MA English part 2

This module enables you to complete your MA in English by producing a dissertation on a topic that you choose yourself, guided by your tutor and building on the study areas and approaches you explored in MA English part 1 (A815). This provides a satisfying culmination to your studies enabling you to demonstrate your command of scholarly techniques and your skill in devising, planning and writing an extended research project in literature. Highly rewarding in its own right, the MA dissertation is also an ideal preparation for doctoral level research and for a wide range of careers.

Vocational relevance

In combination with the wide-ranging issues and concepts explored in MA English part 1 (A815), this module will provide you with an extensive theoretical and practical training in major issues in the study of literature, as well as in research methods, project planning and writing. The MA is the ideal preparation for higher-level doctoral study, and indeed an MA qualification is usually required for admission to a programme of research leading to a PhD.

The training in research and writing that you acquire in the course of your MA studies will also be invaluable for any job for which a high level of research and writing skills are required, and is of specific relevance for careers such as teaching, journalism and other media work, and librarianship. The MA in English can open up a wide range of careers, from the city to the civil service, from the classroom to the newsroom.


A816 is a compulsory module in our:

  • MA in English (F58)
This qualification is no longer available to new students.


Module code


  • 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.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

In this module you'll move on to the planning and research for the MA dissertation, which will be on a topic and texts of your own choice. You'll have the opportunity to draw on the study areas and approaches you explored in MA English part 1 (A815), including issues of intertextuality, translation, adaptation or book history. Your tutor will help you decide on its focus and range. Your tutor will also provide advice and feedback on developing a viable dissertation proposal and on making an initial review of the primary and secondary sources relevant to your chosen research topic.

There will be two specific stages of guidance before you submit your final dissertation: firstly, you'll devise your topic and prepare an outline proposal in consultation with your tutor; and secondly, a month or so later, you will prepare a sample chapter on which you will receive feedback from your tutor. You will then spend the rest of the year completing the dissertation. This is your chance to work independently to develop a topic in which you are passionately interested, and to exercise and enhance the skills you have acquired during part 1 of the MA.

You will learn

This is the second part of a two-part programme, which, continuing from part 1, will:

  • further develop the skills you acquired in part 1 of the MA and enable you to apply them in a research project and dissertation
  • further enhance your knowledge and understanding of how competing and overlapping critical and theoretical perspectives bear upon the practice of literary research at postgraduate level
  • provide further training in research tools and methods appropriate to postgraduate study in literature
  • enable you to design a programme of independent research and writing.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will help you decide upon a suitable dissertation topic and provide feedback on drafts of your work at set points in the module. Your tutor will also support you via online forums (on the A816 website) or by email or phone as appropriate.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

You will complete three assignments related to your planning and research for the dissertation, which will marked by your tutor although they do not form part of the assessment of your final MA. The first of these will be a brief (1500 word) dissertation proposal for comment and approval by your tutor. The second will consist of a sample chapter (up to 5000 words), on which your tutor will provide detailed feedback. This chapter will form part of your final dissertation (12,000-15,000 words), on which you will then work independently. The third assignment will consist of another sample chapter of new material and a commentary on the proposed final direction of your dissertation (up to 5,000 words in total). This module will be assessed solely on the final dissertation, as submitted. The dissertation will be assessed by your tutor and a second marker. Their recommendations will help to determine the result awarded by the Module Results Panel.

You will submit your dissertation in hard copy, and you will find instructions for doing this in the Dissertation Guide.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

MA English part 2 starts once a year – in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2023 when we expect it to start for the last time.


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

    Entry requirements

    Normally you must have completed one of the discontinued modules MA English part 1 (A815) (or AA810 and either A811 or A813) before you take this module. Alternatively, you can complete your MA by taking A816 if you have already gained 120 credits from the discontinued MA in Literature (F29). 

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Outside the UK

    It is possible to study this module outside the UK, though you will need to ensure that you will be able to access relevant primary and secondary source materials. You will almost certainly need to arrange physical access to a research library in order to use material that is only available in print form.

    Preparatory work

    You will have begun to think about the topic for your dissertation, and begun some initial reading and planning for it before the end of the taught module, MA English part 1 (A815). Before the formal start of A816 you should be compiling your initial bibliography of primary and secondary sources relevant to your topic, and should be thinking about how you might structure your dissertation, so that you are ready to submit your proposal without delay when the module starts.


    Start End England fee Register
    06 May 2023 Jan 2024 -

    Registration now closed

    May 2023 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    MA English part 2 starts once a year – in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2023 when we expect it to start for the last time.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    Ways to pay for this module

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    You will be provided with a Dissertation Guide setting out specific guidance on the planning and preparation of your dissertation. It will include details of the tasks that you need to undertake along with cut-off dates for assignments. Certain of the critical Readings provided for the part 1 module (A815) may continue to be useful as you plan and work on your dissertation. The Handbook to Literary Research is a set book for this module as well as for A815. It will become increasingly important as you begin independent work on your dissertation. You will have access to a dedicated website which includes online tutorial access and forums and very extensive electronic resources via The Open University Library.

    Computing requirements

    You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

    Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

    To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

    Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

    It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

    If you have a disability

    Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material is available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.