Roundtable: MA Programmes and the Future of Postgraduate Literary Studies

Michael CollinsConference Room

Taught postgraduate programmes perform a crucial role in our discipline, often preparing students for research careers, as well as providing valuable opportunities for research-led teaching. For individual students, the MA or taught MPhil experience is frequently a critical stage in academic and professional development, a juncture at which research identities are refined, and where both specialisation and intellectual exploration can reap rewards. Notwithstanding these benefits of MA study, it is sometimes tempting for institutions to view taught postgraduate programmes as something of an afterthought, or for students to regard them as inconvenient hurdles on the path to doctoral research. They have rarely been at the forefront of recent discussions concerning access and inclusion. Moreover, challenges of student recruitment and debates about the viability of individual programmes too often prevent concerted discussion of what MA study contributes to our field and how it could do so more effectively.

The proposed roundtable session will seek to redress this neglect. The four confirmed speakers, each representing one of KCL’s English Literature MAs, will consider, among other issues:

  • the purpose and value of MA study, both for students and institutions
  • what academic literary studies might look like without our current levels of taught postgraduate provision
  • lessons that can be learned from other national traditions of postgraduate study, especially North American models
  • the relationship between MA study and the periodisation of our discipline
  • ways of improving access to MA study
  • the impact of international student recruitment on the nature of MA study
  • the desirability and feasibility of interdisciplinarity at postgraduate level
  • the role of the dissertation and dissertation supervisor within English Literature MAs

The panel will also draw upon the thoughts and experiences of academics from other institutions (names to be confirmed).

Dr Emrys D. Jones, Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture, KCL (Chair)
Dr Nick Bentley, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, Keele University
Dr Clara Jones, Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature, KCL
Professor Lucy Munro, Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature, KCL
Dr Daniel S. Smith, Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature (1500-1700), KCL

Sun 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm