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Comparative Literature (MLitt) 2021 entry

The MLitt in Comparative Literature explores the transnational understanding of literature and culture, providing students with a critical evaluation of classical and contemporary theoretical approaches combined with the intensive study of a broad range of texts across national, cultural and linguistic borders, and the relations between them.

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Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course dates

  • Start date: 6 September 2021
  • End date: 30 September 2022

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time

Entry requirements

  • A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • One language in which the School of Modern Languages has research expertise (Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Persian, Russian or Spanish) to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Level 7, Common European Framework Level B1, or equivalent.
  • English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

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Tuition fees

UK: £9,900
Overseas: £20,370

Application deadline

Wednesday 11 August 2021. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV
  • personal statement (optional)
  • sample of academic written work (2,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

The MLitt in Comparative Literature is a one-year taught programme run by the School of Modern Languages. The programme explores the transnational understanding of literature and culture. It aims to provide training in traditional and new research techniques.

Highlights

  • Students receive training in traditional and new research techniques and have the opportunity to broaden their language portfolios.
  • Small class sizes of no more than 20 students provide a close-knit postgraduate community and friendly environment.
  • Innovative core and optional modules allow students to explore new approaches to reading texts and reflecting on their own critical practices.
  • A wide range of optional modules provides the opportunity to take modules from other disciplines.
  • Specialist dissertation supervision is available from across the broad range of research interests within the School of Modern Languages.

Teaching format

The taught portion of the course consists of two compulsory modules and a range of optional modules held over two semesters, plus a 15,000-word dissertation. Classes are delivered primarily via seminars (which vary from individual one-to-one teaching up to ten students), and occasionally through lectures with no more than twenty students. Modules are assessed through coursework; there are no final exams for this programme.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.

Modules

Each module typically comprises:

  • two hours per week of lectures, seminars or practical classes
  • coursework assessment 100%

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2020–2021 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2021 entry.

  • Apples and Oranges: Issues in Comparative Literature: explores the most pressing questions which arise when different texts are put in contact, using pairings of texts to reflect on different kinds of relations.
  • Comparative Literature: Research in Practice: offers students specialised supervision to develop a research project on a comparative topic of their choice, while learning and putting into practice a range of key skills, including building bibliographies; writing abstracts and research proposals; oral presentation skills; and disseminating research for diverse audiences.

Here is a sample of optional modules that may be offered.

  • Reading Literature: New Comparative Approaches: an innovative student-led module which questions the possibilities and limits of comparison, exploring how we might carry out critical readings of literary texts by bringing them into contact with other texts potentially drawn from any field or discipline.
  • French Literary Revolutions: advanced knowledge of contexts that have shaped literature and culture in the French-speaking lands from the Medieval period to the present day.
  • German Literary and Cultural Contexts: Turning Points: advanced knowledge of contexts that have shaped literature and culture in the German-speaking lands from the Middle Ages to the present day. 
  • Italian Literary and Cultural Contexts: investigates how Italian identity has been constructed in cultural production from the 13th century to the present day.
  • Middle Eastern Literary and Cultural Contexts: provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of important elements of classical and modern Arabic and Persian literatures and cultures from pre-Islamic times to the present.
  • New Approaches to the Russian Literary Canon: explores how the ‘Russian literary canon’ has been constructed over the past 200 years.
  • Patterns in Hispanic Literature and Film: a high-level introduction to research areas of Hispanic literature and film.
  • Research and Professional Skills: introduces students to a range of skills which are essential to advanced researchers and key to many other non-academic workplaces.
  • Problems of Culture and Identity (1): through the study of a broad range of particular cultural traditions, seeks to enhance understanding of the concepts and mechanisms involved in the formation of collective identity as such (the 'poetics' of cultural identity).
  • Problems of Culture and Identity (2): focuses on personal, rather than group identity. Particular topics treated may include: the dialectical relationship between personal and collective identities, the self and alterity, narrative and identity formation, situatedness and corporeality, transnational identities and problems of autobiography.
  • Europe and America: Dialogues and Identity Formation in Text, Film and Theory: focuses on the relationship between Europe and the USA, and explores the ways in which European authors, film makers and thinkers encounter, embrace, oppose or reject USA culture, politics and values.

Additional optional modules for the language pathway includes undergraduate language modules.

Optional modules are subject to change each year, and some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University's position on curriculum development).

You will spend the summer months focusing on researching and writing a final dissertation of no more than 15,000 words. Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on an agreed topic covering at least two different inter- or intracultural areas and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation must be submitted by a date specified in August.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt.


The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2021 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students. 
 

Virtual events

Join our Admissions team for one of our upcoming virtual events. During these events, you can find out more about studying at St Andrews and what it will do for your future.

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Conferences and events

The School of Modern Languages hosts an annual seminar programme which promotes integration across the language departments. In addition, the School hosts a number of conferences and events, including guest speakers and workshops for the discussion of ideas and issues in a thought-provoking but relaxed and supportive environment. 

Funding

The School of Modern Languages offers a number of Masters-level funding opportunities each year.

AHRC
The Arts and Humanities Research Council offers scholarships which cover fees and stipend at RCUK rates for students applying for research degrees in the Arts and Humanities in Scotland.

Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships. 

After the MLitt

Research degrees

In addition to the MLitt, the School offers a two-year residential Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in Comparative Literature.

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews. 

PhD in Modern Languages

Careers

Modern Language postgraduates go on to careers in the academic field or in other areas, for example as cultural advisors, translators, or in the public or civil service.

Recent graduates have secured posts such as:

  • adviser to the CBI
  • postgraduate recruitment officer at GCHQ
  • professional translator
  • research assistant
  • television subtitler
  • university teacher.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Contact

School of Modern Languages
University of St Andrews
Buchanan Building
Union Street
St Andrews
KY16 9PH

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3670
Email: modlangs@st-andrews.ac.uk

Modern Languages website

Policies

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).

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