MA Modern and Contemporary Writing


The School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia has a long-established international reputation in literary studies. World famous for our pioneering courses in creative writing, we are also home to prize-winning scholars and translators of literature and drama from all periods.

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"My year at UEA was one of the best of my life"

In their words

Ian McEwan, Creative Writing Graduate and Booker Prize winner


UEA has announced the launch of the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW), which contains the extensive personal archive of the Nobel Laureate, Doris Lessing, and literary material from other prominent authors such as Naomi Alderman, Tash Aw, Malcolm Bradbury, Amit Chaudhuri, J.D. Salinger, Roger Deakin, Lorna Sage, WG Sebald and the playwright Snoo Wilson.

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This innovative MA allows you to participate in an on-going dynamic of thinking, reading, and writing with 20th- and 21st-century texts, and to focus on the interrelation of literary, critical, and theoretical works. At its heart is the belief that the critical study of literature can also be inventive.

There are two core modules. Living Modernism is devoted to the radical experiments of early 20th-century writing and the ways such experiments continue to resonate in the 21st century. Archiving the Contemporary explores contemporary writing in its engagement with the literary conventions, cultural heritage, philosophical traditions, and political ideologies it so vigorously interrogates. You will pursue further philosophical, critical, and creative-critical approaches through the choice of optional modules.

Students also have access to the UEA-based British Archive for Contemporary Writing, which includes material from Doris Lessing, J. D. Salinger, Nadine Gordimer, and many others.


Modern and Contemporary Writing is a new course which replaces UEA’s previous MA in Twentieth-Century Literature, Writing the Modern World, beginning in September 2016. The most substantial difference is that the previous core module in the Spring Semester, Creative-Critical Writing, has been replaced by a new core module on contemporary literature, Contemporary Fiction. 

About the Course

The School of Literature at UEA has a long and distinguished history for its role not only in studying modern and contemporary literature, but also in fostering its creation. Famous for its courses in creative writing, which since the late 1960s have educated many leading novelists and poets, the School has been home to many leading writers, critics and scholars, such as Angus Wilson, Malcolm Bradbury, W. G. Sebald, Lorna Sage, Denise Riley, Paul Muldoon, and Angela Carter. It also hosts the British Centre for Literature Translation, founded by Sebald and Clive Scott. Alongside its continuing world-leading role in the teaching of Creative Writing and Literary Translation, the School also boasts one of the largest and most diverse groups of scholar-critics working on twentieth and twenty-first century literature of any university in the world. 

The new course on Modern and Contemporary Writing is designed to draw on all these distinctive strengths, while catering to a wide range of students and their interests. Through its two core modules, Living Modernism and Contemporary Fiction, it places a special emphasis on the ongoing dialogue between modernism and contemporary literature, allowing those who have a special interest in contemporary literature to explore its origins in high modernist writers such as Joyce and Kafka, while encouraging those whose interest is in modernism to discover its ongoing and problematic life in later writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, Toni Morrison, Roberto Bolaño, and Giorgio Agamben. One optional module, Ludic Literature, explores the origins of postmodernist writers such as Pynchon, Muldoon, Ashbery, Carter, Perec, Borges, and Calvino in modernist and pre-modernist writers, such as Dostoevsky and Rimbaud. Another, Fiction after Modernism, draws attention to the critically neglected fiction of the period from 1945 to 1970, when novelists in Britain were working through the immediate aftermath of modernism. It includes well-known writer such as Woolf and Beckett as well as less well-known figures such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rosamund Lehmann, Ann Quinn, and Anna Kavan. The innovative optional module on Creative Criticism places modern theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, and Eve Sedgewick in the context of contemporary writers including Anne Carson, Geoff Dyer, and Denise Riley.

As a student on Modern and Contemporary Writing, you are also able, subject to limitations of numbers, to choose optional modules from among UEA’s rich offerings in Translation, Philosophy, American Literature, Film, and Creative Writing. Although limitations of space mean that you cannot join the Creative Writing workshops in poetry, fiction, or biography, you can, numbers permitting, choose from among the range of optional creative modules, including The Art of Short Fiction, Novel History, Describing Poetry, The Writing of Crime / Thriller Fiction, The Theory and Practice of Fiction, Adaptation and Interpretation, and Radical Dramaturgies. If you are interested in working with translation and across languages, you can take seminars from the MA in Literary Translation, such as Translation Theory and History and Process and Product in Translation. The course also offers optional modules emphasizing theoretical and philosophical concerns, such as Criticism / Critique and Philosophy of Literature, as well as ones focusing on politically salient issues, such as Refugee Writing, Body Spaces, and Queering America.

The course is unique in the invitation it offers students to explore criticism and creation through one another. At UEA we believe that reading and writing are or should be one, and distinctive optional modules such as Creative-Critical Writing and Ludic Literature offer you the chance to develop your critical writing in ways that are themselves creative and artistic, through formal and linguistic experimentation, and through the modes of literary understanding such as parody, imitation, and transposition, which preceded the invention of literary criticism in the twentieth century. You will also find yourself in seminars where your fellow students will be novelists, poets, playwrights, biographers, translators, philosophers, and critics. 

You will also benefit from access to the British Archive for Contemporary Writing, which is housed at UEA and includes correspondence and other literary material from Doris Lessing, W. G. Sebald, Lorna Sage, JD Salinger, and Nadine Gordimer, amongst many others. 

Why Study Modern and Contemporary Writing at UEA?

The School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing has long been one of the leading departments for the study of modern and contemporary writing, with a particular concern for the relationships between the critical and the creative, and between languages. UEA is a place where literary critics and theorists rub shoulders and exchange ideas with practicing poets, novelists, dramatists and biographers. 

Of all university departments of literature, UEA has one of the largest groups of critics working on modern and contemporary writing in the world: the scholars, critics, and theorists working and teaching here include Stephen Benson, Jo Catling, Clare Connors, Thomas Karshan, Duncan Large, Jeremy Noel-Tod, David Nowell-Smith, Rachel Potter, Petra Rau, Cecilia Rossi, Karen Schaller, Lyndsey Stonebridge, Bharat Tandon,  and Matthew Taunton. You will also be able to take courses from novelists, poets, and playwrights, including Tiffany Atkinson, Giles Foden, Jean McNeil, Rebecca Stott, Henry Sutton, and Steve Waters.

You will study in seminars alongside poets, novelists, playwrights, biographers, and translators, as well as students of philosophy, film, and American literature. As a post-graduate here, you’ll be part of a vibrant mix of MA and PhD students who are engaged in modern and contemporary literature in a variety of ways, whether it be through producing critical studies of novels, poetry or plays or through writing their own. As well as being taught by prize-winning scholars and authors, you will also – through the UEA Literary Festival – encounter the foremost figures in contemporary writing today. Norwich is the UK’s UNESCO city of literature, and there are poetry readings almost every week, as well as a vibrant culture of practicing novelists and poets.

Course Content and Structure

The course takes one year of full-time or two years of part-time study.

During this course you will have compulsory modules including Living Modernism, Contemporary Fiction, research and methodology and an English literature dissertation. Certain optional modules are available and recommended to students on the course: in the first semester, Fiction after Modernism and Criticism/Critique, and in the second semester, Ludic Literature, Creative Critical Writing, and Refugee Writing.

At its heart are two innovative core modules, one taken in the autumn semester, the other in the spring. The first of these is Living Modernism. The focus here is on the extraordinary experiments of the early decades of the twentieth century (in writers such as Joyce and Kafka) and on the living legacy their inventive works bequeath to contemporary critical and creative writing (in the work by writers as diverse as Samuel Beckett and Walter Benjamin, Kazuo Ishiguro and Theodor Adorno, Denise Riley and Mladen Dolar). In the spring, the core course is Contemporary Fiction, a module which explores contemporary writing in its engagement with the literary conventions, cultural heritage, philosophical traditions, and political ideologies it so vigorously interrogates. Authors studied on this module are likely to include some though not all of the following: Doris Lessing; J.G. Ballard, Lorna Sage, Tash Aw, W.G. Sebald, Ali Smith, David Mitchell, Salman Rushdie, Chimamande Ngozie Adiche, JM Coetzee, Michael Ondaatje, Hari Kunzru, Michel Houellebeq, Jachym Topol, Aleksander Hemon, Jenny Erpenbeck, A.M. Homes, Edmund de Waal.

Two further modules must then be selected, one in each semester. 

The programme concludes with a dissertation, begun in the spring and completed at the start of September. Here, students work one-to-one with a tutor on a topic of the student’s own choosing. This extended research project serves as the culmination of the work, both literary-critical and theoretical, conducted over the course of the programme. Many students have used the dissertation as a testing ground for further study at PhD level.

For further information or if you wish to meet to talk about the course, you are welcome to e-mail Thomas Karshan on

Course Modules

Students must study the following modules for 40 credits:

Name Code Credits


A COMPULSORY MODULE FOR STUDENTS ON THE MA IN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY WRITING: Various attempts at (sub-)categorising contemporary fiction interpret it as a departure from previous aesthetics or a response to political or historical events or movements: post-modern; post-colonial; post-feminist; post-communist; post-9/11; post-millenial; post-national; even post-post-modern etc. As a prefix, "post-" suggests supersedence rather than novelty; at worst it is merely an aspirational syllable. Its proliferation co-exists with more conventional attempts at temporal taxonomy such as monographs and student guides dedicated to specific decades. One way of reading "post"-something-or-other is to think of it as an engagement with, and critical reassessment of, the past it so assiduously hyphenates: its literary conventions, cultural heritage, philosophical traditions, political ideologies, and - paradoxically - its long shadows way beyond the present moment. The manifestations of these engagements and reassessments can be rather contradictory. The memory boom of the 1990s put paid to claims about "the end of history" or skepticism over Grand Narratives. The renewed popularity of the (neo)historical novel and period drama also chafes against the recent turn towards trauma studies. The effects of new market forces, media and digital technology on the form of writing and the construction of the "author" could also be seen as one of the legacies of modernism. A focus on mindfulness, ethics and affect sits uneasily alongside the necessity for art to provoke and push boundaries. Expressions of the regional contend with an increasing awareness of transnational subjects, diasporic identities and global issues, and some of the most interesting writing today comes from 'the East' or writers with hybrid origins and hyphenated identities. Can fiction still be formally inventive and how might it enter into dialogue with other art forms (photography, sculpture, painting, cinema)? In the light of the critical and commercial success of 'creative non-fiction' we might also want to ask precisely how narrative can perforate disciplinary and generic categories. On this module we will attempt to construct a (naturally provisional, selective and incomplete) genealogy of the contemporary by examining some of the discernible trends and tensions of relatively recent writing (relative, that is, to the age of the convenor and the age of the students!). Much of this writing will be Anglophone but you should be prepared for adventures in reading translations. We will also do some work in UEA's newly founded Archive of Contemporary Literature: what and who is being archived according to which criteria, and what do archivists, academics and critics consider archival about the contemporary?




A CORE MODULE FOR STUDENTS ON THE MA WRITING THE MODERN WORLD. The word modernism was applied only retrospectively to the texts written at the beginning of the twentieth century; and that retrospective naming has worked to define an ever-shifting field of cultural activity. This course aims to introduce students to 'living modernism', a phrase that highlights the mutually informing relationship of contemporary writing and modernism. In the first 5 weeks, students will be asked to read James Joyce's Ulysses and Franz Kafka's The Trial. The course then considers the ways in which Joyce's and Kafka's writing continues to animate critical and creative knowledge. In weeks 6-12, critical and literary questions of law, justice, exile, and narrative voice will be posed out of modernism. The living legacy of modernism will be considered in different ways; as literary influence, (Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go as a Kafkaesque meditation on exile, for instance), as critical quotation and interpretation, (Jacques Derrida's claim, for example, that Kafka's 'Before the Law' is a staging of justice and literary interpretation), and linguistic or thematic interaction (Lolita as Nabokov's Joycean writing of exile in America). There will be a particular focus on how Joyce and Kafka write law, justice and exile as global, rather than state-based, categories, and the importance of these transnational visions for their continuing influence. Authors explored will include James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Mladen Dolar, Denise Riley and W. G. Sebald.



Students must study the following modules for 100 credits:

Name Code Credits


Students are required to write a dissertation of a length as specified in their MA Course Guide on a topic approved by the Course Director or other authorised person.






Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

LDCE7012A, LDCE7010A AND LDCC7009A are recommended to students on the Modern and Contemporary Writing MA.

Name Code Credits


Central to post-war American avant-garde aesthetics and poetics is an investigation of the constructedness of the space we inhabit and of the bodies we occupy. By close and detailed analysis of a range of experimental American texts - painting and especially, poetry - from 1950 to the present day, this module explores the ways in which ideas of the postmodern in America can be seen to 'work' through such politicised constructions of the body as gender, sexuality and subjectivity. Running alongside its reading of poetic and artistic texts, the module will also consider the ways in which theories and theorists of the postmodern reflect the concern of America's experimental arts with an aesthetics of 'process' rather than of 'product'. It thereby questions the extent to which a poetics of the postmodern challenges the cultural space that America has inhabited in the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.




Discussions around the structure and aesthetic nature of British cinema often rely on claims of "quality", emotional restraint, and documentary realism. The influence of the 1930s British documentary filmmaking movement is seen as infusing elements of national visual production, including (but not limited to) narrative, style, acting, genre and industrial promotion. Applied across the history of British cinema, this approach has privileged only one strand of production and ignored other (potentially more potent) visual alternatives, notably ideas around the spectacular. This module will challenge the primacy of realism in British cinema by examining the ways that spectacle has been at the forefront of the British film industry for over a hundred years, despite its neglect within the critical establishment. Individual films, directors and movements within British cinema history will form specific case studies that offer further exploration of these concepts. There will be a consideration of the close relationship of the British film and television industries, and how aspects of realism and fantasy have moved across these different screens. Crucially, the module will also investigate the often disregarded trend towards British technological innovation (specifically colour filmmaking, widescreen, 3-D, video and digital production), creating an alternative heritage of British film spectacle.




The division between the 'medieval' and 'renaissance' (or 'early modern') periods governs our understanding of post-classical culture. These terms are far from innocent or neutral. They are fundamental preconditions for any critical reading of the literature of the periods they describe: understanding the genesis, history and modern critical usage of these terms is therefore vital. The first three weeks of the course introduce students to three nineteenth-century conceptualizations of the movement from the medieval to the early-modern period which remain fundamental today: Hegel's argument that the Renaissance ushered in the religious inwardness of Luther; Burckhardt's emphasis on Renaissance man's powers of self-display; and Marx's understanding of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Remaining weeks explore key twentieth and twenty-first century thinkers. Running through many of these thinkers are twin and complementary conceptions of the two periods: the medieval, on the one hand, is characterized as an age of organicism, in which society, art and knowledge were integrated (Auerbach, Lewis), and the renaissance, on the other, as an age of tragically alienated interiority (Greenblatt) and of a growing sense of historical dislocation and isolation (Greene). Understanding the ways each of these periods is valued by critics, and the politics that such valuations entail, will be crucial to this module. We will end with one influential recent attempt to reverse the tendency to value the Renaissance at the expense of the medieval, James Simpson's, and consider how far this attempt has been successful. Throughout the course, we test critical arguments against texts from the period, by for example placing reformation religious writings alongside Hegel, Petrarch alongside Thomas M. Greene, and Lydgate's visions of his society against Heidegger's. How far do modern theoretical understandings of the medieval and Renaissance divide inhere in texts from those periods? The course therefore aims to equip students with the necessary means to understand modern critical debates about the medieval and early-modern periods, and thereby to approach the literature of the periods afresh for themselves.




The module is designed to introduce students to key skills in film and television development practice. It will provide an understanding of the processes of creative script and project development, including film and TV business, the activities of the market and dealing with bodies responsible for commissioning films and television programmes. Priority for places on this module will be given to students taking the MA in Film Studies.




This module tracks the notion of 'Critique' in philosophical and political thought, as well as literary criticism and artworks' own self-reflection, from the late 18th century to the present. 'Critique', from the Greek term krinein ('to discern'), brings together questions of philosophical method, from the relation between concept and intuition to the project of understanding a historical moment through its cultural artefacts and practices; however, it also engages the 'criticality' of artworks: how they reflect on their own processes and socio-economic conditions. But if these various intellectual projects converge around a shared sense that they are doing 'critique', then it is not clear that political critique and aesthetic critique aspire towards the same thing; the concept of critique thus also permits us to grasp discrepancies and points of dissensus between different forms of intellectual, and 'critical', praxis. The module starts by providing a historical grounding in debates around 'Critical Philosophy', linking Immanuel Kant's 'critical' distinction of concept and intuition to German Romanticism's model of a 'literary absolute' in which literature actualises itself as 'critique', such that through its ironic relation to its own linguistic medium, it assumes the place of philosophy itself. We consider Hegel's responses both to Kant's critical philosophy and to the literary theorising of the Schlegels and Novalis, with readings from the Phenomenology of Spirit, the Logic and the Aesthetics, before turning to the development of Hegelian thought in Marx. Having established this basic historical narrative, we then trace the different intellectual projects and problematics that the notion of 'critique' opens up, from the 'critical theory' of the Frankfurt school through thinkers including Althusser, Fanon, Foucault, Braidotti, and Ranciere. Against this we encounter an alternative series of responses to 'critical' philosophy, notably via Heidegger, Deleuze, and Simone Weil. At the crux of these different approaches to 'critique' is the relation between different philosophical, political and literary intellectual movements, and central to this module is the question of how 'critique' extends beyond scholarly activity, whether it is the ways in which avant-garde art and poetics incorporate self-critique into their understanding of support, medium, process, etc., or whether it is in practices of political resistance. To this end, the module is overtly forward-looking, not only charting a contested history from Kant to the present, but also asking what forms future attempts at critique can, and should, take.




This MA module is compulsory for students taking the poetry strand of the MA in Creative Writing. It is also offered as an optional unit for students taking other MA programmes. We often think of poetry as a descriptive art, representing our experience of the world. One of the most important things it describes, however, is the experience of language. This module will consider some of the ways in which poetic language has been described in philosophy and literary criticism, and some of the poems in which it has described itself. It offers a historical survey of some of the major texts in Western poetics, from Plato to the Language poets, to be read alongside a range of poetic treatises in verse. Students will be encouraged to contribute texts from their own reading for discussion. Short writing exercises will also be set in class, in preparation for the final 5,000-word coursework essay.




Fiction 'After' Modernism: Re-reading the 20th Century responds to the current reassessment of critical narratives about twentieth century fiction by restoring significance to a critically awkward phase of twentieth-century writing. Focusing roughly on the years between 1930 and 1980, we examine what it meant for mid-century writers to work in the wake of modernism. By thinking about mid-century fiction in terms of its own historical and aesthetic awkwardness, we will challenge the formalist distinction between experimental and realist fiction that has dominated the most influential work on the mid-century novel, and which has also stamped many post-war writers as irretrievably minor. In a similar spirit, we will explore how writers worked in the 'between' of modernism and postmodernism. Rather than produce a cohesive narrative about the period, we will examine how our writers engage with, and disturb, their own literary, historical and critical inheritances. This module is an opportunity to participate in an emerging critical conversation that is carving out new directions in literary study. Working through the period with special attention to previously marginalized (and in some cases forgotten) writers, alongside a selection of critical and theoretical texts, we will examine the ways our writers accede to, challenge, and disrupt our critical understanding of fiction after modernism. By re-reading the 20th century, this module offers an opportunity to participate in - and indeed contribute to - a still emerging critical conversation that is redefining twentieth century literary studies. Recent critics have expressed an "invariable sense of disappointment" with the aesthetic failures of fiction written 'after' modernism: but it is precisely the fiction these critics have neglected to read critically that is leading other scholars to radically re-think the stories critics have told about the period. The critical re-evaluation of neglected writers is pushing twentieth century scholarship in new directions, and creating new debates and dialogue about how we read the twentieth century. In this module, we join the conversation.




The module is designed to provide students with diverse intellectual backgrounds and skills with a firm grounding in key approaches to the study of film and, to a lesser extent, television. It therefore provides a broad coverage of the range of methods employed within the study of these two media. Using American and British cinema of the 1940s as its focal point, this module will provide students with an overview of the main debates over the shape of film history, the processes of production, mediation and consumption, and different techniques of textual analysis. This national and historical focus is intended to provide an insight into the complex networks of competing and intersecting debates and factors that must be considered in undertaking MA research. Furthermore, extensive emphasis will be placed on the use and analysis of primary archival documents, some included in the reading pack, others distributed before or during seminars. The module is not intended to be exhaustive but is intended not only to help students learn about existing research on film and television but also to undertake their own analyses. This can be focused on 1940s American and/ or British cinema, but students are encouraged to apply the approaches and debates encountered within this module to other media (particularly television), national cinemas and eras.




This MA module examines in depth the works of selected thinkers who are seminal to the Western tradition of political thought, including Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill and Machiavelli. Their work will also be compared thematically, with a focus on themes such as the natural law and social contract traditions, and other schools of thought which have been influenced by these traditions. The module will be based on the study and interpretation of key texts and will enable students to develop skills of textual analysis and critique. This is a compulsory module for students studying for the MA in Social and Political Theory.




This module is an introduction to some of the fundamental concepts in the fields of linguistic anthropology, intercultural communication and psycholinguistics.. Since norms of behaviour are culturally defined and varied, the beliefs and values which underlie a culture's worldview will be examined from a variety of perspectives. Indicative topics are expected to include how culture is defined; models of explanation of cultural difference; the relation between language and thought and language and culture; verbal and non-verbal communication; miscommunication and intercultural conflict; acculturation and culture shock, etc. The module is relevant to students from a variety of backgrounds and with varied interests and will provide useful background for the module "Intercultural Communication in Practice".




The new approaches to the studia humanitatis (the study of the humanities - art, literature, history, philosophy) pioneered by the self-styled humanists (umanisti) between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries are one of the most important and celebrated achievements of the Renaissance. They defined the terms by which humanists themselves most often distinguished their own work from the intellectual traditions of the medieval past and from the work of their (allegedly) more old-fashioned contemporaries. Humanism brought with it a new attitude to classical culture, to history, to the power and potential of literature, to the world and to our place within it, and yet it is characterised as much by rich continuities with older medieval traditions as it is by new departures. This module attends to these continuities as well as to the more well-known departures. It looks at the writings of the most influential Italian humanists (Petrarch, Boccaccio, Pico della Mirandola, Poliziano), at the medieval humanism of Chaucer and Henryson, and at the early-modern humanism of Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey, Gavin Douglas, and John Bellenden. Through close study of these authors' writings, the module probes the new intellectual and literary praxes of the medieval and early-modern periods: new and recurrent ways of approaching the past and of writing history, the differing imaginative and intellectual possibilities of anachronism and antiquarianism, shifts in practices of adaptation, translation and imitation and in the reception and transmission of ideas in manuscript and early print culture, and the tensions of 'Christian' and 'Civic' Humanism. The module is compulsory for students on the Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures MA but may also appeal to those with an interest in the classical reception or in practices of translation and adaptation.







PLEASE ENROLMENT PRIORITY IS GIVEN TO MA PROSE FICTION STUDENTS Short fiction is too often defined in terms of what it is not - namely, a novel. Whether stories, novellas or experimental short fiction, short fiction is an art form in its own right. While acknowledging that there are no 'rules' as to what makes a good short story, we will look at the expectations and technical challenges created by the form, and in so doing to sharpen our analytical and critical faculties. This is predominantly a practical, workshop-based course oriented at writing short fiction, although students will also be asked to form critical opinions and perspectives on published short stories, the technical aspects of writing in the form, and on themes and trends in short fiction.




This module will provide students with critical and creative knowledge of modern crime/thriller fiction, and is designed to complement the Creative Writing MA programme, but is open to students across the MA. Crime/thriller fiction, the world's most popular literary genre, is particularly subject to ever evolving conventions, expectations, precedents and sub-genres. Understanding the presiding logistical and thematic issues is fundamental to both the creation of and critical response to crime/thriller fiction. The module will analyse the developments and characteristics of the modernisation of the genre, through a symptomatic approach to authors, from Dashiell Hammett to Denise Mina, from police procedurals to psychological thrillers. Issues of literary worth, escapism and social context, particularly will be examined. A prior interest in the genre is not necessary, while there will be much focus on the structural aspects of the novel. Creative work will also concentrate on how to craft a convincing plot, creating believable characters, building narrative drive and suspense, and generating voice. Students will be required to make presentations on particular authors from the set texts, and to produce original crime/thriller fiction. Assessment by creative writing, fiction up to 5000 words, and/or an accompanying critical essay.




This module explores key issues in the history of the theory and practice of translation in the West. We explore the changes in the cultural status of translation from ancient times to the present, analysing the ways in which translations have contributed to the reception of texts, and focusing on some of the political, theological and philosophical debates which translations have provoked. In the second half of the module we focus on a range of contemporary debates in translation studies. Students are encouraged to explore their own theoretical interests and present their findings in class. The module is compulsory for students on the MA in Literary Translation but can also be taken as an optional module by literature, drama and creative writing students, since there is no foreign language requirement.




This module intends to explore and critically reflect upon the relationship between women and film whilst focusing on issues such as women's cinema as counter cinema; women's cinema as minor cinema; women filmmakers; international women's film festivals; the representation of women in film; female spectatorship, (fe)male gaze; sexuality; feminism and post-feminism in film; female subjectivity; female desire, feminist filmmaking. The module will focus on analysing contemporary films from a variety of national and transnational cinemas that may include Hollywood, British, Turkish, Japanese, Argentina, Palestine, India, Greece, Portugal, Africa and Brazil.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

LDCE7006B, LDCE7018B and LDCE7004B are recommended to students on the Modern and Contemporary Writing MA Course.

Name Code Credits


Critical reading and creative writing meet in the activity of adapting a text in one medium for presentation in another. The module focuses on dramatic adaptation, establishing a foundation in basic theory and then focusing on readings or original works and screenings. Discussions probe the choices offered by original texts and explore the possibilities and limitations inherent in different dramatic forms. In the later sessions, students will have the opportunity to workshop an adaptation for a final project.




A CORE MODULE FOR STUDENTS ON THE MA WRITING THE MODERN WORLD. Too often, academic critical writing seems to bring pre-packaged language to bear on works whose whole essence and aim is to change the ways in which we see and describe our world. And too often such writing fails to acknowledge the ways in which it itself necessarily participates in the literary 'creativity' it is also about. How, then, to write criticism? Criticism which responds inventively to the literature which it analyses? Criticism which registers, in its own form, language, method and thinking the ways in which it has been transformed by the work(s) of art it encounters? Criticism which recognizes that it cannot rest on received concepts and categories? This module aims to explore those questions. Over the course of the semester will consider - and experiment with - a broad range of possible ways of practising creative-criticism, including the 'essay' form, auto-commentary, aphorisms, ecriture feminine, conceptual writing, criticism as performance, inventive 'theoretical' writing, camp, and diaristic writing. The module covers creative-critics as different from one another as Anne Carson and Jacques Derrida, Geoff Dyer and Helene Cixous, Maurice Blanchot and T. J. Clark, Theodor Adorno and Eve Sedgwick.




Throughout the medieval and Early-Modern periods Norwich was one of England's most important cities - probably second only to London - and East Anglia one of the country's culturally liveliest and richest areas. This module explores the literature of these periods in its material contexts (the region's prosperity and power may still be seen in its architecture and in the rich holdings of its libraries and museums) and asks whether there was a specifically East Anglian cultural tradition. The module explores East Anglia's rich dramatic traditions, its devotional literature and practices (in orthodox forms and in those that brush against the heterodox), and, insistently, the manner in which its literature participates in its broader social and cultural worlds. The module is compulsory for students on the Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures MA but may also appeal to those with an interest in the cultural traditions of Norwich and East Anglia or, more generally, in the literature of place.




This module will develop students' engagement with genre studies through the analysis of a range of fantasy genres, focusing particularly on science fiction film and television, and its overlaps with horror, anime, blockbuster Hollywood franchises, etc. In the process it will require students to think about how these genres work in terms of their historical contexts of production and consumption, and analyse a range of texts in relation to a variety of social/cultural and political issues. In the process, the students will engage with a range of theories and methods, which will also be grounded through the examination of specific texts and historical case studies.




Oscar Wilde wrote that 'The youth of America is their oldest tradition; it has been going on now for three hundred years'. Is this true? If so, why? This module will seek to account for the preoccupation with youth in America by focusing particularly on the concept of 'innocence', and by examining how various models of innocence are invoked and questioned in American literary texts. Drawing on a wide array of fictional and theoretical works, we will consider the following questions: What is at stake in America's investment in innocence? Major cultural events - such as the Vietnam War and 9/11, for example - are often described as representing a 'loss of innocence' in American culture. What power interests and ideologies are maintained by repeatedly describing America as 'innocent'? How is this investment in innocence revised in different historical moments? How is it challenged? With particular reference to fictions of growing up in America, how is innocence (and loss of innocence) depicted differently for male and female protagonists?




Play, or the ludic, is often listed as one of the main characteristics of postmodernist art, but what is meant by play is usually left no more clearly defined than what is meant by postmodernism. This course seeks to trace the evolution of leading postmodernist styles and themes, especially ludic ones, back to their origins in Joyce, Kafka, Borges, and Nabokov. Using these enormously influential authors as a starting point, we will read a range of ludic authors, passing back and forth between languages, nations, and genres. Authors studied will include Georges Perec, Italo Calvino, Raymond Queneau, Thomas Pynchon, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Angela Carter, Paul Muldoon, and John Ashbery. We will examine these authors in relation to one another, and to their major pre-postmodernist sources, such as Carroll, Rimbaud, Mallarme, and Dostoevsky. We will also be reading theorists of play such as Schiller, Huizinga, Derrida, and Bakhtin. Central to the module is the exploration of play as a response to literature, and a way of creating new literature out of old, through the play of parody, imitation, transposition, and translation. We will be studying these ancient modes of literary response and performing them ourselves: all students will be encouraged to try their hand at parodying and imitating the texts we are studying, though this is not compulsory. Final assessment can take the form of a 5000 word critical essay or of a combination of a creative piece and a critical essay, to make up 5000 words.




This module looks at the responses in political theory to the rise of multicultural societies in Europe and North America since the end of World War II. The aim is to introduce students to a range of contemporary theoretical perspectives on multiculturalism and to facilitate critical assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of competing approaches. Theorists under examination will include: Parekh, Kymlicka, Taylor and Modood as well as major liberal alternative views; Barry, Rawls and Raz. The module will combine theoretical study with analysis of practical issues/case studies surrounding multiculturalism. Among the issues to be considered are the following: models of integration, group rights, institutional racism, Islamophobia, and the Rushdie affair. The module will also consider divergent policies adopted within European states (eg, France and Germany) and give attention to the attempts to operationalise multiculturalism in the UK in particular via the Parekh Report.




We are currently witnessing a renaissance in history writing. Sales of historical novels continue to rise steeply. Societies have formed, new prizes established. A number of eminent historians are turning from fact to fiction. What can the historical novel do in terms of reaching the past that more conventional historical accounts cannot do? Can it challenge long-told historical narratives, propose new ones or give us new vantage points? Novel History is a critical-creative MA module that crosses the boundaries between literature, art history, history and creative writing to explore the possibilities (and paradoxes) of historical fiction. Students will study the history of the historical novel and read critical and theoretical essays about the writing of history alongside examples of innovative or revisionist contemporary historical fiction. They will also explore ideas around 'object history' through a series of workshop sessions amongst the historical objects of UEA's extraordinary rich collection in the Sainsbury Centre. Students will present work in progress in the workshop format as they move towards a final piece of creative writing, a short story or radio script, screen or theatre script. Students will be given the option of structuring their final work around a single chosen object from the Sainsbury Centre collection.




In a collaborative seminar format, students explore together with the teacher a range of topics in the philosophy of literature. Topics studied typically include: the definition and purpose of literature; the status of fictional characters; the relevance of author's intention and the role of interpretation in fixing meaning; aesthetic evaluation, taste, subjectivity and objectivity; the value of fakes and copies; the emotional effect of literature; whether literature can convey truth and knowledge, and the relationship between aesthetic judgement and ethics. Students prepare a package of two essays relating to different parts of the course, preceded by formative drafts and essay tutorials.




This module is designed to allow students to produce translations in conditions that encourage and facilitate reflection on the process and product of translation. It encourages students to think experimentally, not only about the forms a finished translation might take, but also about the ways in which process might be incorporated into that translation. The module has a workshop format and culminates in a series of presentations by students of the projects on which they have chosen to work. A series of sessions, devoted to the discussion of problems, both theoretical and practical, connected with translation and the projects ahead, precede the presentations. This module is compulsory for students on the MA in Literary Translation but may also appeal to those students with an interest in experimental writing and creative re-writing and textual intervention practices. Please note there is no foreign language requirement.




The twentieth century bore witness to the creation of a new class of person: the placeless people; those who cross frontiers and fall out of nation states; the refugees; the stateless; the rightless. Unlike genocide, the impact of mass displacement on modern thought and literature is only just being recognised. For writers such as Hannah Arendt, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, Simone Weil, among others, the outcasts of the twentieth century raised vital questions about sovereignty, humanism and the future of human rights. More recently, writers such as Coetzee, Teju Cole, Edward Said, Abdulrazak Gurnah and Achille Mbembe have challenged categories of modern and world literature with their focus on exile and statelessness. This module combines an account of these first responses to the era of the refugee with a critique of contemporary humanitarian sensibilities.




This module sets out to understand why and how humanism -- the advocacy of the study of the humanities, the Greek and Roman classics -- gave birth to the astonishing outpouring of literature that we call the Renaissance. We will situate English Renaissance literature within the wider context of the humanist literature of France, the Netherlands, and Italy. Questions we consider include: how did the rediscovery of classical texts generate new possibilities for literary writers? How did humanists understand the nature of poetic creation? How did their advocacy of rhetoric create new ways for writers to engage with public life? And what happened when humanists turned philological methods upon the most sacred text of their culture: the bible? Authors studied include: Thomas More, Desiderius Erasmus, Edmund Spenser, Joachim Du Bellay, Philip Sidney, Ludovico Ariosto, Torquato Tasso, Jean Bodin, Michel de Montaigne, and Ben Jonson. Foreign language texts are all read in translation. The module is compulsory for students on the Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures MA, but might be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain an in-depth understanding of one of the most dazzling periods of European literary history.




This module is designed to complement the prose fiction workshop but is open to students on related programmes. It is intended to provide students with creative and critical knowledge in a single experiential burst, by exploring as they are relevant to writing fiction such topics as time, place, dramatic structure, character and concinnity. The unit also gives consideration to professional issues confronting novelists, from writer's block to editing, contracts and dealing with the media. The module presents the writer as both artist and supplier of intellectual property to a market, while examining that and other tensions critically. Reading, writing and analysis happen alongside each other. Fictional, critical and professional texts are examined, writing exercises illuminating the issue at hand are undertaken. Students are also expected to make presentations on topics of their choice. Assessment by creative writing coursework with a critical commentary.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject UK BA (Hons) 2.1 or equivalent
  • Special Entry Requirements Sample of work - see below

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 7.0 (minimum 6.0 in each section and 7.0 in writing)
  • PTE (Pearson): 68 (minimum 55 in each section and 68 in writing)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact

Special Entry Requirements

A sample of your academic writing (for example an essay from your undergraduate degree).


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the Admissions Office directly for further information.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for the academic year 2017/18 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,300
  • International Students: £14,800

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £820 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

There are a variety of scholarships and studentships available to postgraduate applicants in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For further information relevant to the School of Literature and Creative Writing, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515