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Why study with us?

  • #18 in the world

    We’re ranked 18th in the world for english language and literature by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.

  • #1 in Australia

    Our graduates are ranked 1st in Australia and 4th in the world for employability by the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022.


In response to COVID-19, the University of Sydney has reviewed the availability of courses to be delivered remotely. 

This course will be available for students to study remotely during 2022 if they are unable to undertake face-to-face study. Please note that some units of study that are not essential to completing the degree may not be available to be studied remotely. For the latest updates on course availability, visit the COVID-19 information page.

About this course

The Master of English Studies is designed for research students from Australia and overseas, secondary school teachers and those interested in studying English literature at an advanced level.

Through the course you will bring together contemporary critical theory with literary narratives and investigate how and why literature still enjoys particular resonance in the 21st century. You will consider the ways in which the study of literature works in a specifically Australian cultural context.

This course focuses on three core approaches:

  • critical reading
  • literary history
  • literary comparison (including the question of English as a world literature)

Why study with us?

Our reputation is established in literary studies across a wide historical and geographical range. We offer an extensive choice of units and our scholarly experts teach in a broad spectrum of fields: medieval; early modern; 18th and 19th century; modern and contemporary; American and Australian literatures; and various aspects of cultural theory. You also have the option of taking creative writing units of study in contemporary poetry, fiction and literary nonfiction.

Commonwealth Supported Places

Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) are available for postgraduate study for eligible domestic students. This means that your course fees are subsidised by the Australian Government and you pay a student contribution amount (SCA). CSPs are limited in number and are allocated based on academic merit.

Subject areas
Shared pool

Entry, fees, funding & how to apply

Depends on your qualification, citizenship status
The details on this page based on your selections are a guide only, and are subject to change.

Your entry requirements

English language proficiency

Find out if you need to prove English language proficiency (depends on your country of origin and educational background).

For academic requirements check the ‘Admission requirements’ section on this page.

Your fee

How to apply

You can apply online via the application portal. When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply’ button on this course page. Visit the How to apply page for other important information. 

Applying for a Commonwealth supported place (CSP)

There is no separate application required to apply for a CSP, an earlier closing date may apply – check the closing dates section below. Once you apply for admission, if you are successful in securing a CSP, you will receive notification via an offer of admission.

A Commonwealth supported place (CSP) is not guaranteed as there are a limited number of CSPs available for postgraduate courses. The number of available CSPs for a course can change each semester/year.  CSPs are also not automatically awarded for course transfers and upgrades.

CSPs are awarded for the duration of a course based on academic merit determined by the University and eligibility criteria specified by the Australian Government. Learn more about CSPs. If you do not qualify for a CSP you may be offered a domestic fee-paying place.

Standard closing dates:

Semester 1 - 31 January of the commencing year 
CSP closing date: 15 January of the commencing year

Semester 2 - 15 July of the commencing year
CSP closing date: 30 June of the commencing year

We strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible, offers are made on a rolling basis and places are limited. Separate scholarship deadlines apply - check the scholarships website for details.

Starting date

Semester 1 (February) and Semester 2 (August)

You can apply online via the application portal. When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply’ button on this course page. Visit the How to apply page for other important information. 

Standard closing dates:

Semester 1 - 15 January of the commencing year
Semester 2
 - 25 June of the commencing year

We strongly encourage international applicants to apply as early as possible to allow time for visa and travel arrangements. Separate scholarship deadlines may apply - check the scholarships website for details.

Starting date

Semester 1 (February) and Semester 2 (August)

What you'll study

To qualify for the Master of English Studies you must complete to complete 72 credit points including:

  • a minimum of 24 credit points of core units of study; and
  • a maximum of 42 credit points from elective units of study. (With the permission of the Degree Coordinator a maximum of 12 credit points of elective units can be taken from units of study outside those listed in the English Studies subject area of the Postgraduate Unit of Study Table, including a maximum of 6 credit points from units of study offered by other faculties); and
  • at least 6 credit points of capstone units of study.

Recognition of Prior Learning / credit for previous studies is available for this course, refer to Admission requirement below.

Completion requirement

Under normal progression, a full-time student completes prescribed units of study to the value of 24 credit points per semester. Part-time students may undertake prescribed units of study up to the value of 12 credit points per semester.

You are required to attend all lectures, tutorials and other activities prescribed for your units of study.

Capstone (compulsory project)

As a capstone experience, you will be offered the option either to write a dissertation or to engage in a shorter research project relevant to particular professional practices or other special interests.

Admission requirement

Entry in the 1 or 1.5 year degree program is determined by the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) criteria below. 

Admission to candidature for the Master of English Studies (1.5 years full-time) requires:

  • a bachelor's degree with a major in English Literature and a minimum credit (65%) average calculated over the whole degree, from the University of Sydney, or an equivalent qualification.

Admission to candidature for the Master of English Studies (1 year full-time) requires:

  • completion of the requirements for the embedded Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma in English Studies with a minimum credit (65%) average, or an equivalent qualification; or
  • an Honours degree in a relevant discipline.

If you do not meet the requirements listed above for direct entry to the Master’s degree, you may be able to enter via a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma in the same subject area and upgrade to the Master’s after successful completion of the shorter course.

Career Pathways

This course provides you with the option of pursuing a career as a secondary-level English teacher, journalist, writer or literary critic and roles in the media, public and community service and academia.

Employers value our English graduates because the program is designed to promote qualities of personal and intellectual autonomy, skills in research and enquiry, and a capacity for both information literacy and effective communication.

Some students pursue this degree as a prelude to further advanced doctoral study, often with a view to an academic career; others, particularly school teachers, see it as an opportunity to upgrade existing skills for purposes of professional enhancement. Other students are motivated primarily by a particular interest in this subject.

Future study options

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences supports and pursues the University's goal of excellence in research, encouraging research of national and international standing, and identifying and enhancing fields of basic, strategic and applied research. Many of the Faculty's distinguished academic staff have recognised international standing and include Federation Fellows and Fellows of Learned Academies and Societies.

Domestic students

International students

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.