Contemporary Literature MA

Our Contemporary Literature MA encourages you to discover some exciting new authors, as well as exploring new approaches to contemporary writing and theory.

York St John University
Course fees
2019 - 20 Full-time Home & EU students: £5,000, International (non EU) students: £12,750 per annum
Full-time & Part-time options available
Start date
September 2019

Course overview

Our Contemporary Literature Masters course allows students to explore new approaches to contemporary literature and examine the innovations, diversity and practice of writing now. You will have the chance to read a range of work (including novels, poetry, drama, memoir, and creative non-fiction) from contemporary writers, and you will be encouraged to consider the relationship between contemporary writing and current theory.

York is a fantastic place to be if you love books and reading. Each year, the city celebrates its literary heritage with the York Literature Festival, for which our programme organises several events. In recent years, our students have had the chance to attend talks and readings by Margaret Atwood, Germaine Greer, Will Self, Carol Ann Duffy, Mark Gatiss, Ian McMillan and Michel Faber. As part of your Contemporary Literature MA, you will have the opportunity to attend free workshops, writing sessions and readings as part of your degree experience.

Want to find out more? Follow us on Twitter at @YSJLit and have a look at our popular blog site Words Matter.

If youany specific queries regarding the Contemporary Literature MA please contact the Subject Director, Dr Anne-Marie Evans.

Course structure

This Contemporary Literature MA is structured so that students study four taught modules and a dissertation. There are three terms in the year, and you should expect to take two modules each term as a full time student, and one module each term as a part-time student. All modules are compulsory.

Classes take place once a week for each module. There are three terms across the year, and each term runs for three weeks. You can study part-time (taking one module each term) or full time (two modules each term). Classes are taught during the week, and often take place in the early evening.


Critical perspectives on Contemporary Literature - This is the first module that students take, and it is designed to be a foundational module which provides opportunities for critical reflection and fosters research and writing skills. You will engage with a range of theoretical debates in contemporary literary study.

British Literature: The State of the Art - This module allows students to investigate current trends in British fiction, poetry and drama. You will read new and established writers and assess the dominant issues in contemporary British literary culture.

Contemporary American Writing - On this module, students have the opportunity to debate the impact and importance of American writing from the late twentieth century until the present day. You will consider the formation of American identities and ideologies through studying a range of contemporary literature.

Post-Colonial Literatures - This module considers the diversity of new writings in English and theories of the post-colonial condition. You will read recent writing in English from the Caribbean, Africa, India, Canada or Australasia and consider the historical, cultural and political issues that arise from post-colonial texts.

Teaching and Learning

The aim of all our teaching is to help you become a better writer and literary critic, to challenge you to consider new ideas and concepts, and to support you in understanding the complex connections between literature, theory, and contemporary debates. The MA is taught by weekly two hour seminars for each module. You will have the opportunity to discuss the week’s reading with your tutor and with the rest of the group, in a friendly and intellectually stimulating learning environment. We offer special writing workshops to help students make the transition to postgraduate writing, and students also have the opportunity to work with the Royal Literary Fund Fellow.

Research Opportunites

We are a dynamic, engaged, and research-active team who are committed to providing our students with a cutting-edge education. Our postgraduate teaching is based on current research interests and projects, and is inspired by the contemporary debates informing current literary studies. In addition, MA Contemporary Literature students have the opportunity to organise a one-day literary symposium as part of their postgraduate experience, and the MA Coordinator works to support students throughout the year.

Assessment and Feedback

You will encounter a range of assessment including essays, annotated bibliographies, reflective writing, and presentations. Assessment opportunities are designed to help you develop your skills as a writer, researcher, and as a literary critic, and also to help you prepare for future employment. Most modules are assessed by one piece of coursework (usually 5000-6000 words) and you will have the chance to discuss your ideas and get formative feedback throughout the term. The dissertation is the intellectual culmination of your postgraduate experience. You will submit your dissertation proposal in January and work with your supervisor during the year, submitting your final piece (12,000 words) in August. This process helps you to become an independent researcher and you will be required to manage your own academic project.

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.

Entry requirements

UK/EU Students

Applicants should have an Undergraduate degree in this or a related subject, normally at 2:1 level or above. 

International Students

International students will need to demonstrate that they have equivalent experience /qualifications as home students (ie the same entry criteria as above). If their first language is not English they must show evidence of English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

UK & EU 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2019 entry to this postgraduate course is £5,000 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For part-time options, see the Fees & Funding webpages for more information 

Postgraduate Loan: A Postgraduate Loan is available to help you pay for your Master’s course. Find out more about the postgraduate loan.

A 10% discount is applicable to all YSJU Alumni (subject to a minimum of 120 credits and achievement of a recognised award) undertaking PG level study (excludes PGCE).

Overseas 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2019 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, International Students on a Tier 4 visa must be studying full-time. For more information about Visa requirements and Short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration webpages.

International Fees & Funding

How to Apply

You can apply directly to the Contemporary Literature MA course via our Apply Now links. Please select the variant of the course that you intend to undertake (e.g. full-time or part-time) as the link will take you to a customised form for the specific course. You will need to create a login and password and complete the online form. Please contact two referees in advance of submitting your application as an automated request will go out as soon as you submit, and your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

Applications for 2019 entry must be submitted and completed by 5 October 2019.

Apply Now: Full-time

Apply Now: Part-time


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Do you have a question about this course? Fill out our form to send a question to our Admissions team. Alternatively, you can call us on 01904 876598.

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