MA in Dickens Studies by Research

Entry requirements: First or second class honours degree or relevant experience Full or Part-time: Full-time, Part-time
School: School of Humanities Search all courses
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Based in the city that gave Charles Dickens inspiration throughout his writing life, this groundbreaking London research programme offers students unique access not only to world-class scholars and practitioners drawn from the field of Dickens Studies and the media but furthermore to the unique collections of the Charles Dickens Museum

Charles Dickens Museum - interior and exterior photographyIt is directed by Professor John Drew and Dr Pete Orford, Dickens experts of international reputation, who are also full-time members of the University’s highly regarded Department of English.

The course enables the student to undertake research on a specific topic, agreed with the supervisor, in any area of Dickens Studies: his novels, short fiction, journalism, plays, the public readings, adaptations of his work (cinematic, theatrical) as well as comparative work on translations, writing by precursors, contemporaries, rivals, imitators and inheritors. The research is presented in the form of three ‘Project Preliminaries’: an extended research proposal, an annotated bibliography, and a short research-based case study for which students will be invited to investigate either the archive holdings of the Charles Dickens Museum or the network of Dickens’s collaborators for his journals, as made available by the University’s celebrated project Dickens Journals Online. On successful completion of these three preliminary projects, students will then progress to their dissertation, written under the guidance of the supervisor, of not less than 20,000 words.

A central feature of the course will be its series of ten evening seminars with distinguished speakers, held both at the University’s Gower Street premises and in the Board Room of the Charles Dickens Museum, each followed by a dinner and discussion, in private rooms at a nearby restaurant in Bloomsbury.

Oliver Twist ManuscriptPrevious seminar speakers include:

Professor Michael Slater, MBE. Britain’s foremost Dickensian scholar and biographer; Professor Emeritus of Victorian Literature, Birkbeck College; former editor of The Dickensian.

Miriam Margolyes, OBE. Actress & BAFTA Award Winner. Deviser, co-writer & performer of the international award-winning show, Dickens’ Women.

Judith Flanders. Senior Research Fellow, Humanities Research Institute, University of Buckingham; author of award-winning works of Victorian social history, including The Invention of Murder, The Victorian House, The Victorian City, Everyday Life in Dickens’ London.

Lucinda Hawksley. Critic, broadcaster, great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, and author of recent books on Dickens’s circle, his artist daughter Katie, and the Pre-Raphaelites.

Dr Tony Williams. President of the international Dickens Fellowship, Associate Editor of The Dickensian, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the School of Humanities, University of Buckingham.

Dickens DreamThe incredibly wide-reaching influence and impact of Dickens as a writer, performer, editor and social reformer in the English-speaking world means that Dickens Studies can, therefore, span an equally wide range of research topics right across nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary and print culture. Themes addressed by the seminars will include:

  • the lights and shadows of Dickensian biography
  • Dickens as a short-story writer
  • Dickens’s reception in the twentieth-century
  • Dickens and the development of detective and thriller fiction
  • Dickens’s influence as an editor and social reformer
  • the cultural importance of adaptations of Dickens’s work
  • the power of Dickens’s language
  • the performative nature of Dickensian characters
  • Dickens in the digital age

The course will begin with three practical seminars about how to choose, research and write an academic dissertation, and how to handle archival materials, held at the University’s London offices, 51 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6HJ and at the Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street.

Places on the new course are limited in number, and early application is advised. For dates of the seminars, please click on “Teaching & Assessment”. Those wishing to attend the seminars, but not to undertake a dissertation, may join the course as Associate Students at a reduced fee.

Charles_Dickens_Museum_logoDickens specialists working alongside Professor Drew and Dr Orford in the Department of English or as Honorary Research Fellows include: Dr Jonathan Buckmaster, Dr Nick Cambridge, Dr Hazel Mackenzie, Professor David Paroissien, Dr Jeremy Parrott, Dr Paul Schlicke, Professor Cathy Waters, and Dr Tony Williams.

Full details in the Curriculum Handbook

For further details contact:
Ms Nancy Zulu on +44 (0)1280 820156


Entry Requirements

Entry requirements

The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows:

  • a first or second-class honours degree from a recognised university or,
  • a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience

Mature students

Age is no barrier to learning and we welcome all applications from suitably qualified students.  Due to their flexibility, our MAs by research attract a wide variety of applicants from a range of backgrounds, including people in full-time employment and retirees. Our current students range in age from 21 to 75.

International students

We are happy to consider all international applications and if you are an international student, you may find it useful to visit our international pages for details of entry requirements from your home country.

The University is a UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor.

English levels

If English is not your first language, please check our postgraduate English language requirements. If your English levels don’t meet our minimum requirements, you may be interested in applying for our Pre-sessional English Language Foundation Programmes.

Selection process

Wherever possible, you will be invited to the University to meet the Admissions Tutor for an informal interview and to have a tour of our campus. If you are an international applicant, it may not be possible for you to visit in person, so if the Admissions Tutor has any queries about your application you may be conducted by skype, email or phone.

The Admissions Team would be happy to answer any questions you may have:

Admissions Officer for English, History of Art and Media

Terms and conditions for prospective students

When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the terms and conditions between the University and students on our courses of study. When you accept an offer of a place on the course at the University a legal contract is formed between you and the University on the basis of the terms and conditions outlined in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the terms and conditions contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting any offer. Read the admissions terms and conditions > >


Teaching & Assessment

Teaching methods

The MA does not offer systematic instruction; instead, the emphasis is on independent research and one-to-one supervision.

At the heart of the Buckingham MA is the close working relationship between student and supervisor. While the final thesis must be an independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic (if necessary), on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the final text (which should be not less than 20,000 words). Supervisors and students will meet frequently throughout the year, and not less than twice a term; and the supervisor shall always be the student’s primary contact for academic advice and support.

The course will begin with three practical seminars about how to choose, research and write an academic dissertation, and how to handle archival materials, held at the University’s London offices, 51 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6HJ and at the Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street.

The provisional dates for the seminars and dinners will be available soon.

At the post-seminar dinners there will be an opportunity to continue the discussion in an informal environment. Attendance at these dinners is entirely at the choice of the student, and their cost is not covered by the tuition fee.

See the Humanities Curriculum Handbook for further course details.


After Your Degree

The University’s Course Directors, students’ supervisors, and the Research Officer and Tutor for Graduate Students are available to discuss students’ post-graduation plans and how they may utilise most effectively the skills acquired during their studies.


Fees & Scholarships

Please note that the University of Buckingham has four terms per year. The tuition fees quoted are for the degree (e.g. if you start a degree at Buckingham in January 2018, you will pay the same termly fee for the duration of your degree – you will not be affected by the price increase in September 2018). Students will pay the same termly fee for the duration of their studies, unless studies are interrupted and resumed later. The tuition fee quoted is therefore the total cost of the degree.

Please click here for Associate Student fees (or here for international Associate Student fees).

Postgraduate loan scheme

A new system of postgraduate loans for Masters degrees in the UK was introduced in August 2016 with support from the UK Government. The loan will provide up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.  Find out more >>


Details of scholarships can be found on our main Bursaries and Scholarships page. You should make an application to study at the University and receive an offer letter confirming our acceptance of your application before applying for a scholarship.

You may also find it useful to visit our External Funding page.

Fees may increase annually in line with inflation. For details, please see our Fees and Finance page.


Due to the mode of study on this course you will not normally need a room in University accommodation during your degree.

However, if you require short-term accommodation in Buckingham we would be happy to provide a list of local bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation. Alternatively, please contact our Accommodation Office for advice.