English MA (Hons)
2017 entry

The MA (Hons) in English will teach you to closely read texts across a range of genres and historical eras, and to consider the ideas, human values and historical forces that have helped shape literature.

As part of your degree, you will be introduced to a wide spectrum of literary works, from medieval texts in Old English and Scots to Renaissance plays, contemporary poetry, revolutionary 19th-century novels and more.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

UCAS code


Course type

Master of Arts (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers AAAB, including English Language or English Literature or Drama.
GCE A-Levels AAA, including English Language or English Literature or Drama.
IB points 38, including HL6 in English.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

Find out more about international entry requirements.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Students must have studied one of the following subjects at SQA Higher or GCE A-Level:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Drama

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.  

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty.

Find out more about Faculty of Arts entry requirements.

Course information

The MA (Hons) in English is a four year course run by the School of English. In the first two years, you will read and reflect on a broad range of topics across a variety of literary genres from the Middle Ages to the present day. This will equip you with the range of literary experience and critical skills necessary for more in-depth study of specialist subject areas at Honours level.

Specialist subjects areas include:

  • Old English literature
  • literature and ecology
  • Renaissance bodies
  • literature and gender
  • Victorian culture
  • creative writing
  • Cold War writing
  • world literature.

Breadth of knowledge and perspective are highly encouraged, and all Honours students are expected to take at least one module from each of the Mediaeval, Early Modern and 18th-century periods. Final year students must also complete a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic chosen in consultation with teaching staff at the School of English.

Graduates in English from St Andrews can expect to have a highly developed sense of independent critical thinking and judgement, be alert to the possibilities of expressive language, and will have developed both a broad, and in some areas, a deep knowledge of literature in English.

Find out more about studying English at St Andrews.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in English alongside modules in at least one other subject.

Typically, you will take three modules per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students will take both of the following compulsory first-year modules:

Second year students must take the following two modules:

  • Medieval and Renaissance Texts: introduces early forms of English language and literature, using specially edited texts from Old English, Middle English and Older Scots.
  • Drama: Reading and Performance: introduces a number of representative plays from the Renaissance period and from the 20th century. Emphasis is placed upon the context in which these plays were first created and those in which they are now received.

If you decide to take English in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules in Old English, Renaissance literature, Romanticism, the Victorian novel, literary theory, Scottish verse, Restoration drama, Shakespeare, modern American drama, contemporary fiction, creative writing and playwriting.

Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:

  • Beowulf
  • The Younger Romantics: Poetry and Prose (1810-1830)
  • Postcolonial Literature and Theory
  • Romantic Writing and Women
  • Contemporary British Fiction
  • Civil Wars on Page and Screen.

In fourth year, students also undertake a substantial dissertation on a topic of their choice. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. A full list of all modules currently available can be found in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

English modules are delivered through lectures which are supported by smaller seminar groups (15 to 20 students) or tutorials (5 to 10 students).

Though a good deal of the study of English involves individual effort, group work provides a sense of confirmation, fruitful disagreement, and community to complement the sometimes solitary business of reading and writing.


Almost all of the modules in English are assessed by a balanced combination of coursework and written exams.

In each English sub-honours module there are two essays and two examination questions each worth 25%. Assessment at Honours level varies, although essays and examinations remain a central component.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

Coursework takes the form of essays, along with other kinds of assessed work including oral presentations, electronic projects and creative writing portfolios.

Several Honours-level modules involve creative coursework, such as:

  • literary journal keeping
  • writing a short play
  • medieval forgery.

The School provides feedback on every assessment, with a view to improving your performance in future.


Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £20,570

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation in 2017.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Faculty of Arts scholarships

The Dr Lawrence M Wodehouse Scholarship provides financial assistance for students studying in the Faculty of Arts who are academically gifted but would otherwise struggle with the cost of studying at St Andrews.

Dan Hemingway Prize

The Dan Hemingway Prize is an annual prize of £300 awarded to an undergraduate for the best original, unpublished short story. 

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Joint Honours Degrees

You can take English as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following listed subjects.

It is also possible to combine a degree in English with two modern languages. Any combination of Arabic, French, German, Italian, Persian, Russian and Spanish is available.

  • Arabic
  • Art History
  • Biblical Studies
  • Classical Studies
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  • Film Studies
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mediaeval History
  • Middle East Studies
  • Modern History
  • Persian
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Russian
  • Scottish History
  • Social Anthropology
  • Spanish
  • Theological Studies

Your future


The skills you gain through studying English are marketable in many career areas, and recent graduates in English have pursued a wide variety of career paths.

Perhaps the major strength of all English graduates is communication skills, both in speech and in writing. Other skills you will develop during your degree include critical analysis, structuring information, organisation of time and workload, and effective IT skills.

Career destinations for recent graduates include:

  • internships with the United Nations
  • writers and editors for various publishing houses and magazines
  • sales for Waterstones and WHSmith
  • charitable organisations
  • teaching
  • public policy
  • the financial sector.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills. 


Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.



Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students of English may be interested in joining the following student societies:

  • Literary Society organises readings, socials, creative jam sessions and a book club.
  • Inklight is a creative writing society which runs poetry slams, open mic nights, workshops and an annual journal of student writing.

The School of English is situated in Castle House, a beautiful Victorian building situated directly in front of the St Andrews Castle ruins on the coast. English students will usually attend lectures, seminars and tutorials here.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland. Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


School of English
University of St Andrews
Castle House
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AR

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2666
Email: english@st-andrews.ac.uk

School of English website