MA Nineteenth Century Studies

The Course

This interdisciplinary Master’s programme is built on the University of Lincoln’s academic and research expertise in the subjects of English, History and Art History.

MA Nineteenth Century Studies is designed to provide a methodologically informed study of 19th Century sources, including texts, objects and images. You will have the opportunity to make use of the historical resources available in the city of Lincoln, including the literary manuscripts and extensive archive materials in the Tennyson archive at the Tennyson Research Centre.

You will have the chance to advance your knowledge of this historically significant period through themed modules which combine literature, history, visual and material culture, museum studies, religious studies, science history and book history.

As well as producing essays and presentations, you will have the opportunity to develop industry-relevant skills through projects, such as interpreting and documenting archives.

Wednesday. Students on the programme should expect to receive 120 contact hours. Postgraduate level study involves a significant proportion of independent study, exploring the material covered in lectures and seminars. As a general guide, for every hour in class students are expected to spend four-five hours in independent study.
Most teaching takes the form of two-hour seminars. All modules are taught by a team of academics according to their specialist interests. Tutorials will be given to guide you in your individual projects. There will be workshop-style sessions in the Tennyson Research Centre, and some field trips.

You undertake two core modules, two optional modules, and a dissertation. The first core module provides an introduction to interdisciplinary study through a focus on the life, work and reputation of the poet Alfred Tennyson.

The second core module gives you the chance to develop a broad sense of the nineteenth-century context, through a study of some of the key developments of the era (cultural, political, social etc).

Two options can then be chosen from modules built around staff research interests, such as the city, the natural world, transatlantic relations, the legacies of Romanticism, life writing, and the history of the book.

The dissertation gives you the opportunity to pursue your own research interests, choosing a focused topic and relevant disciplinary methodology with the guidance of a tutor.

Certificate, Diploma, and Master's level qualifications can be awarded at different exit points from the programme.

Dissertation (MA in Nineteenth Century Studies) (Core)
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Dissertation (MA in Nineteenth Century Studies) (Core)

The dissertation is designed to give you the opportunity to conduct a sustained piece of work on a subject of your own choice from the broad field of nineteenth century studies, and provides the chance to draw upon your skills of research, analysis and self-organisation.

With the guidance of an academic supervisor, you are expected to undertake a focused, structured study of a particular topic that may draw from any of the disciplines encountered in the taught modules on the MA in Nineteenth Century Studies, including literature, history, studies in visual and material culture, religious studies and history of science.

The dissertation may be approached from a single-discipline perspective, or from inter-disciplinary perspectives. You will be expected to produce a detailed study of primary material, which may be verbal texts, images, objects, and can demonstrate appropriate skills and methodologies for analysing these. You will also have the chance to show your engagement with recent scholarship in the specific field, synthesising a substantial amount of secondary literature.

Prior to undertaking this module, you must have successfully completed four modules on the MA in Nineteenth Century Studies (two core and two option modules). The second core module includes the completion of a satisfactory dissertation proposal, which will provide the basis for this dissertation.

Gender and Material Culture in Modern Britain (Option)
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Gender and Material Culture in Modern Britain (Option)

This module considers the ways in which gender, gendered identities and gendered experiences were constituted, modified and enforced through and by material culture in modern Britain from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century.

It draws on current research which examines a wide range of objects, buildings and materials in order to investigate how changes in global trade and the economic organisation of society intersected with developing ideas of gender and gendered impulses towards self-expression.

The module will take a broadly chronological approach but will also take a thematic approach, examining different categories of object such as fashion and clothing, and domestic objects. Students will also have the chance to gain experience and confidence in using material culture in historical research and will survey the literature on this subject.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Tennyson (Core)
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Interdisciplinary Approaches to Tennyson (Core)

This module aims to introduce you to interdisciplinary study, through a focus on the career of Alfred Tennyson. As a writer whose poetry enjoyed enormous popularity, Tennyson in many ways epitomises the Victorian period, and his significance as a public figure extended well beyond literature.

The module seeks to address his writings, fame and reputation from perspectives taken from English, History, Art History and Material Culture studies. You can undertake research tasks on archival materials relating to Tennsyon, through privileged access to the Tennyson Research Centre in Lincoln. This collection of material relating to the poet, which is rich and varied, consists of manuscripts, proofs, published editions, artwork, sculpture, and photographs.

Through assignments interpreting materials from the archive, as well as other sources, you have the opportunity to experience the potential of interdisciplinary study, and have the chance to develop the skills to undertake this with confidence.

Nineteenth-Century Lives: Texts, Histories, Portraits (Option)
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Nineteenth-Century Lives: Texts, Histories, Portraits (Option)

The nineteenth century witnessed a rapid expansion in the representation of lives, in personal narratives, historical accounts, and in portraiture that suggests a fascination with the private lives of public figures comparable to our own contemporary moment.

This module takes an interdisciplinary approach to life representation, discussing texts and paintings from the perspective of literary criticism, history, and art history. Students can examine a diverse range of life writing (including autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, confessions, and collective biographies), consider life writing as a historical discourse, and address the self-fashioning of individuals through portraiture, while also exploring the connections and differences between these auto/biographical modes.

Nineteenth-Century Past Reflections (Core)
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Nineteenth-Century Past Reflections (Core)

This interdisciplinary module aims to address some of the ways in which the past was explored by nineteenth-century thinkers and writers. The era was characterised by its own sense of being an age of transition, sharply aware of the unprecedented levels of change that embraced most aspects of life – science, technology, politics, social organisation, culture and religion. Hence nineteenth-century writers devoted much energy to considerations of the past, in a quest to define themselves, and their own position in history.

Contemplations of the past evoked many and varied responses, including nostalgia, a sense of displacement, comfort in continuing traditions, pride in progress away from a barbarous past, or fear that such past barbarity lingers under the surface of the present.

The module is structured around five key topics: ideas of the ‘primitive’ (including the impact of theories of evolution/degeneration); nostalgia for childhood in both children’s literature and autobiography; Gothic as a literary and architectural movement; visions of the ancient past (including antiquarianism); and responses to inherited tradition, in feudal politics and biblical religion. Through this module, you will have the opportunity to develop an understanding of some of the major transitions in nineteenth century society and thought, as perceived by those living through them.

Photographing Empire (Option)
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Photographing Empire (Option)

This module will examine photographs produced during the era of European imperialism. The development of, and greater accessibility to, photography coincided with the era of high imperialism in the late nineteenth century and this module builds on recent scholarship which places the production and the impact of photographs at the heart of studies of the empire. Students can investigate the many ways in which the photographic image became a technology of power in the imperial project.

Print Culture and the Book in the Nineteenth Century (Option)
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Print Culture and the Book in the Nineteenth Century (Option)

This module is designed to examine the history of the book and print culture over the long nineteenth century, from social, cultural and economic standpoints.

Questions addressed include: How were Victorian texts written, revised, illustrated, published, printed, distributed and sold? How did copyright debates over the century affect literary productions? What was the impact of serialisation and the periodical press on both the publishing industry and the reader or consumer? What place did the book-as-object have within Victorian material culture? How do Victorian texts themselves depict reading, writing and the book? How does reading texts alongside images qualify reading and interpretation?

The module considers a range of printed materials, including but not limited to books, periodicals, newspapers, illustrations and printed ephemera. It provides opportunities to use the extensive and unique resources of the Tennyson Research Centre, conservation labs, and online resources such as Victorian periodical facsimiles. Students are also expected to read a novel in serialised form in a periodical, discussing one or two ‘numbers’ each week, to recapture and explore the experience of reading serially.

Romantic Legacies (Option)
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Romantic Legacies (Option)

This module aims to explore some of the poetic and artistic riches of the era 1800 to 1870, in relation to political, social and artistic contexts. Romanticism established terms for exploring the self, representing nature, extolling feeling and imagination, and using poetry in the cause of social reform.

This legacy Victorian writers inherited, revised, and tested to its limits. Poets both withdrew from, and engaged with, society, offering new constructions of class relations, gender roles, and religious faith, and debated the role of the poet in a modern society. While the emphasis of the module is on literature, the module will also consider elements of art history which shared these preoccupations. Artists also reimagined the landscape, social relations, subjective/objective reality, and the role of the artist in the modern world.

Works of well-known poets such as William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are read alongside those with a less established critical tradition, such as John Clare, Ernest Jones and Augusta Webster. We also consider landscape artists such as Peter de Wint and John Constable, and the works of pre-Raphaelite artists responding to poetry by John Keats and Alfred Tennyson. Trips are offered to the Usher Gallery in Lincoln, the Clare Centre at Helpstone, and/or a relevant national exhibition.

The Nineteenth-Century City (Option)
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The Nineteenth-Century City (Option)

This module examines the novel urban environments of the nineteenth century, and the ways in which experience, knowledge, subjectivity and cultural production and consumption were formed by, and acted on, those urban environments.

The module focuses on English cities, predominantly Manchester and London, because of their status as world-renowned ‘shock cities’ in the 1830s and 1880s respectively, although where appropriate reference is made to other cities of similar importance, such as Paris and New York.

You will be encouraged to critically assess the proposition that the nineteenth century saw the birth of an urban modernity which has structured knowledge, experience, identities and cultural forms ever since. The module will consider a wide range of ways in which experience was mediated and shaped, from new statistical knowledge and social research, to fiction and visual culture, as well as analysing the spaces and non-representative pleasures of the city. It will also aim to engage students with important elements of theory relating to the urban, such as Foucauldian ideas about pleasure and discipline.

The Nineteenth-Century Natural World (Option)
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The Nineteenth-Century Natural World (Option)

The ‘long’ nineteenth century was characterised by unprecedented industrial and urban change, which raised fears for the survival of the countryside and its flora and fauna. Simultaneously, new scientific knowledge radically reshaped understandings of humanity’s relationship with the natural world.

This module will consider aspects of nineteenth-century culture that looked to the natural world as a source both for innovation and continuity in those uncertain and increasingly materialistic times. The module will take an interdisciplinary approach to the natural world in the nineteenth century, discussing texts, paintings, collections and landscapes from the perspectives of literary criticism, history, heritage studies, art and architectural history.

Topics include the landscape garden as an expression of national pride; the nostalgic reconstruction of the pastoral childhood; scientific and philosophical debates about the natural world; the popular enthusiasm for natural history and collecting; nature painting; landscape transformation by newly capitalized and industrialized farming methods. The module includes field trips to Lincoln’s preserved common land and its own example of a garden city suburb.

The Nineteenth-Century Woman Writer (Option)
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The Nineteenth-Century Woman Writer (Option)

The woman writer achieved a new prominence during the nineteenth century and played a central role in the literary culture of the period. Across a diverse range of genres and forms, writers explored contemporary debates regarding conceptions of gender, women’s role in public life, and models of female authorship.

Beginning with the radical writers of the 1790s, this modules aims to consider women’s interventions in contemporary political argument, poetry and historical writing, and their exploitation of a language of feeling to claim a distinctive voice in the public sphere. As the novel became the dominant literary form in the Victorian era, you can study the works of some female novelists who respond to issues such as marriage, motherhood, education, employment and selfhood.

The module seeks to consider women’s achievements in several sub-genres of fiction, such as realism, Gothic, the sensation novel, and the ghost story, as well as some non-fictional engagements with varieties of nineteenth-century feminism.

A selection of Victorian women poets are explored, with a focus on their representation of the conflict between inner and outer life. Writers considered include Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays, Anna Barbauld, George Eliot, Anne Bronte, Christina Rossetti, Josephine Butler and Charlotte Riddell.

Transatlantic Relations (Option)
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Transatlantic Relations (Option)

The term ‘transatlantic’ has emerged in recent years as a key term in nineteenth-century studies, to refer to study of the dynamic interchange between Britain/Europe and America.

This module looks at political, literary and artistic relations between Great Britain and the United States, and also at the ways in which these nations have imagined their relationship. After the American Revolution, many radicals in Britain and Europe saw the United States as a beacon of democracy and equality.

As the nineteenth-century progressed, these attitudes were blended with new ones including patronising assumptions of superiority, critiques of slavery, and fears of America eventually overtaking Britain as the world’s superpower. In America, Britain and Europe were seen as the ‘Old World’, locked into old-fashioned ideas of monarchy and aristocracy. Yet these feelings were mixed with a sense of indebtedness and racial (‘Anglo-Saxon’) pride, as well as anxieties about European cultural superiority.

In order to explore the rich cultural dynamic of the transatlantic, you will have the opportunity to look at historical documents, paintings, sculpture, fiction, poetry, letters, and other materials, to consider a rich and complex cultural dialogue.

†The availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and will be subject to minimum student numbers being achieved. This means that the availability of specific optional modules cannot be guaranteed. Optional module selection may also be affected by staff availability.

The majority of assessment is through written projects, which are essays on topics of the student's choice, guided by a tutor. These essays vary from 1,500-5,000 words. Some modules require presentations. The MA also entails a 15,000-word dissertation.

The University of Lincoln's policy on assessment feedback aims to ensure that academics will return in-course assessments to you promptly – usually within 15 working days after the submission date.

An interview with a tutor is required for entry to the MA programme.
Nineteenth Century Research Group

Students are encouraged to join the interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Research Group where they have the opportunity to engage with research by academics and research postgraduates in the field of nineteenth century studies.

Study Trips

This programme also provides you with the opportunity to take part in study visits to local and national archives, museums and art galleries.

The School will contribute to students' expenses on trips, where funds permit, but otherwise the cost of trips will be covered by students. Please note that all trips are optional.

 2018/19 Entry*
Home/EU £7,300
(including Alumni Scholarship** 25% reduction)
International £14,000
(Including International Alumni / Global Postgraduate Scholarship** £2,000 reduction)
Part-time Home/EU £41 per credit point
Part-time International £78 per credit point

* Academic year September- July
** Subject to eligibility


A new system of postgraduate loans for Master's courses has been introduced in the UK. Under the new scheme individuals will be able to borrow up to £10,280 for the purpose of completing an eligible postgraduate Master's qualification.


As a postgraduate student you may be eligible for scholarships in addition to those shown above.

Guidance for Part-time Postgraduate Fees

To complete a standard Master's Taught programme, you must complete 180 credit points.

Full time students will be invoiced for the programme in full upon initial enrolment.

For part-time students, tuition fees are payable each credit point enrolled. To calculate your part-time fees, multiply the part-time fee per credit point by the number of credits you intend to complete within that academic year. This is usually between 60 and 90 credit points per year.

For example, if the fee per credit point for your programme is £38, and you enrol on 60 credits, the tuition fee payable for that academic year will be £2280.

Fees for enrolment on additional modules

Tuition fees for additional activity are payable by the student/sponsor and charged at the equivalent £ per credit point rate for each module. Additional activity includes:

- Enrolment on modules that are in addition to the validated programme curriculum

- Enrolment on modules that are over and above the full credit diet for the relevant academic year

- Retakes of modules as permitted by the Board of Examiners

Exceptionally tuition fees may not be payable where a student has been granted a retake with approved extenuating circumstances.

For further information and for details about funding your study, scholarships and bursaries, please see our Postgraduate Fees & Funding pages [].

Other Costs

With regards to primary text materials, the University provides students who enrol with some of these in digital form, and some items are held by the library. Students are expected to purchase a number of primary texts themselves for all modules. Secondary reading materials are held by the library, and accessible through inter-library loans.

First or upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject.
Learn from Experts

Throughout this degree, students may receive tuition from professors, senior lecturers, lecturers, researchers, practitioners, visiting experts or technicians, and they may be supported in their learning by other students.

Rebecca Styler

Dr Rebecca Styler

Programme Leader

Rebecca joined the University of Lincoln in 2007 and her current project explores maternal ideas of God in the era 1850-1920, as well as editing a primary source volume on nineteenth-century religion and literature for Routledge. Other interests include life writing, Gothic literature, utopia fiction, childhood, and feminist spirituality. Her research interests include: C19 spiritual autobiography, childhood and feminist spirituality, life writing, C19 women's religious writing, religious themes in Gothic, God as mother.


Your Future Career

Career and Personal Development

This inter-disciplinary postgraduate programme can provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they can apply themselves to complex, nuanced problems, can solve problems and tackle thorny arguments.

This MA aims to prepare students for career opportunities in the heritage industry, education, journalism, media, archive management, curating and librarianship.

Careers Services

The University Careers and Employability Team offer qualified advisors who can work with you to provide tailored, individual support and careers advice during your time at the University. As a member of our alumni we also offer one-to-one support in the first year after completing your course, including access to events, vacancy information and website resources; with access to online vacancies and virtual and website resources for the following two years.

This service can include one-to-one coaching, CV advice and interview preparation to help you maximise your future opportunities.
The service works closely with local, national and international employers, acting as a gateway to the business world.

Visit our Careers Service pages here


At Lincoln, we constantly invest in our campus as we aim to provide the best learning environment for our students. Whatever the area of study, the University strives to ensure students have access to specialist equipment and resources, to develop the skills, which they may need in their future career.

Students can study and research in the University's Great Central Warehouse Library, which provides more than 250,000 printed books and approximately 400,000 electronic books and journals, as well as databases and specialist collections. The Library has a range of different spaces for shared and individual learning.

The Media, Humanities and Technology (MHT) building is equipped with industry standard media suites providing specialist broadcast television, radio and sound equipment. The building is also home to television studios, photography studios and radio editing suites. Siren FM, our on-campus community radio station, is also based here.

The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.