MA English by Research

The MA English by Research is your opportunity to conduct in-depth research on a topic of your choice from the field of modern literary studies, relative to an area of staff expertise.

This piece of original research will usually be based on close study of the primary texts as well as engagement with critical, contextual and theoretical material as appropriate.

You will conduct your research under the close supervision of a member of staff.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 18 Months October Treforest A
Full-time 18 Months April Treforest A
Part-time 36 Months October Treforest A
Part-time 36 Months April Treforest A
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 18 Months January Treforest A
Full-time 18 Months October Treforest A
Full-time 18 Months April Treforest A
Part-time 36 Months January Treforest A
Part-time 36 Months October Treforest A
Part-time 36 Months April Treforest A

Your research topic will be decided in consultation with a member of the English team. An individual supervisor will be assigned during the application and interview process and you will then work closely with them.

Dissertation supervision for the MA English by Research is available in the following broad areas:

  • 19th Century Literature
  • 20th Century and Contemporary Literature
  • Women’s Writing
  • Feminist Theory
  • Welsh Writing in English
  • Welsh Women’s Writing
  • Gothic Studies
  • Religious Poetry
  • Postcolonial literatures
  • Historical fictions



A Masters by Research degree allows you to carry out an independent supervised research project on an approved topic of your choice. At the end of your studies you will submit a thesis of up to 40,000 words. As with all research degrees examination is a two-part process: examination of the thesis followed by a viva examination.

You can complete your Masters by Research on a full or part time basis, on campus or remotely, if the nature of the research allows. A Masters by Research takes one year full time or two years part time, and is available in most subject areas.

There are no classes to attend as the Masters by Research is based on research. Full-time students are expected to spend around 35 hours per week on self-study and part-time students 12 hours.

Postgraduate researchers are assigned a supervisory team who have the expertise and experience to support them in their studies. Supervisors will help you to shape your research project, give feedback on work in progress and guide you to completion.

Once a research area has been identified and a research programme agreed, you can begin researching and writing your dissertation. You will determine its content, development and structure in regular consultation with your dissertation supervisor. You will produce a dissertation 40,000 words in length.

English Research Unit

You will be based at the English Research Unit. English at the University of South Wales has a vibrant and highly-rated research community of literary scholars, creative writers and language specialists.

While our research is internationally-recognised and ranges from the medieval period to the present day, English at USW has a particularly strong commitment to the south Wales valleys in which the University is situated.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework ninety per cent of USW English research was rated as being internationally excellent (3*) with respect to impact. Overall, just over half of English research submitted (51%) was judged to be world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*).

Our research group includes creative writers such as short story writer Barrie Llewelyn, poet and critic Professor Kevin Mills, and novelist Dr David Towsey. Our literary scholars include experts on postcolonial writing (Dr Nicholas Dunlop), on contemporary women’s poetry (Professor Alice Entwistle), on historical fiction and the Gothic (Professor Diana Wallace) and on Welsh writing in English.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) specialists Dr Mike Chick and Dr Rhian Webb research contemporary approaches to language teaching methodology and also examine how government policies on language and migration affect both language acquisition and integration.

As well as publishing books, articles, poems and other items, our staff regularly disseminate their work through public lectures, readings and events, as well academic conferences. 

Almost without fail, creative writing graduates from our PhD in Writing and MPhil in Writing have gone on to publish successfully, many of them winning prizes.

English co-hosts the University’s Centre for Gender Studies in Wales, co-directed by Professor Diana Wallace, Dr Ruth Gaffney Rhys and Dr Rachel Lock Lewis English researchers also contribute to the Centre for Media in Small Nations and the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling.




The MA English by Research is assessed by a dissertation and a viva voce (oral examination). The dissertation should be up to 40,000 words in length.

Featured Lecturer:
Professor Kevin Mills

Professor Kevin Mills

Professor Kevin Mills is a literary critic and poet. He has published work on theoretical and philosophical issues in interpretation, Victorian literature, and individual authors such as HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Roald Dahl. His scholarly writing often blends creative and critical modes, exploiting the resources and confronting the limits of both. His poetry typically interweaves ancient texts and stories with contemporary experience, and explores relationships between language, the self, place, and time.

He teaches Nineteenth-Century Literature, English Renaissance Literature, and Myth and Narrative at undergraduate level, and leads the MPhil in Writing.


Dr Ayo Amuda's primary research interest is on language use in society, particularly, communication in multilingual communities. He is the author of several articles on the subject, including Socio-Historiography of Names in an Oral Culture (2012).

Dr Mike Chick's research interests include second language teacher education as well as the organisation of ESOL provision for vulnerable sections of society. He has recently completed a research project investigating the barriers to employment faced by participants on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Dr Nic Dunlop is a specialist in postcolonial writing, genre and contemporary literature. He has published widely and is currently completing a monograph on representations of education and postcolonialism in science fiction.

Professor Alice Entwistle is a literary critic with specialist interests in modern and contemporary poetry, in the cultural-political aesthetics of the devolved nations of the UK, particularly Wales, and gender.

Barrie Llewelyn teaches fiction, poetry and non-fiction with a special interest in writing for the media and the essay form. Recent research interests have taken Barrie’s focus to the link between creativity and well-being. 

Professor Kevin Mills Professor Kevin Mills is a literary critic and poet. He has published work on theoretical and philosophical issues in interpretation, Victorian literature, and individual authors such as HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Roald Dahl.

Dr David Towsey is a novelist and short-story writer, who specialises in genre fiction. He is particularly interested in crossover texts that complicate genre boundaries.

Professor Diana Wallace works mainly on women’s writing. Her research interests include historical fiction, the Gothic, Modernism, and Welsh writing in English. She is co-editor of The International Journal of Welsh Writing in English and co-editor of UWP’s series Gender in Studies in Wales.

Dr Rhian Webb lectures in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Her primary research examines native English speakers’ knowledge about grammar, which informs her teaching.

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

  • A good Honours degree in English or English related subjects (2:1 or above). Non-standard qualifications and experiential learning will also be taken into account.

  • All applications must include two references on headed paper from your referees which should be uploaded as a supporting document. Please note, we can not accept applications without these two references. At least one referee should be able to comment on your academic/professional ability. References provided by relatives are not acceptable.  

  • Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to have an IELTS score of 8.0.

  • All applicants for research degrees must submit an online application accompanied by a research proposal which will be considered by the Faculty Research Programmes Committee (FRPC).

  • For further information please see our guidance on preparing a research proposal.


Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International:  £15950 

  • Part-time UK: TBC

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

August 2024 - July 2025 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.


Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.

The MA by research is an excellent qualification for further postgraduate study at MPhil or PhD level. Alternatively graduates will have developed the research skills needed for a range of careers in the arts, media, industry and public or private sectors, including teaching, public administration and publishing.