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Masters Programme in English

The MA in English is committed to thinking across boundaries of genre, culture and chronology. Our coursework allows for exposure to a wide array of texts, theories and disciplinary formations from around the world. MA students will also have the opportunity to pursue courses in other departments at Ashoka thus bringing new lenses to bear on literary studies. Above all, students will pursue their study of literature in relation to the larger world they live in and ask pertinent questions of it. 

The MA English programme places a premium equally on rigorous critical thinking and in-depth research. This emphasis on rigour, alongside the other avenues for intellectual, professional and personal growth offered by Ashoka University, will better prepare students for a variety of career paths, including further study leading to a Ph.D., teaching at the high-school level, advertising, media, and law. 

  • Course Structure

    The MA in English is a two-year, four-semester programme. Students take a mixture of required courses, elective courses, Independent Study Modules, and electives from other programmes.

    Within the programme, students have the option of pursuing a concentration, and specializing in a particular field. They are also free to follow a general path of literary studies and can choose not to have a concentration. Students who choose to pursue a concentration are required to take a minimum of two electives as well as write a thesis in their field of specialization.

    Should students select a concentration, it is required that they do so by the beginning of the third semester, so that they are able to take a minimum of two electives in their chosen subfields before writing their theses.

    Additionally, each student must choose their thesis advisor by the beginning of the third semester. This should be the professor with whom the student feels most compatible both intellectually and personally.

  • Requirements for an MA in English

    Students are required to graduate with a total of 48 credits. These are distributed over four semesters with 12 credits per semester. Each course carries 4 credits, and the final semester thesis will carry 8 credits. MA students cannot register for more than three courses per semester.

    Students are thus expected to take 10 courses while they complete their thesis. Of these 10 courses, 4 are required courses and the other 6 are electives.

    4 Required Courses:

    Seminar in Literary Theory: This course will focus on the study of various schools of literary theory. The course seeks to examine the bigger questions of literature—ranging from the ways in which texts can engage with various issues to an understanding of how we make meaning—by examining how various theorists address them.

    Seminar in Writing and Research Methodology: This course aims to provide clues to read, interpret and write academically.  The aim of the course is to expose students to methods of gleaning arguments, writing abstracts; identifying archives; learning citation styles; and familiarising them with a range of research methods.

    Graduate Pro-Seminar: Thesis Preparation: The graduate pro-seminar is a two-semester sequence. In the first semester, students will have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the methodological foundations of thesis writing by engaging with research-active faculty and their writing, learning directly from scholars in the field.

    Graduate Pro-Seminar: Thesis Writing: In the second semester of the graduate pro-seminar, students will workshop their thesis drafts through a series of round tables and conference-style panel presentations, culminating in an academic symposium at which they will present their thesis projects to a larger audience.

    8 Electives:

    Apart from the required courses, students are free to take 8 elective courses that cater to their individual interests. As the programme encourages interdisciplinarity, students are allowed to take one of these 8 electives from another Department across their two years of study. The other 7 electives must be taken from the electives offered by the English and Creative Writing department. At least two of these electives must cover periods before 1800.

    If students have an area of interest that has not been explored by any of the offered electives, they may also approach faculty to propose the possible creation of an Independent Study Module (ISM) that focuses on the subject in question. The availability of ISMs will depend on the consent of the faculty advisor. Students can take up to a maximum of one ISM on a topic of their devising.

  • Timeline of the 2 years of study

    Semester 1

    Semester 2

    Semester 3

    Semester 4


    Seminar in Literary Theory


    Research Methods and Ethics


    MA Pro-Seminar: Thesis Preparation


    MA Pro-Seminar:  Thesis Writing

    Elective I

    Elective II

    Elective III

    Elective IV

    Elective V

    Elective VI

    Elective VII

    Elective VIII

  • Concentrations

    These are the 6 concentrations that students can currently pursue as part of their MA in English.

    South Asian Literature (SAL)

    This concentration adopts a comparative approach to the study of textual and popular cultural traditions of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal). In working towards this concentration, students develop an understanding of South Asia as a ‘region’ by exploring its overlapping and divergent religious and political contexts of the self and the community.

    Courses might include (but are not limited to): Partition Literature, Scripting Caste, Women Writers from South Asia, Violence and South Asian Literatures, Indian Literatures in Translation, Sufi Poetry, Bollywood and the Ideas of India.

    Global and Indian Shakespeares (GIS)

    Shakespeare’s work has been reimagined all over the world in a variety of media.  His plays have been reconceived with extraordinary frequency across the Indian subcontinent, in theatre, literature and especially film, often tackling issues such as gender, colonialism, caste, communal violence, and partition.  Students in this concentration are invited to hone their critical and creative skills by producing their own locally grounded reimaginings.

    Courses might include (but are not limited to): Masala Shakespeare, Shakespeare and the World, Spectres of Hamlet, Shakesqueer, Adapting Shakespeare: Writing and Performance Workshop.

    Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS)

    This track will focus on the importance of gender and sexuality in literature as well as in our everyday lives. Rather than following the trajectory of  “women” or “homosexuals” as categories, we will put pressure on the assumptions undergirding these categories in the first place. Students will be taught to ground their thinking of literature and the world in wider theoretical frameworks related to queer and feminist thought.

    Courses might include (but are not limited to): Reading the Body Politic, A History of Desire in India, Shakesqueer, South Asian Literature and Gender, Desiring Film, Women’s Writing, Victorian Fetishes, The Law of Desire, Bollywood and Gender, Dalit Literature.

    Modern Literature and Culture (MLC)

    This track of study explores the question of modernity and its aftermath, ranging from the Enlightenment era to the present. Areas of focus include 18th, 19th and 20th century literature and culture, modernisms including vernacular modernisms in literature and cinema, postmodernism, postcolonial literatures, law and literature, ecocriticism and discourse analysis.

    Courses might include (but are not limited to): Epic Histories, Privacy, Neoliberalism, Trauma and Disaster, Children’s Literature, Cinema and Violence, Acts of Faith, ‘Romanticism, History, Prophecy’, American Outlaws, Conspiracy Fiction, Conquests of Nature, Climate Fiction, Reading Theory, The Law of Desire, Victorian Fetishes, Making Space, Loss and Longing, Literature and the Age of Empire, Postcolonial Literature, The Rhetoric of Social Protest, Critical Race Theory.

     Global Medieval Studies (GM)

    The Global Medieval Studies concentration takes a comparativist approach to the cultures of the various medieval periods in world history, particularly in Europe and South Asia, while encouraging students to think critically about periodic nomenclatures. The track encourages students to think about the medieval not simply as a historical field, but also as a conceptual category that is critical to our constructions of antiquity and modernity. This concentration brings medieval works from different cultures into conversation while also encouraging the interdisciplinary study of literature, art and architecture, music, science, religion and philosophy.

    Courses might include (but are not limited to): Global Medieval Women Writers, Comparative Medieval Mysticism, Global Medievalisms, Utopia in the Middle Ages, Medieval Travel Writing, History of Medieval Medicine, University Cultures.

    Creative Writing (CW)

    The Creative Writing track combines literary study with creative practice. Along with courses in the academic study of literature, students also take workshop courses and write a thesis in the genre of their choice: original prose, poetry, and translation, including multi-genre work.

    Courses might include (but are not limited to): Poetry Workshop, Fiction Workshop, Translation Workshop, Publishing Seminar.



Joining MA English Programme

MA English Handbook 2023-2024The Master of Arts (MA) programme in English at Ashoka University aims to occupy an important space in the current landscape of higher education in India. Many young scholars of literature and culture in India are contemplating studying these subjects at the Ph.D. level, but have yet to be exposed to the liberal arts ethos and pedagogy. The MA programme in English will provide a unique intellectual experience for these students while carving out a much-needed path to higher studies abroad and in India.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka