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English MA (Hons) 2021 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 nineteenth-century novels and more.

How to apply Register your interest

UCAS code


Course type

Master of Arts (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 6 September 2021
  • End date: 30 June 2025

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

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

    • Standard entry grades: AAAAB, including A in English
    • Minimum entry grades: AABB, including A in English
    • Gateway entry grades: BBBB
    • Standard entry grades: AAA, including A in English or English Literature
    • Minimum entry grades: ABB, including A in English or English Literature
    • Standard entry grades: 38 (HL 6,6,6), including HL6 in English
    • Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL6 in English

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

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.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 8.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Students must have studied English or English Literature at SQA Higher, GCE A-Level or equivalent.

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

Other qualifications

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

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 subject areas include (but are not limited to):

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

Alongside English, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

Breadth of knowledge and perspective are highly encouraged, and all Single Honours students are expected to take at least one module on medieval literature, on early modern literature, and on eighteenth- or nineteenth-century literature. Final year students must also complete a 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.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.

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:

  • Culture and Conflict: An Introduction to Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literature: introduces a small number of texts, in prose and verse, from the ninteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • Explorers and Revolutionaries: Literature 1680-1830: examines travel, colonialism, and different constructions of “man’s natural estate” in the eighteenth century.

Second year students must take the following two modules:

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

If you decide to take English in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including: 

  • contemporary fiction
  • creative writing
  • literary theory 
  • modern American drama
  • Old English
  • playwriting
  • Renaissance literature
  • Restoration drama
  • Romanticism
  • Scottish verse
  • Shakespeare
  • the Victorian novel.

The School of English offers between 40 and 50 Honours modules in each academic year. Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:

  • Beowulf
  • Contemporary British Fiction
  • 'Loose Baggy Monsters': The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Novel
  • Postcolonial LIterature and Theory
  • Reading Popular Music
  • Romantic Gothic
  • The Younger Romantics: Poetry and Prose (1810-1830).

For more examples, see a full list of Honours modules offered in the previous year: Honours choices 2020-2021 (PDF)

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 compulsory modules listed here must be taken 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. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules  appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


Teaching format

English modules are delivered through lectures which are supported by smaller seminar groups or tutorials.

Typical class sizes:

  • First year: lectures – 240, tutorials – 5 to 9 students
  • Second year: lectures – 150, tutorials – 5 to 9 students
  • Honours: generally no more than 20 students

When not attending lectures and tutorials, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study.  Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

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.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of English. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all English staff on the School of English website.

In addition to your studies in the School of English, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.


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 aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

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.


Upcoming online visiting days:

  • Wednesday 30 September 2020
  • Wednesday 7 October 2020
  • Wednesday 14 October 2020
  • Wednesday 28 October 2020
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020


Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Scotland Tuition fees for Scottish applicants have yet to be set for 2021 entry.
Rest of the UK £9,250
EU and overseas £25,100

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. 

Funding and scholarships

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

Special joint degree notes

The joint option with Psychology can also be taken as a degree programme with British Psychological Society accreditation.

In taking a joint degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects. Find out more about joint degrees.

Your future


A degree in English from St Andrews will open doors to a large and varied number of possible careers.

A degree in English from St Andrews demonstrates to employers that you are a good writer with the ability to craft and edit prose in English. It shows you are able to absorb and process information and are good at conducting research. It shows that you are good at verbal and written communication and that you have high-level analytic skills. These are skills that are invaluable in most jobs.

Career destinations for recent graduates include:

  • art administration (the Barbican Centre and Sotheby's)
  • charitable organisations
  • internships with the United Nations
  • public policy (Scottish Executive and the British Council)
  • sales (Waterstones and WHSmith)
  • the financial sector (KPMG and Santander)
  • writers and editors (Oxford University Press, Penguin Books, Harper Collins and more).

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

Students on the English programme may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.

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 Inklight, 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 and Kennedy Hall, beautiful Victorian buildings situated directly in front of the St Andrews Castle ruins on the coast. English students will usually attend seminars and tutorials here.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings, parks and beaches, providing a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. Find out more about the town of St Andrews.

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

English website


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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