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MA in Poetry

Our ground-breaking MA in Poetry provides the unique opportunity to study historical and contemporary poetic practices while studying in London, the heart of the nation’s creative industries.

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The programme offers a distinctive mix of specialised attention to the genre of poetry, the chance to develop your own poetic practice, preparation for doctoral study either in English literature or creative writing, and arranged work placements within the cultural and creative sectors.

The programme draws on the resources of Queen Mary’s Centre for Poetry.  The Centre is a thriving and active gathering of academics from across the university, whose expertise ranges from medieval poetry to contemporary innovative work, intellectual property to documentary film making.  Members of the Centre come from English, Drama, European languages, Geography, History, Law, and Creative Computing.  The Centre regularly hosts readings, workshops and discussions which bring students into contact with important practicing writers.  

The programme is genuinely interdisciplinary. You will be able to pursue your own analytical and creative projects, driven by the work you’ll do on an extensive list of optional modules. Modules allow you to pursue topics as diverse as modernist poetry; sociolinguistics; theatre and performance theory; a multilingual anthology project; or art and community organising.  
The programme’s flexibility allows you to go on to doctoral study, gain practical experience and contacts in the cultural sector, or deepen your own poetic practice.  

You will gain work experience on a placement with a major London cultural organisation, such as Apples and Snakes, Penned in the Margins, the Poetry Society, Poetry London, the Saison Poetry Library at the South Bank, the Poetry School, Jaybird Live Literature, the Free Word Centre, The White Review, People’s Palace Projects, Spread the Word, Commonwealth Writers, and Wasafiri.  You will be mentored throughout the process of preparing an application, undertaking the placement, and reflecting on your experiences, by tutors and specialist staff in the Careers Office.  

Further support in planning your next step – whether that is applying for a doctoral studentship, developing a manuscript, or finding work in the creative industry – will be provided by the MA’s convenor.

Who you'll work with

The MA is led by two internationally-esteemed experts in poetry and poetics.  Professor Andrea Brady is a poet and a scholar, who has written six books of poetry and whose work has been translated into nine languages.  She regularly gives performances and lectures throughout Europe, the US and Canada.  Dr Peter Howarth is a distinguished scholar of twentieth-century poetry, whose research breaks new ground in understanding modernism, the politics of form, performance and temporality.

To learn more, please email  The MA in Poetry is open to anyone with a strong interest in poetry, either from a critical or a creative perspective, and we are happy to review writing samples and consider statements from applicants whose undergraduate study was in English literature or cognate disciplines.

Key Poetry Modules You'll Study

  • Introduction to Poetics: this module introduces the major theories of poetics, from Aristotle to Jacques Rancière, and from Thomas Wyatt to NourbeSe Philip.  It provides a grounding in philosophical and practical approaches to poetic form, prosody, the sublime, mimesis, sound, poetic ritual and poet’s theatre.  Assessment is by a coursework essay or a portfolio combining poems and a critical commentary; students also give presentations and circulate responses to the reading, to be workshopped in class.
  • Poetry at Work: this innovative module brings students into contact with major cultural organisations in London, through a two-week (or four-week part-time) work placement.  The placement is arranged in the first semester, and students receive guidance in choosing an organisation, writing a cover letter, and preparing their CV.  The placement is monitored by the module convenor.  The module also  provides classes on diversity, safeguarding, writing grant applications, and the contexts of London’s different poetry ‘scenes’ led by experts from English and from across the university.  The module concludes with a reflective session hosted by Career Services, and an unassessed, short reflective essay.
  • Dissertation: the Dissertation offers students an opportunity to extend their learning and practice through an intensive investigation of a critical topic of their own choosing.  Students will develop a project in one-to-one sessions with a specialist from the department.  This can either by a conventional critical essay, or a portfolio of practice-based research (poems and a critical commentary).

You will be able to select from wide range of modules offered in English, Drama, Comparative Literature, Linguistics, History, and, Geography. Modules on offer will either include the study of some poetry, or the opportunity to develop professional skills or theoretical knowledge which could be used in a career related to the practice, promotion, publication, or performance of poetry.

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