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Studying the MLitt in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture

The MLitt in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture allows students to devote a year to the study of one of the most exciting and formative periods in European history, centred on the key writer in the English literary tradition, William Shakespeare.

The structure of the Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture MLitt combines core modules and optional elements, permitting students to pursue their own scholarly interests within an overall framework. 

What you'll study 

The core modules of the MLitt are:

  • Learned Culture: Rhetoric, Politics and Identity. This module explores the influence of Renaissance humanism and the implications of its distinctive interest in rhetoric for 16th- and 17th-century culture.
  • Renaissance Popular Culture. Complementing the focus of Learned Culture: Rhetoric, Politics and Identity’s on elite contexts, this module looks at the popular culture of the period: popular festivity, clowning, jestbooks, ballads, romances and grotesquerie.
  • Shakespeare and Textual Culture. This module considers the material contexts of Renaissance literary production. Topics covered include: manuscript, print, speech, and the editing of Renaissance texts
  • The Continental Renaissance. This module deals with the relationship between English and European writing of the period; all foreign language texts will be taught in translation. 

Students are asked to take at least three of these core modules. 

At least 20 credits are always left free for optional modules: either a Special Topic, a core module from a different English MLitt, or a module outwith English altogether.

The Special Topic gives students the opportunity to develop as researchers within a specific area of study. These modules combine student’s individual interests with staff research expertise. Examples of recent specialist modules include: 

  • Reading Bodies and Minds in Early Modern England
  • Marvell and Print Culture
  • Tragedy: Before and After Shakespeare
  • EcoCritical Spenser


The MLitt concludes with the writing of a 15,000-word dissertation. 


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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2668

School of English website

Why St Andrews?

You will be part of a welcoming and lively academic community. St Andrews is a consortium member of the Folger Shakespeare Library Institute in Washington DC. It also plays host to a number of research groups relevant to students with interests in the English Renaissance:

There is an active student-run Literary Society and the Postgraduate Forum, where postgraduates meet to present and discuss their on-going work. Each year, the School aims to invite distinguished visiting academics and creative writers to lead seminars, lectures and workshops as part of our regular research events.


Academic staff

The staff teaching on the programme will vary in any one year, but will always include some of the following:

Student testimonials

“I have grown so much at St Andrews, both intellectually and personally. This programme has introduced me to professors that have challenged me to become an even better scholar and lifelong friends who have encouraged me every step of the way. In this community of professors and peers, I have felt completely safe to take risks that I never would have dared to try before and which have only helped me learn even more. I’ve become a better scholar and a better person, and I look forward to taking the skills I’ve developed in this programme into my future career.”

- Alexa 2020

"I absolutely loved studying at St Andrews. The MLitt in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture gave me a wide-ranging knowledge of early modern literature while providing me with the flexibility to delve into my own research interests. The School of English community was as welcoming as intellectually stimulating, with professors who were not only experts in their fields but also dedicated teachers. I graduated feeling prepared and excited to continue on to a PhD."

- Sarah – 2014

"Being part of a small group on my MLitt course provided both invaluable support and intellectual stimulation; an excellent context for learning."

- Naomi – 2014

"Studying the Renaissance MLitt at St Andrews has been an incredibly rewarding year. The quality of teaching is amazing and the breadth and depth of texts studied means that I left the course with a far greater knowledge and appreciation of the literature and culture of the period. Moreover, the School’s encouragement of super-curricular activities, such as conferences, also gives an invaluable insight into the world of academia and further postgraduate research."

- Peter – 2014

Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture (MLitt)

Find out more about this course, including key information, modules and funding opportunities.