Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Postcolonial Studies - MA

2017

This is an innovative and interdisciplinary MA programme, combining taught modules and a dissertation, which allows you to share your year between Canterbury and Paris.

2017

Overview

This programme develops your understanding of the politics of culture in relation to both the imperialist world’s interpretation of the colonial, and postcolonial assertions of autonomy. 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.

Following a similar path to our Postcolonial Studies MA, the Paris option allows you to spend your first term at our Canterbury campus with full access to its excellent academic and recreational facilities, before relocating to our Paris centre for the spring term, studying in the heart of historic Montparnasse.

In Paris, you participate in the Paris-focused modules, taught in English. Then, in the the final term, you complete your MA by writing a 12-15,000-word dissertation on a research topic defined in collaboration with your academic supervisors.

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 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.

For further information about the University of Kent, Paris, please see www.kent.ac.uk/paris

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

During the autumn term your core module, Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses, provides an introduction to the analysis of colonial discourse and to the most significant strands of postcolonial theory. Topics covered also include the role that culture plays in anti-colonial struggles and the role of the postcolonial intellectual in the contemporary world. Recommended reading for the module includes works by Frantz Fanon, Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak.

During the spring term, spent in Paris, you develop your studies to include the cultural production of exiles, with particular focus on the role of Paris as a place of refuge and as a focus for multi-cultural encounters and creativity. Works studied may include texts by North American, Latin American and North African writers living in Paris, with focus on their diverse representations of the city and how the experiences of diaspora and exile inform and shape their writing.

You then complete your one-year MA by writing a dissertation on an aspect of postcolonial studies that you will define in consultation with an appropriate tutor. All texts and teaching materials are in English, so this programme offers you a rare opportunity to spend part of your MA year living and studying in Paris without necessarily knowing any French.

Modules

You take two compulsory Postcolonial modules and two further optional 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.

In 2015/16 the following core specialist modules are available: EN852 – Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses (Canterbury) and CP807 – Diaspora and Exile (Paris). These 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.
 

Possible modules may include Credits ECTS 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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This module will introduce students to a wide range of theoretical positions with the aim of enriching their understanding and appreciation of literature and critical practice. We will begin with the thinking of Nietzsche and Freud, before examining that of Saussure, Benjamin, Lévi-Strauss, Genette, Foucault, Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Kristeva, Cixous, and Irigaray. As well as encouraging a critical engagement with the claims of the theories themselves the module will examine a number of representative theoretical readings of literary works. Students will learn to evaluate these various thinkers and use their ideas, as appropriate, in their own writing.

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The curriculum includes a selection of texts from various countries, all readily available in English and all specifically relevant to the modern history, evolving population and changing appearance of Paris and to how these aspects of the city has been perceived and represented in literary prose. The set texts are by writers from different periods and of various nationalities and they are all set in and inspired by Paris. The texts are chosen for their high literary quality, but also because they represent essential aspects of the city’s evolution and exemplify various narrative strategies and ways of engaging with the realities of life in the city, always shaped by personal preoccupations and sensibilities. This varied selection within the genre of prose fiction allows study of Zola’s naturalism and his presentation of the political and aesthetic implications of baron Haussman’s plans for urban renewal and control; Edith Wharton’s perspective as an American incomer; André Breton’s combination of oneiric urban encounters with photographic illustrations of the city, inserted into the text; Jean Rhys’s clearly gendered experience of the city in the 1920s and 1930s; the identity of the city as a site for postwar liberation and literary dynamism in the work of expatriates from the Beat generation; and the representation of today’s city as a centre for immigrant communities and cultural diversity. The primary texts are thus all Paris-focussed but are chosen to open an international perspective on the literary representation of an increasingly cosmopolitan city.

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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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Teaching and Assessment

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

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide you with the opportunity to obtain a postgraduate qualification (MA) in one year, and to allow, if required, a smooth transition to doctoral studies
  • allow you to spend the first term in Canterbury and the second term in Paris, studying modules in postcolonial studies, with access to modules in relevant related subjects
  • enhance your knowledge of postcolonial cultural production (literature and other art forms)
  • enable in-depth comparative exploration of areas of postcolonial cultures in the Francophone, Anglophone, Hispanic and Lusophone spheres
  • develop knowledge and understanding of relevant aspects of Paris and the cultural history and imaginary of the city as reflected in and shaped by postcolonial cultural production and especially the cultural production of exile and diaspora in the metropolis
  • develop a critical awareness of these topics
  • build an understanding of critical theories linked with the study of these topics
  • introduce various methodological approaches
  • develop knowledge of relevant databases
  • 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
  • offer generous scope for the study of cultural production within an interdisciplinary context
  • provide access to intercultural awareness and understanding
  • provide opportunities for the development of personal, communication and research skills and other key skills appropriate for graduate employment both in industry and in the public sector
  • develop critical, analytical, problem-solving and other transferable skills
  • 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 gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • a wide range of colonial and postcolonial cultural production (literature and other art forms) in English and in English translation from sources including French, Spanish and Portuguese
  • the cultural history and imaginary of modern Paris, as reflected in and shaped by postcolonial cultural production
  • critical theory and its application to the appreciation of literature and to a research dissertation and in particular 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 conditions of contemporary postcolonial cultural production
  • the wider intellectual and academic context from which postcolonial studies has developed.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • language skills: advanced reading, comprehension and communication skills in English
  • Problem-solving skills: the ability to reason logically, critically and analogically, evaluate complex information critically, synthesise complex information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of the subject
  • research methodology: gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources
  • academic skills: identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems. Develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
  • evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline
  • adaptation skills: learn to work in different environments by adapting to the educational, cultural and professional environments of England and France, while adopting an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to communicate at an advanced level in English, orally and in writing
  • develop high level reading skills in English
  • analyse and evaluate a variety of sources, both textual and visual, in English
  • develop a deep appreciation of a variety of literary styles and art forms and their lines of divergence and convergence
  • develop in-depth knowledge of postcolonial cultures and literatures
  • develop a comprehensive understanding of the cultural development and the imaginary of modern Paris, as expressed in and shaped by postcolonial cultural production
  • an understanding and applying various theoretical approaches to the study of cultural production.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • oral communication: the ability to  communicate orally at a high standard
  • written communication: the ability to produce written work of a high standard, in an appropriate register, in English
  • a high level of competence in information processing using relevant databases and online research
  • teamwork: the ability to undertake group tasks that will encourage co-operative skills
  • utilise problem-solving skills in a variety of theoretical and practical situations
  • time management
  • living and working in diverse cultural environments: you will participate and work in academic communities in both Canterbury and Paris. You will thus develop cultural knowledge and understanding, flexibility, imagination, resourcefulness and tolerance.

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. 

Meet our staff in your country

For more advise about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English language entry requirements

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.

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 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 Abdulrazak Gurnah: Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature

Colonial and postcolonial discourse as they relate to African, Caribbean and Indian writing. 

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Professor Bernhard Klein: Professor of English

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: Lecturer in English and American Literature

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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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.

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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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Dr David Stirrup: Reader in Indigenous and Settler Literatures of the Americas

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

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Fees

The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Postcolonial Studies - MA at Canterbury and Paris:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7490 £14670

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.*

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.

General additional costs

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

Funding

Scholarships and funding information