Our unique MLitt in Comics Studies examines comics from the point of view of critical analysis (in terms of genre, style, formal properties and history) and also provides training in the creative aspects of comics production. The course leads to excellent employment opportunities for anyone interested in working in the field of comics - either creatively or in the production industry.
Closing date: For entry Sept 2013, apply before 19th July 2013, if you need a visa to study in the UK
Why study Comics Studies at Dundee?
The MLitt in Comics Studies is the only programme of its kind in the UK, and Dundee is one of only a handful of institutions in the world offering the opportunity to study comics at postgraduate level.
Our programme has grown out of the expertise of the course leader, Dr Chris Murray, who researches comics, organises major comics conferences, and co-edits one of the few peer-reviewed journals in this expanding field.
Close links with industry experts
The city of Dundee is a recognised powerhouse of comics production. It is home to DC Thomson & Co Ltd, who produce iconic titles such as the Beano, Dandy, Commando, Starblazer and Bunty. Drawing on such expertise, we can offer workshops with industry professionals and even the possibility of a placement with DC Thomson.
Aims of the Programme
This course will provide you with an understanding of the comics medium and the comics industry, and their relation to different genres, national cultures, and various media. You will be encouraged to think critically about these ideas, and to appreciate the importance of relating critical close analysis of style and form to theory, context, politics and history.
These analytical skills, combined with assessment that tests presentational and communication skills and problem solving abilities, are essential in the workplace. The fact that the programme is inherently interdisciplinary in its approach (looking at literature and visual culture together) means that we foster creativity and ingenuity in developing critical approaches to the work.
Coming from overseas?
Our course will provide you with educational and cultural experiences which are unique to the UK, and will give you a familiarity with the role UK comics publishers and creators have had in influencing the global comics industry.
Who should study this course?
If you have an interest in the creative side of comics or graphic novels, either as a writer or artist, you will find the course very useful in terms of expanding your knowledge of the history of comics, and the artistic and literary potential of the medium. You will get the opportunity to enhance practical skills related to the creation of comics.
This course will also be of benefit to anyone who hopes to work in the popular media or publishing.
The English department provides a lively postgraduate culture, including a regular postgraduate forum, a postgraduate website, visiting speakers and an annual postgraduate conference held in Dundee.
There are also several activities related to Comics Studies, with an annual Comics Day as part of the Literary Festival. The Comics Day has attracted world famous industry professionals, including writers such as Warren Ellis and Pat Mills, artists such as Alan Davis, Rian Hughes, Hunt Emerson, and editors like Dez Skinn.
The Dundee Comics Society holds regular talks by comics writers and artists. Dundee is also the home of D-Con, an annual Manga festival. The journal Studies in Comics is edited from within the programme, and the University library has a good selection of comics and graphic novels.
Teaching & Assessment
This course is taught primarily by the English team, based in the School of Humanities, with creative input from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. Staff include Dr Chris Murray and Phillip Vaughan.
The course starts in September each year and lasts for 12 months on a full time basis or 24 months on a part time basis.
A variety of teaching methods are used, including: small group teaching, supervised study, seminars, presentations, invited speakers and discussion groups, lectures, workshops, practical classes and demonstrations.
The assessment methods used in this course include weekly journals, presentations, research essays, and dissertations. Some of the option modules include assessment of creative work accompanied by reflective essays.
Dissertations are supervised on a one-to-one basis to ensure continuity, and this will provide you with the opportunity to work on an area of comics study of your own choosing (subject to approval by the tutor).
There are two teaching semesters, from September to December and from January to March. During each of these semesters, you will study one core module plus one option module (see below for details).
From April onwards, you will write a dissertation in either English Studies or Creative Writing.
All students must attempt the dissertation. Students whose dissertation fails to satisfy the examiners will be awarded the PG Diploma, provided that the taught elements of the course have been successfully completed.
Autobiographix: Documentary and Autobiographical Comics (September to December)
This module introduces students to autobiographical and documentary comics, two modes that have come to dominate independent comics publishing since the mid 1990s. This module will consider the origins of autobiographical comics in the Underground comix of the 1960s, and the emergence of documentary comics in the 1980s, both in American and British comics (although comics from other countries, notably Japan and Iran) will also be discussed.
Themes such as trauma, identity, gender, documentary and journalism will be examined, along with the formal properties of the comics medium, in order to consider what makes the medium so successful and appropriate for dealing with highly personal themes, and as political tracts. Given the highly personal subject matter of these comics they are usually produced by writer/artists, so issues of autuerism, and the particular "signature" style of both the writing and the artwork would be key themes (how these intertwine, or indeed, the tensions between them).
International Comics Culture (January to March)
This module will introduce students to a variety of comics emerging from different national traditions, facilitating an understanding of the differences and similarities between these comics cultures. The module would trace the formal and cultural relationships between the art, writing and production of French, Belgian, British, American, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese comics, and will also focus on the emerging comics cultures of India, Iran, Africa and South America. The focus will be on the specific national styles and production history, but will also point towards their convergence, and the role of the internet comics in making the comics medium and industry more international and inter-related.
This module will offer educational practical workshops relating to the creation of comics, alongside seminars and individual supervision, offering guidance on how these potential comic creators might go about establishing themselves in the world of comics publishing, and insight into the practical side of comics production.
This module will involve some staff input from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.
Writing, Texts and Books
This module examines the questions: what is book history? What is an author? What impact does the marketplace have on the production of texts? What place does reviewing have on the construction of a text? What is the impact of book prizes? It introduces some key debates in book history which aims to study texts as material artefacts that circulate within institutional frameworks of literary cultures such as those of publishing, the academy, and the marketplace. Key topics include: authorship, readers, book covers, editing, publishing, literary reception, literary prizes, little magazines and the material transformations of print culture(s).
This module will enable students to develop their awareness of a variety of scriptwriting methods, styles, forms, and techniques, and how these relate to the 'finished' product (the film, play, or comic). It will include topics such as:
- Writing for Film: analysis of the scripts for The Happening, A Perfect Getaway, In Bruges and The Apartment
- Writing for the Theatre: critical analysis of performance texts by Beckett, Complicite, Tim Crouch and Chris Goode
- Writing for Comics: The Marvel Method and the emergence of comics writers, analysing scripts by various writers, such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and Mark Millar
The final third of the module consists of workshops with playwrights, film script writers and a comics writer and is supported by individual supervision sessions.
This course offers good employment opportunities for anyone interested in working in the field of comics, either creatively or in the industry from a production point of view. You will also meet many industry professionals during the course, and have the chance to make valuable connections.
Students taking this programme may also choose to pursue academic careers, work in the media, or in the creative industries or publishing. An understanding of comics cuts across publishing, computer games, the internet, television, and film.
Additionally, the high levels of analysis, problem-solving abilities and the presentational and communication skills that you will develop on this course are highly valued by employers.
Learn more about careers related to the Humanities on our Careers Service website.
Students will normally be expected to have a 2:1 honours degree in English or a related discipline. This would include areas such as History, Art, Design, Literature, Linguistics and Semiotics. If your academic background does not meet our requirements but you have extensive experience or work in this area then the Course Director would be interested to consider your application; please ensure that your Personal Statement clarifies.
English Language Requirement
English Language Requirement: IELTS of 7.0 overall, with no component less than 7.0 (or equivalent), if your first language is not English. Please check our Language Requirements page for details of equivalent grades from other test providers, and information about the University of Dundee English Language courses.
Fees and Funding
Sources of Funding
Information about the School of Humanities scholarships can be found on the School of Humanities scholarships webpage.
Other sources of funding for postgraduate students can be found on our Scholarships webpage.
- Dundee is ranked as one of the most affordable places for students to live in the UK, and the cost of living is around 15% cheaper than the UK average.
- Increasing numbers of students are successfully undertaking part-time work to supplement their income. You can get advice from our Careers Service, both about job opportunities and how to find a suitable study/work/life balance. EU and international students are also allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.
- As a student in Scotland, you have free access to the National Health Service. Visits to doctors and hospitals, as well as prescriptions, sight tests and dental checkups, are available free of charge.
Apply online via UKPASS
Course ContactDr Christopher Murray
School of Humanities
University of Dundee
Telephone: 01382 384907 (from the UK)
Telephone: +44 1382 384907 (from outside the UK)
Fax: 01382 386794 (from the UK)
Fax: +44 1382 386794 (from outside the UK)
Admissions ContactPostgraduate Admissions
Admissions and Student Recruitment
University of Dundee
Telephone: 01382 384 384 (from the UK)
Telephone: +44 1382 384 384 (from outside the UK)
Fax: 01382 385 500 (from the UK)
Fax: +44 1382 385 500 (from outside the UK)