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MA English

Summary 2015/16

  • Combine the study of early modern and/or modern and contemporary literature with modern and contemporary culture, film and history;
  • Benefit from a distinct interdisciplinary curriculum;
  • Study subjects which are not commonly available within a single MA, including historical topics approached from the perspective of literature, history, popular culture and film;
  • Study a programme taught by a supportive team of specialist tutors with interests in literature, popular culture, genre studies, modern history, women’s studies and film.

The MA in English covers literature and popular culture in their historical contexts from the sixteenth century to the present day. It provides you with the opportunity to undertake a comparative study of literature, history and film and develop transferable research skills and methodologies.

The programme will appeal if you are interested in combining the study of ‘serious’ literature with popular writing, women’s literature, or topics, such as Empire, American national identity, the Victorian period, Holocaust or Second World War, approached as interdisciplinary case studies from the perspective of literature, history, popular culture and film. The course has an interdisciplinary focus, allowing you to work across subject boundaries, and provides excellent preparation if you wish to pursue a research-based higher degree, such as a PhD, in the future.

Location: Edge Hill University
UKPASS: P041450
Course Type: Masters Degree
Attendance & Study Mode:
1 year: Full Time
2 years: Part Time
Start Date: September 2015

2015/16 Entry Requirements

To join this programme, a good first degree in a relevant subject is normally required (2.2 or above).

How do I apply?

Apply online at

Visit for more information on the application process.

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Student Profiles

Department Website

English and History


What will I study?

The programme consists of two compulsory modules (20 credits each), four optional modules (20 credits each) and a compulsory dissertation (60 credits). You will be guided to a combination of optional modules focusing on early modern and/or modern and contemporary literature, or a combination of literature modules and modules on a historical topic or theme.

If you are interested in literature, the available options cover texts from the sixteenth century to the present day. Themes include gender, popular culture, eighteenth-century poetry, the graphic novel, ‘transgressive’ women’s writing and print culture.

History-related modules focus on themes from the last three centuries, including topics such as Empire, masculinity, the Holocaust and the Second World War, approached as interdisciplinary case studies involving the study of history, literature, culture (especially popular culture) and film.

How will I study?

You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and guided independent learning. Taught sessions take place between 6pm-9pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday evenings. If you are studying full-time you will attend two evenings per week and if you are studying part-time you will attend one evening per week.

Who will be teaching me?

You will be taught by a team of specialist tutors who are active researchers and committed teachers with interests in literature, popular culture, genre studies, modern history, women’s studies, history and film.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of assignments which, depending on the modules you choose, may include essays, critical reviews, critical diaries, presentations and research-based projects and a dissertation.

What are my career prospects?

Graduates in the humanities with a higher degree find employment in a wide variety of careers such as teaching, arts organisation and management, the heritage industry, publishing, advertising, journalism, libraries and learning centres, and management / administration.

Related Programmes

Fees and Finance

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for full-time study on this MA are £4,680 for UK and EU students and £12,000 for international students enrolling on the programme in academic year 2015/16.

Tuition fees for part-time study on this MA are £26 per credit for UK and EU students enrolling on the programme in academic year 2015/16.

180 credits are required to complete a Masters degree. Please note, the University may administer a small inflationary rise in part-time postgraduate tuition fees in subsequent academic years as you progress through the course.

Financial Support

For comprehensive information about the financial support available to eligible UK and EU students joining postgraduate courses at Edge Hill University in academic year 2015/16, together with details of how to apply for potential funding, please view our Money Matters 2015/16 guide at

Financial support information for international students can be found at

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Edge Hill University recognises learning gained elsewhere, whether through academic credit and qualifications acquired from other relevant courses of study or through recognition of an individual's professional and employment experience (also referred to as 'experiential learning').

Previous learning that is recognised in this way may be used towards meeting the entry requirements for a programme and/or for exemption from part of a programme. It is your responsibility to make a claim for recognition of prior learning. For guidance, please consult the University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy and contact the faculty in which you are interested in studying.

Where can I find out more?

If you would like to receive a copy of our prospectus or be kept updated about forthcoming events, contact Course Enquiries by emailing or calling 01695 657000.

If you want to attend one of our open events held throughout the year, visit to book your place.

You will also find Edge Hill University staff at many postgraduate study fairs taking place across the UK and Ireland.

Still want more?

If you have any questions you would like to ask the programme leader about this course, please contact:

  • Dr Minna Vuohelainen, Department of English and History, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire L39 4QP
  • Tel: 01695 584363
  • Email:

Overseas students should visit or email for further information.

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HUM4000 Critical Approaches to Postgraduate Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (20 credits) introduces you to shared concepts and themes in studying language, literature, history, film and culture. The module will place these themes and concepts in a historical context and introduce you to relevant issues concerning them (for example, debates around postmodernism and postfeminism). You will be encouraged to recognise and explore the social relevance of differing approaches and perspectives. The module will also introduce you to the wider significance of taught postgraduate study and the humanities through personal development planning.

HUM4002 Research Philosophies and Methodologies (20 credits) introduces you to the importance of research for advanced study. The module examines the different ways in which the concept of research can be understood in relation to the humanities; the key concepts, themes and terms employed in literary, language, historical and cultural research; and what is meant by, and involved in, undertaking interdisciplinary research. You will be directed to key resources such as libraries, archives and online databases. The module is underpinned by the aim of providing guidance in organising, structuring and managing research as well as carefully honing analytical skills which enable assessment of the relevance and value of primary materials.

HUM4003 Dissertation (60 credits) provides you with the opportunity to undertake in-depth and extended study within a chosen specific area of literature, history, culture, women's writing and film. Through consultation with an appropriate supervisor, you will develop a detailed and sustained line of analysis that is personal to your research interests. Developing both oral and written skills, the module will foster guided independent inquiry that will culminate in a dissertation project.

You will select four of the following modules:

HUM4006 From Female to Postfeminist Gothic (20 credits) charts the movement from the Female Gothic's associations with second wave feminism to Postfeminist Gothic's links to postfeminism. Exploring a variety of key Gothic texts from the eighteenth century to the present day, the module considers shifting notions of female subjectivity. In particular, you will focus on representations of female agency and the relationship between victim and victimiser. From the staged femininity and 'Gothic feminism' of Radcliffe's heroines to more active deployments of femininity and female sexuality in contemporary Gothic fiction, the module will trace the rise of the new critical concept of Postfeminist Gothic.

HUM4007 Cultures of Anatomy (20 credits) considers the way artistic representation of the human body has been affected by scientific discourse, in particular the professionalisation of medicine. The module introduces some landmarks of medical modernity, such as Vesalius's De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543) and the British Anatomy Act (1832). You will study key texts of the 'anatomy literature' such as Frankenstein (1818) and Death’s Jest-Book (1829) and investigate fundamental ideological and ethical issues at stake in the dissection and mapping of the human form. Assessment will be by supported independent research on themes such as anatomical display, morbid dissection and grave-robbing in cultural texts.

HUM4009 Women and Popular Culture (20 credits) examines the shifting representations of women in American and British popular culture from the 1960s to the present day. In particular, the module will focus on the repositioning of feminine images and language that range from second wave feminist notions of the 'feminine mystique' to 1980s backlash accounts of the 'superwoman' and the 1990s post-feminist re-embrace of femininity and 'Girl Power'. You will explore the contradictions surrounding modern-day femininity and its complicated relationship with feminism, post-feminism and concepts of female victimisation.

HUM4012 Transgressive Women: Fatales, Grrrls and Dangerous Women (20 credits) explores mediated representations of transgressive women, figures both historical and fictional who have flouted gender conventions, broken patriarchal rules and been subject to both vitriol and fear. It is a predominantly cultural study, drawing upon established concepts and contemporary research across the disciplines of history, literature, film and cultural studies. Images, narratives and myths of dangerous and transgressive women are analysed and interrogated for their functions in patriarchy and in feminism, both as spectacular objects and active subjects.

HUM4013 Hearts of Darkness: Imagining the Empire (20 credits) is informed, but not totally shaped, by some of the insights of post-colonial theorists. At the heart of the module is the belief that the experience of empire had a profound effect on British identity, defined in relation to the colonial ‘other’. This process of definition is preserved within a multitude of cultural products. For example, the TV advertisements for Fry's Turkish Delight in the 1960s and 1970s, a product described as 'full of Eastern promise', tapped into the supposed sensuality of the Middle East and, in doing so, were derivatives of images popularised in Rudolph Valentino films of the 1920s (The Sheikh and The Son of the Sheikh). In a different vein, the 1935 film, Sanders of the River portrays black Africans as both childlike and savage; a negative, double identity that is, arguably, reproduced in The Last King of Scotland (2006).

HUM4014 Cinema, History and American National Identity (20 credits) explores the construction and affirmation of American national identity as found in filmic representations of that nation's history. A case study of a specific historical period or crisis, such as a time of war, will draw upon a genre-based methodology to discover the tension that exists between cinema conventions and the requirements of a national mythology. Thus, the module aims to investigate and evaluate American cinema's myths of ancestry and the mediation of history through film.

HUM4015 The Victorian City: Image and Reality (20 credits) investigates and analyses the image and reality of the Victorian city in England. Much of the material will focus on the 1880s and 1890s, an important era in which knowledge of dense urban centres was extended and became a source not only of interest but of fascination and anxiety. This engagement was vividly demonstrated in social accounts, journalism and popular fiction, particularly slum, detective and gothic fiction, through which social concerns about surveillance and safety were played out. The module brings together a range of historical, journalistic and literary documents from the period to facilitate your critical engagement with constructions of the city at the fin de siècle.

HUM4016 Men and Supermen: Masculinities in Twentieth Century Narratives (20 credits) examines a range of twentieth century texts (literature, film and graphic novels) that explore representations of masculinity and male identity in relation to current gender theory. Each week, you will consider a key text in order to gain a better understanding of contemporary male subjectivity. Focusing on a variety of manifestations of masculinity, the module will trace these variable and diverse forms of masculinity within their historical and cultural contexts.

HUM4017 Remembering the Holocaust: Memory, Identity and Trauma in the Twentieth Century (20 credits) explores the differing constructions of memory, trauma and identity in representations of the Holocaust. Drawing on memoirs, second-generation accounts, literary and artistic representations and historical interpretations, the module interrogates the connections and distinctions between the first-hand 'memory' of Holocaust survivors, second-generation 'postmemory', collective memory and history. The module explores how traumatic experiences of loss, grief and destruction are conveyed through these different types and genres of representation. You will also examine how the act of remembering impacts on the identities of individuals, families and societies.

HUM4018 Popular Culture 1880-1920 (20 credits) investigates the emergence of mainstream popular culture in Britain in the period 1880-1920. Following the Education Acts of the 1870s and the 1880s, literate and numerate lower-middle-class workers gathered in urban areas. With real income on the increase, they created a market for mainstream entertainment. New printing techniques, growing literacy rates and technological innovations ushered in a golden age of popular culture. The module explores a number of developments in this field, including a range of popular journalism, genre fiction, early cinema and the performing arts.

HUM4019 Re-making the Nation: Propaganda, Culture and Identity in the Second World War (20 credits) explores the idea that British identity was re-modelled as a consequence of the Second World War. The module will examine the idea that the need to mobilise the entire population for the war effort, and the incorporation of a wide range of forms of cultural production into the propaganda effort, had the effect of drastically altering notions of Britishness. In this respect, the war might be seen as a transition between the more visibly hierarchical and economically Laissez-faire 1930s, and the Welfare State of the post-war world.

HUM4020 Verbal and Visual Landscapes: The Art of Eighteenth Century Poetry (20 credits) examines the aesthetic nature of landscape and the relationship between being and place in a variety of eighteenth-century poems. Some of the most significant recent developments in eighteenth-century studies have been stimulated by considerations of space, place and landscape. From country to city, sublime to picturesque, regional to national, the module will trace a critical path through various spatial and geographic representations. As you journey through these landscapes and engage with the 'geographical imagination' of poets, you will deploy various theoretical frames, including Raymond William's cultural politics of landscape and Martin Heidegger's phenomenological accounts of dwelling and being, in order to gain a better understanding of the art of eighteenth-century poetry.

HUM4021 The Modern Prison (20 credits) subjects one of the most iconic institutions in modern society to critical scrutiny. The module will investigate the location of the prison within public imagination and language, government policy, and the experience of those subject to incarceration. Important historical events and shifts in government policy will be examined as well as their impact upon the public conscience. In many respects, the prison has remained embedded in the past but both social science and science fiction have considered how the prison of the future may be constructed, including its location, administration and the treatment of its detainees.

HUM4022 The Making of Liverpool (20 credits) focuses on the early history of the Liverpool region up to 1900. You will gain an in-depth awareness of topics such as social and welfare reform, the development of health infrastructure in the city, social and religious unrest, the management of criminality, the development of transport policy, and the consequences of the city's physical growth. The module enables you to investigate any one of these areas further and to develop research that brings together history and culture in new ways within a local context.

HUM4023 Representations of Liverpool (20 credits) focuses on the history of the Liverpool region since 1900. You will gain an in-depth awareness of topics such as the consequences of the city’s physical growth, the rise of a major cultural scene, linguistic change, and literary and on-screen representations. The module enables you to develop your interest in any one or all of these areas further and to develop research that reports on the way the area's history since 1900 has influenced contemporary culture and writing, both locally and nationally.

HUM4024 African Americans and U.S. Popular Culture 1890-1945 (20 credits) explores the contribution of African Americans to a range of areas of U.S. popular culture – advertising, film, literature, music, radio, sport – from the end of the nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth century. The module will examine how developments in these fields, for example blues and jazz, reflected the changing realities of the lives of African Americans in this period, both in the predominantly rural south and the rapidly growing cities of the north. You will assess the portrayals of African Americans in mainstream popular culture and consider how these interpretations reflected and impacted upon U.S. race relations.

HUM4025 African Americans and U.S. Popular Culture Since 1945 (20 credits) examines the relationship between African Americans and U.S. popular culture – advertising, film, music, radio, sport, television – since 1945. The module will critically assess how, and in what ways, mainstream U.S. culture was influenced by the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Black Power movement, 1965-1975. It will examine the relationship of African American cultural celebrities to the black freedom struggle. At the same time, you will consider how developments in African American popular culture, from R&B through to hip hop and gangsta rap, reflected the changing realities of everyday life for ordinary black Americans.

HUM4026 Film Genre History, Context and Conventions (20 credits) critically interrogates the history, context and conventions of a specific film genre. The genre will be studied in relation to appropriate socio-historical, national and industrial contexts and the module will employ genre theory and a range of theoretical and historical perspectives to establish an understanding of the evolution of a particular genre and how it can be approached critically. The module also considers the specific conventions associated with a particular film genre and explores how elements such as style, theme and performance can be used to interrogate representations and ideologies found within the texts.

HUM4027 Out of the Gutter: Reading the Contemporary Graphic Novel (20 credits) provides you with a critical introduction to the contemporary graphic novel, its vocabulary, grammar, techniques and range of content. The module will draw, conceptually and theoretically, on traditional literary approaches to textual analysis, while also familiarising you with conventions of visual storytelling. This enables you to understand and interpret formally, thematically, contextually and ideologically, a narrative form that has become increasingly relevant as both a popular cultural product and as a mode of social and political criticism.

HUM4028 Hiroshima and the Popular Imagination (20 credits) examines representations of the dropping of an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945. The module explores how traumatic experiences are conveyed through different types and genres of representation and how the act of remembering impacts on the identities of individuals, families and societies. The module seeks to enable you to study the representation of atrocity in popular culture and engage with this topic from a variety of cultural perspectives, including fiction, manga, cinema and journalism.

HUM4029 Print and the People 1850-1880 (20 credits) examines the explosion of popular periodicals aimed at working- and middle-class readers, including female and juvenile readers, in the period 1850-1880. The module will enable you to study periodicals and print culture in depth and in light of the recent expansion of interest in this area of study and will make full use of digital resources.

HUM4030 Fictions of Class 1910-1965 (20 credits) studies British prose fiction written and/or published between the pre-first world war Edwardian age and the 'swinging sixties'. The major focus of the module is upon the construction of class identities in these fictions, with particular attention to working-class identities and their relationship to middle and upper-class identities. You will also study the profound transformations in the representations of working-class cultures and identities in print/literary culture between the start and end of the period in history being studied.

HUM4031 Literature of Industrialisation (20 credits) is designed to stimulate thought about, and expression of, ideas on the impact of industrialisation in Britain from its arrival in the eighteenth century to the present. You will examine historical and cultural issues arising from changes to the landscape to shifts in social structures. The module will explore technological changes which have influenced all social classes.

HUM4032 Writing Contemporary Women (20 credits) focuses predominantly on female-authored literary texts drawn from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The module explores a variety of genres including poetry, drama and fictional and non-fictional prose (ranging from chick-lit, self-improvement literatures to life-writing and sexual memoir). Combining a focus on academic or canonical works of literature with works of popular culture, the module will also theorise contemporary women’s writing in terms of the work of key feminist literary theorists, in particular those working from 1960 onwards. Contemporary women's writing is thereby sited in the context of current critical and cultural feminist debate.

HUM4033 Rhythm and Colour: Literature, Jazz and Art (20 credits) studies a range of American poetry and prose from the post-World War II period as informed by their relationship to jazz music and emerging art forms. The module will study influences of jazz music on the work of poets such as the Beats, of art practice upon writers such as Frank O’Hara, and will feature artists such as Jackson Pollock. No prior knowledge of music or art is required. The module will focus upon the turn in American culture to abstraction, expression and freer literary forms.

HUM4034 Love Actually? Love, Literature and Popular Culture (20 credits) explores the literary and cinematic representations of romantic and/or sexual love in works written, or set, in Anglo-American culture from 1800 to now (with a predominant focus on the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries). Literary analysis will allow you to explore poetry and prose (fictional/non-fictional) and a cinematic focus will include romantic comedy, cinematic drama and 'new queer' cinema. The module synthesises high and low-brow primary sources, reading them in the context of recent critical and cultural theorisations of love, bringing together narratives of desire in three key contexts: falling in love, staying in love and love after love.

HUM4035 Representing Queenship (20 credits) explores the literary, specifically the biographical, constructions of British queenship in two periods which bear much comparison: the medieval/Early Modern (approx. 1400-1600) and the contemporary period (approximately 1900-now). The module explores the ways in which modern royal biographies represent past and present queenship and determines the extent to which contemporary representations of royal women are part of a longer historical continuum. Both periods are, arguably, ones in which royal power is in general transition and the extent to which such transitions affect matriarchal monarchical power will be of special significance.

HUM4036 The Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle in Literature and Art (20 credits) centres on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Formed in the mid-nineteenth century, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were arguably the most controversial group of painters to emerge in Victorian Britain. They worked within an influential social and cultural network that included Ruskin, Tennyson and Swinburne. This module examines the relationship between the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, their work and its reception. You will consider the literary circles that both influenced and were influenced by them. You will also explore a range of approaches to visual and literary production in the nineteenth century as well as its legacy today.

HUM4037 Digital Culture in Art and Performance (20 credits) critically reflects upon the impact and future of digital technologies within art and/or performance. You will be introduced to theoretical models on the mediation of popular culture with reference to the work of Martin Heidegger (Techne), Philip Auslander (Liveness) and Marc Prensky (Digital Native). This will be examined through key case studies on the integration of networked communication within artistic practice. The overall aim of this module is to reflect on how digital practices represent a decisive shift in how art and performance is encountered and conceived within popular culture.

Please note, optional module selection is subject to module availability and timetabling. Some restrictions on optional module choice may apply.

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Edge Hill University
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United Kingdom
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