• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Humanities
  • Study Mode: Full Time

Comics & Graphic Novels MLitt / MDes

  • Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Study Abroad: No
  • Study Mode: Full Time
  • UCAS: P052711
Comics & Graphic Novels
comics and graphic novels
TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

 

Our Masters in Comics and Graphic Novels is the only course 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 expert staff are involved in making comics, researching comics, organising major comics conferences, and co-editing 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, producers of iconic titles such as the Beano, Dandy, Commando, Starblazer and Bunty. Drawing on such expertise, we can offer workshops with industry professionals. We also have contacts at other major comics publishers such as Chapterhouse Comics, Titan Comics and DiamondSteel Comics.

I feel like I learned and accomplished more in my 15 months in Dundee than during the previous 5 years of study, and I owe most of that to the tutors on the Masters in Comics and Graphic Novels. I could not have hoped for a better result for the decision to pursue a graduate degree in comics, and have now embarked on a PhD in comics. The tutors encouraged me at every stage, and with their guidance I converted an essay for the course into an academic essay which appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. I was also given the opportunity to present at conferences while at Dundee. All of this more than prepared me for my PhD in comics.

Madeline Gangnes, PhD Student

Published student work

Masters of UniVerse and Tales of the UniVerse are anthologies of student work from our current and former students

Aims of the course

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.

You can also practice creating comics from script writing to thumbnails, pencils, inks, lettering, colouring and production methods.

These analytical and creative skills, combined with assessments that test presentational and communication skills and problem solving abilities, are essential in the workplace. The fact that the course is interdisciplinary in its approach (looking at writing 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.

Is this the course for you?

You'll 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 critical and practical skills related to the creation of comics.

Our graduates have gone on to work as:

  • professional comics artists
  • freelance comics artists
  • commissioning editors
  • PhD students
  • comics scholars
Comics Studies

We offer a regular postgraduate forum, visiting speakers and an annual postgraduate conference. Students benefit from a range of Generic Skills classes throughout the year.

You'll have access to the Cam Kennedy Comics Studio and also dedicated media labs fitted out with all the equipment required to produce traditional and digital publications.

There are also several activities related to comics, with an annual Comics Week as part of the Literary Festival. The Comics Week has attracted world famous industry professionals, including writers such as Grant Morrison, John Wagner, Robbie Morrison, Warren Ellis and Pat Mills, artists such as Dave Gibbons, Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart, David Lloyd, Tanya Roberts, Alan Davis, Rian Hughes, Hunt Emerson, and editors like Dez Skinn.

Close links with industry experts

Visiting industry guest speakers include Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Frank Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman & Robin), Colin MacNeil (former DJCAD and Judge Dredd Artist), Cam Kennedy (Star Wars), Pat Mills (creator of 2000ad), David Bishop (former 2000ad Editor), Kate Brown (The Pheonix, Fish + Chocolate), Montynero (Death Sentence), Dan McDaid (IDW Judge Dredd), Alex Ronald (2000ad and Titan cover artist) and staff from DC Thomson including Ian Kennedy (Dan Dare).

Dundee is also the home of Dundee Comics Creative Space, the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies and the comics and anime festial Dee-Con. The journal Studies in Comics is edited from within the course, and the University archive and museum service have been steadily building up a collection of original artworks by comics artists and cartoonists from the late 19th century up to today. We also have our very own imprint, UniVerse, which publishes our students' work.

Comics legend Ian Kennedy delivers a live drawing masterclass at Dundee Comics Creative Space

Watch on YouTube

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

How you will be taught

The MLitt is led by Professor Chris Murray with the MDes led by Phillip Vaughan.

A variety of teaching methods are used, including: small group teaching, one-to-one teaching, supervised study, seminars, tutorials, presentations, invited speakers and discussion groups, lectures, workshops, practical classes and demonstrations.

How you will be assessed

The assessment methods used in this course include weekly journals, presentations, research essays,  dissertations and projects. Some of the option modules include assessment of creative work accompanied by reflective essays.

Dissertations and projects 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 or creation of your own choosing (subject to approval by the tutor).

What you will study

There are two teaching semesters, from September to December and from January to March. You'll study the core modules below, plus your choice of optional modules

From April onwards, you'll write your dissertation or produce your major project.

Core Modules for MLitt

Credit rating: 20

The aim of the module is to introduce students to critical approaches to comics and graphic novels. It is a core module in the Comics Studies MLitt and helps students apply a range of theoretical perspectives to the study of comics, as well as considering the development of Comics Theory.

Indicative topics:

  • Comics Theory and Visual Culture
  • Marxism, Historicism and Materialism
  • Gender and Feminism
  • Modernism and Structuralism
  • Psychoanalysis and Post-Colonialism
  • Post-Modernism and Metafiction

Credit rating: 40

This module introduces students to a variety of comics emerging from different national traditions, facilitating an understanding of the differences and similarities between these comics cultures.

We trace the formal and cultural relationships between the art, writing and production of French, Belgian, British, American, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese comics, and also focus on the emerging comics cultures of India, Iran, Africa and South America. The focus is on the specific national styles and production history, but also points towards their convergence, and the role of the internet comics in making the comics medium and industry more international and inter-related.

Course Outline

  • Week 1: Introduction to course
  • Week 2: British Comics 1: From Hogarth to The Beano: selected stories
  • Week 3: British Comics 2: The Eagle, 2000AD and Charley’s War: selected stories
  • Week 4: American Comics: From The Yellow Kid to Crumb: selected stories, including examples from Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Superman, Spider-Man, and EC horror and war stories
  • Week 5: Belgian and Italian Comics: Masereel, The City and Herge, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Destination Moon, and Lorenzo Mattotti, Fires
  • Week 6: French Comics 1: Classic Bande Dessinée: René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, Asterix the Gaul, and Edgar Pierre Jacobs, Blake and Mortimer
  • Week 7: French Comics 2: Modern Bande Dessinée: Jacques Tardi, It Was the War of the Trenches and Moebius, selected stories
  • Week 8: Polish and Russian Komics: Andrzej Klimowski, The Secret and Nikolai Maslov, Siberia
  • Week 9: Japanese Comics 1: Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy and Machiko Hasegawa, Sazae-san
  • Week 10: Japanese Comics 2: Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Lone Wolf and Cub, and Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira
  • Week 11: Emerging Comics Cultures (China, India, Africa, South America): selected stories

Credit rating: 60

The Dissertation is a sixty-credit core module which allows you to devise, construct and complete a major piece of independent research as part of your MLitt degree. It will provide you with the research practice which you will need to complete the MLitt and, if you so wish, to undertake further research in English at Doctoral level.

To complete the module you will need to research and write a dissertation of 18,000 words in your chosen area of research. You will be given advice on how to choose and plan your dissertation and on the kinds of texts ands materials you need to discuss and the relevant methodological approaches which you need to engage with.

 

Core Modules for MDes

No of credits: 20

This module is intended to promote knowledge and understanding of contemporary professional practices and production techniques employed in the comics industry and to equip students with the skills to produce a comic and/or graphic novel that is ready for print. There will be practical workshops relating to the production methods employed in comics, alongside seminars and individual supervision. There will also be guests from the comics industry who will give workshops in their methods and offer practical insights into professional comics production.

Number of credits: 60

Once you have progressed (passed 120 credits) the last component of the MDes degree is the major project, a comic or graphic novel of 22 pages or more. Students will devise a proposal for the major project and will be required to design, write, and illustrate the piece of work, and critically reflect upon it. This will be supported by individual supervisors allocated to each student, relevant to their interests. Student time will be divided between production work, supervision meetings, a reflective essay or blog, technical workshops (where appropriate), and personal study time.

Credit rating: 20

This module offers sessions on how to create comics, combining practical workshops with some comics theory, and the close analysis of comic pages in order to see how they work.

The main outcome of the module is a piece of creative work, although students do not have to be accomplished writers or artists to take the module, and if students cannot make a comic as part of the assessment the creative element can be replaced with a critical, theoretical or analytical research essay.

Optional modules (shared between both courses):

No of credits: 20

This module is intended to promote knowledge and understanding of contemporary professional practices and production techniques employed in the comics industry and to equip students with the skills to produce a comic and/or graphic novel that is ready for print. There will be practical workshops relating to the production methods employed in comics, alongside seminars and individual supervision. There will also be guests from the comics industry who will give workshops in their methods and offer practical insights into professional comics production.

Credit rating: 20

The aim of the module is to introduce students to critical approaches to comics and graphic novels. It is a core module in the Comics Studies MLitt and helps students apply a range of theoretical perspectives to the study of comics, as well as considering the development of Comics Theory.

Indicative topics:

  • Comics Theory and Visual Culture
  • Marxism, Historicism and Materialism
  • Gender and Feminism
  • Modernism and Structuralism
  • Psychoanalysis and Post-Colonialism
  • Post-Modernism and Metafiction

Credit rating: 40

This module introduces students to a variety of comics emerging from different national traditions, facilitating an understanding of the differences and similarities between these comics cultures.

We trace the formal and cultural relationships between the art, writing and production of French, Belgian, British, American, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese comics, and also focus on the emerging comics cultures of India, Iran, Africa and South America. The focus is on the specific national styles and production history, but also points towards their convergence, and the role of the internet comics in making the comics medium and industry more international and inter-related.

Course Outline

  • Week 1: Introduction to course
  • Week 2: British Comics 1: From Hogarth to The Beano: selected stories
  • Week 3: British Comics 2: The Eagle, 2000AD and Charley’s War: selected stories
  • Week 4: American Comics: From The Yellow Kid to Crumb: selected stories, including examples from Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Superman, Spider-Man, and EC horror and war stories
  • Week 5: Belgian and Italian Comics: Masereel, The City and Herge, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Destination Moon, and Lorenzo Mattotti, Fires
  • Week 6: French Comics 1: Classic Bande Dessinée: René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, Asterix the Gaul, and Edgar Pierre Jacobs, Blake and Mortimer
  • Week 7: French Comics 2: Modern Bande Dessinée: Jacques Tardi, It Was the War of the Trenches and Moebius, selected stories
  • Week 8: Polish and Russian Komics: Andrzej Klimowski, The Secret and Nikolai Maslov, Siberia
  • Week 9: Japanese Comics 1: Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy and Machiko Hasegawa, Sazae-san
  • Week 10: Japanese Comics 2: Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Lone Wolf and Cub, and Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira
  • Week 11: Emerging Comics Cultures (China, India, Africa, South America): selected stories

Credit rating: 20

This module offers sessions on how to create comics, combining practical workshops with some comics theory, and the close analysis of comic pages in order to see how they work.

The main outcome of the module is a piece of creative work, although students do not have to be accomplished writers or artists to take the module, and if students cannot make a comic as part of the assessment the creative element can be replaced with a critical, theoretical or analytical research essay.

Credit rating: 20

The aim of the module is to introduce students to a wide variety of superhero comics, from the 1930s to present, and to explore how the genre, and the figure of the superhero, has been used as propaganda, or has been appropriated for political satire. It will also look at the relationship between the superhero as presented in comics and in other mediums (such as literature, film, animation, and games).

Indication of weekly topics:

The Origin of the Superhero - Falk, The Phantom / Siegel and Shuster, Superman / Kane and Finger, Batman

The Superhero at War - Simon and Kirby, Captain America / Beck, Captain Marvel / Post 9/11 comics

Wonder Women - Martson and Peters, Wonder Woman / Mills, Miss Fury / Conner, Power Girl /Hicks, The Adventures of Superhero Girl

The Superhero Reborn - Lee and Kirby, The Fantastic Four / Lee and Ditko, Spider-Man

Fall of the Superhero - O’Neil and Adams, Green Lantern and Green Arrow / Claremont and Byrne, X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga / Miller and Mazzucchelli, Daredevil: Born Again / Miller and Mazzucchelli, Batman Year One / Miller, The Dark Knight Returns / Moore and Gibbons, Watchmen / Mills and O’Neill, Marshal Law

The British Superhero - Gifford, Streamline / Anglo, Marvelman / Morrison and Yeowell, Zenith / Morrison and Quitely, Flex Mentallo

The Contemporary Superhero - Millar and McNiven, Civil War / Cooke, The New Frontier / Morrison and Quitely, All Star Superman / Wilson and Alphona, Ms Marvel / Fraction and Aja, Hawkeye   

Credit rating: 20

The aim of this module is to introduce you to a wide variety of science fiction comics, and to the treatment of various themes, such as the atomic age, apocalypse, time travel, robots, cyberpunk, and steampunk, in these comics.

We will look at the relationship between the science fiction genre in comics and in other mediums (such as literature and film).

We will also consider the use of satire and allegory in science fiction comics.

Indicative Weekly Topics:

  • Introduction - Flash Gordon (Alex Raymond)
  • The Atomic Age: EC Comics - Weird Science and Weird Fantasy; Fantastic Four (Lee and Kirby); Dan Dare (Frank Hampton)
  • International Science Fiction: The Incal (Jodorowsky and Moebius); Akira and Memories (Katsuhiro Otomo); El Eternauta (Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López)
  • British Science Fiction: 2000AD; Dare (Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes)
  • Post-Apocalypse: The Last American (John Wagner, Alan Grant and Mike McMahon); Freakangels (Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield)
  • Steampunk: The Adventures of Luther Arkwright (Bryan Talbot); Aetheric Mechanics (Warren Ellis and Gianluca Pagliarani)
  • Satire and Allegory: Give Me Liberty (Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons);We3 (Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely)
  • Presentations

Credit rating: 20

This module introduces students to autobiographical and documentary comics, two modes that have come to dominate independent comics publishing since the mid 1990s.

We 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) are also discussed.

Themes such as trauma, identity, gender, documentary and journalism are 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). 

Credit rating: 20

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. We explore issues of fidelity, and the complex relationship between these two visual mediums.

"In Scotland there's a wonderful course at the University of Dundee where you can get a master's in comic art and I've helped teach that course."

Dave Gibbons
Co-creator of Watchmen
(Observer, 2017)

This course offers excellent employment opportunities for anyone interested in working in the field of comics, either critically or creatively. 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.

You'll have networking opportunities throughout the course, you'll meet with industry professionals and there will be opportunities to attend and organise major comic conventions. There are also opportunities for internships.

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.

Kirsten Murray

The Comics and graphic novels course allowed me a deeper insight into the world of comics. After I graduated, I gained employment at Titan comics as an Assistant Editor. Following this I was offered a job at DC Thomson in Dundee as a Comics Commissioning Editor. My CV now boasts an impressive list of skills attained at Titan and DC Thomson. I have lettered numerous works; proofread scripts and pitches; edited various comics; and been involved with titles such as Doctor Who, Elric, Death Sentence, and Snowpiercer, to name but a few.

Kirsten Murray
DC Thomson, Heritage Brand Manager

Rossi Gifford

The Comics course I took in dundee changed everything for me. The support from my tutors, and the guests who spoke to us were terrific. I learned lots about the industry, and it really pushed me to succeed. I now live in Canada, and have a publisher, Chapterhouse Comics, who are printing my work, ‘Spirit Leaves’, which is available worldwide, through Diamond Comics Distributors. I also create character designs for Animated TV Series in Toronto.

Rossi Gifford
Chapterhouse Comics, Canada

You'll normally be expected to have a 2:1 honours degree in Humanities, Art & Design or a related discipline. 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.
For the MDes, you'll need to submit a portfolio of up to 15 relevant still images, preferably comic pages, sequential art, character designs or conceptual art, sent as a PDF.

 EU and International qualifications


English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 6.0
Reading 6.0
Writing 6.5
Speaking 6.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers

 

English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are 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.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application.

 Find out more about fee status

Fee statusFees for students starting 2018-19
Scottish and EU students £6,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £6,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £16,450 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Funding

This is an initiative from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) designed to support key sectors in the Scottish economy to develop a high-level skills base, the University of Dundee is pleased to offer 60 fully-funded places to eligible students across ten taught postgraduate programmes.

Eligibility

Only those UK/EU students who have been resident in Scotland or the EU for the preceding three years and not for the purposes of study are eligible for this funding.

Funding

This funding covers the full tuition fee cost for your chosen programme of study.  You can study one year full time or two years part time on selected programmes.

How to apply

There is no formal application to complete, when you apply for your chosen programme please indicate on the UKPASS application form that you would like to be considered for the SFC funded places.   If you have not indicated this scholarship on your UKPASS application if you meet the eligibility criteria your application will automatically be assessed for this funded place.

Funded places will be awarded competitively to applicants with the strongest applications in the judgement of the programme leaders. This will principally be based on a student's prior academic performance, but equivalent work experience may also be taken into account. 

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate (UKPASS) website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the How to Apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course Code
Apply NowComics & Graphic Novels MLittP052711
Apply NowComics & Graphic Novels MDesP052712

Course Contact

Professor Christopher Murray (for Mlitt)
Phillip Vaughan (for MDes)
c.murray@dundee.ac.uk | p.b.vaughan@dundee.ac.uk
+44 (0)1382 384907 | +44 (0)1382 385296

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