Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Postcolonial Studies - MA

2019

The MA in Postcolonial Studies develops your understanding of the politics of culture. It looks at both the imperial interpretations of the colonial as well as anti-colonial and postcolonial assertions of autonomy. 

2019

Overview

In this context, while ‘postcolonial’ refers primarily to societies of the so-called ‘Third World’, it also includes questions relevant to cultures such as those of Ireland and Australia.

The University of Kent was one of the first universities to establish postcolonial literary studies in Britain and has continued to play a significant part in the development of the field. Among the teachers involved in the programme are Bashir Abu-Manneh, Caroline Rooney, Donna Landry, Alex Padamsee and Matthew Whittle (see staff research interests for further details).

This programme can also be studied in Canterbury and Paris. This option allows you to spend your first term at our Canterbury campus, before relocating to our Paris centre for the spring term to study in the heart of historic Montparnasse.

Think Kent video series

Fra Mauro’s Mappa Mundi (1448-53) was one of the earliest maps to imagine the Indian Ocean as open waters rather than closed in by a southern land-mass. This lecture by Emeritus Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, acclaimed novelist and Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, re-imagines it as a cosmopolitan site which preceded and survived colonialism, rather than another chapter in the grinding and inevitable consolidation of European power.

 

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

You take a compulsory module, at least one more specialist Postcolonial module and two other modules (four in total) during the autumn and spring terms. You are also expected to attend the Faculty and School Research Methods Programmes.

You then write the dissertation or editorial project between the start of the summer term and the end of August.

Modules

In 2015/16 the following core specialist module is available: EN852 – Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses. The list below should be considered indicative of the types of modules available, which may vary from year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

Modules may include Credits

This module introduces you to a wide range of colonial and postcolonial theoretical discourses. It focuses on the construction of the historical narrative of imperialism, psychology and culture of colonialism, nationalism and liberation struggles, and postcolonial theories of complicity and resistance. The module explores the benefits and problems derived from reading literature and culture by means of a postcolonial and postimperial lens. Through the study of crucial texts and events, both historical and current, the module analyses the birth of imperialist narratives and their complex consequences for the world today.

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30

The aim of the module is to read selected prose writing in English, which appeared during the period of high imperialism and into the mid-century (approximately 1880s-1940s) and to trace the evolution of particular writings of empire. This will involve a comparative study of writing from different locations of empire. The module will explore representations of relations between the coloniser and the colonised in selected literary texts, and will contextualise the historical and cultural contexts of their production. The texts will be studied as texts in themselves but also as expressions of a particular vision of European self-representation and its conception of the challenge of the colonised.

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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.

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60

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:

  • explore a wide range of writing resulting from the encounter between imperialist and colonised countries and cultures
  • examine this writing in the wider context of colonial and postcolonial history
  • study how this writing and its history have been theorised
  • develop your research skills to the point where you are ready to undertake a research degree
  • develop your oral skills to the point where you are able to present a conference-type paper to your peers.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • a wide range of colonial and postcolonial texts, primarily but not exclusively in English
  • the interaction between colonial and postcolonial texts, in terms of the imperialist world’s rendering of the colonial and postcolonial assertions of autonomy
  • the relation between critical theory in general, and various kinds of postcolonial theory
  • the concepts, terminology and modes of thought specific to postcolonial theory and criticism
  • the cultural conditions of production of contemporary postcolonial literatures
  • the wider intellectual and academic context from which postcolonial studies has developed.

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 source and 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 of colonial and postcolonial writing
  • developed and critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of postcolonial literatures
  • developed scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, of bibliographic and annotation practices, and of structuring and developing an argument over an extended piece of written work
  • a nuanced understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement.

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.

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, 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 19th-century research group is organised around the successful MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture and the editorship of The Dickensian, the official publication outlet for new Dickens letters. Other staff research interests include literature and gender, journalism, representations of time and history, sublimity and Victorian Poetry.

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 events series 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 Bashir Abu-Manneh: Reader in Postcolonial Literature

Global English and literatures of the Middle East, literary realism and modernism, literary and cultural theory (Marxist and postcolonial)

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Dr Stella Bolaki: Senior Lecturer in American Literature

Multi-ethnic American literature (especially with a focus on migration/diaspora and transnational approaches); the Bildungsroman; gender theory; life writing and illness/disability; medical humanities. 

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Professor Bernhard Klein: Professor of English Literature

Early modern literature and culture; Irish studies; travel writing and cartography; maritime history and culture. 

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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. 

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Dr Ariane Mildenberg: Senior Lecturer in Modernism

Modernist poetry; Wallace Stevens; Gertrude Stein; Virginia Woolf; the kinship of method and concern between phenomenology and modernist literature and art; the interaction of contemporary philosophy with theology; the relationship between modernism and postcolonial writing; translation of Scandinavian poetry.

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Dr Alex Padamsee: Lecturer in English and American Literature

Postcolonial literature and theory; South Asian literatures; British writing on India; race, empire and colonisation in 19th and 20th-century British literature; partition and trauma studies.

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Professor Caroline Rooney: Professor of African and Middle Eastern Studies

African and Middle Eastern literature, especially Zimbabwean and Egyptian; colonial discourse and postcolonial theory; the Arab Spring; liberation literature and theory; terror and the postcolonial; global youth cultures, especially hip-hop and spoken word; contemporary visual arts; sea and desert studies; queer theory; psychoanalysis.

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Professor David Stirrup: Professor of American Literature and Indigenous Studies

First nations and Native American literature; 20th-century North American literature; the American and Canadian Midwest; border studies.

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Dr Matthew Whittle: Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature

Postcolonial studies, with a specific interest in Caribbean literature, migration and diaspora, and the “end of Empire”; post-war and contemporary British literature; animal studies and the relationship between trophy hunting, taxonomy and postcoloniality.

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Fees

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

Postcolonial Studies - Taught 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: