The Department of English Literary Studies at UCT recently launched a revised coursework Master's degree that foregrounds research into English Literary Studies in the global South. The new MA aims to equip a new generation of postgraduate students to conduct research into the compelling issues that arise in our discipline at a time when questions of canonicity are under revision and new approaches to literary studies are generating new archives and addressing the coloniality of received archives. The course helps to equip students to develop their own research paths and would make excellent preparation before moving into the PhD.

Course convenor

A/Prof Polo Moji (

Course structure

The coursework MA includes the following components:

  • Two core courses
  • Two elective courses
  • One ‘minor’ dissertation of 25,000 words, to be undertaken in the second year of registration.

The first year of the MA is devoted to coursework, comprised of two electives and two core courses. Students are invited to select two electives in total. These can be made up from within one of the streams, if they would like to align themselves with one of the sub-specialities in preparation for their dissertation the following year. However, it is not necessary to select both electives from one stream. Students are at liberty to choose their electives from 2 different streams.

There are 5 streams, each of which represents an area of speciality within the Department:

Black Literary and Intellectual Traditions

Gender and Sexuality in African Literature

World Literatures in English

Literature and the Archive

Between the Critical and Creative

Course work is completed in the first year of the programme.

A ‘minor’ dissertation of 25,000 words is undertaken in the second year of the programme. Students register for the dissertation during the second year of the programme, through the following code: ELL5001W.

Compulsory (core) courses

In addition to the 2 MA electives, students are required to take 2 MA core courses which are designed to support the work of research. All coursework MA students will, therefore, be required to register for the following two courses during their first year of study:

ELL5047F: Literary Theory in the Global South

The first semester core course aims to introduce students to key debates and fields of knowledge around postcoloniality and decoloniality, with an emphasis on reading and producing literary theory from the global South. It asks of students to think through and write about the meanings of being situated in the global South as producers of knowledge. Students will be expected to draw on and synthesise the work of key postcolonial and decolonial theorists, with the aim of epistemologically orienting their own work as produced from the global South.

The course will consist of various modules such as "Decoloniality",  "Postcolonialism, Feminism and Performance", "Engaging History, Historicity and Historicism", and "Theory from the Global South". These will be co-taught by academic staff.

ELL5045S: Research Methods in English Literary Studies

The second semester core course focuses on ‘Research Methods’. It aims to equip students with the tools to do archival research and build their own archives, to identify and engage the field(s) within which their research is located, to work across disciplines, to formulate a compelling research topic and to structure the robust argument that will underpin the dissertation. Modules focusing on these research skills will be co-taught by academic staff.

The Research Methods core course will require a 4000-word research proposal as a final output, ensuring that students start delving into research for their dissertations during the second semester of their coursework and creating valuable momentum for the year of independent research.


Electives are offered within each of the following streams of inquiry:

  1. Black Literary and Intellectual Traditions
  2. Gender and Sexuality in African Literature
  3. World Literatures in English
  4. Literature and the Archive
  5. Between the Critical and Creative
  6. Environmental Humanities

Electives offered


How to apply