Come and meet us at our Postgraduate Open Event on Wednesday 22 February 2023.
The MA in Postcolonial Studies develops your understanding of how cultural forms offer a radical resistance to colonial and imperial worldviews that are still very much prevalent today.
Develop your own expertise in the relationship between politics, culture, and imperialism, whilst exploring the urgency and vibrancy of postcolonial writing and the study of empire. Topics may include historical and contemporary responses to imperialism and decolonization as well as the climate emergency, global capitalism, and migration and diaspora. If you have never studied empire and postcolonial culture before, or if you wish to expand your existing reading, our modules are dedicated both to canonical texts and the latest developments in the exciting field of empire studies. Teachers involved in the programme come from across many disciplines and foster and encourage interdisciplinary work.
The University of Kent was one of the first universities to establish colonial and postcolonial studies in the UK and has continued to play a significant part in the development of the field with an incredible national and international reputation. The University is also home to the Centre for the Global Study of Empire, an interdisciplinary and multi-lingual centre that aims to promote research and public engagement in the areas of colonialism, post-colonialism, and imperial studies from across the world.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
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.
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.
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.
This module will train students in the practical and methodological skills necessary to undertake and present original, advanced literary research. It will also highlight the transferable skills that an MA in literary studies develops and will equip students with the skills, techniques and approaches needed for advanced literary study and professional careers.
Topics will include, for example, developing and planning a research project; accessing and using archives; electronic and bibliographic sources; sustaining a large research project; and data and document management.
This module examines the relation between race and power from the premodern period to the contemporary. Through symptomatic readings of a range of literary and theoretical texts, this module introduces students to critical concepts and historical moments that are essential for understanding race and power. Key questions addressed are: how does race emerge and develop as a concept, how does its relation to power change, and what role does literature, theatre and film play in shaping and challenging racial identity? From Shakespeare's Othello and Zadie Smith’s The Wife of Willesden (2021) to race theory and anti-racist politics, this module explores discourses that grapple with the stark realities of our age.
This course investigates the development of American modernism in art and literature in the fifty year period between 1890 and 1940; a time bookended by official closing of the American frontier (which effectively concluded the period of the nineteenth century associated with "manifest destiny") and the outbreak of World War Two. The course will explore key texts of the period within their artistic and social contexts, including the development of new scientific and social-scientific modes of inquiry, the growth of the city and the increasing importance of the USA on the world stage.
The course is organised into blocks comprised of texts associated with various cities and movements within American modernism. We will begin by looking at the importance of New York and the American expatriate scene, before considering modernism in the mid-West and US South. A reading pack will be provided in the first week as an aid to student research.
Students will be expected to develop their own research interests within the topic and will be assessed by a 5,000 word essay. Essays that investigate topics not directly covered by the set reading are encouraged and can be developed in consultation with the tutor.
This module will introduce you to a variety of theoretical frameworks for reading Victorian literature as 'world literature': that is, the product of global circuits of knowledge and commodity exchange, as well as cross-cultural encounters. The first half of the module moves from an examination of the global dimensions of canonical nineteenth-century novelists such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens alongside writers from the ‘Black Atlantic’ such as Mary Prince and Mary Seacole to an examination of how the expansion of the ‘settler empire’ produced new forms of writing by colonial emigrants that explored the experience of settlement and sought to represent the Indigenous communities colonists encountered to British reading publics. The module then moves to an interdisciplinary consideration of the role anthropological writings played in shaping discourses of race, and how colonial and Indigenous travellers to Britain ‘wrote back’ in various ways against these discourses.
This module is designed to introduce postgraduates to high level research in the field of post-45 American literature and culture, spanning the period from the end of World War Two to the late twentieth century. Proceeding in chronological fashion, it will address key issues such as the cultural Cold War, Black Power, feminism and cosmopolitanism through the close analysis of cultural items in their historical moment. These will include texts such as novels by Ralph Ellison and, Thomas Pynchon; essays by Susan Sontag and Joan Didion; cultural criticism by Clement Greenberg and Lionel Trilling; and sociological analysis by C. Wright Mills. In addition, painting and film will be discussed where appropriate. Students will be encouraged to approach and understand aesthetic texts and objects both on their own terms and in relation to broader historical phenomena such as shifting geopolitical configurations, changing race and gender relations, and the rise of neoliberalism. Ultimately they will be in a position to address fundamental questions about the nature and function of "culture" itself in the period. Throughout the module, students will also explore the latest research in the field, reading influential contemporary scholarship and acquainting themselves with salient critical debates concerning methodology, including those over the sociology of culture, the demise of postmodernism as a critical paradigm, and periodization.
This module explores the affinities, disjunctions, and dialogue between American, British, and Irish literary traditions from 1880 to 1920. The turn of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth gave writers on both sides of the Atlantic an acute sense of epochal drama and self-consciousness: they brooded over ideas of decadence, apocalypse, progress, revolution, and the nature of the zeitgeist; heralded endings, transitions, repetitions, reversals, and beginnings; and explored the ambivalences and confusions provoked by the idea of the 'modern'. We will pay particular attention to how writers conceptualise and represent history and time, and seek to anatomise the varieties of pessimism, nostalgia, and utopian thinking that the turn of the century inspired.
This module focuses on texts by both canonical and non-canonical writers that often fall through the cracks of conventional literary history because they were published in the 'awkward age' and are often considered neither solidly Victorian nor yet programmatically modernist. We will interrogate standard national narratives of literary history (in the case of Britain, the compartmentalisations of the fin de siècle and the Edwardian, and in the case of America, those of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era), as well as the assumption that national literary traditions were distinct and coherent in the period. We will consider how American, British, and Irish writers reckoned with the forces shaping transatlantic intellectual and cultural life, especially post-Darwinian science, imperialism, socialism, feminism, and cosmopolitan ideals of culture. We will also consider how writers made the awkwardness of the age not simply a thematic preoccupation but a complex aesthetic challenge, prompting innovations as well as efforts to sustain the ideal of a literary tradition.
This module explores the emergence of 'sexual normalcy' in the literature of the Enlightenment period in Britain by focusing on the phobic constitution of the sodomite in literary and legal texts. Beginning with accounts of late seventeenth-century sodomy trials and moving on to Edmund Burke’s impassioned speech to the House of Commons (12th April 1780) on the fatal pillorying of two sodomites, this module critiques the ways in which authors and political commentators deployed the sodomite – both male and female – as a condensed symbol for a number of cultural and political transgressions. Participants will examine how anxieties about the sodomite informed the construction of heteronormativity in this period, while also considering the implications that this has for sexual and gender identities today.
On this module students will develop their skills as an independent writer, critic and thinker, understanding and building their own unique writing practice through readings of exemplary texts, open seminar discussion, writing exercises and creative workshops. Students will learn to identify and apply central concepts like plot, narrative, form and structure, theme, voice and character, in both reading and writing practice, Experimentation, ingenuity, ambition and originality in the student's approach to her/his own writing will be encouraged. Workshops will develop close reading and editorial skills and invite students to offer and receive constructive criticism of their peers’ work.
This module will prepare you for the production of your dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. You will read a wide range of exemplary, contemporary work and experiment with form and content.
In this module you will learn further techniques of writing fiction, including how to plot a full-length novel, work on deep characterisation and the construction of an intellectual framework within your fiction. You may be continuing to work on a project begun in Fiction 1, or starting something new. Rather than expecting you to try new techniques, voices and styles, your tutor will work with you to identify your strongest mode of writing and will encourage you to develop this.
The main focus of Poetry 2 is to further develop and refine your writing with the eventual aim of producing a successful dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. Poetry 2 differs from Poetry 1 in that you are encouraged to develop a sequence or series of wholly new poems.
In this module you will develop your practice of writing poetry through both the study of a range of contemporary examples and constructive feedback on your own work. Each week, you will be exposed to a wide range of exemplary, contemporary sequences. The approach to the exemplary texts will be technical rather than historical; at every point priority is given to your own particular development as poets.
The reading list does not represent a curriculum as such, but indicates the range of works and traditions we will draw upon to stimulate new thought about your own work. Decisions about reading will be taken in response to individual interests. Likewise, you will be directed toward work which will be of particular benefit to you.
This module explores representations of illness and disability in American literature and culture, with a particular emphasis on contemporary illness narratives. It encourages students to compare and contrast a range of different genres and media (fiction, life writing, drama, photography, film, popular culture, blogs) and to assess the extent to which they reshape fundamental American ideals and narratives such as the myths of individualism and of everlasting health and happiness. The module follows a thematic rather than chronological framework and is divided into three sections. The first section has a more historical flavour and considers the legacy of the nineteenth-century freak show, prosthetic bodies in post-war and contemporary American culture, and key moments in U.S. disability activism. The second section explores the relationship of illness to language and cultural narratives and, using as case studies cancer narratives and AIDS representations from the twentieth century, examines the aesthetics and politics of illness. It also focuses on the "medicalization" of emotions, statistical panic, and the fear of death as addressed in postmodern fiction and memoirs that consider illness in relation to age (adolescence) and the environment. The final section turns to the depiction of doctors and patients in literature and popular culture, cross-cultural perspectives on health and illness, and the rise of the medical humanities as an academic field.
'Postcolonial Writing and the Environment' will introduce students to prose, poetry and film that engages with environmental concerns, including globalisation and indigeneity, climate change, food and water security, species endangerment/extinction, tourism, pollution and migration. Students will interrogate how these concerns are underpinned by human interaction with the environment, and will examine how cultural texts not only facilitate affective engagement with these issues, but allow us to envision solutions and work towards preferred futures. The module will emphasise the political implications of postcolonial ecocriticism by addressing questions of social and environmental justice, animal and human rights, colonialism and postcoloniality, and culture and the individual (amongst other concerns) as a way of showing that analysis of postcolonial writing and the environment always requires attentive and critical engagement with shifting geopolitical world orders. Students will read the core texts in relation to the emerging fields of ‘global’ and ‘world-literature’, and will be introduced to critical and conceptual debates around issues such as ‘slow violence’, the Anthropocene, and writer-activism.
How is the relationship between animals and humans understood in the modern world? This module examines the role and significance of animals in our society by focusing on literary, cultural and scientific texts from the nineteenth century to the present, and how human activities have affected the lives of other animals and their habitats. It charts the radical shifts in how humans have thought of and written about animals from the arrival of Darwinian evolutionary theory to recent concerns about climate change and mass extinction. Across a range of texts, the ways in which humans have observed, hunted, collected, consumed and displayed animals will be considered alongside topics including sexuality, race and gender. The history of colonialism and post-colonialism provides an important context for the module, as does the rise in the natural sciences and growth in interdisciplinary theoretical approaches to questions of animality.
Drawing out some of the key themes in American history, the module will challenge students to move beyond a chronological reading of history to consider cross-cutting themes which have influenced the development of the American republic, from within and without. The emphasis of the module will focus on building a historiographical understanding of American history: the key interpretations which have guided the field. Students will read both foundational texts and cutting-edge work, in order to better understand the central debates which have made U.S. history one of the most vital in the profession. Core themes will range from the study race and slavery, the development of capitalism, populism, ideas about American exceptionalism, the importance of gender analysis, and the environment. Students will be assessed on their understanding of this literature through a linked set of assignments (both written and oral).
This is a core module for the MA in Imperial History. Its chief objective is to survey the field of imperial history and chart the momentous changes it has undergone since the heydays of Western imperialism. The module explores the principal controversies that have shaped this field of scholarship over the past century. By focusing on a series of past and ongoing scholarly debates, students will gain a thorough understanding of complex theoretical issues pertaining to the operations and consequences of Western empires. Themes to be explored successively include: the relationship between empire, slavery and the industrial revolution; 'peripheral' readings of late nineteenth-century imperialism and the Scramble for Africa; ‘gentlemanly capitalism’ and British imperialism; violence and settler colonialism; colonial knowledge production; popular imperialism; the imperialism of decolonization; empires as global networks.
This module investigates the nature of historical research at its highest level. While postgraduate students are expected to become highly specialised researchers in their own particular field or subfield, this module encourages them to consider history as a wider discipline and to broaden their approach to evidence and interpretation. Students will be expected to engage with a variety of intellectual viewpoints and methodological approaches to the discipline, and consider the impact that other disciplines have had on the study of History. A number of dissertation workshops will be arranged to help students with their dissertations.
The period 1815-1848 is often seen as an age of stagnation, reaction and obscurantism when compared to the heroic revolutionary and Napoleonic maelstroms that had preceded it. There is a sense that, once the monarchs who attended the Congress of Vienna returned home, they turned the clocks back to 1789 and pretended that the previous decades had never happened. This is why the period is often given the label of the 'Restoration.' Nothing could be further from the truth. This was the age of Tocqueville, Turner, Balzac, Hugo, Schubert, Gogol, Hegel, Rossini, Bellini, Mazzini and Schinkel. Europe was awash in political, international and cultural ferment. States could not just sweep reality under a carpet of reaction, Europeans struggled to reconcile their heroic revolutionary past with the need for stability in the present. This age witnessed the first experiments with modern parliamentary government and democracy ceased being shorthand for demagogy. Key terms, like liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and egotism, that remain foundational to our contemporary political lexicon, were all coined at this time. Equally, these years witnessed the great revolt against the austere classicism of the eighteenth century. Artists, novelists, poets, playwrights, philosophers and architects all sought keenly their inner genius and struggled to give life to their demons and monstrous passions. The movement known today as Romanticism was the result of this far from innocent soul-searching. It had repercussions that went well beyond the cultural sphere, spilling over into the world of politics, government, war and peace.
This module will introduce students to the latest research, theories and controversies surrounding the history of the European Restorations. Each week a theme, event or controversy will be chosen. Students will be presented with a key historiographical text and a key primary source. Every week, they will try to gauge how well the interpretations and arguments of historians fit the period. The primary goal of this module is to demonstrate that, far from stagnant, the Post-Napoleonic age was a crucial étape in the transition to what we today understand as modernity.
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, prepare your dissertation proposal, and begin writing. 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.
Assessment is by a 5,000 word essay for each module and a 15,000 word dissertation.
This programme aims to:
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You will gain the following transferable skills:
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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 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.
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.
The 19th-century research group's interests include literature and gender, journalism, representations of time and history, sublimity and Victorian poetry.
Research in North American literature is conducted partly through the 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
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.
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.
Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops. and establish 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.
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.
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.
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.