe national, aesthetic and cultural debates and to foreground the empowerment and relevance of cultural production. As well as being able to view, appraise and discuss diverse and relevant examples of twenty-first century filmmaking, you will be encouraged to select, analyse and critically evaluate films of your choice, using the module's texts, ideas, approaches and debates as points of departure for your own cinematic research. You will gain and develop skills in close analysis, the application of theory, contextual reading, and researching and writing on important, influential and challenging film texts.

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

    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 explore 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.


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


    Teaching is through seminars.


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

    Your career

    During your studies, you can develop and hone a range of wider skills that are embedded throughout your learning. From time management and digital fluency to problem-solving and critical thinking, we'll help you to build your confidence as you enter the workplace.

    English graduates utilise these skills and go on to work in a wide range of sectors both nationally and internationally, including health, education, local government, marketing and journalism. Some of our recent graduates are working with local collections, in national banking groups and as teachers overseas.

    In particular, you’ll have the opportunity to develop practical skills and apply your studies via the Work Placement scheme.

    This optional 100-hour activity is a fantastic way to distinguish yourself in the job market and many of our students have continued to work with their partner organisation after the module has been completed.

    Students taking the Work Placement module have worked with organisations across a variety of sectors including: heritage and tourism, archives, charities, galleries and arts performance, publishing, events organisation, health and wellbeing, and more.

    Our partner organisations include Bank Street Arts, Bloc Projects, Chatsworth House, Film Hub North, Grimm & Co., Recovery Enterprises, Renishaw Hall, Sheffield Archives, and Sheffield Newspapers - and this list continues to grow.

    Your career - the School of English


    School of English

    We're a research-intensive school with an international perspective on English studies. Students can specialise in their chosen subject, while taking modules from other programmes, forging interdisciplinary connections. We encourage you to get involved and to apply your academic learning, working in partnership with external organisations both within the city of Sheffield and beyond.

    Our staff are researchers, critics, and writers. They're also passionate, dedicated teachers who work tirelessly to ensure their students are inspired.

    We keep seminar groups small because we believe that's the best way to stimulate discussion and debate. Our modules use a range of innovative assessments and can include designing websites, writing blog posts, and working with publishing software, in addition to writing essays and delivering presentations.

    We're committed to providing you with the pastoral support you need in order to thrive on your degree. You'll be assigned a personal tutor with whom you'll have regular meetings. You're welcome to see any of our academic staff in their regular student consultations if there's anything you want to ask.


    Our students get to make the most of the University's facilities across campus. Explore some of the teaching, library and social spaces you'll be able to visit as an arts and humanities student.

    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

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in English literature, language, linguistics or a related subject (eg history, philosophy, modern languages).

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    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.

    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 now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 0220

    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.