Modern Scottish Writing (MLitt)

MLitt, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma


After more than a decade of devolution, Scotland’s national status ‘is both dangled before us and tantalisingly withheld’ (Don Paterson)

The Stirling Master's course views Scottish literature in the light of this ambiguity from a perspective shaped by critical theory as well as traditional literary history. Our focus is the unusually strong role played by literature in sustaining the reality and difference of Scottish culture over the past three centuries – not forgetting the role of novelists and poets in integrating Scottish identity into the project of Britishness. As debate intensifies over Scotland’s political status, the time is ripe to examine the role of writing in shaping the image and reality of the nation.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a taught postgraduate degree in the 2017/18 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MLitt, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Full-time, Part-time, Campus based
  • Duration: Full-time: MLitt-12 months, PG Diploma-9 months, PG Certificate 4 months Part-time: MLitt 27 months, PG Diploma-21 months, PG Certificate-9 months
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr Scott Hames and Dr Suzanne Gilbert
Download postgraduate prospectus

Dr Scott Hames

Division of Literature and Languages
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland, UK

Course objectives

This course explores modern Scottish literature in relation to the ambivalent condition of Scottish history and identity.

We focus on writing from Robert Burns, Walter Scott and James Hogg, through Victorian and late 19th-century writers (Galt, Buchan, Stevenson) to the modernist experiments of Hugh MacDiarmid and his followers, and on to provocative 20th-century experiments in language, textuality and historical re-telling (Welsh, Galloway, Kelman, Spark, Gray, Saadi, Robertson).

No previous experience in studying Scottish literature is required. Leading Scottish writers and critics feature prominently in assigned reading, as do theorists of cultural modernity.

What makes us different?

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

A sample of work (e.g. English Essay) is required.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs

2017/18 Overseas £14,600
2017/18 Home/EU £4,600


2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU TBC





From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all taught postgraduate courses are to be held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

University of Stirling Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

The University of Stirling is offering any UK or European Union student with a First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) a £2,000 scholarship to study full-time on any taught Master's course or £1,000 for part-time study. Find out more about the Postgraduate Merit Scholarship »

Financial information

Find out more about funding your studies and meeting your living costs while working towards another degree.
(Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) Postgraduate Loans offers postgraduate students repayable support towards the cost of tuition fees and is available to eligible Scotland & EU domiciled students undertaking full and part-time postgraduate study on specific courses. From 2016-2017, eligible full-time postgraduate students can also apply for a living-cost loan.)

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The Autumn core modules provide a thematic and historical overview; the Spring core module explores Scottish Romantic and Modernist writing in relation to specific themes of authenticity, representation and democracy.

Option modules allow students to pursue deeper knowledge of specific texts and issues. Full-time students take one option in each semester; part-time students take options in Year 2 of their course. 

It is now possible to study Modern Scottish Writing jointly with Creative Writing; students on this pathway do ‘critical’ modules in Modern Scottish Writing alongside Creative Writing workshops.

Delivery and assessment

The most significant piece of work on the course will be a dissertation of 15,000 words, written during the summer on a subject of your choosing in consultation with a member of teaching staff. You may choose to develop work initiated on one of the modules you have studied. Those who do not embark on the dissertation may be awarded a Diploma. The work of the best students completing the course may be deemed worthy of an MLitt with Distinction.


Programme of study (full-time)


Enlightenment to Empire (MSWPPO1) (20)

Scottish Renaissance (MSWPP10) (20)

option module (20)


Romantic/Modernist Engagements (MSWPPO2) (20)

option module (20)

ARTPP02 (20)



MSWPP05 Dissertation (60)


Programme of Study (part-time)


Enlightenment to Empire (MSWPP01) (20)

Scottish Renaissance (MSWPP10) (20)


Romantic/Modernist Engagements (MSWPP02) (20)

option module (20)


option module (20)

ARTPP01 (20)



MSWPP05 Dissertation (60)


Programme of Study (CW pathway, full-time)


Enlightenment to Empire (MSWPP01) (20)

Scottish Renaissance (MSWPP10) (20)

MSW option module (20)


The Writing Life (CRWPP16) (20)

Writer’s Workshop C (CRWPP11) (20)

ARTPP02 (20)



Dissertation (60) [either CRW or MSW]

Programme of Study (CW pathway, part time)


Enlightenment to Empire (MSWPP01) (20)

Scottish Renaissance (MSWPP10) (20)


MSW option (20)

ARTPP02 (20)


The Writing Life (CRWPP16)  (20)

Writer’s Workshop C (CRWPP11) (20)



Dissertation (60) [either CRW or MSW]


Option Modules as follows:

MSWPP07 Writing Difference: Scottish Women Writers and Tradition


MSWPP08 Writing Home: Scottish Landscape and Narrative


CRWPP08 Writing Poetry


CRWPP12 The Art of Fiction


GOIP11 – Nineteenth-century American Gothic


GOIP12: The Female Gothic


MSWPP03 Enlightenment Scotland and the Historical Novel - this option may run in the future but not in 2015/16


MSWP06: Scottish Gothic


CRWPP13 Writing the Short Story: From Gogol to George Saunders (may run in future years, but not for 15/16)


CRWPP15 Writing Poetry (Advanced) (may run in future years, but not for 15/16)


CRWPP16 The Writing Life


CRWPP14 Visual Storytelling: An Introduction to Screenwriting (may run in future years, but not for 15/16)


GOIP18 – Transmutations of the Vampire



This listing is based on the current curriculum and changes may be made to the course in response to new curriculum developments and innovations. The module information is currently linking to the 2016/17 module listing and the information for 2017/18 will be made available on 21st April 2017. 


Study method

Full-time and part-time

Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


Over half of our submissions in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) were found to be ‘Internationally Excellent’ or ‘World-leading’.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

Our students

Fiona Robertson

After completing my first degree, I was lucky enough to find a job quickly in my chosen sector – museums and the arts. I then moved into a range of wider public sector management roles. However, I always planned to return to postgraduate study at some point if I could.

I chose this programme as it was an area I'd always wanted to understand in more depth. The core modules provided an overview of how Scottish writing has developed since the 18th century and the option modules were directly relevant to the research questions in which I was particularly interested.

As a part-time mature student, I found the University environment very welcoming. Support was always available from my tutors when I needed it and the mix of perspectives and experience from other students was extremely stimulating.

Completing my Master’s Degree has given me a lot of personal satisfaction.

Fiona Robertson, MLitt in Modern Scottish Writing, graduated November 2011


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Completing a Master’s degree as a prelude to further academic research is an increasingly common pattern of study for young scholars and is a route encouraged by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Advanced education in the Arts, the practical experience of research and the production of a dissertation are significant transferable skills for many careers in business and the professions.

Skills you can develop through this course

An English degree is acknowledged by potential employers as providing important skills, such as motivation, intelligence and the ability to meet deadlines. Although English is not a specifically vocational degree it offers a number of important transferable skills, such as the ability to write clearly, effectively, accurately and persuasively.

Seminar discussion and oral presentations (required by many of our modules) help to develop your spoken communication skills. The critical and reflexive study of a variety of texts (literary and non-literary) teaches you how to analyse and interpret complex information and to apply abstract concepts and theories. Our criteria for assessment also requires students to be able to synthesise conclusions, to assimilate existing research and to construct and defend an argument clearly and cogently.

Throughout their degrees, our students are also trained to use library and bibliographic resources effectively and appropriately to reference accurately, and to present their work professionally. All of these skills are essential to many kinds of work, which is why so many employers recognise the value of an English Degree.

In a recent report, graduates of English were as likely (if not more) to be in professional or managerial jobs three to three and a half years after graduation than graduates in other subjects (including science and social science subjects). Almost fifty percent of English graduates pursue further education within three years of graduating from their undergraduate degree, often as a route to a professional career, such as teaching or law.

Chances to expand your horizons

During the semester, the department runs a number of lively literary seminars for students and staff alike, in which writers, staff members, postgraduate students and distinguished visiting scholars give papers on their work and special interests.

We are fortunate in that the macrobert Arts Centre is at the centre of the University, presenting a widely varied programme of film, drama and music throughout the year. Small magazines are published on campus and the Literary Society organises visits from distinguished creative writers each year, along with theatre trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Finally, the University Drama Society is very active, producing about seven plays a year, including performances at the Edinburgh Festival. 

Where are our graduates now?

In a recent report, graduates of English were as likely (if not more) to be in professional or managerial jobs three to three and a half years after graduation than graduates in other subjects (including science and social science subjects). Almost fifty percent of English graduates pursue further education within three years of graduating from their undergraduate degree, often as a route to a professional career, such as teaching or law.

Here are a few examples of the sorts of careers graduates of this course have gone on to, in recent years:



  • Teaching and Research Assistant
  • Doctoral research
  • Teaching
  • Freelance content editor
  • Photographer
  • Journalist

Completing a Master’s degree as a prelude to further academic research is an increasingly common pattern of study for young scholars and is a route encouraged by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). 

Find out more about the sorts of careers available to English graduates at

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