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Literature expresses the values and aspirations, the certainties and uncertainties of the societies in which it was created. To study English at university is to take up these questions in a rigorous and systematic way, relating them to a literary culture of exceptional richness and diversity, extending over a thousand years and more.

In the School of English, eminent scholars and critics of literature from the Middle Ages to the present day work alongside some of Scotland's leading creative writers. As part of your English degree, you can study English, Scottish, Irish and American literature, as well as modules in prose, verse, drama and even film.



English MA (Hons)
English BA (International Hons)
Mediaeval Studies MA (Hons)

Joint degree options

You can take English MA (Hons) with another subject as part of a joint degree.



Creative Writing MLitt
Medieval English MLitt
Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture MLitt
Postcolonial and World Literatures MLitt
Romantic and Victorian Studies MLitt
Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture MLitt
Women, Writing and Gender MLitt

PhD and MFA

Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD and MFA opportunities.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.


Booking for our autumn visiting days will open in early September 2017.

  • Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Wednesday 4 October 2017
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017
  • Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Wednesday 1 November 2017



  • November 2017 - date to be confirmed.

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Latest in English at St Andrews

In January 2016, Dr Margaret Connolly visited Maynooth where she identified a manuscript which was once owned by William Scheves, Archbishop of St Andrews in the 15th century.


The world première of two new compositions commissioned by Dr Emma Sutton's 'Virginia Woolf and Music' project were performed in Cambridge by the renowned Kreutzer Quartet.


English research areas

The School of English has a dynamic research culture, which involves staff, postgraduates and postdoctoral fellows in attending and organising international conferences and literary festivals; in undertaking collaborative research and archival projects; as well as in the individual work of scholarly editing and the writing of monographs and works of literature.

Research work is divided into four groups, of which staff are members, and postgraduate students are associate members. These groups have individual budgets and organise research activities such as reading groups, conferences and visits by distinguished scholars and writers.

Medieval and Renaissance

The Medieval and Renaissance research group supports scholars and postgraduate researchers in the School of English working on literature from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the 18th century. The group hosts a number of staff and postgraduate seminars and reading groups.

The group is a strong supporter of the development of the University of St Andrews Special Collections of early printed books and manuscripts.

Supervising staff

  • Dr Matthew Augustine: 17th-century English literature, especially the poets John Milton, Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, and John Wilmot, Lord Rochester; politics and literature; reception history; early modern literary culture.
  • Dr Alex Davis: 16th and 17th-century literature and culture; theatre and national identity; penitential psalms in literature; the emotion of pity in the Renaissance.
  • Dr Ian Johnson: later medieval English and Scottish literature; Latin and vernacular medieval literary theory; vernacular theology; devotional and meditative literature; paratextuality; Lives of Christ; Boethius in English; Chaucer.
  • Dr Chris Jones: Old and Early Middle English poetry; apocalyptic literature in Anglo-Saxon England; aspects of medievalism; Anglo-Saxonism in the Americas; use of medieval literature by contemporary poets in English.
  • Professor Andrew Murphy: Shakespeare studies and the history of Shakespeare text; Irish studies and the historical and political context of Irish literature.
  • Dr Rhiannon Purdie: Older Scots literature up to 1560; secular Middle English literature of the 14th and 15th centuries; comparative studies of medieval romance in French and English or Scots.
  • Dr Christine Rauer: Old English language and literature; insular Latin literature; hagiography; the literary history of Anglo-Saxon England (particularly ninth-century literature, the Old English Martyrology and Beowulf).
  • Professor Neil Rhodes: translation and the development of the vernacular in early modern England; sound and the oral and aural dimensions of literature in English; popular culture and its relationship to elite forms of culture in Elizabethan England.

18th Century, Romantic and Victorian

The 18th Century, Romantic and Victorian research group studies literary culture from the 18th and 19th centuries. The group's research community has recently authored distinguished books, editions and essays on Robert Burns, James Hogg, Lord Byron, John Keats, Maria Edgeworth, Thomas Hood, Thomas Hardy, Aubrey Beardsley and Shakespeare in the 19th century.

Supervising staff:

  • Professor Robert Crawford: TS Eliot; Scottish poetry from the mid-18th century to the present; poets and libraries; aspects of poetry and photography.
  • Dr Clare Gill: fin-de-siecle literary culture; the 19th-century press; Victorian publishing; and Victorian and Edwardian popular culture.
  • Dr Emma Jones: William Blake; Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson; the Blak revival; nieteenth century children’s verse; tractarian and other devotional poetries; poetry and maternity.
  • Dr Tom Jones: 18th-century studies including poetry and poetics, history of linguistic thought, philosophy and literature, and literature and the history of ideas.
  • Dr Susan Manly: Romantic-era writing for children; Romantic-era women’s writing, especially of the 1790s and very early 1800s.
  • Professor Nicholas Roe: Romantic literature and culture, especially Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats and Leigh Hunt, and biography.
  • Dr Jane Stabler: Byron’s poetry, prose and drama; editorial approaches and manuscript-based work.
  • Dr Gregory Tate: Romantic and Victorian poetry; literature and science; 19th-century writing about psychology; the Victorian periodical press; the links between literary form and gender in the 19th century; Victorian writing about European history and politics.

Modern and Contemporary

The Modern and Contemporary research group focuses on literature and culture from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st. The group’s wide-ranging expertise runs from the fin de siècle to contemporary poetry, with particular strengths in areas of Modernism.

The group is home to a thriving postgraduate community, with staff and students involved in the organisation of conferences both within the University and in collaboration with other institutions.

Supervising staff:

  • Dr Christina Alt: exchanges between literature and science in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; ecocriticism; material culture studies.
  • Dr Lorna Burns: postcolonial literatures, especially writers from the Caribbean and wider Americas; black British and British Asian writing; philosophical approaches to literary studies and aesthetics, in particular the works of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Rancière.
  • Professor John Burnside: ecocriticism; nature writing; 20th-century and contemporary American poetry.
  • Professor Robert Crawford: TS Eliot; Scottish poetry from the mid-18th century to the present; poets and libraries; aspects of poetry and photography.
  • Dr Clare Gill: fin-de-siecle literary culture; the 19th-century press; Victorian publishing; and Victorian and Edwardian popular culture.
  • Dr Sam Haddow: contemporary (post-war to present) British and European drama, theatre or performance; performance analysis of contemporary events, historiography or critical theory.
  • Dr Oli Hazzard: Post-war American and British poetry; The New York School; the Auden Group; transatlantic literary exchange; avant-garde and coterie writing.
  • Dr Chris Jones: the use of medieval literature by contemporary poets in English.
  • Dr Emma Jones: Wallace Stevens; Sylvia Plath; poetry and cinema.
  • Dr Peter MacKay: Irish and Scottish literature from 1890 onwards; modern and contemporary poetry; modern Scottish Gaelic literature.
  • Professor Don Paterson: 20th-century and contemporary poetry, including poetic form, cognitive poetics, ars poetica, translation studies, metre, metaphor studies, and poetry as it relates to linguistics.
  • Professor Gill Plain: 20th-century war writing and representation, in particular Second World War literature and film; British literature, film and culture of the 1940s and 1950s; crime fiction, cinema and television; popular genres, stardom and performance; the construction of national identity, gender and sexuality.
  • Dr James Purdon: 20th and 21st-century literature, especially fiction; the relationship between literary texts and other media; postwar and Cold War-era culture; the social inscription of technology.
  • Dr Anindya Raychaudhuri: postcolonial and diasporic studies, with special emphasis on south Asia, memory studies, war writing, Marxism, critical theory and cultural studies, popular culture and cinema.
  • Professor Susan Sellers: modernist and post-modernist fiction; and 20th-century and contemporary women's literary prose; the processes of writing including writers' drafts, notebooks, correspondence and diaries.
  • Dr Emma Sutton: the relationship between music and literature; Virginia Woolf; Decadence or Aestheticism; British writing, visual art or culture of the fin de siecle.

Creative Writing

The Creative Writing research group works with students on developing their prose or poetry skills. Research interests include poetry and poetry in translation, the short story, the novel, life writing, the literary essay, travel writing and drama.

The group has produced a range of widely-reviewed and prizewinning work, not only in the UK, but also through Europe, the United States and East Asia. Prizes won by members of the group include the TS Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize, the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, Le Prix Madeleine Zepter (France), the Commonwealth First Book Prize and many others.

Supervising staff:

  • Professor John Burnside: ecocriticism; nature writing; 20th-century and contemporary American poetry.
  • Professor Robert Crawford: TS Eliot; Scottish poetry from the mid-18th century to the present; poets and libraries; aspects of poetry and photography.
  • Dr Oli Hazzard: 20th and 21st-century poetry; Oulipo; creative nonfiction; ekphrasis.
  • Dr Emma Jones: 19th and 20th-century poetry; poetics, particularly metaphor and ideas of ‘mental imagery’; poetry and cinema.
  • Professor Don Paterson: 20th-century and contemporary poetry, including poetic form, cognitive poetics, ars poetica, translation studies, metre, metaphor studies, and poetry as it relates to linguistics.

English research centres and institutes

There are four research centres and institutes related to English:

St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies (SAIMS)
The SAIMS brings together over thirty full-time academic staff of international standing and a number of research associates interested in interdisciplinary Mediaeval topics.

Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature (CMEMLL)
CMEMLL is a forum that welcomes all staff and postgraduates whose exploration in other fields of historical and literary research involves them in encounters with legal concepts and texts.

St Andrews Institute of Intellecutal History (IIH)
The IIH is a hub for everyone interested in intellectual history, for scholars pursuing research projects, for the teaching of intellectual history, and for individuals and groups seeking access to the activities of intellectual historians internationally.

Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research (ILCR)
The ILCR is the home of outstanding cross-disciplinary research in the fields of law, legal history and constitutionalism at the University.

English research portal


Careers for graduates in English

The skills you gain through studying English are marketable in most career areas. 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.

English graduates typically find employment with:

  • banks
  • publishers
  • advertising agencies and the media
  • PR companies
  • UK Home Civil Service
  • the National Health Service (NHS)
  • retailers
  • finance
  • educational institutions
  • voluntary and charitable organisations
  • libraries
  • leisure industries and the tourist trade
  • social services.

See recent graduate employment case studies.

Work experience

Work experience is invaluable when it comes to securing graduate-level employment. There are a number of English-specific opportunities at St Andrews for students to gain work experience:

Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available at all levels of study.


Faculty of Arts scholarships offer 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. 

Undergraduate scholarships


The School of English offers two MLitt scholarships to Masters level entrants:

  • The Urquhart Scholarship
  • FMLS Scholarship

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students

The School of English offers four research scholarships for PhD and MFA applicants:

  • Douglas Dunn MFA Scholarship
  • Daniel Rutherford PhD Scholarship
  • George Buchanan PhD Scholarship
  • Professor AF Falconer and Anna Cruickshank PhD Scholarships

Funding for PhD students


REF 2014

‌The School of English was ranked first in Scotland and sixth in the UK by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. 86% of the School's research was rated world leading and internationally excellent.

University league tables

English at St Andrews was ranked first in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2017, second in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2017, and third in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2017.


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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2666

English website English research portal