Victorian Gothic: History, Literature and Culture (Distance Learning) MA
MA Victorian Gothic: History, Literature and Culture
Victorian society and culture was a contradiction – an era of bold vision and technological wonders entwined with deep social fears and cultural anxieties.
Why do we associate the Victorians with darkness, sin, hypocrisy and monstrosity? Why does the Gothic seem to best encapsulate how we think about and remember the Victorians? These are some of the questions you'll explore on this course.
This MA explores not just 19th-century Gothic cultures but, more generally, the fears, wonders, and dark imagination of the Victorian era. Through a rich and fascinating range of historical, literary and folkloric texts, themes and approaches, you'll probe the darker side of the Victorian age.The course gives you access to a wealth of online resources and digitised archival material relating to Victorian culture and draws on local literary and cultural resources, such as the Conan Doyle Collection (Lancelyn Green Bequest) in Portsmouth’s Central Library. You'll have the freedom and scope to pursue your own areas of interest and research via an individual research project and 15,000-word dissertation.
What you'll experience
On this course you'll:
- Be taught by experts from both the history and English departments at the University of Portsmouth
- Develop your research skills, critical thinking and literary analysis
- Work through 2 core content modules, focussed on the cultural tensions between Victorian anxieties (crime, poverty, slums, and degeneration) and Victorian enchantment (stage magic, spiritualism and the occult, the development of Victorian celebrity culture, the struggle of intellect to break from folkloric magic and supernatural superstition in a ‘modern’ age)
- Use our Library’s wealth of online archival material including London Low Life, Victorian Popular Culture, The Old Bailey Online, The Charles Booth Archive, and the British Library Newspaper Archive
- Have opportunities to undertake research in the Charles Dickens Collection and Arthur Conan Doyle Collection (Lancelyn Green Bequest), both housed in the Portsmouth Central Library, Portsmouth
- Get to study any topic of interest within the broad scope of the Victorian Gothic and the history of Victorian culture
- Be able to base your studies around more recent Neo-Victorian re-imaginings of the nineteenth century in their research projects, exploring areas such as crime or supernatural fictions, or steampunk culture
- Get to take optional field trips
Careers and opportunities
As well as giving you greater expertise in the field of Victorian Gothic literature, this course also enhances your knowledge and skill in other areas. During this course, you'll:
- develop the skillset required to work in the heritage industry, the arts and media
- develop a strong grounding for pursuing more advanced levels of academic study, including PhDs and careers in academia
- have the opportunity to gain experience in event organisation, voluntary work, management and promotion, such as for local cultural events, for example, Portsmouth DarkFest
- improve your broader academic skills, such as the ability to analyse, assess, synthesise and evaluate
- develop your archival and research skills, as well as data analysis and interpretation abilities
- improve your oral and written communication, time and workload management, and other transferable skills
After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
All our courses go through a rigorous approval process to make sure they’re of the highest quality. This includes a review by a panel of experts, made up of academic staff and an external academic or professional with specialist knowledge.
This course is in the final stages of this process and is open for applications. If any details of the course or its approval status change after you apply, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and will be here to discuss your options with you.
What you'll study
If you study this course over 1 year, you'll study the following units:
- Victorian Anxieties (content module 1)
- Theories and Approaches (critical skills and archives module)
- Victorian Enchantments (content module 2)
- Independent Project
If you study this course part-time over 2 years, you'll study the following units:
- Victorian Anxieties
- Theories and Approaches (part-time students will have longer than full-time students to complete assignments for this unit)
- Victorian Enchantments
- Independent Project
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.
Teaching on this course is delivered entirely through distance learning, and includes:
- interactive online resources
- digitised primary sources
- links to reading lists and ebooks
- online training seminars
- video clips from renowned experts
We'll repeat some online seminars so you can choose the best time to attend.
You'll also receive high-quality course materials via Moodle, our online learning environment. The content modules involve a 3-week rotation exploring key thematic questions:
- week 1 – context
- week 2 – historical sources and interpretations
- week 3 – literary sources and analysis
You'll get to chat with fellow students, discuss and present your work and keep in touch with tutors. You'll get plenty of support throughout your studies, including help on writing and structuring essays, and how to undertake research.
You'll need access to a computer and a Web connection. You may be able to access some of the resources through a tablet or smartphone, with limited functionality. You don't need to be especially computer literate, although typing skills are useful.
Work experience and career planning
To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.
We can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities that will complement your studies and build your CV.
How you're assessed
You'll be assessed through:
- Historiographical and documentary essays. A reflective response to a question, drawing upon different sources to analyse and evaluate a specific question, with the aim of presenting a clear and well-argued viewpoint.
- Source review/documentary commentary. A detailed analysis and assessment of a particular piece of historical evidence or a literary source.
- Presentation or vlog. A chance to demonstrate and enhance your presentation skills, and the ability to convey ideas, reflections and arguments through oral and visual form, rather than written form.
- Extended individual research project and dissertation. A sustained piece of individual research into a Victorian topic of your own choosing. Working under the guidance of a supervisor, and combining analysis of both primary source evidence and secondary literature, the emphasis is on producing an original piece of research that attempts to advance a fresh interpretation or perspective. This also includes a project plan or proposal, submitted early in the modules to enable you to gain formative feedback on your proposed projects.
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
- A good second-class honours degree, or equivalent, in History, English, or a relevant subject, or a Master's degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. Applicants may be subject to interview.
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
Tuition fees (September 2019 start)
- Distance learning full-time: £7,000
- Distance learning full-time: £3,500 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.
Apply for this course using our online application form.
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
- Subject area
- History, Politics and International Relations
- English and Creative Writing