Contemporary Studies (MLitt) 2018 entry

The MLitt Contemporary Studies is a one year interdisciplinary Masters degree. It explores disciplinary perspectives on “the contemporary” and approaches to defining and disseminating knowledge, discusses how a common lexicon might bridge disciplines, and considers ways to engage with views outside academia.

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Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course dates

  • Start date: 10 September 2018
  • End date: 30 September 2019

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.

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Tuition fees

UK and EU: £8,500
Overseas: £17,600

Application deadline

Applications should be submitted as early as possible and normally by early June. However, applications will continue to be accepted until early August 2018 (applicants from outside the EU) or early September 2018 (applicants from the UK and EU). You should also apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • personal statement explaining why you have applied for this course, how it relates to your personal or professional ambitions, and how your academic and professional background show you have the skills needed to work effectively at postgraduate level
  • two original signed academic references
  • 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 a one-year interdisciplinary Masters degree that explores the nature of the contemporary and draws on epistemologies and methodologies from the humanities, the social sciences, and the physical and life sciences.

This interdisciplinary degree involves academic staff from the following Schools:

  • Art History
  • Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Economics and Finance
  • English
  • Management
  • Modern Languages
  • Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Philosophical, Anthropological, and Film Studies
  • Physics and Astronomy.


  • Brings together students and academic staff from the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences offering a unique interdisciplinary degree.
  • Broadens students’ knowledge base and greatly enhances their skills of analysis, synthesis, and communication.
  • Enables those looking to continue to doctoral study to return to and potentially enrich their “home” disciplines with new perspectives and methodologies.
  • Summer research project can take the form of a practice-based submission comprising a practical component (such as a video essay, curation work, website design) with a written reflective component 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 requires two semesters of full-time coursework, normally equivalent to six modules. 

The MLitt involves both independent and group study. Modules have different methods of delivery, including:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials.

Assessments include: 

  • written assignments
  • practical work
  • presentations.

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 2017–2018 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2018 entry.

Each semester is organised around core modules exploring the concepts and methodologies needed to complete the end of programme 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.

Art History

  • Art and Technology
  • Art and the Body
  • The Image of the Artist
  • The Documentary Impulse
  • Contemporary Art and the Ethics of Fieldwork


  • Greek History and Material Culture
  • Greek Literary Culture
  • Roman History and Material Culture
  • Latin Literary Culture

Computer Science

  • Information Visualisation and Visual Analytics
  • Green Information Technology
  • Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining


  • Health and Education
  • Economics of the Environment
  • Economics of Development
  • Economics of Migration


  • Theorising the Contemporary
  • Contemporary Literature and Culture
  • Special Topic in English Studies II
  • Postcolonial and World Literatures


  • Ethics, Organisations, and Management
  • Responsibility, Sustainability, and Accountability

Modern Languages

  • Specialised Research in French Studies
  • Specialised Research in German Studies
  • Specialised Research in Italian Studies
  • Specialised Research in Russian Studies
  • Specialised Research in Spanish Studies
  • Specialised Research in Middle Eastern Literatures and Cultures
  • The Contemporary Canon: Why Books Sell


  • Developmental Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Origins of Human Cognition

Social Anthropology

  • The Anthropology of Connections: Interdisciplinary as Methodology
  • Anthropology of Religion and Politics
  • West Africa
  • West Indies and Black Atlantic
  • Melanesian Anthropology
  • Youth in Africa

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).

Over the summer students research a contemporary studies-related topic in depth.

The project combines the concepts and methodologies learned in the core modules. Students agree their project topic with their project supervisor and the programme director.

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 2018 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


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.


Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 14 November 2018

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The Graduate School

As a wholly postgraduate unit,  is dedicated to understanding and meeting the needs of Masters students. To help you adapt to life as a postgraduate and make the most of your degree, the Graduate School will offer a programme of events and activities exclusively for Masters students. Bringing together students from each of the Graduate School’s programmes, these are an opportunity to meet fellow postgraduates, make new connections, and foster interdisciplinary contacts. Scheduled at key points over the degree, the programme provides advice and guidance as you need it and provides a welcoming and supportive framework.

You will also be part of a much wider community of postgraduates across the University. All postgraduates are members of St Leonard’s College. St Leonard’s College brings together Masters students and research students and, working with the Postgraduate Society, aims to promote a vibrant and intellectually rich postgraduate community.


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 postgraduate scholarships. 

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
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).