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Comics Studies


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 2014, apply before 18th July 2014, 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.

"I thoroughly enjoyed studying Comics this year, you have given me a real love and understanding of the medium"
Current student, 2011

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.

"We have our own dedicated Comics Studio in the Tower Building where we can work on our projects and coursework throughout the year, with drawing tables, computers, and scanners."
Read Kirsten's blog

Postgraduate culture

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.

"The English department at Dundee were incredibly supportive in many ways and I left with terrific memories. From performances with the JOOT Theatre Company, through being encouraged to explore my own research interests, to one of the most nourishing environments in which to attend and participate in conferences, it really was a brilliant place in which to learn and develop whether you intended to continue to study or move on to the job market."

Karen Graham, former postgraduate student in the English department

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).

Programme Content

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 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.

Core Modules

Autobiographix: Documentary and Autobiographical Comics

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). 

Find out more about this module.

International Comics Culture

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.

Find out more about this module.

Option Modules

Creating Comics

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.

Find out more about this module.

Digital Comics

This module introduces students to digital comics and the issues involved in producing comics digitally. It will explore the relationship between traditional comics and the potential of digital technology to revolutionise the medium. It will also explore the complex questions that arise at the boundaries between digital comics and animation and computer games. Students will be involved in creating a digital comic, and will cover technological and formal elements, as well as the economics of digital comics. This will be supported by workshops provided by expert practitioners, giving the students a sense of how the comic industry is responding to the rise of digital comics.

Find out more about this module.

Comics and Film

This module introduces students to the relationship between comics and film. These mediums have, in many respects, a shared history. This module examines the similarities and differences between comics and film through analysis of comics that have been adapted into films, and films that have been adapted into comics. It will explore issues of fidelity, and the complex relationship between these two visual mediums.

Find out more about this module.


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.

Entry Requirements

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.

EU and International students visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country.

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.

English Language Pre-Sessional Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional programmes throughout the year and Foundation Programme(s) for both undergraduate and postgraduate students which start at the beginning of the academic year.  These programmes are all designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.  Successful completion of these programmes guarantees progression to various degrees at the University of Dundee as long as you hold a relevant offer.

The 30 week (one Academic Year) Foundation Programme(s) allow applicants who have not met our typical academic entry requirements, and require additional English Language support by up to 1.0 IELTS, to gain the necessary qualifications to enter the University of Dundee degree programmes in the following year.

The 24 week Pre-Sessional programme (March – August) provides additional English Language tuition for students who do not meet our minimum English Language requirements by up to 1.0 IELTS and the 10 week Pre-Sessional programme  (June – August) (October – December) provides specialist English Language tuition for students who are 0.5 IELTS below the requirement for their degree programme.

Fees and Funding

Academic Year Home/EU Overseas
2014-15 £3,800 £11,500

Sources of Funding

Comics  Scholarship

£1,500 Scholarship towards tuition fee for Home/EU students entering the MLitt in Film Studies programme ( £750 if studying part-time)

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.

Living Costs

  • 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.

Your Application

Apply online via UKPASS

You must read the information regarding how to upload relevant documents to UKPASS before proceeding with your application.


Course Contact

Dr 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 Contact

Postgraduate 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)