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MA in English


Our MA in English offers you a rich and exciting experience of higher level literary study broadening your knowledge and appreciation of different genres, periods, techniques and writers, and of the ways in which they have been transmitted and read. This MA enables you to develop your independent skills in literary research, culminating in a dissertation on a topic and texts of your choice. It can also help you pursue or develop a career in the media, culture and knowledge industries, and other professions that directly call upon knowledge of English literature and culture and requires skills in the creative use of analysis of various forms of text.

Planning your studies

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in English course. Your degree need not be in English but you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area. The first module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches in English but does not offer remedial undergraduate training for those who have an inappropriate bachelors degree or inadequate experience. 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.

Before you enter the degree you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, grammatically correct and accurately spelt 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.

If you would like help to assess your preparedness you can contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service for advice.

You must pass MA English part 1 (A815) before studying MA English part 2 (A816). Alternatively, you can complete your MA by taking A816 if you have already gained 120 credits from the discontinued MA in Literature (F29). You must include at least 30 credits from the discontinued modules A810 or AA810 and at least 60 credits from the discontinued modules A811, A812 or A813.

You must complete this qualification within ten years.

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.

Career relevance and employability

If you wish to pursue an academic career in higher education or research this degree will provide a pathway toward a higher level research qualification (e.g. Ph.D.), which is essential for such a career. A masters degree can be useful in pursuing a teaching career in schools. If you expect to pursue a career in media, culture or knowledge industries – or are employed already in such industries and seek further qualifications to enhance career progression – a masters degree, alongside relevant skills and experience, can be useful. This degree is relevant to those careers that directly call upon 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.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this masters degree you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate 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

120 Oct 2015
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

60 May 2016

Learning outcomes

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, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

For this qualification, we do not allow you to count credit for study you have already done elsewhere.

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).


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Taught Masters
Code F58
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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