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Durham University


R9T207 Languages, Literatures, Cultures MA Postgraduate Taught 2021


Please note: 2021-22 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Applicants will be informed of any changes which we are required to make to course entries as a result of Covid-19.

Degree MA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 1 year full-time
Start Date 4 October 2021
Location Durham City
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Course Summary


The MA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Durham University is an exciting, unique and dynamic course that invites you to engage critically with literatures emerging from diverse literary and cultural contexts from around the world. The course has a broad global reach and draws together a wealth of expertise in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Hispanic and Russian Studies. This inclusive approach to languages, literatures and cultures presents a distinct opportunity for students who wish to pursue a degree in world literatures and comparative studies with a firm emphasis on working on materials in their original language(s), with due attention to the local, national and regional contexts in which they originate.

Whether working with text in one, or several non-English languages, the course invites students to think within an international context, to cross borders, disciplines and canons, to reflect on questions of cultural transmission and exchange in literature, as well as to explore literary interactions with wider intellectual and cultural phenomena, such as translation, philosophy and visual culture.

The course provides an exceptional critical base that prepares and invites students to proceed to a PhD in a corresponding field, encouraging throughout a research-led approach which culminates in the dissertation. With a strong emphasis on urgent current themes and debates, it also equips you with high-level critical skills in literary, cultural and conceptual analysis and argument that can lead to employment in the literary, culture, arts and heritage sectors.

Core module:

Critical Theory and Frameworks

This module introduces and develops knowledge of cutting-edge cultural and literary theories, and allows you to extend your skills of critical analysis. It provides a crucial foundation for the course, and offers you critical and conceptual tools to take forward as you pursue your optional modules and dissertation. The module foregrounds questions about literature and textuality, and covers themes such as identity, gender, race, disability, and ecology, through multiple theoretical frames, from literary theory to psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and cultural studies.


You will write a research-led dissertation of 15,000 or 20,000 words, on a topic of your choice, and are provided with guidance and support in individual supervisions with an expert (or two) in the field.

Examples of optional modules:

You can select from a wide range of optional modules from within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, as well as options from the wider Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Options include: 

  • Selected Topics in World Literatures
  • World Literature and Translation
  • Science, Technology and the Re-making of Nature         
  • Visual Modernities
  • History of Translation
  • Work Placement
  • Crossing Cultures: Word, Text and Image in Translation
  • Transnational Cinema
  • German Reading Skills for Research 1
  • German Reading Skills for Research 2
  • Things That Matter: Material and Culture in/for the Digital Age
  • Romantic Forms of Grief
  • Literary Masculinity at the Fin de Siècle
  • The Literature of Slavery
  • Narrative Transformations: Medieval Romance to Renaissance Epic
  • The Contemporary US novel
  • Women and the Novel in the Eighteenth Century
  • Elegy: from John Milton to Seamus Heaney
  • Post-War British Drama
  • Modernism and Touch
  • Grant-Writing for Master Students
  • Science and the Enlightenment
  • Current Issues in Aesthetics and Theory of Art
  • Ethics, Medicine and History
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Phenomenology and the Sciences of Mind
  • Ideologies and Political Thought
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy.

Course Learning and Teaching

The course consists of one core module, two to four optional modules, and a dissertation. The core module sets out the intellectual framework for the course, offering a broad overview of key conceptual debates in World Literature, together with methodologies and critical tools for the study of literatures and cultures. The optional modules provide further specialised areas of study in related topics of interest to individual students, and the dissertation—with 15,000 and 20,000 word options—involves detailed study of a particular aspect of a topic related to the broad area of world literature.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

You will be expected to have a BA degree (upper-second class degree or equivalent) in a relevant subject, such as language (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian), literature or linguistics from a recognised national or international university.

Students holding a degree in a non-language-related field may be admitted provided they can demonstrate they have the required competence (C1 following the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) in one of the above mentioned languages.

Two positive academic or equivalent professional references are required. 

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £21,500.00 per year
Home Student £9,800.00 per year
Island Student £9,800.00 per year
International non-EU Student £21,500.00 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

For further information on career options and employability, including the results of the Destination of Leavers survey, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Department Information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures


The School of Modern Languages and Cultures carries out research into literature, culture and language as well as film and visual studies that is extensive in historical scope and geographically wide ranging. Expertise includes Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic, Italian, Japanese, and Russian Studies. Nearly 50 full-time research-active members of staff supervise and teach around 125 postgraduates (over half of whom are international), comprising 75 students in taught programmes and 50 students pursuing MA and PhD research degrees. As a major partner in a number of University-wide research centres and institutes, we provide an ideal research environment for postgraduate study, with weekly research events and regular postgraduate activities. Our emphasis on comparative, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches to research gives our research students a broad-ranging and cohesive environment in which to develop a range of skills. This equips them for future careers both within and beyond academia, nationally and internationally. 



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