Year of entry 2024
- Start date
- September 2024
- Delivery type
- On campus
- 12 months full time
- Entry requirements
- A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in English, postcolonial literature or a related subject.
Full entry requirements
- English language requirements
- IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in all components
- UK fees
- £12,000 (Total)
- International fees
- £25,250 (Total)
Postcolonial studies is an intellectually dynamic and politically urgent field. It takes the pulse of contemporary societies and cultures in the context of an increasingly interconnected yet deeply complex world.
Our MA degree allows you to look critically at problematic histories whose legacies remain with us: the history of slavery; the history of apartheid; and the ongoing histories of colonialism itself, which cut across different languages and cultures in different parts of the world.
You will discover the richness and diversity of Anglophone postcolonial cultures, their social and historical contexts, and the theoretical but also practical issues they raise. An understanding of these issues will also allow you to gain an in-depth knowledge of how creative outputs like literature, film and music engage with race, place and identity across a variety of contexts – from the stereotyping of Turks and Jews in the Renaissance, to the global ‘migration crisis’ and Black Lives Matter movement of present times.
The scope and scale of our academic expertise will help you to examine postcolonial societies and cultures from a broad range of perspectives. This flexibility will give you many opportunities to pursue your personal interests, while an independent research project will enable you to explore a topic of your choice in even greater depth.
Our postcolonial team, unparalleled in the UK in both number and range of interests, specializes in postcolonial ecocriticism, disability studies and medical humanities, decolonial thought and anti-colonial struggle, diaspora and cosmopolitan community, states of refuge and asylum, postcolonial theory, psychoanalysis and trauma, Indigenous knowledges, postcolonial film, theatre and poetry, and postcolonial prize cultures and reception histories.
The University of Leeds Library is one of the best research libraries in the UK, with holdings across the entire range of postcolonial literatures/cultures and special collections in a number of areas directly relating to the postcolonial field.
Our Special Collections offer a huge range of rare books, manuscripts and art, as well as microfilm collections of American, Indian and South African newspapers, US government and presidential files, the Black Power Movement archive, the Church Missionary Society archive, and documents relating to British imperialism, foreign affairs and overseas policy.
Postcolonial Encounters (30 credits) is the team-taught core module for the MA in Postcolonial Studies. It provides an updated (re)introduction to the field, paying particular attention to key concepts such as decolonization, social/environmental justice and globalization, and anchoring these in contemporary cultural texts. The module also looks at the intersections between postcolonial studies and other (cross-) disciplinary formations such as ecocriticism, Indigenous Studies and World Literature, and gauges the field’s capacity to perform and support activist work.
Optional modules vary from year to year but may include the following: Africas of the Mind; Black British and Caribbean Writing; Global Indigeneity; Postcolonialism, Animals and the Environment; Planetary Aesthetics: Mimesis, Animism and Modernity. Short descriptions of these modules are provided below:
Africas of the Mind (30 credits) explores how a number of diverse constructions of African experience reveal what we might call ‘the political organisation of the psyche’. The module considers Frantz Fanon’s work as one way of avoiding the difficulties of applying psychoanalysis to African contexts. Since the colonial inheritance has been a debilitating force in many African societies, it follows that literary texts may register historical pain and socially-embedded malaises. The module duly investigates examples of the cultural logic of psychopathological symptoms.
Caribbean and Black British Writing (30 credits) presents a range of recent texts by (Anglophone) Caribbean and Black British writers. It engages with a variety of issues, including the relationship between literature and cultural identity; the construction of and challenge to cultural boundaries; ‘new ethnicities’; representing Caribbean migrancy to Britain; nationalism and transnationalism; new forms of ‘Britishness’; Caribbean and Black British postcolonialities; constructions of gender and ‘race’; and the politics of making a Caribbean and Black British canon. Attention is given to the aesthetic diversity of Caribbean and Black British writing, and to the complex interface between literary form and cultural politics.
Global Indigeneity (30 credits) explores how Indigenous writers situate themselves and their communities in relation to a globalized world, and how they intervene in debates about some of the most pressing contemporary issues: resource extraction and environmental health, tourism and development, genetic research and ‘biopiracy’. The module takes a comparative approach to Indigenous cultural production, looking at texts from or set in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada, the Pacific and Central and South America, and considering the common concerns and challenges facing Indigenous peoples as well as thinking about conflicts, practices and representations in culturally specific terms.
Planetary Aesthetics: Mimesis, Animism and Modernity (30 credits) explores literature and film which ask us to identify across racial and species borders and thereby begin to imagine forms of planetary community. Focusing in particular on Africa before branching out to consider other Indigenous traditions, we will consider renewed interest across the humanities in cultures once denigrated as animist. How can we learn from such cultures how to reanimate our relation to the world without reinscribing colonial divisions between magical beliefs and scientific knowledge?
Postcolonialism, Animals and the Environment (30 credits) looks at postcolonial contributions to current debates on land rights, animal welfare and the ecological fallout of industrial development. The module also addresses more immediate concerns of literary representation, for example, whether there are distinct environmental/ animal genres, whether these genres carry certain ideological implications, or whether literary texts can ever succeed in giving agency to non-human actors or in conveying a non-human voice.
Learning and teaching
Modules on this course will mostly be taught in a seminar format, workshop-style, in order to promote student-centred learning and collaborative work. This is in keeping with the course’s broader aims to provide a historical and theoretical grounding for research in the field, which will then give you the opportunity to put this conceptual apparatus into practice in your own work.
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
The main assessment component of most modules on the course will be a final essay based on individual, text-based research work. ‘Text’ includes film, music and other forms of cultural production as well as literature, and you will have the choice to work on your own particular area(s) of interest. Modules will also usually require a shorter, formative piece of some kind, allowing you to explore concepts and ideas that will then be further developed in the final essay.
Group presentations will be encouraged for all those willing to give them, but will remain unassessed. Interdisciplinary work may also be encouraged in some modules, in line with the overall aims and objectives of the course. All assessments are designed to be fair and inclusive and to provide you with the opportunity, where appropriate, to draw on your own experience. You will be invited to think about key concepts and ideas in the field, to bring together evidence from a variety of sources, and to evaluate and contribute to contemporary debates.
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in English, or postcolonial literature, or a degree scheme that includes a significant proportion of English Literature content, or a related subject.
Applications from those with degrees in other subjects may be considered on an individual basis, along with a sample of recently written work.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in all components. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.
Improve your English
International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.
This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).
We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.
You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.
How to apply
We don’t have a final deadline for MA Applications, and we’ll consider your application right up until the start date of the programme. However, we encourage you to apply before the end of July if possible, to make arrangements such as securing funding, accommodation or visas. Module enrolment will take place online in early September, so if you apply after that point you may have a more limited choice of modules.
You’ll also need to apply for a place before applying for any scholarships, so check the deadlines for available scholarships on our website.
The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.
Documents and information you need
You’ll need to upload the following documents when completing the online application form:
A transcript of your completed BA degree or grades to date
A personal statement of around 500 words in response to the questions asked in the supporting statement section of the application form
If English is not your first language, you’ll need to submit proof of your English language results (eg IELTS).
We do not generally request references, unless further information is required to support the assessment of your application.
Where further information to support the assessment of your application is needed, we may ask for a recent sample of written work.
We will decide whether to offer you a place based on your application form, personal statement, transcripts, predicted or actual degree results and, where appropriate, any additional documentation requested.
The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures receives very large numbers of high-quality applications and regrets that it cannot make offers to all of its applicants. Some particularly popular schools may have to reject many that hold the necessary academic qualifications.
Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.
This course is taught by
UK: £12,000 (Total)
International: £25,250 (Total)
Additional cost information
There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.
Scholarships and financial support
Students graduating from this course have gone on to do successful PhDs in the UK – quite often in Leeds – but also in a number of different countries across the world. Other students have gone on to equally successful careers in the cultural sector (e.g. publishing and cultural management), or working for national and international NGOs.