Contemporary Studies (MLitt) 2019 entry

The MLitt Contemporary Studies is a one year interdisciplinary Masters degree. It explores what it means to label something as “contemporary” and considers how knowledge is defined and disseminated in different disciplines.

This course is not running in 2019. For a full list of courses which are running in 2019 please see the subjects page.

Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course dates

  • Start date: 9 September 2019
  • End date: 30 September 2020

If you started this programme in 2018, you can find information about 2018 entry on the 2018 Contemporary Studies page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time; part-time study is not currently offered

Entry requirements

A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

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.

Tuition fees

UK and EU: £9,000
Overseas: £18,480

Application deadline

Applications should be submitted as early as possible and no later than 12 August 2019. Applicants who will require a visa to study in the UK should normally apply by June.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé (one page)
  • personal statement explaining:
    • why you have applied for this course
    • how it relates to your personal or professional ambitions
    • how your academic and professional background show you have the skills needed to work effectively at postgraduate level
  • two original signed academic references on headed paper
  • 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 Contemporary Studies is an interdisciplinary degree that explores the nature of the contemporary. It addresses contemporary subjects from a range of arts, social science, and science disciplinary perspectives. The programme will develop your ability to approach contemporary subjects and challenges with an interdisciplinary, and thus flexible, mind-set.


  • Brings together students from the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences - offering an interdisciplinary degree that is unique within St Andrews.
  • Broadens your knowledge base and enhances your skills of analysis and communication; you will think beyond the methodologies of any single discipline and start to develop a common lexicon that bridges disciplinary divides.
  • Students complete two short placements that promote engagement beyond academia and help you develop your professional skills set.
  • Your summer research project can take the form of a practice-based submission based on a practical component such as a video essay, curation work, or website design or a standard written dissertation.

What might a specialist in English literature, a computer scientist, and a physicist have to say about climate change? How might a linguist, a social anthropologist, and a biologist approach concepts of time in the 21st century? The MLitt Contemporary Studies considers how issues deemed to be contemporary are approached differently by different academic disciplines as well as by those outside academia. Bringing together academic staff from the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences, this programme offers an interdisciplinary degree that is unique within St Andrews and rare in any academic context in the UK.

The multidisciplinary approach means that you will think beyond the concepts, theories, and methodologies of any single academic discipline as well as learn how to challenge disciplinary stereotypes and start to develop a common lexicon that bridges disciplinary divides.

You will also have the opportunity to complete two short placements (of up to three days each). Placements will be hosted within the University or with an external agency. The placements serve to promote engagement and communication beyond the academic context and to build on the skills set that you can offer to future employers.

Whatever your disciplinary background, the MLitt Contemporary Studies will help you to see it in a new light.

Teaching format

The MLitt degree is a one year full-time programme. Students complete two core modules in semester 1 (September to December) and a third core module as well as one or two optional modules in semester 2 (January to June). The period from June to August is used to complete the summer research project. 

The MLitt degree involves both independent and group study and teaching methods include seminars, workshops, and reflective practice. Most modules are assessed through coursework including written assignments, presentations, and reflective work.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2018–2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2019 entry.

Each semester is organised around core modules exploring the concepts and methodologies needed to complete the summer research project.

Semester 1

  • Being Contemporary: Knowledge, Methodology, Skills 1: explores how disciplines define what is contemporary; a short placement gives insights to contemporary challenges.

    Contextualising the Contemporary: focuses on a single topic defined as contemporary and encourages students to develop a more flexible approach to problem-solving.

Semester 2

  • Being Contemporary: Knowledge, Methodology, Skills 2: building on Semester 1, students explore further disciplinary perspectives and complete a further short placement.

Optional modules allow you to shape the degree around your own personal and professional interests. Students normally take one or two optional modules in Semester 2.

The optional modules available vary each year but include modules from the Schools of: 

  • Art History
  • Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Modern Languages
  • Social Anthropology
  • Psychology and Neuroscience

Optional modules are subject to change each year and may require a minimum number of students to be offered (see the University’s position on curriculum development).

The final module of the MLitt degree is the summer research project. The project takes the form of a period of independent supervised research where you explore a contemporary topic in depth. Through the project you will apply the theory and analytical methods learned in the core modules.

Projects take one of three forms: 

  • 15,000-word dissertation based on one discipline and supervised in one School
  • 15,000-word dissertation based on two or more disciplines and co-supervised by two or more Schools
  • practice-based submission comprising a practical component (such as a video essay, curation work, website design, etc.) and a 7,500-word reflective component.

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 Certificate or 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 PG Cert or PGDip instead of an MLitt.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

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The Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies

The Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies at St Andrews is a new initiative to foster interdisciplinary postgraduate education and scholarship. 

The School’s interdisciplinary programmes and community provide postgraduates with a stimulating environment in which you can:

  • Learn across subject boundaries and expand your knowledge base, allowing you to maximise the intellectual and professional value of your time at St Andrews.
  • Develop and apply practical skills relevant to academic and professional contexts and enhancing your employability.
  • Explore a topic in depth and demonstrate your ability to plan and manage academically rigorous research.
  • Benefit from being part of a vibrant and welcoming postgraduate community and a Graduate School that is wholly focussed on understanding and meeting the needs of Masters students.


Scholarships are designed to help students support themselves during their studies.Find out more about postgraduate scholarships.

Postgraduate loans
Loans are available for students who meet the residency and other criteria. Find out about postgraduate loans.


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 the Recent Graduate Discount.

After the MLitt

Research degrees

St Andrews offers a vibrant and stimulating research environment. One of the great strengths of these research degrees is the collegiate atmosphere which enables access to expertise beyond your formal supervisors and the ability to conduct interdisciplinary research.

Research students are supported by a supervisory team throughout their studies and are assessed by means of a substantial thesis of original research.

Research degrees


The MLitt Contemporary Studies provides the subject knowledge and general skills needed for a range of leadership and professional careers. It will be of particular interest if you are considering a career in academia or research. You will:

  • synthesise multiple perspectives and generate new approaches
  • combine and apply different methodologies to contemporary global issues
  • engage with the latest research on the nature of the contemporary
  • develop your broader transferable skills in areas such as project management, team working, and communicating academic concepts to mixed audiences.

Alongside your studies, you will be able to complete the M-Skills programme, a programme of face-to-face and online workshops and training materials for Masters students. M-Skills will help you develop the broader personal and professional skills you need to succeed in your degree and enhance your employability.

Additionally, the Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of career development events.

Contact information

The Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies
University of St Andrews
Bute Building
Queen's Terrace
St Andrews
KY16 9TS

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2032

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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).