Course overview

Explore and advance your knowledge of English language and literature with our comprehensive MA English programme at Aston University. Offering specialised tracks in language, literature or an integrated approach, our programme provides a dynamic platform for academic growth.

Our curriculum emphasises the development of practical research skills and theoretical frameworks. Through the exploration of diverse texts using genre studies, corpus linguistics, cognitive literary studies and digital humanities, you will refine your analytical abilities.

Core modules introduce critical theories and frameworks, equipping you with versatile skills applicable in both academic and professional settings. With a range of optional modules available, you can tailor your learning experience to align with your individual interests and career aspirations.

Shannon Franklin MA English

"After studying my undergraduate degree at Aston University, I felt that this was the only place for me to continue studying. The English department is fantastic and I knew I would be supported throughout my further studies. MA English at Aston University provides many options, allowing students to tailor the programme to their passions and interests."

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Shannon Franklin
MA English

Why English at Aston University?

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Our full attention
We were ranked 5th in the UK for ‘student to staff ratio’ (English; Guardian, 2024)
Subject experts
This programme is suitable for GCSE and A Level English teachers looking to enhance their subject knowledge and employability
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Safe in our hands
English at Aston University was ranked 14th in the UK for ‘graduate prospects’ (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024)
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Excellent prospects
Aston University was named runner-up in the University of the Year for Graduate Employment Award (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024)

Course description

MA English (Distance Learning)

Our MA English programme integrates theoretical frameworks with practical research skills, preparing you for diverse career paths in language, literature and academic research.

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What we will provide
First-class teaching in the UK’s second-largest city, delivered by a diverse array of staff who will engage and inspire you. Benefit from applied learning, research-informed teaching and constructive assessment. You will learn from experts in the field of English language and literature, enriching your academic journey.

We are also an Adobe Creative Campus meaning you will have access to top-notch software licenses, including Adobe and Solidworks, commonly used in industry.

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What you will provide
It is important to learn how to adopt a growth mindset in your studies, understanding that intelligence and success stem from applying yourself, cultivating a willingness to learn and having ambition and drive to excel. Although our distance learning programme offers flexibility, it also requires compulsory attendance at live online seminars.

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What skills we teach
Our MA English programme sharpens critical analysis, research and communication skills essential for interpreting and understanding literature and language. Through textual analysis, research methodologies and effective communication strategies, you will develop proficiency in literary interpretation and scholarly discourse, preparing you for diverse academic and professional contexts in English studies.

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Career prospects
As an Aston University English graduate, you will have the skills and knowledge for careers in copywriting, communications, education and beyond. With tailored career support and a strong foundation for PhD research, you're set for success in various English-related fields and academic pursuits.

How you will learn

You will take part in interactive seminars, presentations and group work, as well as attending lectures and tutorials. There are also opportunities for individual research. All our lecturers are research-active and leading scholars in their fields, so you will benefit from their expertise and experience.

The Department of English, Languages and Applied Linguistics offers a wide and varied programme of events, and you will benefit from being part of an inclusive and exciting academic community. We are home to two research centres, the Aston Centre for Applied Linguistics (ACAL) and the Research Centre for the Humanities (REACH), which host academic events throughout the year that you can attend.

At the start of your course, you will be allocated a personal tutor who can offer individual study advice and guidance. You will also benefit from access to the University Library's extensive collection of over 25,000 books and electronic journals. Aston University's virtual learning environment supports your journey, providing resources like lecture slides, e-books and online journals.

Please note that our distance learning programme, although flexible, requires compulsory attendance at live scheduled online seminars.

What you will learn

In our MA English programme, you will explore advanced critical theories and concepts relevant to literary and linguistic studies, refining sophisticated analytical and communication skills crucial for scholarly discourse. Through comprehensive research methodologies, you will critically evaluate and apply diverse approaches to text analysis.

In the taught phase, you will deepen your understanding of advanced linguistic and literary theories, honing analytical skills for interpreting texts within varied contexts. This stage fosters active participation within the academic community, preparing you for further research or professional endeavours.

In the dissertation phase, you will complete a research project on an English language or literature topic of your choice, showcasing your ability to conduct independent research with a clear consideration of ethics, theory and methods.

Course objectives

  1. Develops sophisticated analytical and communication skills, especially with regards to critical theories and concepts relevant to literary and/or linguistic studies.
  2. Develops your critical expertise in applying and evaluating a range of research methodologies and methods relevant to advanced study.
  3. Develops your expertise in making informed, critical decisions on generating, analysing and presenting data.
  4. Develops your ability to evaluate how aspects of knowledge and learning may be applied in various academic and professional contexts.
  5. Supports you to actively participate as a member of a wider academic community and facilitates further postgraduate research at doctoral level and/or employment, drawing on the knowledge and skills gained on this programme.


Modules and learning outcomes

Taught stage modules

In the taught stage you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Researching English
Explore research in English language and literature, bridging theories and concepts in both fields. Learn qualitative and quantitative research methods, academic practices and working with archival and digital texts.
Applying English
Discover the practical applications of English for personal development and societal contributions. Topics include English in education, bibliotherapy, literacies, linguistics for social justice, English in policy and innovation, research dissemination, networking and grant-writing skills.

You will choose four of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Analysing Discourse
This module introduces discourse analysis through linguistic, narratological and stylistic approaches. Explore genre, narratives and methods like conversation analysis and corpus linguistics for analysis.
Reading the Nineteenth Century: Globalisation and the Novel
Critically examine the novel's growth in nineteenth-century literary contexts globally. Analyse its aesthetic and theoretical dimensions, exploring its relationships with science, culture, experimentation and literary canons.
Variation and Change in English
Explore socially motivated variations in English. Examine text types, considering social factors like gender and region. Understand how language ideologies shape language use over time.
Cognitive Poetics
Develop expertise in stylistics and cognitive poetics using insights from cognitive linguistics. Engage with concepts linking literary reading and the mind, applying them to text analysis and empirical work.
Language and Literature in Education
Critically explore English's place in secondary education, examining historical and contemporary debates. Study grammar teaching, literary canons, reading practices and government policies' impact on the subject's manifestations.
Reading Contemporary Fiction
Explore contemporary literature's forms, genres and reading practices. Examine reader responses through experimental and naturalistic protocols. Analyse changing forms, social reading practices and generate reader response data for analysis.
Reading and Wellbeing
Critically engage with literature's impact on health and wellbeing. Analyse representations of health in literature and explore the application of literary studies to external issues. Study reading's effects on education, wellbeing and inclusive aging, along with bibliotherapy.
Corpus Linguistics
Gain advanced digital analysis skills to investigate large linguistic datasets. Learn corpus linguistics theories and methods, enhancing your digital literacy. These skills are applicable to academic research and various professional contexts.

*Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules. 

Dissertation stage modules

In the dissertation stage you will study the following core module:

Module TitleCredits
You will undertake an independent research project relevant to your masters programme, demonstrating your ability to design, conduct and report findings. Guided by a supervisor, this complex exercise will strengthen and test various subject-specific and transferable skills, including research methodology and academic writing.

Programme outcomes

On successful completion of both the taught and dissertation stage, you will be able to:

  • Understand, describe and use relevant advanced critical theories in literary and/or linguistic study.
  • Apply critically a range of appropriate methods and techniques for analysing different texts.
  • Evaluate the significance of the variety of contexts (social, historical, cultural-cognitive, biographical and generic) in which discourses and texts are produced and received.
  • Synthesise and evaluate information from a variety of data sources, including digital contexts.
  • Communicate effectively and present arguments and findings cogently and comprehensively both orally and in writing.
  • Understand the ethical and practical issues in carrying out research in English.
  • Formulate, implement and evaluate research projects of an appropriate scale.
  • Understand and evaluate how your reading and research may be applied in non-academic and professional contexts.

We may update our courses to reflect best practices and academic developments. If we do, we’ll let you know of any changes at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. If you have already received an offer, we’ll write to you directly to let you know of the changes.


Entry requirements

One of the following:

  • 2:2 (lower second-class honours) degree in English language, literature or a related subject.
  • Equivalent overseas degree recognised by Aston University (see international students tab below for more information)

Subject specific requirements

Transcripts must indicate some studies of English.

Applicants must also provide evidence of mathematics – grade C/4 or above at GCSE (or equivalent)

You will also need to provide:

  • A professional reference
    • If you are a current student or recent graduate (within the last 2-3 years), we will ask for an academic reference
    • If you are currently employed and not a recent graduate, we will ask for a professional reference
  • An official academic transcript of your university grades to date
  • A completed application form.

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our postgraduate programmes. Students from over 120 countries choose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study but also a great place to live.

Qualifications in your country

For details of equivalent qualifications in your country, use our area pages below:

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

How to apply

Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Graduate Immigration Route

Pathway programmes

If you don’t meet our entry requirements, we have a range of pathway programmes offered by our partner, ONCAMPUS Aston, which you can complete to progress onto one of our degrees.

We recognise the value of extensive professional experience. If you do not have the academic qualifications but have extensive and relevant professional experience and a proven ability to succeed, we would welcome your application.

The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications.

Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor.


Speak to our Admissions Team

If you have any questions about the application process please get in touch with our postgraduate admissions team:


Call: 0121 204 3200 (Please note this line is open Monday-Friday between 09:30-16:30)

Dr Chloe Harrison English programme director

Meet your programme director

Dr Chloe Harrison
Programme Director, MA English

If you have any questions about the course or modules you will be studying, you can get in touch via email and I will be happy to answer your queries.

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

UK students

Annual tuition fees:£11,850

International students

Annual tuition fees:£11,850

More information on fees

The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as UK students.

Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies.


At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs.


In the taught part of the programme assessments are diverse and include traditional academic essays, data analysis exercises, project reports and tasks related to a professional context.

Successful completion of the taught modules is a precondition for proceeding to a 15,000-word dissertation leading to the MA.

Career prospects

The Careers service offer a tailored programme for MA English students exploring opportunities across a wide range of professions and careers in copywriting, communications, education and more, as well as the opportunity of PhD study.

Graduates of the MA English programme go on to a whole variety of careers. The programme also offers excellent subject knowledge enhancement for teachers of English in schools and provides an excellent foundation for studies at PhD level for students interested in a career in research in any aspect of English.

Davies Okeowo MSc Entrepreneurship graduate

Exceptional lecturers

“The thing I enjoyed the most about studying at Aston University was the people. The lecturers were great, and their knowledge base was exceptional.”

Our graduates achieve amazing things all over the world – whether it’s setting up their own businesses, landing jobs with high profile organisations, or making real differences within their communities.

Hear from our graduates


Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.

Frequently asked questions

Why study English at Aston University?

Studying English at Aston University offers a dynamic mix of academic excellence and practical relevance. Our MA English programme provides flexibility, enabling you to explore literature, language or an integrated curriculum. Led by internationally recognised scholars, our teaching team ensures an enriching academic experience tailored to diverse student backgrounds.

Benefit from our commitment to applied learning, bridging academic study with real-world contexts. With a strong student-to-staff ratio, you will receive personalised attention and support in a nurturing environment. Whether you're a GCSE or A Level English teacher seeking to enhance your subject knowledge or an aspiring professional, our programme equips you for diverse career paths.

Why should I study my postgraduate degree at Aston University?

There are lots of benefits of studying a postgraduate degree at Aston University.

Watch this video from MBA student, Monique, who talks about just a few of them:

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

Discover Birmingham

What will my timetable look like?

We understand how important it is to know your timetable in advance for planning around work, childcare, or other responsibilities. Here's some basic guidance on what to expect regarding your student timetable.

Full-time programmes
As a rough estimate, full-time postgraduate students in the College of Business and Social Sciences should expect to spend about 12-15 hours per week in lectures and on-campus seminars. This is in addition to independent study, and there may be additional guided learning activities during certain weeks. The exact distribution of these hours will vary depending on your course and module choices.
Part-time programmes
Part-time students will have fewer weekly on-campus hours compared to full-time students. This reduction is proportional to the number of modules you're enrolled in.
Timetable availability
Complete timetables are usually released shortly before the start of your programme. This timing is necessary to ensure that we accommodate all course requirements and that rooms are allocated based on the number of students likely to enrol on each programme. We aim to provide these timetables as early as possible, to assist you in your planning.

As your induction week approaches, you will be sent more information about your timetable via email, and you will be able to access your timetable by logging into MyAstonPortal. For any further queries or information regarding your timetable, you can reach out to your programme director or the Student Support team.

Online/distance learning programmes
The above information also applies to students enrolled in online/distance learning programmes. Please note that both full-time and part-time distance learning students are still required to attend scheduled synchronous learning sessions.


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Feel free to ask us anything about studying at Aston University.

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