Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Eighteenth-Century Studies - MA

2019

The Eighteenth-Century Studies MA offers an intellectually dynamic introduction to one of the most exciting eras in literary history.

2019

Overview

Grounded in and administered from the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, this is an interdisciplinary MA programme that builds upon the expertise and common research interests of 18th-century researchers and teachers across the Faculty of Humanities. The Centre provides an excellent research context for the MA programme and any further postgraduate work that will arise from it.

Among the teachers involved in this MA are Professor Jennie Batchelor, Dr Jenny DiPlacidi, Dr Declan Gilmore-Kavanagh, Professor Donna Landry and Dr Robbie Richardson (English); Dr James Fowler (French); Dr Ben Thomas (History and Philosophy of Art); Dr William Pettigrew and Professor Charlotte Sleigh (History).

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

School of English

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.

School of European Culture and Language

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.

Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK’s European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

As part of the programme, you will take two modules in the Autumn Term and two in the Spring Term (if studying the programme full-time), which will include two compulsory modules, outlined below. 

You then write a dissertation or an editorial project on a subject related to Eighteenth Century studies between the start of the Summer Term and the end of August.

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.  This programme 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 must take the following core modules:

EN832 - Hacks, Dunces and Scribblers: Authorship and the Marketplace in the Eighteenth Century

EN888 - Extremes of Feeling: Literature and Empire in the Eighteenth Century

Modules may include Credits

This module investigates Britons’ complex aspirations during the age of Enlightenment: wealth and politeness, adventure and the cult of sensibility, collecting rare commodities, seeking ‘extreme experiences’, discoursing on sympathy while owning slaves. What was the British empire that necessitated anti-colonial resistance? How did a backward island nation become an imperial power? We will explore fiction, travel writing, political theory and philosophy. Novels, Oriental fantasy, explorations of the Ottoman empire, Continental Europe, and the South Seas, and Black Atlantic writing (by slaves and freed people) will be featured. How did new styles of masculinity and femininity and new ideas about gender and sexuality emerge by means of urbanisation, global exploration, and mercantile capital? We will also reflect upon methods of historical recovery and approaches to texts of the past. The eighteenth century was a period of dynamic change and radical social upheaval that has left us with various legacies whose effects are still being felt today.

Read more
30

Writing a Masters dissertation provides the opportunity for you to explore a topic of interest at greater length and in more depth than any academic assignment you will have undertaken to date. As such, it can be both an exciting and daunting experience. This module addresses what is involved in writing a dissertation and helps you to plan your research and prepare your dissertation proposal. It also provides a forum to share ideas with other students and to discuss any questions you might have about the process of researching and writing an extended piece of work.

Read more
60

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by a 5000 word essay for each module and a 12000 word dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • extend and deepen through coursework and research your understanding of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture and its political and cultural contexts
  • develop your understanding of, and engagement with, the critical and methodological paradigms that inform the field of eighteenth-century studies today
  • develop your independent critical thinking and judgement.
  • introduce you to the research methods that facilitate advanced study in the field
  • provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach eighteenth-century studies, especially in higher education
  • provide an interdisciplinary context for the study of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture.
  • develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form
  • provide teaching which is informed by current research and scholarship and which requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge
  • develop your research skills to the point where you are ready to undertake a research degree.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • primary sources and recent scholarship concerning literary, visual, material, and political culture in the period
  • how the ‘new’ eighteenth century differs from the ‘old’, and how the canon of works to be studied changes and is constructed
  • grasp of intellectual categories and debates relevant to this period (eg Enlightenment, public sphere, global eighteenth century, taste, the polite, the sublime, revolution, sensibility, political economy) within and across disciplinary boundaries
  • theoretical challenges presented by researching a past historical moment, spectre of ‘presentism’ versus more discontinuist approaches
  • archival procedures, available resources, theoretical questions, approaches to popular and public interest in the period.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the application of the skills needed for academic study and enquiry at graduate level
  • the evaluation of research findings
  • 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 make discriminations and selections of relevant information from a wide range of sources in a large body of knowledge
  • the ability to think conceptually and to criticise analytically.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • advanced skills in the close critical analysis and discussion of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture
  • 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 and annotational practices, and of structuring and developing an argument over an extended piece of written work.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view in extended oral and written form, with clarity, organisation, cogency and sophistication
  • the ability to think independently, analytically, critically and self-critically
  • the ability to assimilate and  organise  substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds
  • an advanced level of competence in the formulation, planning and execution of extended written projects
  • an advanced level of competence in the formulation, planning and formal oral presentation of research papers
  • the experience of collaborative intellectual work
  • the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
  • trained research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
  • 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 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 (ICA). Benefits from this 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.

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.

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.

Professor Jennie Batchelor: Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies

Eighteenth-century literature; gender; women’s writing; fashion; visual and material culture; influence and intertextuality studies and 18th and early 19th-century periodicals and magazines.

View Profile

Dr James Fowler: Senior Lecturer in French

Novels, drama and other writings of the 18th century; Diderot and the Enlightenment; prudes and their relation to libertinage; narratology; psychoanalysis; discourses of the body; Richardson’s reception in France.

View Profile

Dr Declan Kavanagh: Lecturer in 18th-Century Literature

Eighteenth-century poetry; satire; political writing; masculinity; Irish literature; queer theory; gay, lesbian and transgender writing and culture; phobia in literature; disability studies.

View Profile

Professor Donna Landry: Professor of English and American Literature

Eighteenth-century literature, culture, and empire; colonial discourse and postcolonial theory; Middle Eastern, especially Turkish, literature; Ottomanism and Enlightenment; travel writing; queer theory; animal studies; sea and desert studies; historical re-enactment. 

View Profile

Dr William Pettigrew: Reader in American History

England and her Atlantic colonies in the 16th to 18th centuries; the history of the British Atlantic Empire; the trans-Atlantic slave trade; race and ethnicity; the history of economic thought; Renaissance diplomacy. 

View Profile

Dr Robbie Richardson: Lecturer in 18th-Century Literature

Eighteenth-century British and transatlantic literature and culture; history and literature of British empire; museum studies; material culture; Indigenous studies; postcolonial and critical race theory; cultural studies.

View Profile

Dr Charlotte Sleigh: Reader in the History of Science

History and culture of the life sciences in the 19th and 20th centuries; history of natural history; literature; gender.

View Profile

Dr Ben Thomas: Senior Lecturer; Curator, Studio 3 Gallery

Renaissance art; Renaissance art theory; Renaissance and baroque prints; the history of collecting and museums; historiography of art, particularly the work of Edgar Wind and the Cold War.

View Profile

Fees

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

Eighteenth Century Studies - 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: