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MA in English

From Genesis to JM Coetzee, our MA in English offers you a rich and exciting experience of higher level literary study. You'll broaden your knowledge and appreciation of different genres, periods, techniques and writers, and of the ways in which they have been transmitted and read. You'll also develop your independent skills in literary research that will culminate in a dissertation on a topic and texts of your own choosing. This course can help you pursue or develop a career in the media, culture and knowledge industries, and other professions that require understanding of literature and culture, and skills in the creative use of textual analysis.

Key features of the course

  • Explores a wide range of literary texts from ancient times to the present
  • Equips you with key research methods in literary study
  • Provides ideal preparation for doctoral level research and a wide range of careers.

Masters degree

Course code
F58
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
180
How long it takes
2–10 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

You must pass MA English part 1 before studying MA English part 2. 

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
MA English part 1 (A815)

Expand on your previous study and prepare for your dissertation through an exploration of a rich variety of literary texts, from the ancient past to the present.

See full description

Register
120 29 Sep 2018
MA English part 2 (A816)

In this module you will produce a dissertation which will provide a satisfying culmination to your MA studies and ideal preparation for doctoral level research.

See full description

Register
60 04 May 2019

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you. 
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

Credit transfer is not available for this qualification.


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded the Master of Arts in English entitling you to use the letters MA (Engl) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

If you leave the programme before you qualify for the MA you can gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Humanities (D35) after successfully completing the 120-credit module MA English part 1 (A815).

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

To undertake this postgraduate study successfully, you will need to have an undergraduate honours degree, ideally in English or a closely related subject. Although your degree need not be in English, you must show some knowledge of the subject, together with the study skills expected of a graduate in this field. You should be aware that a degree of at least 2.1 or equivalent will greatly increase your chances of successfully completing the MA.

It is expected that your spoken and written English will also be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 7 under the International English Language testing system (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

The MA English assumes that a candidate for a master’s degree already has the knowledge and skills usually acquired by pursuing the subject at undergraduate level. The qualification will not offer remedial undergraduate training for those who have an inappropriate undergraduate degree or inadequate experience. Any student beginning the qualification without an undergraduate degree or equivalent experience in English should do so at their own risk. If you would like further advice regarding this, please speak to an adviser.

Before you enter the degree you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, accurate prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument.

To get an idea of whether the level of work involved and the approach taken on this MA is appropriate for you, you are advised to read some sections of material from the set books list for MA English part 1 (A815). In particular, we would suggest that you read the introduction to The Handbook to Literary Research. Chapter 2 of The Handbook also provides you with an indication of the skills you will need to be ready to develop in order to complete the MA. Other chapters of The Handbook give you an idea of some of the approaches to literary research with which you will have opportunities to engage on the MA. If you would like help to assess your preparedness you can contact us for advice.

How long it takes

Modules on this MA are studied during a fixed period each year. The minimum overall time in which it is possible to complete the qualification is two years, studying the modules consecutively. If you do not study the modules consecutively, you must have completed them by a maximum of 10 years to qualify for the degree.

Career relevance

This degree is relevant to careers that directly call on knowledge of English literature and culture. It may also be relevant for careers that demand skills in the creative use and analysis of texts of various sorts, critical thinking and organisation, and understanding of culture in a broad sense. It is also useful (particularly alongside relevant skills and experience) if you aim to work in the media, culture or knowledge industries – or are employed already in these areas and need further qualifications to progress.  A masters degree can be useful for professional development in teaching, and if you want to pursue an academic career it provides good preparation for the higher level research that is prerequisite (such as a PhD).

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.