Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Dickens and Victorian Culture - MA

2019

As the only named Master’s programme within the UK devoted to Charles Dickens, this programme studies the author in a place that perhaps offers more Dickensian associations than anywhere else in the world.

2019

Overview

It combines a focus on both the local and the global author through compulsory modules contextualising the variety of ways in which Dickens engaged with the social, cultural and political issues of his age. Interdisciplinary approaches are employed, using Dickens as a focus, to consider the relationships between19th-century fiction and journalism, the Victorians’ engagement with material culture, and their fascination with the body and its metaphors.

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 2014 has produced very strong results for the School of English at Kent. With 74% of our work graded as world-leading or internationally excellent, the School is ranked 10th out of 89 English departments in terms of Research Intensity (Times Higher Education). The School also received an outstanding assessment of the quality of its research environment and public impact work.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of English was ranked 10th for research intensity and 15th for research power in the UK.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 95% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

Modules

The following modules are indicative of the types of modules available, which may vary from year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

You take at least two of the following:

EN835 - Dickens, the Victorians and the Body
EN876 - Dickens and the Condition of England
EN836 - Dickens and the Material Culture of the Victorian Novel

You then write a dissertation on a subject related to Dickens and/or Victorian culture between the start of the Summer Term and the end of August.

Modules may include Credits

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by a 5,000 word essay for each module and a 12,000 word dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide excellent postgraduate-level study that deepens and extends your understanding of work in the field of Dickens and Victorian culture
  • develop your understanding of, and engagement with, the critical and methodological paradigms that inform the field of studies in Dickens and Victorian culture
  • develop your independent critical thinking and judgement
  • develop your research skills in the relevant field so as to provide a pathway for you to undertake PhD work in the area of Dickens and Victorian culture
  • build upon and extend an already-established reputation at Kent for distinction in the learning and teaching of Dickens and Victorian culture.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • primary sources and recent scholarship concerning Dickens as a major figure in Victorian print culture and English literature more generally
  • the relationship of Dickens to his age in terms of relevant contexts such as the newspaper and periodical market, the theatre, politics, economics, imperialism, the law, religion, science, education, gender, class, and visual culture
  • the part played by Victorian literature in addressing contemporary social problems
  • the theoretical and methodological challenges presented by researching a past historical moment.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the acquisition of advanced skills in the use of bibliographic and other research methods essential to the pursuit of original research at graduate level
  • the demonstration of competence in critically evaluating research tools and findings
  • the ability to conceptualise and formulate a substantial research project
  • the ability to synthesise information from a range of primary and secondary sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice
  • the ability to criticise analytically.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the research, analysis and evaluation of Victorian texts, including both primary and secondary sources
  • a developed, critical understanding of a variety of scholarly approaches to the study of literature and other cultural forms in this period
  • an ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of various kinds of text and their political, cultural and historical contexts
  • a developed scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, of bibliographic practices, and of structuring and developing an argument over an extended piece of written work.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • advanced oral and written communication skills, including the capacity to argue for a point of view with clarity, organisation, cogency and sophistication
  • a capacity for independent research and learning, including the ability to think independently, analytically, critically and self-critically
  • the ability to assimilate and  organise  substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds
  • IT skills: word-processing, email communication, the ability to access electronic data and evaluate online resources.

Careers

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, as are Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. There are a number of special collections: the John Crow Collection of Elizabethan and other early printed texts; the Reading/Raynor Collection of theatre history (over 7,000 texts or manuscripts); ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online); the Melville manuscripts relating to popular culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the Pettingell Collection (over 7,500 items) of 19th-century drama; the Eliot Collection; children’s literature; and popular literature. A gift from Mrs Valerie Eliot has increased the Library’s already extensive holdings in modern poetry. The British Library in London is also within easy reach.

Besides the Templeman Library, School resources include photocopying, fax and telephone access, support for attending and organising conferences, and a dedicated postgraduate study space equipped with computer terminals and a printer.

Conferences and seminars

Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops. The School also plays a pivotal role in the Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, of which all graduates are associate members. The Institute hosts interdisciplinary conferences, colloquia, and other events, and establishes international links for all Kent graduates through its network with other advanced institutes worldwide.

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

The School runs several series of seminars, lectures and readings throughout the academic year. Our weekly research seminars are organised collaboratively by staff and graduates 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.

The Centre for Creative Writing hosts a very popular and successful weekly reading series; guests have included poets Katherine Pierpoint, Tony Lopez, Christopher Reid and George Szirtes, and novelists Abdulrazak Gurnah, Ali Smith, Marina Warner and Will Self.

The University of Kent is now in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Benefits from the ICA affiliation include free membership for incoming students; embedded seminar opportunities at the ICA and a small number of internships for our students. The School of English also runs an interdisciplinary MA programme in the Contemporary which offers students an internship at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA).

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. They also edit several periodicals including: Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities; The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: 600-1500; The Dickensian; Literature Compass; Oxford Literary Review; Theatre Notebook and Wasafiri. Details of recently published books can be found within our staff research interests.

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.  

Entry requirements

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent).

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will 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 for your country. 

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.

Research areas

Research in the School of English comes roughly under the following areas. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups, and individual staff have interests that range more widely.

Eighteenth Century

The particular interests of the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century converge around gender, class, nation, travel and empire, and the relationship between print and material culture. Staff in the Centre pursue cutting-edge approaches to the field and share a commitment to interdisciplinary methodologies.
The Centre regularly hosts visiting speakers as part of the School of English research seminar programme, and hosts day symposia, workshops and international conferences.

Nineteenth Century

The recently established Centre for Victorian Literature and Culture provides a stimulating and distinctive research environment for staff and students through seminars, conferences and collaborative research projects. The MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture is the only MA of its kind in the UK, and both the MA and the Centre places a particular emphasis on Victorian literature and culture associated with Kent and the south-east.

American Literature

Research in north American literature is conducted partly through the Faculty-based Centre for American Studies, which also facilitates co-operation with modern US historians. Staff research interests include 20th-century American literature, especially poetry, Native American writing, modernism, and cultural history.

Creative Writing

The Centre for Creative Writing is the focus for most practice-based research in the School. Staff organise a thriving series of events and run a research seminar for postgraduate students and staff to share ideas about fiction-writing. Established writers regularly come to read and discuss their work.

Medieval and Early Modern

The Faculty-based Canterbury Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies has a distinctive brand of interdisciplinarity, strong links with local archives and archaeological trusts, and provides a vibrant forum for investigating the relationships between literary and non-literary modes of writing in its weekly research seminar.

Modern Poetry

The Centre for Modern Poetry is a leading centre for research and publication in its field, and participates in both critical and creative research. Staff regularly host visiting speakers and writers, participate in national and international research networks, and organise graduate research seminars and public poetry readings.

Postcolonial

Established in 1994, the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research has acquired an international reputation for excellence in research. It has an outstanding track record in publication, organises frequent international conferences, and regularly hosts leading postcolonial writers and critics. It also hosts a visiting writer from India every year in association with the Charles Wallace Trust.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid: Reader in English and Environmental Humanities

Nineteenth-century literature and culture, especially representations of nature and the environment, time, history, queer theory; sublimity; ecology and psychogeography.

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Dr Sara Lyons: Senior Lecturer in Victorian Literature

Nineteenth-century literature and culture; Victorian poetry and critical prose; fin-de-siècle aestheticism and decadence; the interrelations between literature, religion, secularism in the long nineteenth century.

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Professor Wendy Parkins: Professor of Victorian Literature

Victorian modernity; gender and sexuality in the 19th century; the Victorian novel (especially Dickens, Gaskell, Collins); literature of the fin-desiècle period; aestheticism and William Morris. 

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Professor Catherine Waters: Professor of Victorian Literature and Print Culture

Victorian literature and culture, especially fiction and journalism; Dickens; Sala; George Eliot; literature and gender.

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Dr Sarah Wood: Reader in English Literature and Literary Theory

Creative critical writing; 19th and 20th-century poetry and fiction, especially Robert Browning and Elizabeth Bowen; writing and visual art; literary theory; deconstruction, especially Derrida; psychoanalysis; continental philosophy.

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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Dickens and Victorian Culture - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700
Part-time £3750 £7850

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 information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

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

Funding

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