UCC Postgraduate courses

English - Modernities: Literature, Theory & Culture from the Romantics to the Present

Course Fact File
Duration1 year Full-time
Teaching ModeFull-time
NFQ LevelLevel 9
Closing DateRolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.
Non-EU Closing DateOpen until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

This MA English - Modernities: Literature, Theory & Culture from the Romantics to the Present introduces you to the advanced study of American, British, and Irish literature and other cultural forms, from the eighteenth century to the present day, as well as to a selection of theoretical works pertaining to the concept of ‘modernity’. Under the guidance of leading scholars in their fields, our students encounter some of the most influential contemporary critical and theoretical models currently being applied to the notions of modernity and modernisation, and apply the ideas raised by these theories to a rich variety of works from the 1700s to the twenty-first century.

On this prgramme you will also have the opportunity to be introduced to literary and theoretical texts that track Ireland’s historical and cultural experience of modernism, from the eighteenth century to the current day. Texts studied range historically from the writings of the great Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, those of such canonical Romantics as P.B. and Mary Shelley, influential modernist works by James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett, to innovative recent and contemporary poets, novelists, dramatists, and filmmakers. Among theorists of modernity, you can expect to explore the thought of significant nineteenth-century thinkers, including Marx and Nietzsche, and to examine twentieth/twenty-first-century cultural theory in such fields as feminism, postructuralism, and postcolonialism. The encounter with these thinkers and movements will aid our students in debating and developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the broader culture in this era.

The MA in English (Modernities) consists of two parts: a taught course and a dissertation totalling 90 credits.

Part I (50 credits)

  • EN6009 Contemporary Literary Research: Skills, Methods and Strategies (10 credits) 
  • EN6028 Theories of Modernity (10 credits)

Plus choose 30 credits from:

  • EN6025 Literary and Cultural Modernisms (10 credits) 
  • EN6026 Postmodernism (10 credits) 
  • EN6027 Romanticism and Modernity (10 credits)
  • EN6024 Ireland and Modernity

Part II  (40 credits)

  • EN6017 Dissertation in English (40 credits)

Note: Subject to the approval of the MA programme coordinators, students may substitute one 10-credit module with one of the following 10-credit modules: Middle English Literature (EN6051), New Histories of the Book (EN6052), Old English Literature (EN6053), Renaissance Literature (EN6054), Earlier Literature and its Modern Reception (EN6063). Irish Cinema: History, Context, Aesthetics (FX6010).

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

The course involves a combination of seminars, consultation, presentations and directed study as well as associated reading. You will carry out independent research for your dissertation in close consultation with your supervisor.

Continuous assessment includes written assignments, in-class exercises, seminar participation, research presentation, and online work.

The members of academic staff teaching this course are actively engaged in research and have national and international reputations in a range of relevant fields. Our staff include:

  • Professor Graham Allen (literary and cultural theory and Romanticism)
  • Professor Alex Davis (literary modernism, twentieth- and twenty-first-century Irish, British, and American poetry)
  • Dr Anne Etienne (twentieth-century British drama and theatre censorship)
  • Dr Alan Gibbs (American literature, trauma narratives, and narrative theory)
  • Professor Lee Jenkins (American Literature, American Studies and transnationalism, literary modernism, Caribbean poetry, and contemporary black British poetry)
  • Dr Maureen O’Connor (Irish women writers of the nineteenth and twentieth century, the dandy, Ireland and ecocriticism/ecofeminism)
  • Dr Clíona Ó Gallchoir (Irish women's writing, Irish and British eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writing, the novel in Ireland, post-colonial writing and children’s literature)
  • Dr. Joanna Hofer-Robinson (Dickens and Victoria Literature)

Why Choose This Course

I think there are enormous benefits in studying in a country that’s not your own. It causes you to gain a wonderfully wide world perspective...

Haley Bonner, International Student

Find Out More

This course is the only MA in English offered by an Irish university that provides an advanced and coherent introduction to a selection of literary, theoretical, and other cultural works from the late eighteenth century to the present day.

Skills and Careers Information

This course will provide you with an advanced understanding of an important period in literary and cultural history and knowledge of the theoretical tools required fully to understand this period. It will also equip you with a range of research skills designed to prepare you to present academic research in a variety of forms to a professional standard.


To be considered for admission to an MA programme within the School of English, an applicant will normally possess a primary degree result of Second Class Honours Grade I in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or higher or equivalent qualification in English or a cognate subject. All candidates must satisfy a Selection Committee who may request applicants to provide letters of reference.

For North American students a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 is expected.

The selection committee for the MA in the Department of English, University College Cork also attaches strong importance to the additional supplementary online questions and the online 500-word personal statement for the MA in English (Modernities: Literature, Theory and Culture from the Romantics to the Present).

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Vsit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following questions:

  • You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

  • In addition to your previously declared qualifications, please outline any additional academic courses, self-learning and professional training relevant to this programme.
  • Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.

  • Please detail your computing/technical/IT skills.

  • Please enter the name and emails of two academic referees, for previous relevant academic performance, qualifications and aptitude.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early for an early decision.

The closing date for non-EU applications is Open until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact