Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What are Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies?

Modern and Contemporary Literary studies are the study of literature from the Modern and Contemporary periods. Modern literature refers to a late 19th century and early 20th-century style/movement that broke away from the traditional styles. Contemporary literature is the period that followed modernist literature.

Modern literature refers to the literature dating from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s while the term contemporary literature is a very broad one. In a general sense, contemporary literature refers to literary work published in the modern world. However, in literature, contemporary literature refers to literature dating from the Second World War to the present.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies in the following subject areas:

  • Modern English Literature – A study of traditional and modern technological sources for research in English literature. 
  • MA In Modern English Literature – Deepen your knowledge and appreciation of English literature and contemporary critical theory.
  • Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies (M.Phil.) – An introduction to key texts, authors, and ideas from the nineteenth century through to the contemporary moment.
  • Children’s Literature (M.Phil.) – Study a wide range of children’s literature – a broad category that encompasses everything from picture books through to Young Adult fiction.
  • Literature – An opportunity to consider English literary works from a variety of fresh and thought-provoking perspectives.
  • English Literature – An introduction to major authors of poetry, drama, and prose through close examination of selected texts.

Studying Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies

Many courses in Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies may take place over a few days, weeks, or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favorably by employers. 

The skills developed outside of your studies are also vital in developing a well-rounded CV. While at university, for example, many English students write for student newspapers and magazines, get involved with student radio or film societies, or volunteer in the community or local schools. Evidence of any skills gained from work experience and extracurricular activities, as well as through study, can help boost your job prospects.

If you have a particular career in mind, apply for relevant work placements and summer internships to get some practical experience and to find out whether you would enjoy the role, and build up a network of contacts. Opportunities will be advertised on company websites, sector job sites career service websites, and national newspapers. For experience with smaller companies, you may have to approach them directly.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of comprehension, reading, and writing skills.

English graduates could find opportunities with many different employers. Public and private sector organizations, educational institutions, local and national government, financial and legal firms, and voluntary and charitable organizations employ English graduates in a range of roles, including administration, arts management, events management, finance, general management, teaching, or research.

Other typical employers include advertising marketing and public relations agencies, media organizations, and publishing companies and it is also possible for the retail, leisure, and tourism sectors to recruit English graduates.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours, or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Working hours within this field are typically 9 am to 5 pm with some extra hours for overtime. Work may involve extra hours as deadlines approach or if you are a freelance writer you can typically dictate your hours as long as your work is completed to deadline.

Related jobs include:

  • Writer
  • Academic librarian
  • Digital copywriter
  • Editorial assistant
  • English as a foreign language teacher
  • Lexicographer
  • Magazine journalist
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Private tutor
  • Publishing copy-editor/proof-reader
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Web content manager
  • Advertising copywriter
  • Archivist
  • Arts administrator
  • Education consultant
  • Information officer
  • Learning mentor
  • Marketing executive
  • Media researcher
  • PPC specialist
  • Primary school teacher
  • Public relations officer
  • Records manager
  • Social media manager

Further study

After completing a course in Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as English language and literary studies, creative writing, Victorian, fantasy or medieval literature, or linguistics.


What is the importance of Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies?

Both Modern and Contemporary Literature have very important roles because they reflect a society’s social as well as political points of view and helps them to illuminate the strength or weakness of society.

Literature helps the readers to develop their rational thinking and modern and contemporary novels and poems offer different opportunities to uncover the theme, plot, and climax of literary works. By adding literature that has more relevance to a student’s own life; students can better form their relationships with what they read.

What skills could be helpful for a career in Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies?

The main skill needed by anyone contemplating a career in literary studies is the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Other skills that will be helpful include independent working, time management and organization, planning and researching written work, articulating knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts, and theories, leading and participating in discussions, negotiation, and team working to present ideas and information, effectively conveying arguments and opinions and thinking creatively, using your judgment to weigh up alternative perspectives, critical reasoning and analysis and knowledge and skills of various IT programs.

Where can I study Modern and Contemporary Literary Studies?

Explore your options here

 Did You Know?

· Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate factory, tested chocolates for Cadbury’s while he was at school.

· Lewis Carroll’s book ‘Alice in Wonderland was banned in China as the book suggests animals can talk and write just like humans, which according to the governor of Hunan, China is “disastrous”.

· The name for Oz in the “Wizard of Oz” was thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence “Oz.”.

· ‘The Mouse Trap’ by Agatha Christie is the longest-running play in history.

· The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” uses every letter in the alphabet.

Mariza Halliday

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