English MA (Honours) 2023 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 Older Scots to Renaissance plays, revolutionary 19th-century novels, contemporary poetry and more.

UCAS code
Q300
Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2027
Duration
Four years full time
School
School of English
“I chose to study English here partly due to the excellent reputation of the School and partly for the opportunity to study both well-known and obscure pieces of literature. The small group tutorials are invaluable in sounding out ideas for essays, learning how better to build an argument, and gaining confidence in literary analysis.”
Calum
- South Lanarkshire, Scotland

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. 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.

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 entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    AAAAB, including A in English.
    Minimum entry grades:
    AABB, including A in English.
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • 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.

General entry requirements

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

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

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

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.

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.

Alternative study options

Gateway programmes

Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades but meet the University's contextual criteria may be interested in the Gateway to Arts programme.

Study abroad

Students on the English programme can apply to 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

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

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 18th or 19th-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.

Modules

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).

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 19th and 20th centuries. 
  • Empires and Revolutions: Literature 1680-1830: examines travel, colonialism, and different constructions of man’s natural estate in the 18th century. 

Second year students must take the following two modules: 

  • Drama: Reading and Performance: introduces a number of representative plays from the Renaissance period to the 21st 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 
  • Old English
  • Playwriting
  • Renaissance literature
  • Romanticism
  • Shakespeare
  • The Victorian novel. 

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

  • American Fiction: Self and Nation 1865-1939 
  • Contemporary Fiction 
  • English Poetry: Lordship and Landscapes 
  • 'Loose Baggy Monsters': The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Novel
  • Playwriting
  • Postcolonial Literature and Theory
  • Reading Popular Music
  • Romantic Gothic
  • The Country and the City in Scottish Literature
  • Women and Authorship in Renaissance England
  • Writing the Pacific. 

For more examples, see a full list of Honours modules offered in the previous year: Honours choices handbook 2022-2023 (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

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

Typical class sizes: 

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

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. 

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. 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.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of English literature. 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. 

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.

Fees

Scotland
Tuition fees have yet to be set.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
£9250

Channel Islands, Isle of Man
£9250

EU and overseas
£28190

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.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take English as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

Course name UCAS code
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and EnglishLVD2
Master of Arts (Honours) Arabic and EnglishTQ63
Master of Arts (Honours) Art History and EnglishQV33
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and EnglishQVH6
Master of Arts (Honours) Classical Studies and EnglishQQ38
Master of Arts (Honours) Classics and EnglishQP6T
Master of Arts (Honours) Comparative Literature and EnglishQ290
Master of Arts (Honours) Economics and EnglishLQ13
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Film StudiesPQ33
Master of Arts (Honours) English and FrenchQR31
Master of Arts (Honours) English and GermanQR32
Master of Arts (Honours) English and GreekQQ37
Master of Arts (Honours) English and HebrewQQ34
Master of Arts (Honours) English and International RelationsLQ23
Master of Arts (Honours) English and ItalianQR33
Master of Arts (Honours) English and LatinQQ36
Master of Arts (Honours) English and ManagementQN32
Master of Arts (Honours) English and MathematicsQ3G1
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Medieval HistoryQVH1
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Middle East StudiesQT36
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Modern HistoryQV31
Master of Arts (Honours) English and PersianQT25
Master of Arts (Honours) English and PhilosophyQV35
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Psychology (BPS Recognition Route)CQ83
Master of Arts (Honours) English and RussianQR37
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Scottish HistoryQVH2
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Social AnthropologyQL36
Master of Arts (Honours) English and SpanishQR34
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Sustainable DevelopmentSEN1
Master of Arts (Honours) English and Theological StudiesQV36

Joint degrees taken with Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish are also available 'With Integrated Year Abroad'.

"With" degrees

You can take English as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first name subject. St Andrews offers the following "with" degrees in English:

  • Master of Arts (Honours) English with Bible and Culture - UCAS code BA01

Joint degrees taken with Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish are also available 'With Integrated Year Abroad'.

Careers

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.

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Undergraduate visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

Phone
+44 (0)1334 46 2666
Email
english@st-andrews.ac.uk
Address
School of English
Castle House
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

School of English website

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