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M. Phil. in Popular Literature

Course Directors: Dr Bernice M. Murphy and Dr Clare Clarke, Lecturers in Popular Literature

Applying for this M.Phil:

Applications for 2018/19 will open in November 2017.

Closing Date:

Applications for the academic year 2018/19 are now open until April 30th. Late applications may be considered.

  • Please click here to apply.

For further information please click on the course website:

What We Do on the M.Phil in Popular Literature

The M.Phil in Popular Literature offers students a unique opportunity for the advanced study of popular literature and its immensely important place within modern culture. It traces the history of popular genres such as horror, science fiction, romance, fantasy and detective fiction, and offers a comprehensive introduction to contemporary theories of the popular. Participants will also choose from a range of specialist options on particular aspects of the popular. Students are therefore expected to engage with texts from the eighteenth-century onwards (the period when the idea of a truly 'mass' audience first emerged). While we will also be studying some more recent (twenty-first century) texts, these will constitute a relatively small percentage of the course material, which also incorporates texts from the Victorian, Edwardian, and early-mid Twentieth century periods.

Course Structure

The course lasts one year (beginning in mid-September and ending on August 30th) and is available on a full-time basis only. It comprises two main elements: a core course class meeting twice a week for two hours and an option course class once a week for two hours - participants will take one per term. Assessment is comprised of course work completed at the end of each term, and a 15,000-17,000 word dissertation undertaken by each student during the summer.


Assessment is by a combination of coursework and dissertation. Students must pass the dissertation component of the degree in order to be awarded an M.Phil.

Further Course Information

Please click here for more details on the course remit, and the core course/option schedules for 2017/18

Note: Prospective students should note that both the option modules and core course seminars offered will often change from one academic year to the next.

Why should I consider applying for this M.Phil?

The M.Phil. provides an invaluable starting point for those who wish to do further graduate study, but will also appeal to those wanting to develop their critical skills and knowledge in relation to an important aspect of contemporary literary studies.  The School of English at Trinity College Dublin has established itself over the past decade as a major international centre for the academic study of Popular Literature, and the M.Phil attracts applicants from all over the world.  

What qualifications do I need to apply?

To have a realistic chance of entry, students should have at least a high 2:1 honors degree (or home equivalent). This translates as roughly a 3:3 GPA. International applicants who have an ordinary degree should note that we can not accept these qualifications unless the applicant demonstrates that their result can be considered equivalent to a 2:1 honors degree in the Irish system.  

Writing Sample Required:

Applicants must upload a 3000 word academic writing sample.

Processing of Applications:

In order to facilitate the efficient processing of applications, we ask that applicants do their best to submit all supporting material when submitting the initial application form. It is also the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that references are submitted in a timely manner. Shortly after your application form is submitted, please check the system to ensure that referees have uploaded a reference. If, within two weeks of the submission of your application, there is no confirmation on the system that all references are uploaded, we ask that you send gentle reminders to your referees to upload references as soon as possible. Final decisions on applications will only be made when all supporting materials, including the sample essay, final transcripts, copies of final transcripts, scans of degree certificates, all documentation related to language requirements, and both references, are uploaded to the system by the applicant.


The core teaching team on the M.Phil have published extensively on specific popular genres, such as detective fiction, noir, horror and the gothic, romance fiction, Victorian popular fiction and pulp fiction. They are all extremely experienced lecturers in this subject area (and several others), and between them, have supervised hundreds of M.Phil and undergraduate dissertations on topics related to popular fiction ( as well as multiple PhD theses). Recent books authored by core lecturing staff include Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadows of Sherlock (Clare Clarke); The Emergence of Irish Gothic Fiction: History, Texts, Theories (Jarlath Killeen); the forthcoming textbook  Key Concepts in Contemporary Popular Fiction (Bernice M. Murphy) and the essay collection Lost Souls of Horror and the Gothic (Elizabeth McCarthy and Bernice M. Murphy).

The School of English

The School of English has a large and active cohort of research students, and five other taught Master’s courses. Participants in the M.Phil will therefore find themselves part of a long-established, welcoming, and vigorous academic community. A weekly staff-graduate research seminar offers a lively forum for debate and the exchange of ideas. Postgraduates of the School of English routinely go on to further research and successful careers, in the academy and other fields. Some of our graduates choose to continue their research into Popular Literature by advancing onto PhD programmes in TCD or elsewhere, while others have gone on to successful careers in teaching, publishing, librarianship, marketing and creative writing, as well as a wide range of other endeavours.

Further Information

For further information, please read this page carefully in order to see if your query has been answered already. If it has not, please email the course director:


Course Administrator
Diane Sadler
Senior Executive Officer
M.Phil in Popular Literature
School of English
Room 4024
Trinity College
Dublin 2