MA English Syllabus 2024

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ma english syllabus

MA English is a 2-year post-graduation course in English literature which is a combination of modern and ancient literature. It focuses on the three main aspects of English Literature namely drama, prose and poetry. MA in English also includes cultural, political, social, and historical contexts of English Literature studied at an advanced level. Students who have pursued BA English generally opt for this course to dwell deeper into the study of English literature. We have listed down the MA English Syllabus classified into semesters to give you a clear view of the course.

Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 2 years
Admission Merit/Entrance Exam or both
Syllabus English Poetry from Chaucer to Milton
20th Century Poetry and Drama
19th Century Novel
Literary Criticism
Books Theory of Criticism by Raman Selden
Piers Plowman by William Langland
The Book of Margery Kempe
Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Oresteia by Aeschylus
MA English Entrance Syllabus Medieval Poetry
17-century poetry
18th-century poetry and drama
Nineteenth-century novel
Language and Comprehension

MA English Syllabus

Since the actual course offerings and subjects are bound to vary as per the university and the program, here is a general syllabus for MA English.

Semester I English Poetry from Chaucer to Milton
Eighteenth Century English Literature
Literary Criticism I
Elective Papers [European Comedy, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Drama]
Semester II Language and Linguistics
Elective discipline 
Elective Papers [Literature and Gender, Romantic Paper, New Literatures in English]
Semester III Indian Literature I
20th Century Poetry and Drama
19th Century Novel
Elective Papers: Literature and the Visual Arts in Europe or American Literature
Semester IV 20th Century Novel
Literary Criticism 2
Elective Papers: Indian Literature II, The Novel in India, Ancient Greek and Latin Literature

Note: The aforementioned table enlists the subjects and course offerings as per DU MA English syllabus. Subjects and electives might vary from one university to another.

MA English Subjects – Semester-wise Breakdown

Wondering what are the MA English subjects taught each semester? Here is the list of semester-wise breakdown of subjects taught in MA English, have a look: 

MA English Syllabus for Semester 1

S.No. Structure of Modern English
1 Communication
2 Phonology
3 Morphology
4 Syntax
5 Semantics
S.No. English Fiction
1 Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s Travels
2 Henry Fielding: Joseph Andrews
3 Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
4 Charles Dickens: David Copperfield
5 George Eliot: Middlemarch
S.No. Traditional English Drama
1 Ben Jonson: Volpone
2 Christopher Marlowe: Dr Faustus
3 William Congreve: The Way of the World
4 Sheridan: The School for Scandal
5 William Goldsmith: She Stoops To Conquer
S.No. Indian Verses (Elective)
1 Background to Indian English Poetry
2 Nissim Ezekiel
3 Arun Kolatkar – Jejuri
4 The Old Playhouse and Other Poems – Kamla Das
S.No. English Language and Literature Teaching (Elective)
1 Methods and Approaches to Language Teaching
2 Teaching of Grammar
3 Dimensions of Research in English Language and English Literature
4 Teaching of Language Skills
5 Approaches to Teaching of Literature
6 Teaching of Poetry, Drama, Fiction
S.No. Research Methodology (Elective)
1 What is Research?
2 Constructing Research Design
3 Research Process
4 Dimensions of Research in English Language and English Literature
5 Development, Hypothesis and Preparation of Research Proposal
6 Research Process
7 Parts of the Dissertation
8 Presentation of Research
9 Presentation of Research
10 Major Concerns in the Thesis

MA English Syllabus for Semester 2

S.No. The Structure of Modern English
1 Language and Society
2 Distinctive Features of British, American and Indian English
3 Pragmatics
4 English in India
5 Introduction to Stylistics
S.No. English Fiction
1 Thomas Hardy: Jude the Obscure
2 Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim
3 D. H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers
4 Graham Greene: The Power and the Glory
5 EM Forster: A Passage to India
S.No. Modern English Drama
1 GB Shaw: Candida
2 TS Eliot: Murder in the Cathedral
3 Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot
4 Harold Pinter: Home Coming
5 John Osborne: Look Back in Anger
S.No. Indian Prose Works (Elective)
1 Background to Indian Prose
2 Kanthapura
3 Lokmanya Tilak – Essays from Bal Gangadhar Tilak
4 RK Narayan: An Astrologer’s Day
5 Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance

MA English Syllabus for Semester 3

S.No. Literary Theory and Criticism
1 Aristotle: The Poetics
2 Philip Sidney: An Apology of Poetry
3 Dr Johnson: A Preface to Shakespeare
4 William Wordsworth: A Preface to Lyrical Ballads
5 Matthew Arnold: The Study of Poetry
S.No. English Poetry
1 John Milton: Paradise Lost Book 1
2 John Donne: The Sun Rising
3 Andrew Marvell: To His Coy Mistress
4 Alexander Pope: The Rape of The Lock
5 William Blake: From Songs of Innocence
S.No. English Language and Literature Teaching (Elective)
1 Methods and Approaches to Language Teaching
2 Teaching of Grammar
3 Relationship between Psychology and Teaching of Language
4 Teaching of Language Skills
5 Approaches to the Teaching of Literature
6 Teaching of Poetry, Drama and Fiction

MA English Syllabus for Semester 4

S.No. Literary Theory and Criticism
1 T.S.Eliot: Tradition and the Individual Talent
2 F.R.Leavis: Literature and Society
3 Northrope Frye: The Archetypes of Literature
4 Ronald Barthes: The Death of the Author
5 Elaine Showalter: Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness
S.No. English Poetry
1 Coleridge: The Rime of Ancient Mariner
2 William Wordsworth Poetry
3 Tennyson Poetry
4 Robert Browning Poetry
5 W. B. Yeats Poetry
S.No. Shakespeare
1 King Lear
2 Macbeth
3 Julius Caesar
4 Measure for Measure
5 Tempest
S.No. American Literature (Elective)
1 Background Topics
2 Arthur Miller: The Death of a Salesman
3 Edward Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
4 John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men
5 Poetry

MA English Entrance Syllabus

Students are also required to qualify for MA English entrance exams like DU MA Entrance, JNUEEE, Jamia Milia Islamia Entrance, PUMDET, etc. conducted by their chosen university to get successful admission into this program. Here is the exam pattern and syllabus for MA English Entrance:

MA English Entrance Exam Pattern

Mode Written Test
Duration 1 hour and 30 minutes
MA English Entrance Syllabus BA English Syllabus+ English Proficiency is Assessed

MA English Entrance Syllabus

  • 17th-Century Poetry
  • Early Modern Poetry
  • 18th-Century Poetry, Drama and Fiction
  • 19th-Century Poetry, Drama and Novel
  • Medieval Poetry
  • Modern and Postmodern Critical Theories
  • Early 20th-Century Fiction and Drama
  • Early 20th-Century Poetry (up to WWII)
  • American Literature
  • Classical Theory
  • Neo-classical Criticism and Theory
  • Romantic Criticism
  • Contemporary Writings
  • Indian Writing in English
  • Dalit Literature
  • Indian Literature
  • Research Methodology
  • Language and Comprehension

MA English Syllabus: Core Subjects

As a master’s degree, an MA in English encompasses a comprehensive study of both ancient and modern literature and covers poetry, prose as well as fictional works. Further, it also comprises the literature of different countries as well as their renowned literary works. Before coming to a semester-wise breakdown, let’s take a look at the major subjects in MA English elucidated in the table below:

S. No. MA English Subjects
1 American Literature
2 Common Wealth Literature
3 English Language
4 Literary Theory
5 Works of Shakespeare
6 African/African American Literature
7 Methods of Teaching English
8 British Literature I: Chaucer to Milton
9 British Literature II: Dryden to Romantic Age
10 British Literature III: Victorian Times to Modern Times

MA English Syllabus: Electives

While the core subjects falling under the MA English syllabus remains the same for all students, the elective subjects keep on changing as per the choices made by applicants. Most of the universities offer an array of papers to choose from. Given below are some of them: 

  • The Structure of Modern English
  • English Fiction
  • Indian Verses
  • English Language and Literature Teaching
  • The Structure of Modern English
  • English Fiction
  • Traditional English Drama
  • Modern English Drama
  • Research Methodology
  • English Poetry
  • Indian Prose Works
  • Literary Theory and Criticism

MA English Syllabus Covered in Abroad Universities

There is a wide range of subjects in the MA English syllabus that students get to engage with during the course. Each semester of MA English comprises various subjects. Students are provided with a deep understanding and knowledge of different fields in English Literature. The first semester is an introductory semester consisting of introductory subjects to provide students with an understanding of the different literature of countries around the world. Listed below are all the subjects classified into four semesters, in order to give you a clear view and understanding of MA English.

Semester I

  • African/American English Studies
  • American Literature
  • Commonwealth Literature

Semester II

  • British Literature 1
  • British Literature 2
  • British Literature 3

Semester III

  • English Language
  • Indian English Literature
  • Literature Theory 

Semester IV

  • Methods of Teaching English
  • Shakespearean Literature

Let’s get to know about these MA English subjects in further detail:

African/American English Studies
This subject includes dialects from Ebonics, which is the African-American English Language spoken majorly in the US. For this subject under the MA English syllabus, Students are provided with various dialects from around the world exploring their origins and the works written in these dialects.

American Literature
This subject includes American literature which was written and produced for several purposes in the late 16th century. Literature such as poetry, essays, drama for theatres, etc. is studied and analysed.

Commonwealth Literature
This subject of the MA English syllabus includes Commonwealth and Postcolonial literature from countries that were once considered to be a part of the British territory, this may also include countries that were colonies of the British Empire. An extensive history of this literature is provided to help students understand the change from contemporary to modern literature.

Also Read: Career in Functional English

British Literature 1
This subject of the MA English syllabus covers British literature focused on a shift from Chaucer to Milton. This can assist students in understanding the importance of Chaucer and how he brought a change in society through his English poetry.

British Literature 2
This subject includes British literature from the period of the Romantic Era and the emergence of John Dryden. Students also get to learn about various aspects of writing poetry.

British Literature 3
This subject constitutes one of the most significant periods in British history, i.e. the Victorian Age and the shift from early British writing to modern writing.

Planning to shift fields after a degree in English? You can also read MBA after BA English

English Language
This subject comprises of the study of grammar, punctuation, linguistic approaches, compositions and mode of translations to help students build structural sentences and formations.

Indian English Literature
This subject covers English literature by early Indian English writers, the likes of Rabindranath Tagore, Mukhopadhyay, and Premchand. 

Literature Theory 
In this subject of the MA English syllabus, students are provided with the knowledge of literary theories such as Criticism, Russian formalism, Structuralism, Marxism, Feminism, etc. Students are given an in-depth knowledge of every theory to understand the concepts better.

Aspiring to attain a doctoral degree in English? Check out: PhD in English

Methods of Teaching English
This subject includes different methods and ways of teaching English for students who want to get into the education field as professors and lecturers. Students are provided with various teaching methods such as direct method, grammar method, structural approach, etc.

Shakespearean Literature  
This subject under MA English syllabus focuses on studying the works of Shakespeare as well as his writing and his contribution to English literature. Students are provided with sufficient knowledge about his life and works. 

MA English Syllabus covered in Indian Colleges

JNU MA English Entrance Syllabus

Jawaharlal University is known for its courses in humanities. Getting selected in JNU for MA English is not easy with the stringent competition. However, if you are well prepared, the way would be much smoother. Here is the JNU MA English Entrance Syllabus:

  • History of English
  • Literary Theory and Criticism
  • Relationship between Literature, Culture, and Society
  • Indian English Literature and the World
  • Non-literary Artistic and Cultural Forms

DU MA English Syllabus

The esteemed University of Delhi also offers MA in English. The curriculum of DU revolves around similar lines to that of the one abroad. You will find a few similar subjects as well as a bunch of subjects that will emphasize Indian history and culture. Tabulated below are the main subjects of all four semesters of MA English- 

Semesters Subjects
Semester 1 -Life, Literature and Culture: Medieval Literature
-Life, Literature and Culture: Early Modern World
-Classical To Pre Modern Literature
-Poetry 1
-Aesthetics and Literature
-Politics Literature and Philosophy
Semester 2 -Life, Literature and Culture: 16th and 17th Century
-Criticism and Theory
-Introduction to the Study of Language
-Poetry II
-Fiction Literature of the Americas 
-Dalit Studies
Semester 3 -Life, Literature and Culture in the 18th Century
-Life, Literature and Culture in the 19th Century
-Postcolonial Literature and Theory
-Research Methodology
-Criticism and Theory
-Gender Studies
Semester 4 -Life, Literature and Culture in the 20th Century
-Post-Independence India Literature 
-Religion and Literature

IGNOU MA English Syllabus

Indira Gandhi National Open University is known for its detailed course in English. Each IGNOU course has a credit to it that defines the number of hours you need to take to study that course. Here is the IGNOU MA English Syllabus:

IGNOU First Year Syllabus

Course Code Course Name
MEG-01 British Poetry
MEG-02 British Drama
MEG-03 British Novel
MEG-04 Aspects of Language

IGNOU Second Year Syllabus

Compulsory Subject

MEG-05 Literary Criticism and Theory

Optional Subjects- Choose any Three

MEG-06 American Literature
MEG-07 Indian English Literature
MEG-08 New Literatures in English
MEG-09 Australian Literature
MEG-10 English Studies in India
MEG-11 American Novel
MEG-12 A Survey Course in 20th Century Canadian Literature
MEG-13 Writings from the Margins
MEG-14 Contemporary Indian Literature in English Translation
MEG-15 Comparative Literature: Theory and Practice
MEG-16 Indian Folk Literature

Download the full Syllabus of IGNOU MA English here.

PU MA English Syllabus

Punjab University has an M.A. English course for all students who have studied English in their bachelor’s degree. The syllabus for PU MA English is:

Semester Syllabus
Semester I Greek and Classical Literature
Classical Poetry 
Study Skills
17th Century Poetry
18th Century Novel
Elizabethan Drama
Semester II Modern Drama
Renaissance and Neoclassical Literature
19th Century Poetry
Twentieth-Century Novel
Victorian Novel
Literary Criticism
Semester III Critical Theory
20th Century Prose
American Poetry
American Drama
American Fiction
Research Methodology
Semester IV 20th Century Poetry
Post-Colonial Fiction
Twentieth-Century Drama
Literature in English around the World
Short Stories

MA English Syllabus Distance Education

While there are many universities that offer MA English, there are only a few that offer Distance Learning in MA English. Here is a detailed list of universities that offer an MA in English Distance Education.

College/ University Course Fees Syllabus
IGNOU Masters of English  INR 12,000 Download Here
Lovely Professional University Masters of Arts (English) INR 1,40,000 Download Here
Amity University M.A. English INR 65,000 Check Here
Annamalai University M.A. English  INR 5,885 Download Here

MA English Books 2024

Covering the vast history of English Literature, an MA in English course imparts students with an in-depth knowledge of different literary eras and periods, classic authors, contemporary writings as well as national and international literature. Here are the best books for MA English:

Top Universities for MA English Abroad

Here are the top universities that offer the best MA English course abroad:

Top Universities for MA English India

With scores of students pursuing a career in Functional English or other related avenues, colleges and universities across the world, including India have started offering MA English programs. Glance through the following table to know the names of the institutes providing the course:

  • University of Delhi
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Christ University
  • Jamia Milia Islamia
  • Hyderabad Central University
  • Loyola College
  • Presidency University
  • Fergusson College, University of Pune
  • Jadavpur University
  • Indraprastha College for Women

MA English Career Scope

An MA in English degree paves the way for a wide range of career opportunities in a variety of fields. Here are the job roles you can apply for after an MA in English:

  • Lecturer
  • Anchor
  • Editor
  • Writer
  • Publicist
  • Copywriter
  • Social worker
  • Librarian
  • Journalist
  • Content Writer
  • Lexicographer


How many papers are there in MA English?

MA English can be a 1-2 year-long degree program depending upon the country and university one plans to join. Usually, a 2-year course consists of 16 core subjects spanned over 4 semesters. 

What is an MA in English?

Master of Arts is a specialized degree focusing on the humanities or art specific courses with a duration of 1 to 2 years. MA in English is a masters degree focusing on Literature studies. 

We hope that this article on MA English Syllabus helped you explore the subjects you will be studying during the duration of this course. If you are planning to discover the vast history of English literature and writings through an in-depth postgraduate degree, Leverage Edu experts can help you find an ideal university to pursue this course as well as help you with the admission process.

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  1. I need more detailed information including American USA and UK sylabuses.
    Hopefully in the future.

    1. Hi, Mohammed!
      For study abroad related matters and enquiries about universities and courses reach us at 1800 57 2000!