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Intensity of Literature masters?

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    I'm thinking of doing an MA in 19th Century Literature. I'm just wondering how intense it would be? Im guessing its pretty much like a full-time job?
    What sort of grades would I need to get to have any chance of getting on the course? Or getting funding?
    If anyone can comment from experience that would be really helpful!
    Also, York Uni is my first choice so if anyone can specifically comment on that uni I'd be grateful
    Thank you!
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    (Original post by Shelly_x)
    I'm thinking of doing an MA in 19th Century Literature. I'm just wondering how intense it would be? Im guessing its pretty much like a full-time job?
    I wouldn't say that, really...:erm: There's some reading that you have to do in preparation for seminars / classes, one presentation and one piece of coursework - for which you'll be given several weeks - per module (i.e. about two per term), some utterly useless but compulsory stuff on 'research skills', and that's pretty much it. Plus any number of talks or lectures you want to attend on top of that. It's not nothing, but I don't think it compares to a full-time job in any way.
    What sort of grades would I need to get to have any chance of getting on the course?
    For the vast majority of courses you'll be fine with a 2.i when it comes to getting offers.
    Or getting funding?
    For that it'll pretty have to be a first, I'm afraid.
    If anyone can comment from experience that would be really helpful!
    Also, York Uni is my first choice so if anyone can specifically comment on that uni I'd be grateful
    Thank you!
    Well, I don't really know what sort of information you're looking for, but I did an English MA at York a few years ago (a different strand, though). The department was alright, but I didn't find the MA all that intense, and neither did the other people on my course as far as I remember.:dontknow:
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    I wouldn't say that, really...:erm: There's some reading that you have to do in preparation for seminars / classes, one presentation and one piece of coursework - for which you'll be given several weeks - per module (i.e. about two per term), some utterly useless but compulsory stuff on 'research skills', and that's pretty much it. Plus any number of talks or lectures you want to attend on top of that. It's not nothing, but I don't think it compares to a full-time job in any way.

    For the vast majority of courses you'll be fine with a 2.i when it comes to getting offers.

    For that it'll pretty have to be a first, I'm afraid.

    Well, I don't really know what sort of information you're looking for, but I did an English MA at York a few years ago (a different strand, though). The department was alright, but I didn't find the MA all that intense, and neither did the other people on my course as far as I remember.:dontknow:
    Thank you
    Did you find the department at york good? I've heard that some things about the masters classes all being mixed and not being specific?
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    (Original post by Shelly_x)
    Thank you
    Did you find the department at york good? I've heard that some things about the masters classes all being mixed and not being specific?
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by that.:confused: When I was there, seminars were normally restricted to students on a particular MA strand, though there were often one or two people off the pick 'n mix MA (I can't remember what its official name is, but you probably know which one I mean) as well.
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by that.:confused: When I was there, seminars were normally restricted to students on a particular MA strand, though there were often one or two people off the pick 'n mix MA (I can't remember what its official name is, but you probably know which one I mean) as well.
    Sorry, I meant that someone told me that all the MA classes were mixed together and not specific to the actual MA you were doing. But you answered my question anyway Which MA did you do? Did you enjoy it?
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    (Original post by Shelly_x)
    Sorry, I meant that someone told me that all the MA classes were mixed together and not specific to the actual MA you were doing. But you answered my question anyway
    Ah, I think you might have confused the actual classes with the pointless 'research skill' stuff there. For the latter, all strands are mixed together, and yes, it's all pretty unspecific.
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    (Original post by Shelly_x)
    I'm thinking of doing an MA in 19th Century Literature. I'm just wondering how intense it would be? Im guessing its pretty much like a full-time job?
    What sort of grades would I need to get to have any chance of getting on the course? Or getting funding?
    If anyone can comment from experience that would be really helpful!
    Also, York Uni is my first choice so if anyone can specifically comment on that uni I'd be grateful
    Thank you!
    hobnob addressed most of your points, but I thought I would give a more practical example. The following list is the primary reading I did for my first term, and the dates of the seminars the reading had to be done by, at Bristol:

    15/10/10 Scott's The Battle of Waterloo (Rise of the Novel)
    15/10/10 Stendhal's The Chaterhouse of Parma (Rise of the Novel; extract)
    15/10/10 Hugo's Les Misérables (Rise of the Novel; extract)
    20/10/10 Dostoevsky's Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (Dostoevsky's Native Soil)
    22/10/10 Balzac's Old Goriot (Rise of the Novel) [304 pages]
    29/10/10 Flaubert's Madame Bovary (Rise of the Novel) [304 pages]
    03/11/10 Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier (European Literature of Ideas) [368 pages]
    03/10/10 Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground (Dostoevsky's Native Soil) [125 pages]
    05/11/10 Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (Rise of the Novel) [811 pages]
    10/11/10 Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky's Native Soil) [718 pages]
    17/11/10 Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel (European Literature of Ideas) [712 pages]
    17/11/10 Dostoevsky's The Devils (Dostoevsky's Native Soil) [694 pages]
    19/11/10 Zola's The Ladies' Paradise (Rise of the Novel) [480 pages]
    01/12/10 Voltaire's Candide (European Literature of Ideas) [86 pages]
    01/12/10 Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamzov (Dostoevsky's Native Soil) [960 pages]
    03/12/10 Fontane's Effi Briest (Rise of the Novel) [220 pages]
    15/12/10 Rousseau's Confessions (European Literature of Ideas) [720 pages]
    17/12/10 Queiros's Cousin Bazilio (Rise of the Novel) [296 pages]

    In my second term I had to read more, but generally the works were not as long as my core unit focused on the twentieth century. For example, I might read Kafka's The Trial and Satre's Nausea rather than Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. The specific workload will depend upon the units you choose and their assessment methods.

    In general, however, almost everyone asked for extensions and the programme leaders discussed lowering the workload the following year because something clearly was not working. You are almost certainly going to have to self-fund your masters so I would research which combination of units etc. you want to do as much as possible before starting a masters.
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    I think that's a bit of an overdramatisation, to be honest... Sure, for literature-related degrees you'll have long reading lists and sometimes they'll feature some very long texts that you have to read in full, but even a list like that you can get through if you spread out the reading strategically and use the vacation to get through some of the bigger texts.
    Also, in all fairness, what makes that list look so long and scary are basically the Dostoevsky novels. And you can't really teach a module on Dostoevsky without expecting students to go and read his novels, can you?
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    I think that's a bit of an overdramatisation, to be honest... Sure, for literature-related degrees you'll have long reading lists and sometimes they'll feature some very long texts that you have to read in full, but even a list like that you can get through if you spread out the reading strategically and use the vacation to get through some of the bigger texts.
    Also, in all fairness, what makes that list look so long and scary are basically the Dostoevsky novels. And you can't really teach a module on Dostoevsky without expecting students to go and read his novels, can you?
    :confused:

    Vacation? My final classes ended the week before Christmas. The first term essays were due in the last week of January. The second term classes started in the first week of February. I think the only 'vacation' I had was Christmas week. That is all I could afford to take as I had secondary reading to do for the essays. In addition, we were not given the reading list for the second term until the end of the first term.

    The point about Dostoevsky seems redundant given that the OP wants to do a masters in nineteenth-century literature. No matter what he focuses upon the texts will be likely be large if he looks at anything after the 1830s; the core unit on his proposed programme is about the Victorians, for example. Having just looked at my own shelve, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is over 600 pages, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss is over 500 pages, and Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend is over 750 pages. I am sure he will be able to pick units on the Romantics etc., which will have lower reading requirements (in terms of raw page numbers), but I notice there are units devoted to Henry James and a joint unit on Wilkie Collins and Dickens, which are bound to include long works.
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    I'm doing a masters in English at the moment. My experience is that the amount of work fluctuates, but at its peaks it's more intense than a normal job (I exclude things like being a firefighter or working in a bootstrapped tech startup).

    This spring I had two 7k-word essay deadlines and a palaeography exam within a fortnight of each other. That was substantially more daily work, for at least a month and a half, than a full time job, or at least than either of the full time jobs I've ever held down. I had three proper holiday-style time-with-your-family days off at Easter, after flying home on Good Friday from a field trip.

    It's also work that tends to stick in your mind even when you're not working, unless you're better than I am at compartmentalising these things. Some jobs you can go home at the end of the day and just forget about work until you get to your desk the next morning; my experience with this course has been that it takes over your mind, and it takes over your home too (notes and books everywhere).

    's good fun, though.
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    Generally speaking full time studies at leading universities will always be more demanding than simple 9-5 jobs as your days never really end and there will always be something new you have to learn. But they also are much more intellectually stimulating and having worked a 9-5 job I was eager to return to college after a while.
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    (Original post by evantej)
    :confused:

    Vacation? My final classes ended the week before Christmas. The first term essays were due in the last week of January. The second term classes started in the first week of February. I think the only 'vacation' I had was Christmas week. That is all I could afford to take as I had secondary reading to do for the essays. In addition, we were not given the reading list for the second term until the end of the first term.
    Summer vacation. The list you posted was for your first term, not your second one.
    The point about Dostoevsky seems redundant given that the OP wants to do a masters in nineteenth-century literature. No matter what he focuses upon the texts will be likely be large if he looks at anything after the 1830s; the core unit on his proposed programme is about the Victorians, for example. Having just looked at my own shelve, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is over 600 pages, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss is over 500 pages, and Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend is over 750 pages. I am sure he will be able to pick units on the Romantics etc., which will have lower reading requirements (in terms of raw page numbers), but I notice there are units devoted to Henry James and a joint unit on Wilkie Collins and Dickens, which are bound to include long works.
    Leaving aside the fact that page numbers are a poor measure for how long a text actually takes to read, my point was that while 'European Literature of Ideas' and 'Rise of the Novel' sound like core modules, 'Dostoevsky's Native Soil' doesn't. So it was a module you chose, knowing that you'd have to read his major works, which happen to include a number of novels that are bulky even by nineteenth-century standards (and I imagine you wouldn't have chosen it unless you had read at least some of those novels already). That's clearly a special situation, but you were presenting it as though it was typical and representative.
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    Summer vacation. The list you posted was for your first term, not your second one.

    Leaving aside the fact that page numbers are a poor measure for how long a text actually takes to read, my point was that while 'European Literature of Ideas' and 'Rise of the Novel' sound like core modules, 'Dostoevsky's Native Soil' doesn't. So it was a module you chose, knowing that you'd have to read his major works, which happen to include a number of novels that are bulky even by nineteenth-century standards (and I imagine you wouldn't have chosen it unless you had read at least some of those novels already). That's clearly a special situation, but you were presenting it as though it was typical and representative.
    I did not get the first term's reading list until I got there so there was no time to read things in advance. I imagine this will be the case for lots of people.

    European Literature of Ideas was an optional unit spread over two terms (fortnightly class). As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I actually had more to read in my second term, but the works tended to be shorter because the core unit was on the twentieth century and the European Literature of Ideas moved towards the twentieth century too (e.g. modernism and postmodernism). Likewise, I think you are overemphasising Dostoevsky. Yes, lots of his works are extremely long, but some of them are quite short too. In addition, I pointed out that there are units at York which the OP could take which are comparable to my Dostoevsky unit: the one on Henry James and the one on Collins/Dickens. It seems typical of the nineteenth century, which is what the OP is focusing upon.

    To suggest that 'page numbers are a poor measure for how long a text actually takes to read' is just counterfactual. A long book is a long book, no matter how long it takes you to read. A fast reader will still take longer to read Crime and Punishment than Candide. And you moving unto the unknown: you know nothing about the OP's reading ability. All I suggested is that nineteenth century works tend to long and this will influence the intensity of the OP's masters so he should consider which units he chooses carefully.

    I repeat: '[t]he specific workload will depend upon the units you choose and their assessment methods'.
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    Unless you intend to go for an academic career (and have demonstrated at this point that it is a reasonable objective, i.e. you graduated at the top of your class), do yourself a favor and forget about literature master's.
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    Unless you intend to go for an academic career (and have demonstrated at this point that it is a reasonable objective, i.e. you graduated at the top of your class), do yourself a favor and forget about literature master's.
    do us a favour and keep your brilliant opinions to yourself. If someone wants to do a masters for themselves and they can afford it, who are you to tell them what to do? All you do around here is post condescending comments about people who want to do degrees in universities or subjects you don't approve.
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    Unless you intend to go for an academic career (and have demonstrated at this point that it is a reasonable objective, i.e. you graduated at the top of your class), do yourself a favor and forget about literature master's.
    I haven't graduated yet.
    I want to do it because I want to study my subject further and more in depth. It will also enhance my career prospects and help me fight off the thousands of other graduates who are vying for jobs right now.
    A phD is something im considering doing later in life.
    If I can afford it then I don't see why I should forget about it.
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    (Original post by Shelly_x)
    I haven't graduated yet.
    I want to do it because I want to study my subject further and more in depth. It will also enhance my career prospects and help me fight off the thousands of other graduates who are vying for jobs right now.
    A phD is something im considering doing later in life.
    If I can afford it then I don't see why I should forget about it.
    I will play devil's advocate: do you think a masters degree in nineteenth century literature is going to make you more employable; that is, your point about differentiating yourself from 'thousands of other graduates who are vying for jobs right now'?
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    (Original post by *Corinna*)
    do us a favour and keep your brilliant opinions to yourself. If someone wants to do a masters for themselves and they can afford it, who are you to tell them what to do? All you do around here is post condescending comments about people who want to do degrees in universities or subjects you don't approve.
    All you do here is encourage people to spend their families hard earned money on bull**** degrees at random universities, and because of the aura that surrounds the massive poster you are, some people take your advise at face value only to regret it down the line. Do you really think we need another unemployed literature grad in this economy? An academic master's should really only be seen as an investment towards a funded PhD spot; if you are already lacking from solid academics at the undergraduate level save yourself the trouble and the financial burden of a useless graduate degree and go for something that will really help you make more employable. Of course, you are free to disagree and thumbs down my post, but it will only make it more visible.
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    All you do here is encourage people to spend their families hard earned money on bull**** degrees at random universities, and because of the aura that surrounds the massive poster you are, some people take your advise at face value only to regret it down the line. Do you really think we need another unemployed literature grad in this economy? An academic master's should really only be seen as an investment towards a funded PhD spot; if you are already lacking from solid academics at the undergraduate level save yourself the trouble and the financial burden of a useless graduate degree and go for something that will really help you make more employable.
    I will play devil's advocate: the OP is likely to end up unemployed if they choose not to pursue further study, and by doing a masters degree they are both employed in the short term and make themselves more employable in the long term (i.e. they can do doctoral research). In this sense, while you think you are countering *Corinna*'s idealism, you are not really helping the OP at all and are making baseless judgements about how they will fund the course (they said they can afford so that should be the end of it). In addition, York's English department came out top in the last RAE so it is hardly 'random'.
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    All you do here is encourage people to spend their families hard earned money on bull**** degrees at random universities, and because of the aura that surrounds the massive poster you are, some people take your advise at face value only to regret it down the line. Do you really think we need another unemployed literature grad in this economy? An academic master's should really only be seen as an investment towards a funded PhD spot; if you are already lacking from solid academics at the undergraduate level save yourself the trouble and the financial burden of a useless graduate degree and go for something that will really help you make more employable. Of course, you are free to disagree and thumbs down my post, but it will only make it more visible.
    Please don't assume things. It is not my families hard earned money. It is MY hard earned money. I think I can choose to use it how I wish since I earned it.

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