Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Contemporary Literature and Culture

This degree offers you the opportunity to shape your own dynamic programme of study in contemporary literary and cultural studies. The programme provides an introduction to the contemporary period via an overview of some of the historical transformations of literature and cultural thought from 1945, as well as providing a much more recent, post-2000 framework within which to understand contemporary literature and culture. This enables you to view the contemporary moment through a historical lens or to focus more exclusively on very recent cultural production. Through a range of literary and interdisciplinary options, you have the opportunity to pursue your own interests, whether they lie in exciting developments in contemporary poetics, in US, British, or postcolonial literatures, in contemporary theoretical approaches to art or in socio-historical approaches to the literary and cultural constructions of vectors such as nation, race, diaspora, gender, sexuality and class. The programme provides a comprehensive programme of study that covers the aesthetic, historical and political dimensions of contemporary literature and culture.

Entry requirements

A good 2nd-Class Honours undergraduate degree in literature, cultural studies, history or another relevant subject. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

Course modules

Core modules: Post-war to contemporary; reading the contemporary. Literature and culture option modules: A confusion of tongues: illness, language, writing; contemporary British poetry; contemporary Latin American fiction; contemporary us fiction; crisis and disorientation in the post-war German novel; memory trauma and cultural identity; narrating nation after 9/11; post-colonial discourse and the novel; the horror, the horror; time for revolution: reading time in the twentieth century; twenty-first-century feminist fiction and the world in crisis; voiceworks. Theory option modules: Notions of the public intellectual in France; reading Adorno's aesthetic theory; theory of clouds; understanding theory. Film and television option modules: African and Asian filmic narrative; film festivals; film, melodrama and the family; global television; perspectives on Japanese cinema. Art and photography option modules: Art and photography since the 1960s; exhibiting the body; exhibiting the pain of others: museums, violence and memory.

Assessment methods

All assessment will be via coursework essays rather than examinations. For the core courses and most of the option modules, assessment will consist of one 5000-word essay for each module; the dissertation will be 15,000 words.

Sponsorship information

We invite applications for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded Block Grant Partnership awards at Master's (and Doctoral) level; we also have a range of bursaries for Master's degrees for MA and MFA courses across the School of Arts.


Qualification Study mode Fee Course duration
MA Full-time £ 5,375 per Academic year (home fees) 1 years
MA Full-time £ 11,500 per Academic year (overseas fees) 1 years
MA Full-time £ 5,375 per Academic year (EU fees) 1 years
MA Part-time £ 2,975 per Academic year (home fees) 2 years
MA Part-time £ 5,750 per Academic year (overseas fees) 2 years
MA Part-time £ 2,975 per Academic year (EU fees) 2 years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus Bloomsbury WC1E 7HX South East

Key information

Department of English and Humanities
Telephone number: 
020 3073 8376