MA Literature and Culture (Online)

Why choose Herts?

  • Wide-ranging course: This online MA offers an array of module options, enabling students to explore a wide range of literary interests
  • Teaching excellence: You will benefit from teaching and research of the highest quality. For research impact, the University is ranked in the UK’s top 25% of all universities, with 100% of research impact in Language and Literature ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent (3/4*) (Research Excellence Framework, 2021)
  • Employment prospects: Our graduates work as academics, writers/authors, publishers, agents, and researchers for organisations including Warner Brothers, Bread & Butter PR Agency, NHS Professionals and Impression.

About the course

Our online MA in Literature and Culture gives you the opportunity to explore innovative and diverse texts and their many different contexts – historical, social, and political. You will engage with themes at the forefront of contemporary culture, including identity, history, otherness and the environment.  

This unique course is specifically designed to develop students’ critical understanding of literature and related forms of cultural expression (film, music, and the visual arts) within contemporary debates about our place in the world. 

Online learning offers you the benefits of flexible opportunities to hone your critical and analytical skills with plenty of support from our research-active academic staff. You’ll also gain advanced research skills and have the opportunity to pursue your own research interests via a 13,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice. 

In addition to the dissertation and two six-week modules that support your research skills, you will take three twelve-week modules as part of your MA programme.

The following modules will likely be running in 2023-4:  

‘Earth Words: Literature, Place and Environment’ looks at the ways in which changing attitudes towards our environment (conceived in various ways) have been shaped, mapped, and critiqued by literary texts. From climate change and rising extinction rates to the preservation of the Amazon, contemporary environmental concerns proliferate on an urgent and global scale. Such planetary concerns underpin this module. You will explore theoretical approaches to ‘place’, ‘space’ and ‘nature’, especially through the field of ecocriticism. You are also encouraged to reflect on their own relationship to the immediate environment, and the places that have shaped their life and identity. 

‘Reading the Vampire: Science, Sexuality and Alterity in Modern Culture’ explores the ways that vampires have continually been reborn in our culture, from their animation out of folk materials onwards. Vampires enact a host of anxieties and desires, shifting shape as the culture they are brought to life in itself changes form. This module will embed vampires in their cultural contexts as you explore a variety of literary and cultural texts. The module has generated national media interest and the accompanying Open Graves, Open Minds project hosted by the Literature group is an important online tool for anyone interested in the Gothic. 

‘Historical Fiction: Memory, Nostalgia and the Past in Contemporary Culture’ investigates one of the paradoxes of contemporary culture: that so much of it is focused on the past. The module looks at the relationship between literature, TV, film, and the uses (or abuses) of the past in discourse today. Among other topics, the module explores debates about memory and nostalgia, the ways in which texts rewrite the past in response to postcolonial and queer theories, and the reasons why traumatic pasts continue to be a source of fiction representation. Each year the module will conclude by studying a recent winner of the annual Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction to consider whether new trends might be emerging.  

Other modules on the MA, potentially running from 2024: 

‘Networks of Modernism’ explores the complexity of our contemporary world: that we are more connected than ever, but increasingly experience both fragmentation and isolation. One way to investigate this paradox is to see how early-twentieth-century texts depicted this tension. The module challenges traditional versions of the modernist literary canon and considers an exciting range of early twentieth-century texts written at a time when ideas about gender, race, class and sexuality were changing rapidly. It explores a broad range of topics and tropes, from war to parties, from subways to greenwoods, from urban poverty to salon culture, from the behaviour of crowds to sexual transgression and taboo. 

‘US Culture and #BlackLivesMatter’ is a ground-breaking course, featured on BBC Radio 6 and in The Independent, in which you’ll look at diverse contemporary texts ranging from novels and non-fiction to film, music, art, and television to consider the meaning of blackness and racial identity in twenty-first century US culture. As inspired by the social justice movement against racism and violence from which it takes its name, this module foregrounds the diversity of Black life, enabling students to engage with diverse cultural texts on topics such as identity, violence, politics, love, Otherness, and queerness.  

What will I study?

This online programme features a spectrum of digitally-accessed resources for students including short videos from your tutors, student-led discussion platforms, and one-to-one supervision. You will also have access to a wide range of academic resources via UH’s Online Library. Assessment is normally by coursework only. Outstanding online support is offered via StudyNet, our virtual learning environment.

The MA comprises six modules including a final dissertation project, which gives you the opportunity to develop an extended piece of research on a topic of your choice, fully supported by a supervisor. It is possible to undertake study on a full-time (one year) or part-time (two-year) basis. It is also possible to undertake one of the Literature modules on its own; please consult UH Online regarding arrangements.

Our MA students are encouraged to attend events and conferences and present their papers as part of their teaching and learning. You’ll be invited to participate in a postgraduate research forum and welcome to attend the annual international conference hosted by the Literature department as part of its groundbreaking Open Graves, Open Minds Project.

  • Level 7
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Earth Words: Literature Place and Environment 30 Credits Compulsory
    The Networks of Modernism 30 Credits Compulsory
    Research Methods 1: Theoretical and Critical Debates 15 Credits Compulsory
    Research Methods 2: Advanced Research Skills 15 Credits Compulsory
    Dissertation 60 Credits Compulsory
    Historical fiction: memory, nostalgia and the past in contemporary culture 30 Credits Compulsory
  • Further course information

    Course fact sheets
    MA Literature and Culture (Online) Download
    Programme specifications
    MA Literature and Culture (Online) Download
    Additional information

    Sandwich placement or study abroad year


    Applications open to international and EU students


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