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MA in Modern English Literature

Note: The 'At a Glance' section below is indicative only.

Available: Full-time/Part-time

Level: 9

Duration: 1 yr FT/2 yrs PT

Location: MIC Limerick/online

Delivery Mode:



Online exercises, presentations, a 2,000-3,000 word essay in each module and a 15,000–20,000 word thesis.

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Ask a Question

Programme Overview

Run by the Department of English language and Literature in Mary Immaculate College since 2002, this highly-successful and popular one-year taught Master of Arts programme in Modern English Literature has graduated over 160 students and 97% of these students have graduated with an honours MA degree. The programme is delivered through a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous modes, with content provided via a range of interactive online options. These include discussion forums, reflection journals, wikis, blogs, vlogs and audio recordings and online seminars. Content will be delivered live, with asynchronous options available so you can engage around your own work/home schedule, on campus or online.

Key Features

This MA in English looks at 20th and 21st century texts in contemporary ways, and offers students a chance to engage with a research-active and highly published faculty. We limit numbers to make sure that students receive one-to-one attention, and we have two research methodology modules which offer a step-by-step approach to the 15,000 to 20,000 word research dissertation.

The aim of the programme is to:

  • Widen and deepen students' knowledge and appreciation of English literature and contemporary critical theory
  • Familiarise students with traditional and modern technological sources for research in English literature
  • Equip students with the knowledge and skills required for doctoral studies
  • Familiarise students with the latest online technology as it pertains to the study of English
  • Enhance students' career opportunities

All students are required to take six modules and submit a thesis. 

Modules will be delivered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the academic year from 4-6.30 pm, with additional presentations and discussions recorded so that students can access them at their own time before the blended live classes. On campus events, such as research days, writing workshops, and postgraduate research colloquia will be available in hybrid formats for those unable to attend. Library and study spaces are available to all students. 

student on MA in Modern English Literature outside TARA building in MIC Limerick
MA in English Lit.– More than a Master's at MIC
This online MA in Modern English Literature looks at 20th & 21st century texts in contemporary ways
MA in Modern English Literature
MA in Modern English Literature
The flexible programme limits numbers to make sure that students receive one-to-one attention.

Career Opportunities

Potential career options include but are not limited to:

Teaching at primary and or post-primary level, entry to PhD programmes, Technical Writing, Journalism, Media work, Copyediting, Civil Service, Web editing, Academic Administration, Magazine Publishing (hard copies and online editions), Advertising and Marketing, Arts Administration, Library Administration, teaching English language and literature in other countries, Human Resources, Digital Copywriter, Lexicographer, Online Editor, Webmaster, Social Media Administrator/ Editor/ Manager, Research Administrator, Researcher, Information Officer, Instructional Design, Irish Heritage Studies, Genealogical Studies, Tourism, Public Relations, Commerce Journalist, Digital Education Coordinator, online and blended Learning Administrator/ Manager/ Content Provider, Digital Teacher, Digital Marketing, Corporate Blogger, Market Researcher, Policy Analyst, Search Engine Optimiser and Data Analysis.


Dr Eugene O'Brien, Programme Coordinator and Head of the Department of English Language and Literature

T: +353 61 204989


Arts Office

T: +353 61 204525


Programme Content

Seminars, presentations, round-table discussions and individual question and answer sessions form the core of the instructional paradigm in the course. Blogs, vlogs, wikis and recorded presentations are also central. Seminars and discussions are undertaken through Microsoft Teams and the VLE. Assessments are by research essay, portfolio design, discussion forum, critical reading assignments and thesis.

The essays range from 2,000-3,000 words and each module is assessed by a single essay. The titles and topics of these essays are negotiated between the student and the course lecturer, with the parameters of choice being set by the lecturer. The other element of assessment is a 15,000-20,000-word research thesis. Students are free to choose their own topic and their supervisor without restriction.

The two research methodology modules are designed to steer the student through all stages of the thesis-writing process from the initial conceptualization, to the design of a research question, to working with a supervisor and setting up a coherent intellectual structure to the thesis, to working out a coherent critical and theoretical bibliography to the design and implementation of a timetable, to the submission and editing of drafts.

All modules are taught by faculty who have published in the area, and all faculty are research active in a number of areas across the MA so that research perspectives are contemporary and current.

Please note that thesis selection is mandatory in Semester 1, and work on the thesis begins at that stage.

Semester 1
EH5712: Poetics and Politics of Irish Identity
EH5741: Modernism: Texts and Contexts
EH5771: Migration and Biopolitics in 21st Century Literature
EH5761: Research Methodology 1 Pass/Fail
Semester 2
EH5742: Modern American Literature
EH5792: World Literature
EH5732: Contemporary Postcolonial Literature and Theory
EH5782: Research Methodology 2 Pass/Fail

Module Outlines

Semester 1

EH5712 Poetics and Politics of Irish Identity

This module will explore conscious and unconscious aspects of identity across a range of contemporary Irish narrative and poetic texts.  It will explore how different and singular aspects of identity are voiced and created in a contemporary Irish context.  Looking at the chosen texts through the lenses of deconstructive, psychoanalytic and presentist theoretical paradigms, the module will explore how fictive voices can often access and express truths that are not available to normative discourses.  It will also historicise the modes of identity within which these texts were produced, as well as demonstrating how the works deconstruct and interrogate such notions of identity. A comparative and contrastive investigation of the poetic construction of a selected number of contemporary Irish texts will also be offered.  Issues of genre-specific construction will be addressed in poetry and the novel.  Texts will span a continuum of high and popular culture, looking at issues of symbolic, cultural and social capital, and modes of close reading, as well as the imbrication of texts and contexts, will be used as critical tools, along with theoretically-driven readings. The course will look at 21st century poetry and novels, in order to offer a critique of current poetic and political imbrications of identity. Among the texts taught are: Sean Hewitt, (2020) Tongues of Fire (2020); Stephen Sexton, If All the World and Love Were Young (2019); Sally Rooney, Normal People (2018); Naoise Dolan, Exciting Times – A Novel (2020); Anne Enright, The Gathering, (2007) and Paul Howard, Braywatch, (2020).

EH5741  Modernism Texts and Contexts

This course will explore the emergence and development of what has retrospectively been defined as ‘modernism’ or ‘modernisms’, mainly through the work of selected women writers.  The transformations of society during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, effected by changes in science, technology, philosophy and more, and especially by the shifts in perception of gender and gender roles, had a specific impact on a range of artists and art.  The impact of these changes and the subsequent experiments in fiction form the focus of this course, with attention being paid to a range of writing by novelists such as Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, Dorothy Richardson and more.  Areas for discussion in this module include an examination of the shaping of modernist texts through the ways in which they were published.  Recent scholarship in areas such as history of the book and textual and editorial theory has offered scholars new ways of approaching literary texts.  A general introduction to these fields and an examination of specific texts will highlight another context for the ‘making of modernism’, and opens up new possible interpretations of the set texts. Among the texts to be studied are: Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories; Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm; Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-1917; Virginia Woolf: Selected Short Stories and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.

EH5771  Migration and Biopolitics in 21st Century Literature

This module will explore questions of displacement, migration, and belonging in the 21st Century. Through analysis of a range of novels and short stories from 2000 to present this module will determine how cultural production is responding to some of the most important sociological questions of contemporary life. This 3 hour weekly seminar will analyse how literature is asking us to engage with contemporary discourses of borders, national security, global mobility, diaspora, and identity.  It will analyse detailed knowledge of a diverse range of contemporary world literature detailing the experience of migrations and movements, and offer an understanding of some of the theoretical tenets fundamental to contemporary literary production and critical interpretation. It will formulate an awareness of the political and cultural complexities involved in the study of issues such as: ethnicity; globalisation; migration, borders, biopoltics, nation, and poverty and inequality. As countries close their borders Covid-19 has heightened our awareness of the relevance of biopolitics in healthcare and movement. Among the texts studied are: Hassan Blasim, The Madman of Freedom Square (2009), Chika Unigwe, On Black Sisters’ Street: A Novel (2012);Vladimir Lorchenkov, The Good Life Elsewhere (2014); Mohsin Hamid, Exit West (2017); Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Refugees (2017); Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019); and Melatu Uche Okorie, This Hostel Life (2018).

EH5761  Research Methodology 1

The aim of the two research methods module is to prepare students for the thesis component of the course.  The first module will focus on the selection of a research question, the structuration of the argument and the development of a critical matrix through which to analyse the argument. Research seminars with members of staff and with doctoral students in which issues of subject and topic-selection, referencing conventions, the balanced use of theoretical paradigms and the development of structural and argumentative skills will be analysed.  Interview and discussions will facilitate the choosing of a thesis supervisor, who will help with the other sections of the module. A planned structural outline will be developed, along with an outline bibliography of both hard copy and electronic resources.  The University of Limerick variant of the Harvard referencing style will be used, and the referencing of electronic media, such as websites and electronic books will be studied.  Use of bibliographical tools such as RefWorks and Endnote will also be modelled. A detailed dissertation outline structural form will be completed by each student at the end of this module. Students are also encouraged to attend selected sessions of the department’s postgraduate seminar, delivered online.  


Semester 2


EH5742  Modern American Fiction

This module offers a guided reading of a number of selected texts which illustrate the diversity and originality of the modern American Novel, across a number of sub-genres such as science fiction, the campus novel, and gothic postmodernism. It will analyse a selection of modern American novels, situated within their fictional and socio-cultural contexts.  The novels are studied in terms of their structural and linguistic characteristics, and are also read against a contrastive and comparative background. The sub-genres of science fiction, the campus novel and the postmodern gothic are studied in terms of how they reflect the complex and transformative American experience.  Aspects of character, plot, symbolisation, narrative perspective and construction are explored.  The texts are also seen as enunciations of specific aspects of the American cultural experience.  The connection between the real and the representations of that real are teased out through the course, as are aspects of the psychological constitution of the narrative voices and the characters. Among the texts to be studied are: Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep; Ernest Hemingway The Snows Of Kilimanjaro And Other Stories; Walter Mosley Devil in a Blue Dress; A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories; Toni Morrison, Beloved; Don DeLillo, Falling Man (2007) and Richard Ford’s The Granta Book of the American Short Story (Vol 2).

EH5792  World Literature

The module will introduce students to a major new field of literary and cultural inquiry, asking them to engage with contemporary literary and cultural theory and to participate in advanced training in academic writing skills including bibliographic skills, the use electronic research tools for sourcing, storing and presenting research materials. This module provides a study of modern and contemporary literature in varieties of English and in translation, from a diverse range of national and regional cultures. Two central aims of the module are 1) to explore the relationship between socio-cultural context and literary genre and form, and 2) to consider the developments, appropriations and re-formations of the English language across the world. Students will investigate semantic and other issues involved in literary translation and will develop knowledge and insight into diverse philosophies, religions, ideologies and cultural movements. The module will be interdisciplinary in form and content, and will theorize and historicise key contemporary texts, across genres, from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Among the texts studied are: Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark (1934); V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mister Biswas (1961); Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (1962); Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997); W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz (2001); David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004); Chimananda Ngozi Adiche Half of a Yellow Sun (2006); Nadeem Aslam, The Wasted Vigil (2008); Yiyun Li, The Vagrants (2009) and Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (2009).

EH5732  Contemporary Postcolonial Literature and Theory

With the collapse of global colonial empires in the early decades of the twentieth century, post-colonial theory has emerged as one of the most important critical theories attempting to articulate a response to centuries of colonial occupation. Both in literature and critical theory, post-colonialism seeks to explore the complex matrix of linguistic, historic and nationalistic discourses that has emerged in the wake of the colonial exercise. Writers such as Margaret Atwood, Salmon Rushdie and J. M. Coetzee exemplify the post-colonial quest for self–realisation within a dual tradition, and this trait can also be clearly seen in the work of writers from Ireland, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. Post-colonial theory, exemplified in the writings of Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Stuart Hall and Declan Kiberd, amongst others, provide crucial insights into the development of contemporary post-colonial ideologies and provide an essential platform
for the analysis of the literature of post-colonial cultures. Among the texts to be studied are:
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities; Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, The Post-Colonial Studies Reader; Homi K. Bhabha, Nation and Narration; Edward Said, Orientalism; Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Decolonising the Mind; and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’

EH5782   Research Methodology 2 

Research seminars with members of staff, and individual meetings with advisors during the semester are seen as part of the dissertation writing process.  The structural outline which was prepared in the previous module is now used to create a timeline and a chapter word-count target.  The management of time in terms of reading, note-taking and drafting individual chapters is analysed through seminars, workshops and attendance at the Departmental postgraduate Seminar, presented online.  A schedule of meetings, with appointed tasks and timelines is set up in this module, all leading to a smooth transition from the modules into the thesis-drafting and writing stage of the programme.  

EH5751 / EH5752  Dissertation

This module is one wherein self-directed research is conducted under the guidance and supervision of a faculty member. The skills learned in EH5761 Research Methodology 1, and in EH5782 Research Methodology 2 are utilised to bring this project to fruition.  The dissertation is an individual project which asks and addresses a central research question, or questions; engages with primary material through dialogue with secondary and critical sources; as well as being guided by a theoretically-informed reading practice.  A number of iterations are produced which, with editorial and argumentative emendations by the supervisor, and with learned self-editing and peer-editing input, will lead to a completed piece of research of between 15,000 and 20,000 words.   Over the course of these 4 research method and output modules, students will:

  • Learn how to write a research thesis of between 15,000 and 20,000 words
  • Develop skills in working with an academic supervisor and taking guidance and advice
  • Become proficient in synthesising theoretical and critical opinions with their own argument
  • Gain proficiency in the use of referencing software such as RefWorks or Endnote, and in the application of the UL/MIC Cite It Right stylesheet
  • Develop good self-editing and communication qualities
  • Enable the completion of a long project through efficient time-management and drafting processes

Entry Requirements

2.2, 2:1 or 1st honours degree.

Applicants with work experience, or other suitable qualifications, may also be able to enter the course. Applicants may be required to attend for interview, in person or by Zoom/Teams. 

Click here for English language requirements.

How to Apply

EU Applicants

Applications for the MA in Modern English Literature are now closed.

Please note: Applications for this programme are now closed, as it has reached full capacity in terms of applications for 2024 entry.

Non-EU Applicants

You are advised to contact the MIC International Office before applying:

Email: or Phone: +353 61 204988 /+353 61 774790.

What to include with your Application

You will be required to send:

  1. University transcripts and certificates
  2. If English is not your first language/language of qualification, you will require:
  • English translation of transcript/qualification
  • Your English Language Competency Certificate (Academic IELTS or equivalent)

The  application fee is €50 and is non-refundable

Transferring from another 3rd Level Institution

The transfer route into MIC depends on the content overlap of your new and old course and the number of places on the new course in the year you apply. Before submitting an application you should contact where we will consider your case with the relevant Head of Department of the course you wish to transfer to.

EU/Non-EU Status Assessments

The designation of a student as being from the EU or a Non-EU country determines the fees they will pay at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) i.e. there may be cases where a non-EU national acquires EEA citizenship during the course of their third level studies and would qualify for EU fees, for example. 

Click here for more information on EU/Non-EU assessments which will be conducted by MIC International office to determine status. 


For Postgraduate Fees click here

US Students please note that you can apply for Federal Aid.

EU Applicants:
061 205160 / 204348
Non-EU Applicants:
+353 61 204988 / +353 61 774787

Ask a Question

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Ask a Question