What’s it like studying Modern Literature and Culture MA?

The National Theatre, one of my favourite places in London just across the bridge from the Strand campus.
Written by master’s student, Aga.

When I tell people I study Modern Literature and Culture, their reactions range from eyebrows furrowed in confusion to an equally puzzled noise of acknowledgement. Today, I will demystify this enigmatic-sounding course and give you my perspective on what it’s like.

In case you, too, are wondering, the course covers literature from Britain, North America and the English-speaking world over the 19th and 20th centuries, and as such can be tailored to your own interests, be they wide-ranging or quite specific. With two modules per term, I only have four contact hours a week, but don’t let that fool you – you’ll be expected to do a hefty amount of work in preparation for the seminars.

Some unique 19th century objects I got to see from the Museum of London.

That being said, there is obviously more to studying than just going through the reading list. The course encourages you to use London as a classroom and engage with culture as it’s being lived in the present. As part of one of my modules, I had the chance to visit a couple of museums and archives, see their collections and have a chat with the curators, which I found not just extremely valuable, but also really exciting.

“The course encourages you to use London as a classroom and engage with culture as it’s being lived in the present.”

Being in the heart of London, you’re hardly ever more than ten minutes away from world-class cultural venues. Although going to the theatre may seem like a well-deserved treat, it might just give you ideas for an essay you’re struggling with, or make you think of a point to raise in a seminar discussion.

If I were to sum the course up in one word, I’d say ‘fun’. Don’t get me wrong, it can be quite challenging, but it’s the best kind of challenge: intellectually stimulating, thought-provoking and, at the end of the day, thoroughly enjoyable.

If you want to know more about the differences between undergraduate and postgraduate studies, I’d recommend reading Nina’s blog post.

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