MA by Research in English

  1. Course Variations
    Nomenclature Duration Mode Of Attendance
    MA by Research 1Yr FT
    MA by Research 2Yr PT
  2. Typical offer:
    UK 2.1

Course Overview


The Department of English Language and Literature can offer supervision in most areas of literature from the middle ages to the present. We have particular strengths in gender, Welsh writing in English, American Literature, medieval, Renaissance, eighteenth and nineteenth-century writing and culture, modernism and postmodernism, Irish poetry, contemporary literature and critical and cultural theory.

Key Features

An MA by Research in English gives you the chance to pursue a project inspired entirely by your own particular enthusiasms. The qualification would be a good  preparation for proceeding to doctoral work. Alternatively, the proven ability to conduct independent research will boost employment prospects outside academia (for example, in the media, publishing, the Civil Service, or education).

You will be supervised closely by two experienced academics in your field. Typically, you will meet them fortnightly in the first term and at regular intervals thereafter. Meetings are logged and goals agreed each time.

All research students in English are required to attend skills and training courses at College and Institutional level. They give presentations to other research students and staff at departmental seminars and the annual departmental postgraduate symposium in June and the College of Arts and Humanities conference in October. MA by Research degrees typically last from one year (full-time study) to two years (part-time study).


The MA by Research in English would suit those wanting the freedom to explore a topic of their choosing under the close supervision of two experienced academics but without attending regular classes as required in taught programmes; an MA qualification in niche areas where taught programmes are not offered; the experience of a research degree without committing to a PhD at the outset.  Research proposals are invited on any topic in English for which staff can provide supervision. It is advisable to email a member of academic staff in the appropriate area before applying (see staff web pages).

Entry Requirements

MA by Research - You should hold or expect to achieve a minimum of an upper second class honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in a related subject or hold relevant work experience. If you hold a qualification from a non-UK institution please see our academic entry requirements for International qualifications (non-EU) and EU qualifications (non UK).

If English is not your first language you will need an acceptable pass in an approved English Language qualification to make sure you get the full benefit from studying at Swansea. We consider a wide range of qualifications, including the Swansea University English Test, the British Council IELTS test (with a score of at least 6.5 and 5.5 in each component). A full list of acceptable English Language tests can be found at:

How To Apply

Apply online and track your application status at  You may enrol in September, January, April or July.

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2017/18 are as follows:

UK/EU International
MA by Research Full-time £4,200 £14,350
MA by Research Part-time £2,100 £7,200

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3%.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

Note: The UK/EU fee is indicative pending confirmation from RCUK.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

International students and part-time study: If you require a Tier 4 student visa you must be studying full-time. If you are in the UK under a different visa category, it may be possible for you to study part-time. Please see our part-time study and visas page for more information.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

The tuition fees do not cover the costs of purchasing books or stationery, printing, thesis binding or photocopying costs.

There are no mandatory additional costs specified for this course.


You submit a scholarly thesis of up to 40, 000 words, which is carefully referenced and presented and which demonstrates a significant contribution to the subject area. This is followed by an oral examination of the thesis (viva) by two examiners who are not your supervisors, one of whom is external to Swansea.  



The College of Arts and Humanities has made all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information above is accurate and up-to-date when published but can accept no responsibility for any errors or omissions. Please note that this page should always be read in conjunction with University regulations governing research degrees .

Postgraduate Research

About 70 of the postgraduates currently studying at Swansea University’s Department of English Language and Literature [ELL] are researchers working on an MA, MPhil or PhD thesis. Each is supervised by two members of staff, 60% of whose own research publications were rated ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’ in the 2008 REF exercise.  We supervise interdisciplinary projects as well as traditional areas of the discipline - in language studies, creative writing, literature (from medieval to the present) and critical and cultural theory. If you have an idea for a research project, do get in touch and discuss it with us informally before applying.

Postgraduates often join a research centre, e.g. the Centre for Research into Gender and Culture (GENCAS) or the Centre for Research into Welsh Writing in English (CREW) where they work alongside other students and staff in dedicated research rooms. Students present their work in the friendly environment of our Research Institute’s annual postgraduate conference, ELL’s fortnightly research seminars, and the monthly workshop of the Creative Writing Programme. Our research environment was judged 100%  ‘internationally excellent’ by the 2008 REF, and research students help staff organize a lively programme of conferences, readings and performances on campus and in the city’s arts centres. As well as being inducted into academic research and dissemination, doctoral students have the opportunity to undertake undergraduate teaching to prepare them for an academic career.  We provide study stations with computers and postgraduate common-rooms, research training and the services of a research officer and subject librarian.

Quotes from previous students

What is it like being a research student at Swansea?

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a doctoral student at Swansea. As well as receiving excellent support from my supervisor, I was also part of a stimulating intellectual community made up of postgraduates and academics. The sense of camaraderie here was a very important factor for me. Since graduating, Swansea has proved to be a key stepping-stone in my career, leading to opportunities at other HEIs in Wales and a highly rewarding academic job at the Open University.” (Dr. Anthony Howell)

“I really enjoyed primary research - going to library manuscript archives and reading letters which were centuries old was always really exciting. I was also keen to understand new relationship structures through a historical context - the thesis certainly held a political importance for me.” (Dr Redfern Barrett)

 “In 2002 I happened upon a novel in my local library by Stevie Davies. Imagine my surprise when, in 2003, Stevie’s name appeared as Director of Creative Writing at Swansea University. I submitted some of my work and was accepted onto the MA in Creative and Media Writing. I stayed and braved a PhD, and, with Stevie’s patient and careful guidance, achieved what I had though impossible – a Doctorate in Creative Writing.”  (Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar, Lecturer in Creative Writing [])

REF 2014

What the Research Excellence Framework 2014 had to say about Postgraduate research in the Swansea Department of English Language and Literature …

  • The environment in the Department is‘conducive to producing research of mostly at least internationally excellent and at its best world-leading quality’
  • ‘Arrangements for postgraduates were deemed of world-leading quality’
  • There is clear evidence of the development of a research culture into which research students are fully integrated’
  • ‘Recruitment is strong’
  • ‘There are excellent arrangements for support, training and employability’.

Summing up: ‘The unit makes an outstanding contribution to the health of the discipline’.