This Master’s degree in modern and contemporary literature begins with an investigation of literary and theoretical conceptions of modernity in early twentieth-century literature, focusing on topics such as urbanisation, technology, mass culture, individualism and subjectivity.

You will also have the chance to analyse the historical transformations of literature and cultural thought from 1945, using the contexts of post-war reconstruction, decolonisation, the fate of avant-garde art, and theories of postmodernity and globalisation.

The emergence of international literary paradigms during the twentieth century is reflected in the choice of texts from British, American and post-colonial contexts.

This exciting MA programme has been running successfully for over 30 years, with staff committed to constantly changing and updating the course to reflect changes in literary culture.

Study Details:

MA 1 Year full-time, 2 years part-time

Module Details:


  • Becoming Modern
  • Post-War to Contemporary


  • A Confusion of Tongues: Illness, Language, Writing
  • Aesthetics and Cultural Theory
  • African and Asian Filmic Narrative
  • Contemporary British Poetry
  • Contemporary US Fiction
  • Memory Trauma and Cultural Identity
  • Narrating Nation after 9/11
  • Postcolonialism: In Theory
  • The Book Unbound
  • Twenty-First Century Feminist Fiction and the World in Crisis
  • Voiceworks: Collaborative Song Project


  • Dissertation MA Modern and Contemporary Literature

Student Destinations

Graduates go in to careers in writing and journalism, editing, publishing, research, marketing and public relations, and education. Possible professions include newspaper/magazine journalist, editorial assistant, or writer. This degree may also be useful in becoming a secondary school teacher, publisher, public relations officer, or marketing executive.


Part-time home/EU students: £4175 pa Full-time home/EU students: £8350 pa Part-time international students: £7600 pa Full-time international students: £15200 pa

Entry Requirements

Our standard postgraduate entry requirement is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university, or an equivalent international qualification.

We will review every postgraduate application to Birkbeck on its individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

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