Scottish Literature (MLitt)

MLitt, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma


In literature as in politics, Scotland’s national status ‘is both dangled before us and tantalisingly withheld’ (Don Paterson)

The Stirling Masters course views Scottish Literature in the light of this ambiguity, and embraces the many questions it invites us to explore. We explore key figures, texts and debates from the period of Regal Union (1603) to the present, often placing literary writing at the heart of cultural and political debate. Class discussion examines the complex means by which national literary identity is sustained, renewed and re-considered – not forgetting the role of novelists and poets in integrating Scottish identity into the project of Britishness.

This is the only Masters course of its kind. As debate intensifies over Scotland’s cultural and political identity, 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 postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 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

Ranging across four centuries of the Scottish literary imagination, this course explores key figures, texts and debates from the period of Regal Union (1603) to the present, often placing literary writing at the heart of cultural and political debate.

We examine a full range of writers, texts and debates from the early modern period to the present, including the works of Robert Burns, Walter Scott and James Hogg, right through to contemporary authors such as James Kelman, Janice Galloway and Kathleen Jamie (and not forgetting Robert Louis Stevenson, Nan Shepherd, Muriel Spark, and too many others to mention). The programme has an emphasis on critical debate, and questions some of the assumptions that go along with studying a national literary tradition.

No previous experience in studying Scottish Literature is required. Leading Scottish writers and critics feature prominently in assigned reading, alongside key insights from book history, literary criticism and political theory.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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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


2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU £4,700





Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. 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

SAAS Postgraduate Loans

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) is now offering a generous loan scheme to assist eligible Scottish and EU-domiciled students pursuing a Masters at the University of Stirling during 2018/19. Find out more about SAAS Postgraduate Loans

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 Masters 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.

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 Scottish Literature jointly with Creative Writing; students on this pathway do ‘critical’ modules in Scottish Literature 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)


Regal Union to Empire (MSWPPO1) (20)

Renaissance to Present (MSWPP10) (20)

20 credits from options


Romantic/Modernist Engagements (MSWPPO2) (20)

20 credits from options

ARTPP02 Training for the Arts and Humanities 2 (20)



MSWPP05 Dissertation (60)


Programme of study (Part Time)


Regal Union to Empire (MSWPP01) (20)

Renaissance to Present (MSWPP10) (20)


Romantic/Modernist Engagements (MSWPP02) (20)

20 credits from options


20 credits from options

ARTPP01 Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities 1 (20)



MSWPPP5 Dissertation (60)


Option modules

GOIP12: Gothic and Gender 


MSWPP08 Writing Home: Scottish Landscape and Narrative


MSWPP06 Scottish Gothic


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


MSWPP07 Writing Difference: Scottish Women Writers and Tradition



Recommended reading

MLitt in Scottish Literature


Preliminary reading:


The list below combines useful general studies (and a few provocations) that will introduce you to relevant critical and historical debates, and key literary texts encountered on the first core module.


Gerry Carruthers and Liam McIlvanney (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Cairns Craig, The Modern Scottish Novel: Narrative and the National Imagination  (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999)

Ian Duncan, ‘On the Study of Scottish Literature’, ScotLit 28 (Spring 2003):

Douglas Gifford et al, (eds), A History of Scottish Women’s Writing (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997)

Christopher Harvie, ‘No gods and precious few heroes’: Scotland since 1914 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993)

James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (ed. Garside, Edinburgh University Press)

Stuart Kelly, ‘How Tartan is Your Text?’, International Journal of Scottish Literature 5 (Autumn/Winter 2009):

Carla Sassi, Why Scottish Literature Matters (Edinburgh: Saltire Society, 2005)      

Walter Scott, Waverley (ed. Lamont, Oxford World’s Classics)          

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Ebb-Tide (in South Sea Tales, ed. Jolly, Oxford World’s Classics)       

Christopher Whyte, Modern Scottish Poetry (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004)

Study method

Full Time and Part Time

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.



Regal Union to Empire (MSWPP01)

Thur: 13.00-15.00 (weeks 1-6)

Renaissance to Present (MSWPP10)

Thur: 13.00-15.00 (weeks 8-12)

Option module – days/timings will vary depending on choice.


Romantic/Modernist Engagements (MSWPPO2)

Thur: 14.00-16.00 (fortnightly)

Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities2 ARTPP02 

Mon:15.00-17.00 (fortnightly)

Option module - days/timings will vary depending on choice.

Please note this is an illustrative timetable and not the timetable for 2017/18.


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 17th 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 Masters Degree has given me a lot of personal satisfaction.

Fiona Robertson, graduated November 2011


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Completing a Masters 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. 

We’re here to help

We offer a comprehensive employability and skills programme to help you maximise your time at university and develop the graduate attributes required by employers. We have a dedicated Faculty Employability and Skills Officer and a careers and employability service who work in partnership with academic staff to ensure you get the best out of your University experience and are given the right opportunities to make you ready for the world of work.

Students have access to advice, information and career opportunities not only in the UK, but worldwide.


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 50% 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

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




98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16
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