MA in English Literature

Our MA in English Literature introduces you to studying literature, poetry, drama and prose in relation to culture and across three broad themes. These are literary-popular culture, includes exploring genre writing, the bestseller and mass literary production; revolution and literature, in which you’ll encounter texts representing revolutionary social or political change; and global literary cultures where you’ll look at English literature as an international literary form. The structure of this masters degree allows you to select options and specialise throughout the first year in preparation for the more sustained self-directed work of the dissertation in year two.

Key features of the course

  • Explore literature as a cultural artefact and a form shaped by commercial production, morality, politics, ideas of value, and histories of difference.
  • Provides options to specialise in at every stage, effectively curating your own pathway.
  • Equips you with practical skills in literary research methods such as archival and manuscript research.
  • Provides the opportunity to design and disseminate your work on digital platforms.

Masters degree

Course 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.
How long it takes
2 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


To gain the 180 credits you require for this qualification, you must study the modules in the order shown below and pass part 1 before progressing to part 2:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
MA English literature part 1 (A893)

You will be introduced to the study of literature ‘in the world’ across three broad themes: ‘the Popular’, ‘Revolution’ and ‘the Global’.

See full description

90 02 Sep 2023
MA English literature part 2 (A894)

This module requires you to write a dissertation on a Literary Studies subject of your choice to complete the MA in English Literature.

See full description

90 02 Sep 2023

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued module A815 may be used in place of A893.

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. Due to the structure of this qualification 90 credits will be required.

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

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. If you are awarded exemption against MA in English Literature part 1 (A893), the first opportunity to start studying MA in English Literature part 2 (A894) is September 2023. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

On completion

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


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. 

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 14 March 2023.

Entry requirements

You must hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent), preferably 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.

The MA in English Literature assumes that a candidate for a masters 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.

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.

If you’re in any doubt about the suitability of your qualifications or previous experience, please contact us for advice.

How long it takes

You will be able to complete this masters qualification within two years by studying one module a year.

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.