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MA in English or Comp Lit - St. Andrews, Durham, King's, UCL, Edinburgh Watch

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    Hi all!

    I've been reading these forums for months now looking for ideas about postgraduate programs in English/Comp Lit in the UK (I'm from the U.S.), and it's been extraordinarily helpful. Now I've come out of the woodwork to ask your advice on which postgraduate program to attend. I'm a prospective MA candidate in either English or Comparative Literature. (My languages are English, Spanish, and Catalan, and I eventually want a PhD in Comp Lit.) Because I applied too late for funding, I'm planning to defer my first choice and spend the year saving money and applying for scholarships; but I don't know as much about the universities' reputations as I should, and I don't know which program would increase my chances of being accepted into a good doctorate program in the UK.

    For English, I've been accepted into St. Andrews and Durham. For Comp Lit, I've been accepted into Edinburgh and King's College London. I'm still waiting to hear back from the University College of London for Comp Lit.

    I've looked at usual university ranking tables, but since they change so often from year to year I often get more confused than anything else, especially since there's no Comparative Literature section, just separate ones for English and Spanish. Which of these schools has the best reputation? Would the UCL or King's be worth the higher cost of living? Would a Master's in English from a good university hurt my chances of getting into a doctorate program in Comparative Literature, or do you think that how I perform in that university/the university's reputation matters more?

    Thanks for your help!
    Laura
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    In my opinion, I'd put them in this order, in terms of reputation and preference:
    UCL
    Durham
    St Andrew's
    King's
    Edinburgh.

    UCL would deffo be worth the London costs, as it's one of the most prestigious and old universities in England.
    Durham is sort of like the third Oxbridge, but with a slightly lower reputation. They have colleges and lots of traditions. It'd also be cheaper than living in London.
    St Andrew's is the best university in Scotland, where many previous english prime ministers and royalty have gone to. It's essentially the Oxbridge of Scotland.
    King's and Edinburgh are lesser unis. They're still very good, but have less good reputations.

    If you're a US student, I'd recommend UCL. It's in London so you'll have an amazing year amidst the most cosmopolitan city in the world.

    I hope I helped.
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    UCl :yep:
    Or if you don't get in personally I'd go for Kings as it's in London But it's not as respected as the others, so it depends what you want from a uni..
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    Have you been to london before?

    I'd rather smoke my own toenails than spend a year there.


    Edinburgh is alright, but for me the choice would be between St-Andrews and Durham.
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    They're all strong and well respected, both as institutions in their own right and for the subject. There is no clear hierarchy here- anyone that thinks KCL and Edinburgh are 'lesser' do not speak from a position of actually knowing what they're on about, to be quite frank.
    Edinburgh's research score was (I think) the best of those listed above, and it was a fairly large department with a massive library, which is the kind of thing you'd be looking for at postgrad level. I'd seriously consider it- St Andrews and Durham are fantastic places to be, but they're very much an acquired taste, and some find London overwhelming. If you can, there's some others I'd recommend looking at- going by your choices, I think you might like York.
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    I wouldn't base your decision on perceived reputation, as there is very little difference between those unis. Edinburgh is every bit as good as St Andrews, and from what I understand KCL is very strong for Comp Lit. Which period or genres of literature are you interested in? Each institution will have different strengths in different areas, and as this is for an MA (with a view to doing a PhD) it might be worth looking at the staff research profiles for each uni, seeing who specialises in what. If you want to do some comparative work on English/Spanish then from what I know, KCL might be a good option - particularly if you're interested in Medieval/Early Modern. London is unrivalled for access to resources, which may be something to consider for your MA dissertation and especially for your PhD, but you have to ask yourself whether living in London will suit you, as some find it overwhelming. If you haven't visited London yet, it might be a good idea.
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    (Original post by kat2pult)
    Durham is sort of like the third Oxbridge.
    There's a second Oxbridge?

    No it's not. It never has been and never will be. People talk about Durham students thinking they're at "Oxbridge" but, really, its students from other universities who keep making the comparison.

    (Original post by kat2pult)
    St Andrew's is the best university in Scotland, where many previous english prime ministers and royalty have gone to. It's essentially the Oxbridge of Scotland.
    There's no real difference between St Andrews and Edinburgh. Also, and another pedantic point perhaps, but St Andrews hasn't educated any English/British Prime Ministers as far as I'm aware and only two members of Royalty (King James II of Scotland and Prince William). Loads of universities have educated Royalty and Glasgow and Edinburgh beat St Andrews there. Not that the number of prime ministers and royalty in a university's alumni is a good sign of academic quality.

    Edinburgh and KCL certainly aren't lesser universities. Edinburgh in particular is excellent in reasearch (as strong, if not stronger than the others and this includes Durham who didn't perform fantastically well in the 2008 RAE for English. They're no longer "the" best in the country if they ever were in some definitive first place). KCL have reasonable strength in computer science.

    They are very difference locations. Durham is a small, historical city. Beautiful but not a great deal going on outside the university. University life, with its colleges, societies, student theatre and sport is vibrant but the city life isn't. But if you're after a quiet, tranquil setting then it's a great place. St Andrews, a lot smaller than Durham, is similar.

    Both London and Edinburgh are capital cities, so plenty going on. I couldn't stand three years studying in London. Too busy and overwhelming, but for a one year's masters I can probably cope with it (and may be doing it in a year or two). It's a fascinating, truly global city but it is too overwhelming for some. You should hopefully know whether or not it'll be the right environment for you but it's best if you visit (that's if you're able to, of course). Edinburgh's also a great and beautiful city, becoming slightly too superficial and touristy for my liking.

    Moved to the postgrad forum
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    PM'd you with more specific info. Beware if anyone mentions general prestige of one place over another - even if they are talking RAE that can be misleading. There's no really meaningful way to rank the places you mention - it's a matter of fit. Have you spoken to any of your current professors about this? They might have some insight. Also are you looking to do a PhD in the US or UK?
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    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all your responses so far! I really appreciate your help. To answer Wyrd14's question, I'm primarily interested in post-Spanish Civil war literature (Carmen Martín Gaite and Mercè Rodoreda), while in English I'm interested in both Victorian and Modernist literature. If I went to Durham or St. Andrews for my Master's I would focus on the transition from late Victorian to early Modernist literature.

    Thank you, 0404343m, for recommending York -- do you recommend any other universities?

    I have visited London and Edinburgh and enjoyed them both. I do prefer to live in a city, but at the same time I studied in a small town for my undergraduate degree and I know how rewarding it can be.
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    (Original post by zaura)
    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all your responses so far! I really appreciate your help. To answer Wyrd14's question, I'm primarily interested in post-Spanish Civil war literature (Carmen Martín Gaite and Mercè Rodoreda), while in English I'm interested in both Victorian and Modernist literature. If I went to Durham or St. Andrews for my Master's I would focus on the transition from late Victorian to early Modernist literature.

    Thank you, 0404343m, for recommending York -- do you recommend any other universities?

    I have visited London and Edinburgh and enjoyed them both. I do prefer to live in a city, but at the same time I studied in a small town for my undergraduate degree and I know how rewarding it can be.
    I agree with the comments above- you have to be careful on TSR with this notion of 'prestige', everyone is seemingly obsessed with it. It a) doesn't exist to half the level in the outside world some people on here think it does and b) is even more irrelevant for postgraduate.

    There isn't any postgrad league tables that are any good, but for my two pennies worth, the most important thing for postgrad courses are resources and research strength. This comes in the form of a good RAE score, a large department, a large postgrad community, and a big library. You've picked pretty well above, and York would be a good choice location wise (small-ish city, twice the size of Durham at around 120,000, but small enough to feel quaint). I'm more a historian than an English specialist, but I do know a fair bit about arts and art faculties in the UK, and I'd strongly suggest looking at Exeter, Glasgow and Leeds aswell- all very strong for English and tick the boxes for what you'd be looking for above. Crucially, they (unlike some other universities) manage to retain a campus community and some greenery within a larger city environment, so you can potentially get the best of both worlds.
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    There really isn't much difference between these uni's ( From what I’ve heard from people I know working they only look at uni's from what was prestigious when they were attending uni's as people really do think education is easier now ) so you should think about other factors.

    Such as I personally have always lived in a city so out of your choices I would go for St Andrews ( More a close community ), but you probably should look at what activity’s they do, how the area is, student staff ratio etc.....

    Prestige doesn't seem to matter if you want to continue studying, I went to a low uni yet still got offers from big name uni's, Lecturer's in research places take anyone who seems passionate about the subject they're teaching opposed to looking at rankings ( Which change yearly )
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    I have no idea why a number of the posters have bothered commenting since they do not take either subject. I would suggest Durham for English, and Edinburgh for Comparative literature. I agree with 0404343m's suggestion to look at Exeter and York. But if you were to look at Glasgow or Leeds then you may as well research Sheffield too; they are all roughly equivalent.
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    Thanks for your advice. Do you recommend Edinburgh for Comparative Literature because it has the strongest program?
 
 
 
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