Master of Arts in Comparative Modern Literature

The programme responds to a number of cultural developments that influence the place of literature in contemporary society. In addition to focusing on these developments, the programme also explores academic research of literary texts.

Master's Programme
1 year 60 credits
Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
About the programme
Programme summary
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After graduation


The Master of Comparative Modern Literature is one of the four MA programmes following the Bachelor of Linguistics and Literature: two languages, but the programme is open to other graduate Bachelor’s students with an interest in modern literature as well. If you have taken a literature course unit during your BA programme, you are welcome.

The Master of Comparative Modern Literature responds to a number of cultural developments that have profoundly determined the place of literature in contemporary society. More new books appear every year. In a competitive and rapidly changing environment, publishers make an effort to keep literary heritage on the market. Newspapers, magazines and other media in varying degrees pay attention to literature. A growing number of professional organizations is engaged in the promotion of literature and is taking initiatives to bring literary texts and their creators to a wider audience. The government plays a role as well. In the Master of Comparative Modern Literature you do not only focus on these social developments, you will also explore the academic study of literary texts in more detail.

Comparative Modern Literature students are encouraged to deepen their knowledge of literature and literary studies, as well as to develop skills that will be useful in their later professional career. We set great store by our students’ adopting the right attitude: inquisitiveness, proactivity and entrepreneurship are strongly encouraged in this study programme, both in the methodological course units as well as in course units with a focus on a specific literary tradition. By the end of this programme, and partly because of the work placement incorporated into the curriculum, you will be able to take independent and creative initiatives in all areas of society in which literary studies offer added value: the literary business, the cultural sector, education, journalism and academic research. These are the domains in which most of our alumni end up.

For whom

The admission requirements vary. Depending on your prior education, you are either able to enrol directly, or there are additional requirements.


The information above makes it clear that the programme has two finalities: an academic and a professional one. The structure of the programme is threefold: course units (35 ECTS-credits), a work placement (10 ECTS-credits) and a Master’s dissertation (15 ECTS-credits).

You take four course units (for a total of 20 ECTS-credits) that are methodological in design and approach literary problems in general and in comparative terms. You choose three course units out of the first four, the fifth is obligatory:
1. Literature and Society examines how modern literature relates to society. What does literature teach us about society? And what are the social, economic and political factors that determine the literature?
2. Literature and Criticism teaches you to develop a writing practice that can offer you access to the world of professional literary and cultural criticism. This course unit takes the form of a ‘writing clinic’, in which students not only develop skills to improve their own texts, but also provide constructive feedback to texts by fellow students (and other authors).
3. Literature and Interdisciplinarity takes a closer look at some debates about the place and role of literature in culture/cultural history. The relationship between the human brain and literature, the relationship between film images and literary images and the fairly new research field of ‘Digital Humanities’ are the focal points.
4. World literature and globalisation looks at literature beyond the traditional western ideas. By means of studying literary texts we discuss different topics:migration, intercultural communication and conflicts en the different layers of collective and individual identity.
5. Literature in the Cultural Field (mandatory course unit) is an interactive introduction to the various actors in the (Flemish) literary landscape. Through theoretically substantiated debates with professionals from the field, you will gain insight into the functioning of the institutions where you will work during your work placement and later career.

In addition – partly on the basis of previously chosen specializations in the BA programme and in the light of the Master’s dissertation – you can choose from, among other things, a wide range of ‘literary’ course units from the MA programmes Linguistics and Literature, and Languages and Cultures (e.g. English Literature, Hispano-American Literature, Russian Literature etc.). There are also new course units you can choose from: Literature and Care, Comics and Graphic Novels and Belgian Literature.

During the study programme you have to complete a work placement and write a Master’s dissertation. The work placement and the Master’s dissertation may link up in terms of subject. If you favour a stronger academic focus in your curriculum,  you can take up work placement with one of the university research groups active in the field to collaborate in one of their current academic projects (e.g. participation in academic research, organization of lectures and conferences, preparation of publications).
Those who wish to gain other professional experience can do a work placement at one of the more than 50 organizations from the literary and cultural field with which our programme collaborates. These include literature and culture houses (Vooruit), policy institutions (Flemish Literature Fund), literary organizations (Passa Porta, Behoud de Begeerte), literary heritage institutions (Letterenhuis, KANTL), theatre companies (NTGent, Campo) and publishers (De Bezige Bij, Borgerhoff & Lamberigts).

In addition to the (domain) Master’s programme described above, you can also choose a Master’s Programme in Teaching (in Dutch: Educatieve Master) (

Labour Market

The Master’s programme gives access to the same opportunities on the job market as other Master’s degrees in linguistics and literature. The work placement opens new possibilities within the literary business and the wider cultural field. You can work in the cultural sector (museums, publishers, theatre companies, literary organizations, archives, press, libraries and cultural centres). For those with a special interest in literary studies, the programme offers attractive perspectives in scientific research. VDAB figures show that anyone who has a Master’s degree in Comparative Modern Literature has a good chance of getting a job within a year after graduation.