Develop your appreciation for English literature through a diverse curriculum.


The Department teaches world literature written in English. Our curriculum is not traditional in the mundane sense of the word, but considers the ongoing dialogue between tradition and innovation, and the conversation among European, colonial and postcolonial writers.

Members of the Department are actively engaged in researching various areas of literary study, including South African literature, maritime fiction, Shakespeare and early modern studies, literary theory, jazz and country music, Zimbabwean literature, English in education (multiliteracies and multimodality), postcolonial conflict, travel writing, South African theatre, contemporary American literature and culture, representations of trauma, and authors as diverse as Henry James, Nuruddin Farah, Chinua Achebe, Ivan Vladislavic, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Damon Galgut, Aravind Adiga, Richard Hughes, Kiran Desai, Dave Eggers and Abdulrazak Gurnah.



Courses offered include:

The ABC of Travel Writing is an interdisciplinary postgraduate course which includes a broad historical and theoretical overview of selected travel writings from the classical period to the present day.

The Modernist Novel and the Crisis of Modern Thought focuses on the evolution of Western thought in the later nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. This course engages with the prevailing interrogation of notions such as subjectivity, religious faith and political engagement, as well as emerging conceptions of language and related theories of aesthetic representation. 

Theory of Literature explores some of the major developments in literary theory which have occurred during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

Social Change in the 19th Century Novel takes into consideration Georg Lukàcs’s theory that novels reflect the structure of historical and social reality and the Marxist view of history as a dialectical class struggle. The course is structured around seminal European novels written in periods of important social and cultural upheaval.

American Literature consists of three independent modules, each with its own focus on particular aspects of American cultural history and aesthetic production.

Renaissance Literature highlights the adventurousness of English Renaissance authors in both poetry and drama.

Medieval Literature explores the various portrayals of heroism in medieval English literature. Students also have the opportunity of extending their linguistic expertise in Old and Middle English.

Postmodernism in Literature is probably the most contemporary course on the Honours curriculum, aiming to chart not only key practices in today’s literature (including film), but also how these relate, or do not relate, to current contexts.

South African and Post-Colonial Literature focuses on late twentieth-century and contemporary South African fiction.

Creative Writing: “Experiments in Telling” aims to encourage students with a literary or humanities background to produce creative work of their own.

Entry Requirements


Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree with at least a 70% average in third-year English (literary studies), depending upon the institution, and at the discretion of the Postgraduate Convener. Highly qualified applicants with a degree in English education will also be considered. 

Additional requirements may apply.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at www.wits.ac.za/askwits.

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.