Postcolonial Studies MA

Year of entry

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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)

Course overview

Two students walk through campus side by side, they are laughing. In the background another group of students sit at a bench, and the redbrick arch of Clothworker's Court can be seen.

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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 complex world.

Our postgraduate 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. Examples include the stereotyping of Turks and Jews in the Renaissance, the global ‘migration crisis’ and the 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 specialises 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.

Specialist resources

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.

Course details

Our course allows you to take a holistic look at the subject of postcolonialism, taking you through its core ideas and connecting it to other disciplines. You'll start by learning about the foundations of postcolonial studies (and its connection to the wider world) before pursuing optional modules. These offer multiple directions for your studies to take.

You can learn about the experiences of people affected by colonial activity in places such as Africa and the Caribbean, the relation of Indigenous writers to the wider world, the ways art allows us reconnect with denigrated practices, and the connections between postcolonialism and the environmental movement. Whatever you choose to study, you’ll be given a more nuanced understanding of the world and the relationship of different peoples to it.

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Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Postcolonial Studies MA in the course catalogue

Compulsory modules

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 decolonisation, social/environmental justice and globalisation, 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

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. This approach 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.


Entry requirements

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. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Please see our How to Apply page for information about application deadlines.

You’ll 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.

Next steps

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.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of English

Contact us

Postgraduate Administrator



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 on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

The School of English also offers a range of scholarships for taught postgraduate study. Find out more on our Scholarships page.

Career opportunities

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 (eg publishing and cultural management) or working for national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Careers support

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Whether you're looking to pursue further study, change career, or stand out in the competitive graduate job market, you'll receive expert support in applying the skills you've developed in your chosen career.

Watch: Careers support at Leeds

Find out more about the careers and employability support that you'll receive as a student in the School of English.

Student profile: Ananya Roy

The course allows every opportunity to flourish as a student and researcher in terms of developing cognitive ability, critical thinking, and academic writing skills.
Find out more about Ananya Roy's time at Leeds

Student profile: Anisha Gamblin

At Masters level, you can choose essay topics and decide what academic research you will undertake which, for me, has allowed my research interests to flourish and grow in ways that I never imagined.
Find out more about Anisha Gamblin's time at Leeds