The Gothic Imagination (MLitt)

Literature Graduate Programs - Postgraduate

MLitt, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate

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The Gothic Imagination (MLitt)
  • Type Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration Full-time; MLitt-12 months, PG Diploma-9 months, PG Certificate-3 months Part-time: MLitt-27 months, PG Diploma-21 months, PG Certificate-9 months
  • Start date September

Alison Scott
Postgraduate Administrator
School of Arts & Humanities
Division of Literature & Languages
University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 467510

Contemporary culture is characterised by nothing if not a reawakened interest in Gothic, the aesthetic discourse of horror and terror which flourished following the publication of Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764.

The MLitt The Gothic Imagination offers an intensive historical, critical and theoretical investigation of this curious cultural phenomenon, from the rise of Gothic in the aesthetic and political discourses of the eighteenth century through to a range of contemporary Gothic manifestations in both literature and film.

Course objectives

This course provides you with opportunities to explore the full range of Gothic writing, from its beginnings in the 18th century to the present day.

The focus is on work from Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley, through Victorian and late 19th-century writers (Dickens, Stevenson, Wilde, Stoker) to the Edwardian heyday of the ghost story, and on to the various modern and post-modern examples of the Gothic in writers such as Iain Banks, Angela Carter and Stephen King.

Entrance 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 provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 (5.5 in all bands).

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.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Course start date


Structure and content

The teaching year at Stirling is divided into two semesters, which run from mid-September to late December, and from January to the end of May. Both full-time and part-time students take a Gothic core module over two semesters. For part-time students this is in year one. Semester 1 will be devoted to the late 18th- and 19th-century Gothic, the second, to 20th-century Gothic; sessions on theory will be interlaced with specific readings.

In parallel with the core module, two optional modules allow you to develop a more specialised knowledge. You will take one of these modules each semester.

If you are on the part-time course you will take the two optional modules in year two. These modules vary depending on teaching staff, but in the past have included the following:

  • American Gothic: An examination of the emergence and development of Gothic in 19th-century American fiction with particular attention to the ways in which these texts transform the optimistic narratives of the new American republic
  • Gothic in Contemporary Film: An analysis of the ways in which Gothic tropes have been appropriated and reworked in a selection of contemporary films
  • The Female Gothic: A study of selected contemporary texts as reworkings of the female Gothic tradition of Ann Radcliffe
  • Transmutations of the Vampire: An investigation into the cultural significance of the vampire over the past 50 years

The term ‘Gothic’ is itself highly contested. Accordingly, theories relevant to the Gothic, such as Freud on the uncanny, Todorov on the fantastic and Kristeva on abjection will be examined.

Arts Research Training
Our innovative training for graduates enables students to build up a portfolio of skills that prepare them for academic and professional life. All graduate students will work with their supervisors to select what’s right for them from a menu of activities. Each student will build up a portfolio of skills every year. On a taught postgraduate degree, you may be given specific guidance on what activities you need to undertake
for those qualifications.

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 English Studies. 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.

Module titles

Autumn Semester

GOIP01 - Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Gothic
ARTP01 - Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities

One option chosen from -

GOIP11 - American Gothic
GOIP12 - Female Gothic
GOIP13 - Gothic Radicalism in the 1790s

Spring Semester

GOIP02 - Twentieth Century Gothic
ARTP02 - Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities

One option chosen from -

GOIP18 - Transmutations of the Vampire
GOIP19 - Monstrosity
MCCPX6 - Screen Genres
FMSP06 - Transnational Cinema
MSWP06 - Scottish Gothic


GOIP03 - Dissertation

Why study The Gothic Imagination (MLitt) at Stirling?

Course Director

Dr Dale Townshend

RAE rating

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

Our students

Carolina Abello

After checking out different universities where I could do a Master’s degree in Gothic literature, I chose to do the Master of Letters in the Gothic Imagination at Stirling, graduating in August 2009. It was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made, and one of the best experiences of my life.

The programme fulfilled all my expectations because it is so well and carefully designed. I made an unforgettable journey from the 18th century origins of the Gothic to the most updated literary trends of this mode, while enjoying a very coherent selection of readings. I also took some optional modules and participated in the reading club, which allowed me to explore specific authors, tropes and other cultural expressions that deal with the Gothic aesthetics.

Classes are taught in a friendly atmosphere in which you can really learn by actively participating in the sessions and discussing your points of view with your teachers and your partners. And I had the privilege of taking courses with Professor Glennis Byron and Doctor Dale Townsend, who are two of the most important lecturers and researchers in the Gothic field. They were always very warm, supportive and willing to guide me; not only in the process of writing my papers and my dissertation, but also in the process of coping with my new life there!

During that year I met lovely and interesting people, made great friends, travelled around Scotland and participated in intercultural activities that allowed me not only to grasp the local essence but also to discover many world views.

Since returning to my country, I have been teaching Gothic literature in different universities and working as a freelance editor. As I love doing research, I always dedicate time to my own projects, so I have travelled to Mexico and Germany to read papers at conferences where Gothic issues are explored.

To put it in a nutshell: I am delighted with the decision I made, as studying at Stirling was absolutely worthwhile; definitely an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.

Carolina Abello, MLitt in Gothic Imagination, graduated November 2010


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

A MLitt is acknowledged by potential employers as providing important skills, such as motivation, problem-solving, analytical ability and the ability to meet deadlines. Although this is not a specifically vocational degree, it offers a number of important transferable skills, such as the ability to write clearly and effectively, and to argue accurately and persuasively. Thus, in addition to gaining an invaluable set of subject-specific skills and knowledges, the broader, transferrable skills learned in the course of your MLitt will prove to be invaluable on the job-recruitment market after graduation.

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 accordingly. Our criteria for assessment also require students to be able to synthesise conclusions, to assimilate existing research and to construct and defend an argument clearly and cogently.

Throughout their course, our students are also trained to use library and bibliographic resources effectively and appropriately, to reference accurately, and to present their work to the highest professional standards. All of these skills are essential to many kinds of work, which is why so many employers recognise the value of a MLitt.

In a recent report, graduates of English were as likely to be in professional or managerial jobs three to three- and-a-half-years after graduation as graduates in other, more vocational subjects (including science and the social sciences). Almost fifty percent of English graduates pursue further education within three years of graduating from their undergraduate degree, and often as a route to a professional career, such as teaching or the law.

Chances to expand your horizons

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

The School is 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 organizes visits from distinguished creative writers each year, along with theatre trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh. The University Drama Society is very active, too, producing about seven plays a year, including performances at the Edinburgh Festival. 

Where are our graduates now?

Some of our more established alumni are currently leading and shaping strategy across many different sectors in the UK and abroad, in countries such as Greece and the Netherlands. Here is an example of how a few former students have advanced in their careers:

  • Owner of a Foreign Languages School
  • English teacher
  • Lecturer in English

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



You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.


information on possible sources of funding

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 Masters course or £1,000 for part-time study.  Further information on the scholarships is available here.