American Literature and Culture - MA

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This MA programme allows you to take your study of Anglophone American literature to the next level.


Anchored around a core module on American culture and conflict, the programme gives you a foundation in the points of contest and debate that have shaped American literature, providing you with the tools needed to pursue your interests and deepen your understanding of the field. Our selection of optional modules includes a wide range of topics taught by experts in their field, from critical race theory and transatlantic literature to American modernism and Cold War fiction.

The programme includes a field trip to a major library in the United States or other research destination, accompanied by one of our members of staff, aimed at developing your research skills. You will draw on this experience in writing a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choice, supervised by one of our Americanist academics.

Overall, the MA in American Literature and Culture is designed to give you breadth and depth of understanding in the field, preparing you for PhD study and a range of other professional career paths.

Christine and Ian Bolt scholarships

Three Christine and Ian Bolt MA Scholarships in American Literature and Culture are available for UK-resident students applying to the MA in American Literature and Culture. These scholarships include the full cost of programme fees.

About the School of English

The School of English has a strong international reputation and global perspective, apparent both in the background of its staff and in the diversity of our teaching and research interests.

Our expertise ranges from the medieval to the postmodern, including British, American and Irish literature, postcolonial writing, 18th-century studies, Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, Victorian studies, modern poetry, critical theory and cultural history. The international standing of the School ensures that we have a lively, confident research culture, sustained by a vibrant, ambitious intellectual community. We also count a number of distinguished creative writers among our staff, and we actively explore crossovers between critical and creative writing in all our areas of teaching and research.

The Research Excellence Framework 2021 has produced very strong results for the School of English at Kent. With 100% of its research environment and 100% of its research impact judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. The Times Higher Education has ranked English at Kent in the UK top 20 in its subject league table, out of 92 universities. As scholars and creative practitioners, academic staff in the School of English are national and international leaders in their fields. The expert panel judged 93% of its research overall and just under 90% of its research outputs, as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

A compulsory module in American Culture and Conflict gives you an understanding of foundational debates in American literary and cultural history from 1865 to the end of twentieth century. In the compulsory field trip and dissertation you will develop and exend your own interests into a 15,000 word piece of research. You choose 3 optional modules from the range offered by the School of English. At least 2 of these must come from the list of modules dealing with American topics.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year.


Teaching and assessment

The programme is taught principally through seminars and one-to-one supervisions, supported by visiting lectures, workshops and a guided field-trip. Assessment is through coursework essays, presentations, research portfolios, and the dissertation. There are no timed examinations.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • place the study of American literature and culture, in its historical contexts, at the centre of your learning and analysis
  • ensure that you acquire knowledge and understanding of literary-historical and cultural-historical modes of analysis
  • enable you to understand and use the concepts, methods and approaches of literary and cultural history, and to evaluate their appropriateness in relation to differing contexts and objectives.
  • help you to develop their capacity for both independent and collaborative critical thinking about American literature and culture
  • provide teaching informed by current and recent research in the discipline, including that conducted by members of staff responsible for teaching the programme
  • provide flexibility and diversity in approaches to teaching, reflecting the influence of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary methods in the practice of literary and cultural history.
  • prepare you for further advanced study and research in American literature and culture
  • Prepare you for professional life outside the university
  • encourage the establishment of a supportive, collaborative and co-dependent intellectual community based on mutual respect and co-operative endeavour
  • provide high quality teaching in supportive environments with highly qualified and well-trained staff.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the principal currents, debates and conflicts in American literary and cultural history, informed by recent research in the field
  • appropriate methods and techniques for studying American literature and culture
  • significant historical and theoretical contexts for the assessment of American literature and culture
  • how American literature and culture relates to its historical and theoretical contexts.

Intellectual skills

You will develop intellectual skills in:

  • applying knowledge of American literature and culture in original ways
  • conceptualizing the relationship between American literature and culture and its historical and theoretical contexts
  • analyzing and interpreting key texts in American literature and culture in relation to their historical and theoretical contexts
  • evaluating recent scholarship in American literary and cultural history, and the methods used in it.

Subject-specific skills

You will develop subject-specific skills in:

  • using appropriate methods for scholarship on American literary and cultural history
  • conducting research on American literature and culture in the context of a field trip
  • articulating and advancing coherent arguments about American literature and culture in writing and speech.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • ability to work effectively both individually and as part of a team
  • ability to marshal an argument, summarizing and defending a particular interpretation or analysis of a text
  • ability to gather, assimilate and organize complex information in relation to a particular problem
  • ability to motivate oneself in the exercise of personal initiative and responsibility Ability to show self-direction and originality and solving problems.


The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9500
  • EU full-time £13500
  • International full-time £18000
  • Home part-time £4750
  • EU part-time £6750
  • International part-time £9000

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

In addition, you will required to attend a compulsory field trip to the United States during the course of the year, attached to your dissertation. This trip will be partially subsidised wherever possible but the extra costs of travelling must be met by you.  These costs will vary from year to year depending on destination, duration and activities planned.

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our English Language and Literature research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for impact and environment.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 93% of our research was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Following the REF 2021, English Language and Literature at Kent was ranked in the top 20 in the UK in the Times Higher Education.


Research areas

Staff research interests include nineteenth and twentieth-century American fiction, poetry and intellectual history, indigenous writing in the Americas, illness and disability studies, contemporary American literature, modernism and postmodernism, critical race studies, class and culture, the short story, queer theory and transatlantic studies. 

Research in American literature is conducted partly through the interdisciplinary Centre for American Studies, which facilitates co-operation with Americanist researchers throughout the humanities. Research expertise in the Centre includes US foreign policy, Disney, nuclear culture, the history of environmentalism, the West, modern American painting, Hollywood cinema and colonial America.


Many career paths can benefit from the writing and analytical skills that you develop as a postgraduate student in the School of English. Our students have gone on to work in academia, journalism, broadcasting and media, publishing, writing and teaching; as well as more general areas such as banking, marketing analysis and project management.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The Templeman Library is well stocked with excellent research resources in American literature and culture. These include a large collection of scholarly monographs, electronic subscriptions to a wide range of scholarly journals, and a number of digital archives, including for example historical collections of major US newspapers. The British Library in London and its Eccles Centre for American Studies is within easy reach of Canterbury, and offers a superb collection of research resources including historical collections relating to American literature and culture. The School of English offers support for attending and organising conferences, and a dedicated postgraduate study space.

Conferences and seminars

As a student on the MA in American Literature and Culture you will have access to international conferences, symposia, lectures and workshops organised at the University of Kent.

The School of English runs several series of seminars, lectures and readings throughout the academic year. Our weekly research seminars are organised collaboratively by staff and postgraduates in the School. Speakers range from our own postgraduate students to members of staff, to distinguished lecturers who are at the forefront of contemporary research nationally and internationally. They also benefit from engagement with the programmes run by various research centres connected to the School, such as the Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies, and the Centre for Modern Poetry. 

School of English postgraduate students are encouraged to organise and participate in a conference which takes place in the summer term. This provides students with the invaluable experience of presenting their work to their peers.

Dynamic publishing culture

On the MA in American Literature and Culture you will taught by academics at the forefront of their fields. Our staff regularly publish books and articles in leading journals. Recent books by Kent academics on American literature topics include Stella Bolaki’s Illness as Many Narratives: Arts, Medicine, Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2016); David Stirrup’s Picturing Worlds: Visuality and Visual Sovereignty in Contemporary Anishinaabe Literature (2020) and Will Norman’s Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile and Culture in Midcentury America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). We are also home to Transmotion, a journal of Native American and First Nations writing edited by David Stirrup.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.

Apply now

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

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