Jane Austen's England [c.1775 - 1817]
The author Jane Austen's lifetime (1775-1817) spans a fascinating period of British history and both she and her writings need to be understood in the context of her time.
This MA concentrates on the world in which Austen lived and it explores the wider social, political and cultural history of a vital period between the American Revolution and the end of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, events that bookend Austen’s life.
Why study Jane Austen's England [c.1775 - 1817]?
The course takes students from the last years of George III's active monarchy through to the Regency, and it also encourages students to engage with a complex society that was undergoing rapid growth, commercial/industrial development and growing demands for reform at home, while simultaneously restoring its imperial credentials and expanding to become Europe's leading international power. Additionally it examines the nature of contemporary debates and discussions about gender through Austen's life, work and the characters that she created reflecting the gendered expectations and tensions that operated in both women's and men's lives at the time.
Those studying this course will also benefit from its location in Bath and from the well-established association of Bath Spa University with the heritage sector, specifically through our close connections with the Jane Austen Centre, Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton House Library, and the Holburne and other Bath Museums. This will enable students to learn how Jane Austen’s England is used to generate both income and provide jobs in the contemporary local and international worlds, and encourage them to use their own knowledge and imagination to contribute to this. It also allows opportunities to use academic expertise across Bath Spa University and in the multi-disciplinary Centre for History and Culture.
The MA would be earned by successfully completing 180 credits as follows:
- two 30-credit compulsory modules;
- a combination of optional modules totalling 30/60 credits depending on Dissertation;
- a 60/90-credit Dissertation.
Compulsory Modules (30 credits):
- Austen’s England, c.1775–1820
- Research Skills and Methods
Optional Modules (30 credits):
These would include but are not restricted to:
- Gender and Society in Austen’s England, c.1775–1820
- Jane Austen and Bath: Life, Letters and Literature
- Jane Austen: Her Novels, Life and Afterlife
- Students are able to take a maximum of 30 credits of elective from an award other than the one for which they are registered. For example, The Country and the City in History (taught as part of the MA: Literature, Landscape and Environment). A list of open and elective modules available in any one academic year are normally circulated to all students in July prior to the beginning of the next academic session in October.
Students will be assigned an individual dissertation supervisor, who will work with them on a one-to-one basis to develop an original piece of historical research of 15,000/20,000 words.
The 60-credit dissertation represents a detailed piece of research carried out by the student who, although supervised by a member of the academic staff, will be expected to work independently, to demonstrate sufficient mastery of the chosen topic and an appropriate ability in the organisation and presentation of the material.
The 90-credit dissertation is offered to students who demonstrate a clear grasp of their subject matter, and who therefore would benefit from devoting themselves more fully to the dissertation topic, rather than taking another taught module
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This programme has been designed to enable students to combine academic study with the needs of family and/or paid employment.
Individual study materials, workshop activity preparation tasks and follow-up discussions will be disseminated in class and/or through Minerva (students are expected to refer to Minerva [The BSU VLE] on a regular basis). Individual tutorials with module tutors and/or supervisors will be used to provide students with assignment feedback and project/dissertation guidance. Seminars and workshops provide opportunities for shared learning and peer support.
Seminars and Seminar Presentations
Learning is encouraged through participation in a wide variety of activities. Most Master’s courses are taught through discussion-based seminars which aim to give students the opportunity to discuss concepts and interpretations, and develop their own ideas. Teaching will also include a variety of lectures, workshops, tutorials and online activities. All modules will be taught by specialists and may include guest speakers or other experts.
Being prepared for seminars is vitally important to getting the most out of the MA programme. Completing the assigned readings/tasks well in advance of the seminar facilitates participation. Even diffident students should aim to contribute to the discussion at least once in every class. While the tutor running the seminar will often set a question for the seminar, or assign a discussion topic based on readings, seminars are commonly opened by a brief presentation from a student or pair of students.
Topics for presentations will be allocated at the start of each module. The substance of presentations will vary according to the questions posed; however, their wider purpose is to stimulate discussion. While individual tutors may occasionally ask for longer presentations, most will be in the range of 15–20 minutes. Students must be prepared to read beyond the reading list or assigned readings in order to speak with authority on their topics. Those students who are uncomfortable with presentations may wish to consult a reference guide, such as Rebecca Stott, Speaking your Mind: Oral Presentation and Seminar Skills (Harlow, 2001).
Typically, a 30-credit module (300 hours of learning activity) might require a student to undertake:
- 30 hours of directed preparatory work. This might consist of required reading/research and the completion of short formative assignments before attendance at seminars/workshops;
- 30 hours of class-contact depending upon the nature of the module. This might consist of two to four three-hour workshops, attendance at a whole-day event, and participation in a series of on-line discussions/activities;
- 40 hours of visits to libraries, archives and record offices, for the purpose of comparative and contextual research;
- 200 hours of self-directed study, and work on assessed assignments. Typically students will prepare one item of written work for each module.
International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.
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Applicants will normally have a good first degree (2.i or above) in History. Applicants without a 2.i may be considered if they can demonstrate relevant experience; they may be asked to attend an interview.
While some students may wish to use the MA as the basis for advanced postgraduate study in History and move on to a PhD programme at BSU or elsewhere, we realise that many of our students will be using what they have gained from the MA programme in the wider world of work. A masters degree will enable you to further develop the key skills employers seek such as: time management; problem solving; team work; deadline and project management; cultural awareness; working independently; using your initiative; relationship-building; critical thinking and research analysis. Above all, you will learn to communicate your ideas and enthusiasm to a wide range of audiences. Emphasis on the close reading of texts, the development of sophisticated critical analyses of debates and issues, the construction of argument from partial or contradictory sources and the development of syntheses, all lend themselves to transferability. So too does the attention to presentation and voice in oral and written work. Successful postgraduates from the MA will offer additional skills to employers in, among others, the heritage sector and creative industries.
About 50% of master’s graduates enter careers that are open to graduates of any discipline but require a range of transferable skills gained from your academic, life and work experience. Some ‘any discipline’ areas include:
- General management
- Financial services
- Advertising and marketing
- Public relations
- Law enforcement