University of Chester

Programme Specification
Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture MA
2017 - 2018

Master of Arts

Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 Year (Full-time); 2 Years (Part-time)

6 Years

Annual - October




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities English

There are no relevant subject benchmarks for the programme.


Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture Module Assessment Board (English)

Wednesday 4th December 2013

The MA in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture aims to:

  • develop a systematic knowledge and understanding of ideas relevant to the field of nineteenth-century literature and culture, and a critical awareness of the central issues of texts and contexts;
  • encourage a thorough awareness of and ability to deal with complex issues arising from the analysis of nineteenth-century literature and culture;
  • promote a sophisticated evaluation of current critical and theoretical positions in research and advanced scholarship in the field of nineteenth-century literature and culture, and facilitate the development of independent and original insights;
  • explore and critically analyse the range of research methods available to the student of nineteenth-century literature and culture;
  • create a supportive environment for students to disseminate their research and discuss the work of others, encouraging a process of critical reflection on their own written and oral communication;
  • enable students to become autonomous and self-directed scholars.

Students will demonstrate in all modules a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, in the field of nineteenth-century literature and culture, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the academic discipline.

Students will demonstrate in all modules:

  • the ability to deal with complex issues arising from the analysis of nineteenth-century literature and culture, both systematically and creatively;
  • familiarity with and ability to evaluate current critical and theoretical positions relevant to the field;
  • the ability to evaluate, critique and employ research methods and methodologies, and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses;
  • originality in the analysis of nineteenth-century texts and contexts.

The MA in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture complies with the key skills identified by the QAA in their ‘Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and Associated Key Skills’, and has taken account of the Research Councils UK ‘Joint Statement of the Skills Training Requirements for Research Students’. Students who qualify for the MA will have demonstrated their ability in all modules to:

  • deal with complex issues arising from the study of nineteenth-century literature and culture both systematically and creatively;
  • show a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry can be used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;
  • make sound judgments in the absence of complete data;
  • analyse critically and evaluate their own findings and those of others;
  • summarise, document, report and reflect on progress;
  • act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks;
  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility;
  • make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations;
  • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level;
  • show the independent learning skills required for continuing professional development.

Students will demonstrate in all modules:

  • sensitivity to language;
  • clear communication;
  • the ability to present and disseminate their written and oral work according to academic standards and criteria;
  • the ability to communicate their conclusions clearly to specialists and non-specialist audiences.

The PG Certificate, the PG Diploma and the MA are target awards within this programme.

The core modules EN7201 Nineteenth-Century Literature: The Canon and Beyond and EN7202 Nineteenth-Century Culture are complementary, and will be taken by all students throughout the Autumn and Spring. The 40-credit Nineteenth-Century Literature module will run weekly, with the 20-credit Nineteenth-Century Culture module in alternate weeks. While literary texts will form the focus of the Literature module, the related Culture module will encourage students to explore the wider contexts and historical developments which informed the production of literature during the period. 

Students will also take the 20-credit module EN7203 Research Methods, which runs alongside the cores in alternate weeks. Research Methods explores the wide range of available research resources, typically including libraries, galleries, museums, archives, special collections, bibliographic tools and databases, periodicals, and the internet. It will develop students' abilities to use resources effectively and to devise appropriate research strategies for substantial projects, in particular for the Dissertation.

Once EN7201, EN7202 and EN7203 have been completed, students will take EN7218 Special Author(s)/Topic(s), and begin working on EN7204 Dissertation (or EN7205 Research Essay if not planning to graduate with the MA), which will be submitted at the end of the programme.  Part-time students will be expected to begin thinking about their Dissertation or Research Essay topic in the Summer of their first year, and in their second year will take Research Methods and an option module, followed by the Dissertation or Research Essay, to be submitted at the end of their second year. 

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
EN7201 7 Nineteenth-Century Literature: The Canon and Beyond 40 Comp
EN7202 7 Nineteenth-Century Culture 20 Comp
EN7203 7 Research Methods 20 Comp
EN7204 7 Dissertation 80 Comp
EN7205 7 Research Essay 20 Optional
EN7206 7 The Sensational Nineteenth Century 20 N/A
EN7207 7 Nineteenth-Century Irish Literature 20 N/A
EN7208 7 Nineteenth-Century Texts on Screen 20 N/A
EN7209 7 The Nineteenth-Century City 20 N/A
EN7210 7 Nineteenth-Century American Literature 20 N/A
EN7218 7 Special Author(s)/Topic(s) 20 Comp

To graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate students must successfully pass 60 credits.

To graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma, students must successfully pass 120 credits.

To graduate with an MA in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, students must successfully pass 180 credits.

A minimum of a good second-class honours degree, or the equivalent, in an appropriate discipline (for example, English Literature, English Language, History). Admission to this programme is subject to written application, an acceptable entry qualification profile, references, and evidence of written work. Candidates may also be invited for interview. Where the applicant is a recent graduate, the written work could take the form of an essay on an aspect of nineteenth-century literature or culture which formed part of the assessment for their undergraduate degree. Other applicants may be invited to write a short essay (up to 1,500 words) on a nineteenth-century author or topic of their choosing.

There are no relevant subject benchmarks for the programme. The MA Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture will accord with the descriptor for a qualification at Master’s level included in the QAA’s ‘Framework for Higher Education Qualifications’ (second edition, August 2008), and with the more detailed description of defining characteristics in the QAA’s ‘Master’s Degree Characteristics’ (March 2010). We have also considered the QAA’s overview of opinions on the possibility of developing benchmarks for academic programmes at Master’s level, ‘Securing and maintaining academic standards: benchmarking M-level programmes’ (February 2006), the QAA’s ‘Report on round table discussion meeting: “UK Master’s: 2010 and Beyond”’ (December 2007), and two HEA English Subject Centre reports: Sadie Williams, ‘Postgraduate Training in Research Methods: Current Practice and Future Needs in English’ (September 2003), and Samantha Smith, ‘The Taught MA in English’ (October 2007).

Learning and teaching methods will typically include: seminars; tutorials; e-learning; lectures; contributions from guest speakers; field trips; independent study and research.

The programme uses a range of assessment methods, including: essays; presentations; private study projects; portfolios; research diaries; critically annotated bibliographies; project proposals; dissertations. All individual assessments contribute to the final (summative) marks for each module. In this sense, the Department of English does not conduct merely ‘formative’ assessments that do not contribute to the degree award: if an exercise is worth doing, and students are to take it seriously, then it should contribute to the actual assessment. Of course the feedback on all assessed pieces before final submission is properly ‘formative’, in that it aims to help the student improve, through constructive criticism. The Department has been praised in all External Examiner Reports for the quality of its assessment feedback to students. The range of assessments covered by the MA, taken together, develops the variety of research and writing skills needed by successful postgraduates. The Department encourages students to discuss their work with tutors in advance of assignment deadlines, and to seek specific guidance (e.g. on presentation skills, research skills, expression, etc.) where necessary.

On completion of the programme, graduates will have acquired a range of skills and competencies valuable to employers, though it is recognised that the programme will also appeal to those who wish to develop their knowledge about nineteenth-century literature and culture for pleasure and fulfilment rather than for their employment prospects, or may wish to continue their studies towards an MPhil or PhD.

The critical skills students will have acquired and developed will enable them to interpret, analyse and evaluate very different types of textual material. They will be expert communicators, with refined expressive and listening skills, who can present, discuss and share their ideas and the ideas of others with individuals and groups, both fluently and sensitively. They will be highly motivated individuals who can see complex projects through from conception to completion, working well to deadlines. They will be able to respond well to advice and guidance, but will also be autonomous learners with a self-disciplined approach to their responsibilities. The students will have high-level researching skills and be able to apply their knowledge and research findings practically to the completion of a range of tasks. But they will also be reflective learners, with an ability to criticise their own work in a way likely to continue to help them develop their skills after graduation. Most importantly, they will be highly creative and imaginative individuals capable of original thought and expression, able to solve problems and overcome difficulties whether working alone or in teams.

Such skills are clearly transferable to a whole range of professional contexts. Some graduates may wish to proceed to a research degree. Others will want to apply their skills to the workplace; obvious outlets include teaching, promotional work, the heritage industry, marketing, communications, administration and customer relations, but most forms of employment require the skills that these graduates will have developed.

The programme conforms to the University’s Equal Opportunities Policy and the appropriate Codes of Practice.  The Department of English is fully committed to the support of all its students whatever their circumstances.  Over the years, the Department has sought advice and received training in the support of students with a wide variety of disabilities.

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