English by Research

MA by Research

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Key facts

Start dates

January 2024 / June 2024 / September 2024

Application deadline

It typically takes up to four months (five months for International and EU applicants) from application to enrollment on your programme. This is subject to all the necessary documentation being in place.



Course length

Full time: 1 year

Part time: 2 years


This MA by Research in English provides an excellent opportunity for you to obtain a Master’s qualification focused on a research project of particular interest to you. You'll benefit from all of the facilities, training, research seminars and support at Oxford Brookes University.

The School of Education, Humanities and Languages at Oxford Brookes offers research expertise from the early modern period up to the present day. Our work encompasses a wide range of interests, from literature (including Drama and American Literature), through visual culture, to critical theory and politics. The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre hosted by the School of Education, Humanities and Languages is also a source of academic expertise and research.

Three students sat together on sofas

Research expertise

Our school comprises two centres and several clusters which support the work of researchers and doctoral students. We encourage wide participation through partnerships and our busy programme of conferences, public events and lectures.

We strongly recommend that prior to submitting a full application you identify and make contact directly with a potential Director of Studies. Please look at our research group pages and individual staff profiles to help you identify the appropriate member of staff and to find out whether your proposed research focus is one that we can supervise. 

Additional details

The main research areas relevant to this degree are:

  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Ecology and Ecocriticism
  • Medicine, Science, Technology and Literature
  • Comparative Literature
  • Communities
  • Postcolonialism
  • Modernism
  • Early Modern Drama
  • The Contemporary Novel
  • Textual Scholarship and Editorial Practice
  • Theatre practice and Performance-as-Research
  • Creative Writing
  • Cognitive Poetics
  • Witchcraft and the Supernatural
  • Life Writing
  • Utopia and Utopianism
Female student reading a book

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Each research student in the Faculty will be allocated £630 towards the costs associated with specific research activities during the research programme.
  • Close supervision from experts in your chosen research area, including joint supervision across departments for interdisciplinary projects. 
  • Plentiful opportunities to present your work. Depending on your chosen subject you may have the opportunity to attend:
    • research seminars with presentations from high profile external guest speakers
    • specialist seminars organised by individual research groups and clusters
    • methodology workshops.  
  • You will also be encouraged to submit publications to leading research journals.
  • You may have the opportunity to develop your teaching, mentoring and demonstrating skills by undertaking paid teaching activities for up to six hours a week. You may also be required to attend the Associate Teachers course which is run by the University’s Oxford Centre for Academic Enhancement and Development.

Learning and assessment

The MA by Research in English builds on the School’s expertise to give you a unique and clearly focused programme of study. You will have the opportunity to develop a high level of subject knowledge, together with the ability to develop and undertake independent research in your own particular area of interest.

The programme will be attractive to applicants seeking to pursue intellectual interests beyond first degree level for further personal or professional development. The MA route is also designed to prepare you to undertake further research at MPhil or PhD level.

At the heart of the MA by Research is the close working relationship between candidate and supervisor. While the final thesis must be the candidate’s independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic (if necessary), on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the final thesis. Supervisors and candidates meet frequently throughout the year, and not less than twice a term.

Three students talking as they walk

Learning and teaching

You will also receive training in research methods and skills appropriate to the stage they have reached and the nature of their work. This includes:

  • guidance on planning and writing your thesis
  • using bibliographic and archival resources (both electronic and printed)
  • handling research data
  • making conference presentations
  • preparing and submitting material for publication.


Assessment methods used on this course

You will embark on a substantial piece of independent research (an MA thesis of up to 30,000 words) guided by your supervisor in regular meetings. A shorter assessment of 5,000 words, conceived as a formative essay precedes the dissertation in the programme. A viva voce examination is held at the end.

After you graduate

Career prospects

We are passionate about fostering the careers of our researchers and ensure that they gain research skills training, leadership experience and teaching practice as part of the doctoral programmes we offer.

Bespoke careers advice is also embedded into our programme as we think this is a key element of your personal and professional development during your time with us.

How to apply

Entry requirements

A first-class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification.

If you choose to study full-time you must be able to devote a minimum of 35 hours per week over a 44-week year to your research. You should not undertake more than 20 hours per week paid employment or other commitments (including a maximum of six hours per week teaching, demonstrating, or other paid work directly related to your research training).

If you choose to study part-time you must be able to devote a minimum of 15 hours per week over a 44-week year to the programme of research.

You must also meet our residence requirements.

English language requirements

Applicants whose main language is not English must meet the Faculty’s English language requirements. The minimum IELTS score required for entry to the research degree programme is 6.5–7 overall. 

In addition, we require a minimum of 6.5 in each component of the test. We do not accept IELTS certificates that are over two years old. 

Application process

It is essential that you first check whether your specific research interests can be adequately supervised before submitting a full application. To do this please email the Research Administrator (hss-researchdegrees@brookes.ac.uk) your provisional research proposal. This should be 1500–2000 words in length and should include a title and a summary of the proposed subject area.

There is no specific format for research proposals but the following areas are usually covered:

  • introduction
  • evidence of background reading and knowledge/previous experience of research area
  • details of research methods proposed to carry out the project
  • the aims of the research project and any proposed hypotheses/outcomes
  • literature review
  • how your research project will make an original and independent contribution to knowledge.

If your area of research can potentially be supervised you will be encouraged to submit a full application via our online application system.

The Research Administrator will acknowledge receipt of your application by email. We strive to make a decision within one month of receiving your application. Please note, however, decisions may take longer during busier periods of the academic year.

Supporting documents

Please read through the list of supporting documentation that must be uploaded along with your application or emailed separately.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

For International fees the following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

Home fees are set by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and are released approximately five months before the start of each academic year.

If you have any questions about fees, get in touch with the Research Degrees Team at rdt-researchdegrees@brookes.ac.uk.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

All financial support and scholarships

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