University of Buckingham

MA in Biography

University of Buckingham
In Buckingham

Price on request
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Important information

Typology Postgraduate
Location Buckingham
Start Different dates available
  • Postgraduate
  • Buckingham
  • Start:
    Different dates available

This cutting-edge programme is unique to Buckingham. A course with wide appeal, it is aimed at anyone who has an interest in biography or in researching and writing biography for themselves. The varied mix of backgrounds and interests that students bring to the course, the experience and commitment of the programme director and the friendly small-group setting allow a lively, enjoyable and intellectually rigorous exchange of ideas. Graduates have gone on to publish their own books, and to win prizes. Some have embarked on further research for the MPhil or the DPhil in Biography.
When it was founded in 1996, the Biography MA was the first of its kind. Since then Life Writing has become part of the postgraduate menu, but the Buckingham course has kept its distinctive edge. Unlike most Life Writing degrees, it is not linked to Creative Writing, and there is a strong emphasis on research and historical biography. The programme is consistently rated ‘excellent’ by external examiners and inspectors.

Facilities (1)
Where and when
Starts Location
Different dates available
Hunter Street, MK18 1EG, Buckinghamshire, England
See map
Starts Different dates available
Hunter Street, MK18 1EG, Buckinghamshire, England
See map


Course rating
Centre rating

Reviews on this course

Student Reviewer
5.0 04/03/2019
About the course: The campus is small so the classes but that is greatly effective. I made friends for life and will definitely recommend this university.
Would you recommend this course?: Yes
Did this opinion help you? Yes (0)
Student Reviewer
5.0 03/03/2019
About the course: It feels quite confident being a part of one of the best universities with great knowledgaeble teachers. Socialization is also amazing with students union oragnising everything. It feels happy to be art BU and collect beautiful experiences.
Would you recommend this course?: Yes
Did this opinion help you? Yes (0)
Reviews gathered by Emagister & iAgora

Achievements for this centre

This centre has demonstrated its quality on Emagister
8 years with Emagister

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The average rating is higher than 3.7

More than 50 reviews in the last 12 months

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What you'll learn on the course

Creative Writing
Professor Training

Course programme

Course structureStudents have a choice between following the taught MA, or opting for the MA by Research. The taught MA gives an opportunity to produce written term papers on a variety of topics as well as a dissertation of up to 20,000 words. Students accepted for the MA by Research are required to produce written work which includes an extended dissertation of up to 40,000 words. All students produce coursework for the Research Methods module: an annotated bibliography and a short biography, with supporting material, produced according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography format.Guest seminars on the course are led by leading biographers, critics, publishers and agents. Teachers and speakers on the course have included Andrew Motion, Kathryn Hughes, Frances Wilson, Frances Spalding, Jeremy Lewis, Rupert Shortt, Caroline Dawnay, Andrew Lownie and Miranda Seymour.Research supportOne of the distinctive features of the programme is the value attached to the supervision which is provided for students working on dissertations. One-on-one supervisions are held every two or three weeks during term. While the dissertation must be the candidate’s independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic (if necessary), on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the dissertation. Regular group discussions between research students at all degree levels (MA, MPhil and DPhil) allow the exchange of research experiences and mutual support.Programme directorProfessor Jane Ridley founded the Buckingham Biography MA in 1996. She is an Oxford-trained historian and biographer, and her publications include "The Young Disraeli" (1995); "The Architect and his Wife: A Life of Edwin Lutyens" (2002), which won the Duff Cooper Prize; and "Bertie: A Life of Edward VII" (2012), for which she was awarded a research fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust. She has contributed widely to the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", and she is a regular reviewer for publications such as the "Spectator", the "Literary Review" and the "Times Literary Supplement".Watch a lecture by Professor Ridley on “The Thrills and Spills of Writing Biography”, given to the Swan and Pen Literary Society in June 2013.Modules available on this courseAll students on the MA Programme – both taught and research – are required to attend the weekly seminars, as are MPhil and DPhil students in their first year. These classes are one of the most distinctive and valuable elements of the MA and take place as follows:The modules on Biography and Autobiography are designed to combine the study of classic biographies and memoirs with contemporary writing. In addition, the Research Methods module provides an invaluable and innovative training, especially devised for biographers.
  • Autobiography
  • Dissertation
  • Research Methods
  • Special Paper in Biography
  • Full information in the University HandbookRecent news

    24 January 2017 Book based on Biography MA dissertation appears in The Mail on Sunday

    The Mail on Sunday on 22 January 2017 published a 2-page article by Claudia Joseph: “The not so shy Lady Di: An aristocratic beauty trapped in a loveless marriage whose scandalous affair gripped the nation.” Click here to read the … Read more >

    6 October 2015 Biography students shortlisted for prize

    Two Biography DPhil students have been short-listed for a prestigious literary prize. The Biographers’ Club awards the annual Tony Lothian Prize of £2,000 for the best proposal for a biography by an unpublished author. Five submissions were shortlisted. Two of … Read more >

    29 June 2015 Publication of the week: Professor Jane Ridley

    Ridley, J., Victoria (Penguin Monarchs): Queen, Matriarch, Empress (London: Allen Lane, 2015). 160 pp. ISBN: 978-0-14-197718-8. This book is part of the Penguin Monarchs series which provides short, fresh, expert accounts of England’s rulers. Queen Victoria inherited the throne at … Read more >

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