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Contemporary Studies (MLitt) 2020 entry

On the MLitt in Contemporary Studies, you will explore the nature and meaning of “the contemporary”. You will develop an interdisciplinary understanding of how the contemporary is defined and communicated and complete placements giving you a wider perspective on contemporary challenges and practices.


This programme is currently not open for applications. Please contact for further information.

Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course dates

  • Start date: 7 September 2020
  • End date: 30 September 2021

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

The MLitt in Contemporary Studies welcomes applicants from any disciplinary background. The degree is likely to be of particular interest to those from a background in the arts and humanities.

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: £9,450
Overseas: £19,400

Application deadline

Wednesday 12 August 2020. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships. Applicants who will require a visa to study in the UK should normally apply by June.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date. 
  • 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 in Contemporary Studies explores the nature and meaning of “the contemporary”. You will develop an interdisciplinary understanding of how the contemporary is defined and communicated and complete placements giving you a wider perspective on contemporary challenges and practices.


  • Aimed at students who want to deepen their understanding of the contemporary, including those who may want to continue to a doctoral degree.
  • Degree structure and content helps students with limited direct subject experience to develop advanced knowledge and understanding.
  • Learn applied research skills including the evaluation of primary source materials and secondary literature, comparative analysis techniques, and the presentation of academic concepts to mixed audiences.
  • Interdisciplinary character allows you to use ideas from different disciplines to illuminate your studies.
  • Integrated training programme connects your academic learning with the development of professional competencies that enhance employability.

The MLitt in Contemporary Studies is distinguished by its interdisciplinary character. What might a specialist in 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 in Contemporary Studies considers how issues deemed to be contemporary are approached differently by different academic disciplines as well as by those outside academia. You will be encouraged to develop a more rounded, interdisciplinary understanding of the contemporary and to use ideas from different disciplines to illuminate your studies.

The core modules bring together subject experts from across the University, providing different disciplinary perspectives on key topics. The interdisciplinary approach means that you will think beyond the concepts, theories, and methodologies of any single academic discipline. You will learn how to challenge disciplinary stereotypes and start to develop a common lexicon that bridges disciplinary divides. Whatever your disciplinary background, the MLitt in Contemporary Studies will help you to see it in a new light.

You will also complete two short placements to give you experience of how the contemporary is interpreted and articulated in a practical context. Placements are usually hosted in a local cultural centre – such as a museum or gallery – and allow you to engage with practitioners and build on your academic learning.

The degree will be of particular interest if you intend to continue to doctoral research as it provides a broad-based programme of study culminating in a supervised research project. 

The degree includes an integrated training programme. The training programme connects your academic learning with the development of professional competencies that enhance employability. The training programme brings together postgraduates from all Graduate School Masters degrees, helping you to make new interdisciplinary connections and providing a supportive social aspect to the Graduate School community.

Teaching format

The MLitt in Contemporary Studies is a one year full-time degree. You will complete one compulsory module in Semester 1 (September to December) and one compulsory module in Semester 2 (January to May). You will complete one or two optional modules in each semester.

You will use the period from June to August to complete a supervised research project. 

The MLitt degree involves both independent and group study, and teaching methods include seminars, workshops, and practical sessions.

Most modules are assessed through coursework including essays, reflective assignments, and 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 2019–2020 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2020 entry.

Each semester is organised around compulsory modules exploring the nature of the contemporary as seen from different disciplinary perspectives.

Semester 1

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

Semester 2

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

Alongside the compulsory modules, you will complete one or two optional modules in each semester. Optional modules allow you to shape the degree around your own personal and professional interests.

Optional modules are expected to be offered in the following areas:

  • gender studies
  • digital thinking
  • global social and political theory
  • comparative literature.

Optional modules in other areas may be possible subject to availability and agreement.

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 is the research project. The project takes the form of a period of supervised research where you will explore a contemporary studies topic in depth. The project is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to plan and manage research work and to apply appropriate research techniques. It provides excellent preparation for careers requiring research skills, whether in academia or other contexts.

You can choose to present your research project as one of the following:

  • a written dissertation that emphasises your ability to plan and execute academically rigorous research
  • a multi-media portfolio that emphasises your ability to present contemporary studies concepts in exciting and engaging ways.

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 Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2020 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 is the University of St Andrews’ newest academic school and has been established to foster interdisciplinary postgraduate education and scholarship.

The Graduate 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, enhancing your employability.
  • 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

University of St Andrews graduates may be eligible for a 10% discount on postgraduate fees.  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 M-Skills, a programme of face-to-face and online workshops and training materials for Masters students. M-Skills will help you develop the broader academic and personal skills you need to succeed in your degree and enhance your employability.

Additionally, the Careers Centre provides advice and support to help you plan your professional development and achieve your career goals. As well as online resources, the Careers Centre offers one-to-one appointments to discuss any career-related matters.


The Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies
University of St Andrews
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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).

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