Hello! I was accepted to the MA Creative Writing program both at Birmingham and at another university that has a split semester program between Canterbury and Paris. I cannot decide which of these 2 schools I would like to go to! Why did you choose Birmingham over other universities for your MA? What is student life/ social life like for the postgraduates? What opportunities are available for Creative Writing and English postgraduate students compared to other universities? Thank you!


While I hope you are happy with your choice, I hope my answer might help some other students!

Personally, I loved being at Birmingham but I had the chance to experience the university and the department during my year abroad there so it was quite an easy choice once I got accepted. I also still had some friends there. Knowing some of the academics and their teaching style massively impacted my choice and, of course, the freedom in module choices. I knew I wanted to carry on with my studies and do a PhD so the research centres at UoB also contributed to me wanting to return. UoB has also a great support network for postgraduate students. There are many events and even some societies and sports clubs cater for the needs of postgraduates.

I can’t say much about the Creative Writing course but I have met some of the staff and they seem very nice and friendly! Many of them have first hand experience in publishing which is also a big plus!

However, having the chance to experience and learn in different academic cultures is a unique opportunity and can help advance your (academic) career. From my own experience, knowing the language of the country you will be in (in your case French) will improve your experience. While you might be on an English speaking campus, the life in the city is much easier if you at least speak a bit of the language.

Again, apologies for not being able to reply earlier.

Hi, thank you for time. I am really interested in the MA program but as an international student you always have questions in your mind. I have completed my MA degree (16 years of education) over here in Pakistan but I have heard that the education system varies from country to country. I am planning on applying for the MA from there. First of all I want to know about the complete application process, as this is the first time for me to apply to a foreign university I want to be sure about the whole process from the beginning onwards. Secondly, I have checked the website and didn't find any scholarship for foreign students, if there are any, kindly let me know. There are options of part time and full time, what is the difference between the two? These are some basic questions I was wondering about and Inhope your detailed response will clear them.

Please excuse my very delayed reply! I hope you took the time to apply anyway and if not maybe you think about applying next year!

I actually don’t remember much about the application process itself but it should be very straightforward. The website tells you what is required: references, proof of language proficiency, academic transcripts and relevant translations etc.

It might take some time to get all of this together. For me, getting certified translations of my transcripts took the longest to acquire. The registration office is very helpful however and can point you to relevant resources.

I don’t think that this particular programme offers scholarships but I would recommend looking elsewhere, maybe some cultural institution of your country or a charity or trust might be interested in funding your studies.

As a full-time student, you will take three modules in each term and work on your dissertation throughout the year with the main write-up in summer. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year (over a two year period) and complete your dissertation mainly throughout your second year and the summer term of that year.

I hope my reply doesn’t come too late and you might still (or already have) apply for our MA!

I am from India, I have applied to the MA Comparative Literature and Critical Theories course. While going through the student’s admission portal, I found that my English Language requirement which I have provided, is not adequate. My IELTS score which I have initially submitted was 6.5 overall. To prove my English Language proficiency, I have uploaded my CBSE standard XII mark list, in which I secured 87% for English. Also I have been instructed and assessed in English language at recognized institutions throughout my education. Is my alternate method acceptable for English Language requirements?


Many apologies for only replying to this now!

I hope you sorted this out. Unfortunately I’m not the right person to ask this question and would not have been able to answer even if I had seen it earlier. I could’ve only pointed you into the direction of the official language requirements information page and I would’ve advised you to contact either IST or the Admissions office.

Again, many apologies for not seeing this earlier!

Thank you ever so much for your reply - I really appreciate it. I’ve already emailed Chris and it turns out the presentation has now been removed entirely! So my mind has definitely been put at ease. Thanks for mentioning seminars as well. Roughly how many students were in your seminars/lectures? And how interactive were they? I appreciate that this varies year to year and module to module but any extra information you could give me would be very helpful.

Great news about Chris getting back to you about this!

I’m afraid the size of the modules depends on the topic – some are more popular than others. The core modules are usually taught with the whole cohort in one room but that is usually no more than 30 people. In my other seminars, we were around 5 to 8 people. You have to do preparation (like reading texts, novels etc.) in advance and most of the seminar is a discussion about these texts and the overarching topics. These discussion varies from being in pairs to talking to the whole group.

I hope my late reply hasn’t put you off applying for the course!
All best, Monja

Hi Monja, I am going to be completing a Masters by Research with the Department of English Literature this year and I am really interested in becoming a Postgraduate Ambassador to give back to the university. I don't know whether MA by Research students have the opportunity to be ambassadors, but I thought I'd ask :) Some questions I wanted to ask were: how many hours would you say you work on average per week? and what does that work encompass - I am aware of stuff like answering the Ask Me questions and giving campus tours? I also wanted to ask how you think the role may change because of Covid restrictions on campus. Do you think that Ambassadors will be doing more zoom chats for example?


It’s amazing that you already know you want to get involved in the postgraduate community by wanting to be a postgraduate ambassador. First of all, this job same as every job really has its application process which is divided into different stages: online application, interview and a formal registration and I am wishing you the best of luck for this! As long as you sound as enthusiastic as I feel you are, I am positive you will give a good impression!

Every postgraduate student has the opportunity to apply as we need this diversity in our staff to give our prospective students insight to the many different ways of postgraduate study: taught, distance learning, research, doctoral research etc.

The working hours depend very much on how much time you want to spend working and on the availability of events. I would say there is no real average per week as there are busier periods around open day events and less busy around exam time. There are many different tasks you may end up doing. Working on an open day for example is very diverse and you can end up working at the registration desks, giving campus tours, being available on campus for questions. There are some campus tours throughout the academic year which you can lead as well. If you feel comfortable you can sign up for filming recruitment videos for the university’s YouTube channel where you give a short presentation about either your subject or any other postgraduate related issue. We also host events such as café Masters and café PhD which is an informal chat between current and prospective students which happens in person or online. Other parts of your role would include: promoting student surveys and partaking in focus groups. The Ask-Us Scheme however is on a voluntary basis!

I cannot predict how this role might change because of the university’s COVID response. As the group sizes can vary, personally I would think some events in small groups might take place in person. We already host a number of online events as not every prospective student has the opportunity to travel to Birmingham which makes me think not too much will change on how the ambassador team operates. Most importantly we want to make prospective students feel welcomed, safe and respected. So which ever restrictions and measures the university introduces for the next academic year (be it masks in certain spaces or social distancing rules), we should make sure to stick to them to create a safe environment.

I hope this was helpful. Wishing you the best of luck for your application!

Hi There Monja, I have emailed Chris re. the Literature and Culture MA as I needed an answer about the sample of academic work. On the web site I have seen that it is 2,000 words and also in another place that it is 1,500 - do you have any idea which one it is as I don't want to go over the word limit for this? I'd be very grateful if you could help.


I am glad to hear you are interested in the MA program!

The writing sample should be no longer than 1,500 words. You can use any of excerpt of your previous written works. For example, I submitted a 2,000 word essay without the conclusion thereby reducing the overall word count to 1,490. The writing sample serves the purpose of illustrating that you are capable of producing an texts to a high academic standard and that you are able to apply critical methodology such as literature reviews, literary analysis etc.

Hopefully this helps you.

Best of luck with your application!

Hello, I'm a student in the US applying for a Fulbright scholarship to get my MA at Birmingham in Medieval Studies (medieval literature pathway). Are there any opportunities on campus for postgraduate students to get involved with the community, / is the environment friendly/close-knit? Part of the Fulbright scholarship wants you to show how you will immerse yourself in your proposed host country, so I just wanted to know about activities / projects / events on campus that I could potentially get involved with either within the English department or in other areas.


Amazing to hear you are looking into an MA at Birmingham. Already wishing you the best of luck for your scholarship application.
Birmingham is a great university to get involved! There are many different opportunities to engage socially and academically. The English department collaborates with many different research center which can be found on the departments website. Additionally, there are societies such as the English department society, different reading groups and book clubs, as well as many more which range from social activities to sport. The student community is very friendly and I have experienced the course cohort as close-knit as our student representatives organized study sessions and other events. UoB also has to offer many cultural facilities on campus which you can make use of such as the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and The Bramall Music Building. If you would choose to work on campus, we have many opportunities on offer, some which will be focused on event planning and helping out when they take place and some which require you to engage with the student community in general.

Hopefully this shows you that there are many different ways how you can immerse yourself within the student community and everyday university life.
Again, best of luck and hopefully Birmingham can welcome you soon! Monja

Hello, I'm in the process of applying for the Literature and Culture Masters but I'm unsure whether to do it full time or part-time. How intensive is the course generally? Did you have a lot of simultaneous deadlines? I have a learning disability and chronic illness, which means it takes me a bit longer to do things. So I'm nervous about attempting a full time Masters but I don't want to miss out on the experiences of university life. Sorry for the rambling question.


It’s great to hear you are thinking of applying for a Masters.
Generally, you have 6 to 8 contact hours on campus each term (three modules per term) which varies depending on the modules you choose if you study the course full time. I didn’t think it was a lot of contact hours but reading and independent study can take up a lot of time. However, all the material is easily accessible online. Deadlines again depend on the modules you choose. Most modules require you to write a 4,000 word essay. One of my modules split this up over different assignments with smaller deadlines (500 word and 1,500 word pieces of work) during term time and an 2,000 word essay after the end of term. Having said all of this, there is definitely time to get involved in some university activities – be it postgraduate events or low-commitment sports clubs and societies.

Part time students take three modules each year. Studying part time has some financial deficits if you want to live close to uni rather than commuting from home but on the other hand you would have time to do part time or causal work much more easily.

In the new academic year of 2020-21 the University will be introducing a new academic teaching year framework which will consist of two semesters. Each will include 11 weeks of learning and teaching, a period of assessment and support, and an end of semester assessment period. You should take this change into account when making your decision. I can’t give you detailed information on how these changes will effect the MA Literature and Culture and what this means for assignments and deadlines. Additionally, I would advice you to take the current situation and possible affects Covid-19 will have on teaching and learning into consideration. The university will try to deliver on-campus teaching as soon as possible. Personally, if you would feel like these issues and changes might impact your university experience, I would suggest applying for to study part-time as it will be easier to get used to the changes and you might actually end up getting the full university experience in your second year of study.

Good luck and all the best,

Hi, I am currently doing my 2nd year of undergrad in English Literature in India. The process of looking for the right courses and universities is exciting, but also overwhelming at the same time. I was wondering if you could guide me on how you chose your particular specialisation and why you picked this university? I hope to apply to Birmingham for an MA. Thank you.


Happy to hear you are already looking for opportunities in further studies and that you are interested in Birmingham!

In my particular case, I spent my year abroad here at UoB and enjoyed the teaching and learning atmosphere very much. Having already had the opportunity to gain such insight in the academic and social life in Birmingham, the decision to come here was quite easy for me. However, I think UoB is a great university to study at in general. The campus is lovely and the big postgraduate and international communities make it easy to get to know people and get involved in societies or sports clubs, for example. There are many events which are specifically hosted for postgraduates so you are able to make the most of your time here. The city offers a lot of exciting activities and events as the second biggest city in the UK and it has great connections by plane and train to go all around the UK and other countries.

My personal advice is (and this is what I did for choosing my undergraduate university) is to make a list of what is important to you: the teaching, the course, the freedom of module choices, the city itself, the community at the university and living options. Make a table with each university and write in the columns what the pros and cons are, then come up with a ranking system. It takes time to do all the research about the individual aspects but if you have many different options, this is certainly a way that helps narrow down your choices.

For choosing a particular specialization, I decided on this course because it give you the opportunity to choose your modules very close to the start of your degree and you can study a very wide rage of pathways: for example, early modern literature or digital cultures. The core modules really help you adapt to the academic requirements of English universities as they teach you research and writing skills. The optional modules are completely up to you to choose. I always liked the modern period, for example, but did an internship the summer before I started my postgraduate degree with a literature editor and developed a huge interest in contemporary and popular literature, which influenced my module choices. I would recommend looking through the possible routes through the program on the website You will see that there are many different options for you to choose from. As you are only in your second year, you might develop a better idea of your research interests once you start working on your dissertation. If you start applying for a Masters before then, this one certainly gives you the opportunity to decide on a pathway once you have a clearer idea of your preferences in research areas.

I hope this is helpful and I wish you the best of luck with your degree!

Dear Ms. Stahlberger, I am interested in Masters in Shakespeare and Education (distance study); however, I read that there are two taught Master modules. I am already a secondary school teacher, and would request if my observations and any relevant teaching pedagogy would be accepted. Due to health reasons I cannot travel abroad; would the university be able to accept all the modules if I study them online?


I am excited to hear you are interested in studying at UoB. Firstly, I am afraid I can’t answer your questions as this is quite specific and I would advice you to contact the course convener directly. Due to the current circumstances the teaching methods for next academic year might change and there might be more online teaching. However, I am not sure about what is going to happen.

I would advice you to email any relevant details on your professional experience with any questions about distance learning options at the Shakespeare Institute to and You will get more detailed advice there. If you explain your situation and circumstances they will be able to give you advice on what options you have. You can also email the admissions administrator Juliet Creese (

My apologies that this is not really helpful. I hope you will find all the information you need.

All the best, Monja

Hi Monja! I'm hoping to apply for my Masters at Birmingham, but I'm a little nervous about the transition from undergrad to postgrad. I was wondering if you could give me some insight into the postgraduate life and the research culture you've experienced at Birmingham, and how that differs from undergraduate study? Thanks for your help!


I am happy to hear you are interested in the MA program! I can’t give you much of an insight about the difference between postgraduate life and undergraduate life at a UK university because I did my undergraduate in Germany which has a completely different uni culture. However, I would say it is not too different from what I have experienced on my year abroad. The seminar groups and the cohort itself is smaller and there is a bigger emphasis on independent study. Yet, the assignments are not too different from final year undergraduate assignments, with a majority being 4000 word essays as assessments of your modules. You are encouraged to come up with your own research questions but every member of staff of the English department is very helpful and you can always go and see them in their office hours or drop them an email. Dissertation supervision and personal tutoring are great as you will have a minimum of two meetings with them per term.

The research culture specifically in the English department is very inclusive. We have research centres which host events such as reading groups, guest lectures or skill sessions. There is an event at the beginning of the year where you will be introduced to all of them and can sign up for mailing lists. You will also have a module introducing you to advanced research skills.

You can make your studies and your uni experience as involved and engaged as you want it to be. There are many opportunities for postgraduates to join sports clubs, societies or departmental groups, with the latter one being an amazing opportunity to experience the work environment in the academic sphere. Postgraduate life at UoB is great and there are many opportunities to get to know people. Especially the postgraduate officer will make sure you feel included and looked after and will assure your voice is heard.

I hope this helps you at least a little bit!

All the best,

Hello! I'm really interested in this MA programme. I studied English for my undergraduate degree but graduated in 2013 and have been working since. I am out of practice with academic procedure and would be really grateful for any advice on the application process, particularly in regards to the personal statement. Thank you for your help!


Please excuse the late reply. I hope this still finds you well.

I am happy to hear about your interest in the MA programme.

In regards to the personal statement I would advise you to outline your previous academic achievements, your research interests and maybe relevant experience you have gained whilst working. If you have any ideas for a possible dissertation project mention them as well. It is always helpful to outline why Birmingham would be the ideal place for you to conduct your studies.

The MA programme requires a piece of academic writing but any 1,500 word excerpt of an essay written during your undergraduate studies will suffice.

The MA programme offers modules in Academic Research Skills and Dissertation Preparation to enable you to ease back into the academic procedures of essay writing and presentation skills.

If you have any other questions do not hesitate to ask.

Good luck with the application and we hope to welcome you soon in our department!

I have been notified about the requirement of a sample work whilst applying for the English Literature programme at the Postgraduate Level. However, I haven't received any precise information on its topics and formats. I would be greatly obliged if you could give me an insight on it. Also, my personal research on the same found that it's an essay on a recent literary work. Since I haven't done any such work, what are the options that I have? Thank you in advance.

Hello! Happy to hear you are interested in the MA Programme!

The sample of written work is basically an essay or an excerpt of an essay no longer than 1,500 words. This can be on any topic within the field of literary studies (for example any essay you had to write during your undergraduate degree). So, if you have any essays from your undergraduate degree that dealt with a literary piece of work than any of them is fine. You don’t have to produce a new piece of work. If it helps: I handed in an essay from my second year on postmodernism in American Literature.

The sample should demonstrate your ability to produce a critical analysis of literary text and show that you know how to deal with academic sources. There are no specific requirements in terms of topic or format. However, it has to be written in English.

If you haven’t studied an undergraduate degree in a literary subject or at least with a literary element to it please contact me again.

I hope this answer is helpful.

What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

My undergraduate degree covered a wide range of academic theory and debates within media and cultural studies. While I enjoyed learning about different periods and cultures, I also felt the need to specialize on a period and a medium. Undertaking a postgraduate study offers me to concentrate on my research interests and helps me in forming a more detailed idea for further academic studies. Especially the chance to study a whole degree in another country, after having spend a year abroad in England, motivated me to apply for postgraduate study in the UK.

What, for you, are the best things about the course?

Having a free reign over my module choices as well as my end-of-year-assignments is great. Studying what interests me the most in the huge field of literary studies is definitely the best thing about the course. Additionally, choosing my second term modules seven weeks into the first term, is also a big advantage and helped me in shaping my study even more to my personal needs. The support and attention every individual student gets are exceptional and every student has the opportunity to get involved in the departments research community.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?

You should have a rough idea which periods interest you the most to frame your studies around those interests. As appealing as the variety of modules and pathways in literary studies is, it can also be overwhelming at times. Knowing what you want to learn and what you want to get out of your postgraduate studies will definitely enhance your experience.