What can you do with an English literature degree?

Why study an english literature degree our essential guide to what you will learn on an english literature course, what you should study to get your place on a degree, and what jobs you can get once you graduate.

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What can you do with an English literature degree? 

A degree in English literature provides graduates with many transferable skills including communication, the ability to work analytically and complete research, and the skills to work independently. Although teaching is one of the most popular career routes with an English degree, there are actually many possibilities for work. 

Some roles for English literature graduates include: 

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What is English literature?

The study of English literature focuses mainly on analysis, debate and critical theorising about a large number of published works, be they novels, poems, plays or other literary works.

Given this number of genres, it is perhaps unsurprising that a degree in English literature can be incredibly wide-ranging; two students on the same degree course can choose to study very different things outside of their core modules.

As well as analysis, students can also expect to have to defend their ideas, since it’s not enough to simply note something about a text, this must be accompanied by explanation and argument.

You can also expect to be taught aspects of creative writing and how to express ideas in various literary forms. It’s certainly a challenging course to take at university, but it can be immensely rewarding for those with a passion for English who are willing to work for it.

Explore the best universities for arts and humanities degrees

What do you learn on an english literature degree.

Most English literature degrees, will start off with a focus on classics and core texts from the country you are studying in. 

More specifically, courses will often go through historical examples of landmark literature such as the works of Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens then perhaps introducing other lesser-known examples.

You may also be introduced to some foreign texts, although these will mainly be classics.

As the course continues you will be given more freedom to explore authors and genres that hold more interest for you. 

In this way, an English literature degree can provide a great opportunity to test and refine your skills in a way that would be hard to do anywhere else, in addition to the opportunities presented by extra-curricular activities; most universities will have student publications you can get involved with.

English literature is also a good subject to study alongside may others such as languages, history, politics or even economics and maths. 

What can you do with a languages degree? What can you do with an English language degree? What can you do with a psychology degree? What can you do with a politics degree? What can you do with a philosophy degree? What can you do with a theology degree?

What should I study at high school if I want to study English literature?

As with all degrees, different institutions will have different entry requirements and there is no set pre-requisite for studying English literature.

However there are a few subjects that would be useful to study at high school such as history, philosophy, which can be a great help when studying historical texts and placing them into a context.

In addition to academic qualifications, experience with literature-related activities outside the classroom can be of huge benefit, both in terms of your application and in furthering your enjoyment of the course.

Creative activities such as writing for a publication at school, staying well-read across different types of literature, or even writing your own blog can all prove useful before and during your degree.

Why study a PhD in English literature? Studying Hispanic literature in Spain A day in the life of a US university student How to set up a student publishing house So you want to be a writer? Top tips from those who know 17 books you should read before (or at) university – chosen by students

What do people who study English literature do after graduation?

An English literature degree can open a number of doors once you’ve graduated. Opportunities to delve deeper into your field with a postgraduate course or PhD are a good choice should you find a particular genre or style of literature that you are particularly passionate about.

In terms of job opportunities, media and publishing can be a good fit for an English literature graduate, as they offer a good way to apply your knowledge of the written language.

These skills will also serve you well in advertising and marketing. Teaching is another option; from primary education right up to tertiary, English as a subject is considered important at all stages.

Georgia Bevis studied BA English and drama at Royal Holloway University and explains that "through studying English literature, I was able to develop my hunger for learning and love of stories into a passion. Now I channel that passion into the learning of others and teaching a new generation a love of learning and of literature in both English and drama." She now works as head of creative arts at a high school in the UK.

The analytical skills associated with such a degree also apply well to things such as law, so many students undertake law conversion courses.

Generally speaking, English literature is a degree well respected by potential employers owing to the numerous transferable skills it demonstrates.

A strong degree from a good university is a fantastic asset to have in general, not only being a great thing for employers and job prospects but also allowing access to excellent postgraduate schemes or conversion courses.

Which famous people studied English literature?

A huge number of famous people have taken English literature at university, either as a direct precursor to their later career or as a stepping stone to some other unrelated industry.

In fact many people choose to take degrees in English literature when they already have successful careers, such is their value.

Some famous graduates include Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, actress Emma Watson, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and film director Martin Scorsese. 

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Study Literature at University of Dayton

English Literature is one of the most popular majors in colleges and universities in the US, with a huge number of students enrolling every year due to its diverse nature and numerous graduate opportunities. But with such a broad area of study, prospective students are often confused about what a degree in English Literature actually provides. This article explains what an English Literature degree looks like, and what doors it can open for graduates.

Common uses of an English Literature degree include becoming a writer, researcher, or teacher. However, there are many other ways to utilize an English Literature degree. Some students use it as a stepping stone to a degree in Law, or in this day and age, some will use it to begin a path in the digital marketing world. Whichever route you end up on, this degree can open doors to many fulfilling career options.

What is English Literature at its Very Core?

English Literature refers to the study of texts from around the world, written in the English language. By studying a degree in English Literature, you will learn how to analyze a multitude of texts and write clearly using several different styles. Generally, literature refers to different types of text including novels, non-fiction, poetry, and plays, among other forms. However, literature is a contested term, as new mediums for communication provide different types of contemporary literature.

Literature is generally defined as writing with artistic merit. However, other types of text such as screenplays, nonfiction, song lyrics, and online communication through blogs and other means, could now be considered literature under the contemporary understanding of the term. The English Literature programs in most major US institutions will largely study the traditional literary texts. An English Literature major will likely examine texts including poetry, drama, and prose fiction, perhaps briefly covering more contested forms of literature in their chosen path.

Studying Literature Versus Reading for Pleasure

If you choose to study Literature in the US, you will learn how to read different texts and analyze the style, use of different types of language, and meaning, in depth. You will also learn how to write clearly, concisely and analytically in stylistically different forms. Generally, Literature courses are divided into different focuses: British Literature, American Literature, World Literature, and periods (pre-1800 and post-2000). You will have core courses in several of these topics and will also be expected to choose a focus of your own interest, such as creative writing or drama. You will ultimately gain a much more in-depth understanding of the texts you cover than is possible from solo-reading, and learn how to express your knowledge through written analysis and presentation or class discussion.

Why Study English Literature?

Studying English Literature in the USA will give you a better understanding of the world around you. A Literature degree provides transferable skills that teach you to deconstruct and analyze in order to provide a critical viewpoint in all areas. As an international student, studying English Literature demonstrates to an employer that you have a strong grasp of the English language and are proficient in professional English.

There are several different paths for careers in literature as a graduate. You can also take graduate courses and become a teacher, lecturer, or journalist, with common crossovers for graduating English students including business, law, and education. Or you can use your analytical skills to move into unexpected careers such as marketing, advertising, or pretty much anything you are willing you adapt to. There are also obvious positions available in the publishing industry, from editor, to proofreader, to literary agent. Many creative writers, including novelists, poets, and screenwriters, among others, start their careers by gaining an in-depth understanding of written English before developing their individual abilities for expression through writing.

If you want to gain a strong-hold on the English language, develop your critical analysis of the world around you, and study in a degree that will provide you with numerous different career opportunities, English Literature could be the right pursuit for you.

Learn more about studying literature in the USA by reading our growing article collection.

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English Literature (B.A.)

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What is English literature?

English literature is the study of literature written in the English language. In this degree program, you’ll become a skilled reader and interpreter of literary works, films, media creations and cultural phenomena. Understanding literature is multidimensional, and includes the consideration of the artistic, historical, cultural and theoretical contexts that inform imaginative creations. The literature major is especially well suited for students interested in graduate studies in English or law school, but it is also an excellent program for those who want to develop an in-depth knowledge of literature in English in all its formal, historical, cultural and theoretical dimensions.

Why study English literature at UNH?

Our small class sizes allow you to work closely with faculty while exploring English literature in depth. We also offer a variety of special programs, including opportunities abroad studying literature at Cambridge University and travel writing in London. In our Writers and Speakers Series, you’ll hear published writers and prominent literary scholars from around the country talk about their work.

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Curriculum & Requirements

Program description.

The English literature major serves those students who want to focus particularly on the study of literature — its many forms and styles, its rich history and the range of approaches to its analysis. The English literature track is an especially attractive major for those who plan to go on to graduate school. 

As an English literature major, a student will learn about various literary traditions, both British and American literature as well as traditions organized around other principles, such as post-colonial literature, women's literature, African-American literature and genres like poetry and drama. Courses are designed to expose students to many different sorts of works and to help them develop questions and strategies of critical thinking that will make all kinds of literary expression meaningful. And the works students will study will provide many ways of looking at the world and enrich their quality of life. What's more, students have many opportunities to hone critical writing and research skills and to practice the art of presenting research findings to a group, all skills in high demand in today's workplace. The English literature major is an excellent way to combine development of interpretive and writing skills with an exciting, in-depth encounter with some of the very best writing ever produced in the English language. 

Students interested in majoring in English literature should consult Carla Cannizzaro, Senior Academic Advisor, Department of English, 230F Hamilton Smith Hall, (603) 862-1313 or the director of the English literature program.

Requirements for the Program

Degree requirements.

All Major, Option and Elective Requirements as indicated. *Major GPA requirements as indicated.

Major Requirements

As an English literature major, you must complete a minimum of 40 credits of major coursework with a grade of C- or better, with the exception of ENGL 419 How to Read Anything , which you must complete with a grade of C or better. You may not use  ENGL 401 First-Year Writing , ENGL 415s, "Literature and..." courses, or ENGL 444 classes to satisfy major requirements.

A minimum of six courses must be completed at the 600 level or higher. 

This must be completed with a minimum grade of “C.”   ENGL 419 How to Read Anything is the only 400-level class that may count towards the English literature major.

With the exception of ENGL 533 Introduction to Film Studies

Please see your advisor if you have questions about other courses that might fulfill these requirements.

Candidates for a degree must satisfy all of the University Discovery Program requirements in addition to satisfying the requirements of each individual major program. Bachelor of arts candidates must also satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement.

The required minimum overall GPA in major coursework is 2.0.

English Literature majors may use one major-required course to satisfy one Discovery category requirement.

Majors may only count one online course toward their English major requirements.

Student Learning Outcomes

All undergraduate English majors acquire the same core skills. These include:

  • Proficiency in analytical writing, critical thinking, and public-speaking.
  • Knowledge of important literary genres and subgenres
  • Fluency in literary terminology,
  • A broad understanding of British-and-American literature, from the medieval period in England and the moment of first contact in America to the present day.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in writing an analytical essay that offers a sophisticated close-reading or explication of a literary text. This essay will have a clear thesis and proceed in a logical fashion, with interpretive claims supported by evidence from the text.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in literary research and in writing an extended thesis-driven research paper in which sources are correctly and responsibly cited.
  • Demonstrated understanding of how to read across the color line in the US and /or how to analyze literary works written in English from outside the UK and the US--from India, Africa, and the Caribbean, for example. 

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Why study english literature.

Reading literature encourages the mind to enter new, and sometimes improbable, spheres of experience. Some literary texts inspire us to feel admiration and compassion for unlikely heroes or heroines: a son overwhelmed by the sudden death of his father and his mother's quick remarriage to his despicable uncle, a woman who loses her social standing and whose subsequent humiliation and poverty drive her to suicide, a wife trapped in a loveless marriage, or a daughter who accidentally encounters her birth parents. Others confront us with perplexing concepts: the "ineluctable modality of the visible," "fearful symmetry," and that it can "be very, very dangerous to live even one day." Still others ask us to consider the wondrous properties of the very, very small (a grain of sand, leaves of grass) or the very, very large (a white whale, the Congo); or to observe the world from a multitude of perspectives, from above or below, earlier or later, male or female, east or west, black or white, all at the same time. Literature, too, grants access to scenes or sights that can be neither diagrammed nor charted nor otherwise pictured. How are two lovers like a pair of compasses? How is life like a loaded gun, or love without hope like a hat full of larks? Magnificent new microscopes and telescopes have brought human beings, standing somewhere between the stars and sub-atomic particles, a little closer to both. Literature transports the cosmos into our most private and personal reflections; yet it also shows us how everyday things, the objects and scenery we hardly notice as we trudge through our routines, can be made radiant with a strange beauty. "Poetry," a poet wrote, "purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being." Literature is not a physical instrument; it is a purely intellectual one. But, like an unfamiliar piece of computer technology, we need to learn how to use it—or we will be left behind; our lives will be seriously diminished. How literature works is what the English major can teach you.

Rachel Trubowitz and Michael Ferber Professors of English, University of New Hampshire

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English Literature Course Descriptions

English courses may be chosen as electives by any student, regardless of major. Students who major in either “English” or “Professional Writing” should complete CORE 100, CORE 110, CORE 161-4, ENGL 200, and ENGL 241 before enrolling in other English courses.

ENGL 200 — Foundations Seminar: The History of Literature in English (3)

This course introduces students of literature and writing to the discipline of English. The course includes an overview of British and American literary history from Old English to hypertext; a study of the elements of literature and practice in close textual analysis with some introduction to critical theory; and seminar-style discussions of current topics in lit­erature (canon studies, multiculturalism, popular culture, etc.). Prerequisite: CORE 161-4.

ENGL 222 — Introduction to Professional Writing (3)

To introduce students to the scope of writing as a profession, this course will explore the types and conventions of writing done in several different fields such as public relations, science and technology, and law. It will also introduce students to business writing genres, from basic correspondence to reports, proposals, and presentations; students will work with specific document models, learning to apply and adapt them to the specific rhetorical needs of the field being discussed. Students will hear from guest speakers in the individual fields, study sample documents, and create their own projects for each of the separate units.

ENGL 225 — Introduction to Creative Writing (3)

This course asks students to work in several genres, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and/or drama. Class focuses on defining “good” writing and encouraging a process approach. Students will be asked to work through multiple drafts of work and participate in group editing sessions.

ENGL 241 — Advanced Writing (3)

Student writing supervised through seminars, workshops, and conferences. Overview of rhetorical theory and introduction to all forms of writing at the advanced level — infor­mational, critical, argumentative, creative. The course deals with the rhetoric, structure, and presentation of material; and models of the writing of past and current authors are examined in detail. Weekly papers are assigned, and MLA style is taught for research. Prerequisite for all other advanced writing courses. Required in the sophomore year. Prerequisite: CORE 110.

ENGL 320 — Creative Writing Workshop: Poetry (3)

Student writing of poetry supervised through tutorial, small group, and class critiques. Some study of current techniques/practices in poetry will enhance the guided writing of poetry. Prerequisite: ENGL 241; ENGL 225 is recommended.

ENGL 321 — Creative Writing Workshop: The Short Story (3)

Student writing of short fiction supervised through private seminars and class critiques. Study of the techniques of short story writers (plot, focus, voice, point of view) and guided practice in writing the short story. Prerequisite: ENGL 241; ENGL 225 is recommended.

ENGL 323 — Writing for New Media (4) (includes one-hour lab)

Designed to help students develop their writing skills and their ability to create visually appealing web-pages, presentations, CD-ROMs, and other digital media. The course concentrates on the basics of good writing and the improvement of style in the context of digital media and its unique challenges for writers (modularity, multiple entry points, hyperlinking, design, etc.). The course includes a one-hour lab devoted to the mechanics of web design and maintenance, specifically using Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Fireworks, and FTP programs. Prerequisite: ENGL 241 or ENGL 222.

ENGL 325 — Literary Journalism (3)

Study of and practice in reportorial writing. Students will write several journalistic reports in a literary style, combining the elegance, craftsmanship, and creativity of literature with the candor and referential quality of journalism. Prerequisite: ENGL 241 or ENGL 222.

ENGL 326 — The English Language (3)

A study of the history, dialects, usage, and modern approaches to the grammar of American English. Since the course examines the language in depth, it is appropriate for students of all disciplines. Required of candidates for teaching certification in English. Prerequisite: ENGL 241.

ENGL 327 — Special Topics in Writing (3)

Intended to cover a wide variety of writing topics, this course has a dual focus: special types of writing required in disciplines such as medicine, law, and science; and issues of relevance and importance to writers (e.g. ethics, gender, language, and politics). Prereq­uisite: ENGL 241.

ENGL 328 — Teaching Writing: Theory and Practice (3)

Study and practice in current theories of teaching of writing. Topics include collaborative learning, composition theory, writing across the curriculum, and the use of computers in the teaching of writing. Supervised experience in the classroom and the Writing Center; weekly writing assignments. Faculty nomination required. Prerequisite: ENGL 241.

ENGL 329 — Editing (4) (includes one-hour lab)

The course examines the roles editors play in the lives of writers, readers, and publica­tions. Elements discussed include responsibility, sensitivity, ethics, fairness, and skill. At least one-third of class time is spent in a “lab” setting, during which students focus on sharpening proofreading and editing skills through hands-on work with documents, some “real,” some manufactured. Prerequisite: ENGL 241 or ENGL 222.

ENGL 331 — Rhetorical Theory (3)

This course provides an overview of rhetorical theory, including contributors such as Aristotle, Cicero, St. Augustine, Erasmus, John Locke, I. A. Richards, Gertrude Buck, Kenneth Burke, Wayne C. Booth, and Andrea Lunsford. The course seeks to develop in students a lifelong interest in rhetoric and an understanding of how it contributes to the foundations of Western thought and higher education. Attention is also given to applica­tions of rhetorical theory. We will discuss how rhetoric can help us to shape identities, interpret texts, and communicate effectively. Prerequisite: ENGL 241.

ENGL 332 — Document Design (3)

This course emphasizes principles of visual rhetoric and explores how elements of layout and design contribute to, enhance, and enable a document’s effectiveness. Students will analyze the design elements of print and digital documents. Desktop-publishing software, such as InDesign, will be used to help students work first-hand with design manipulation including attention to color, typography, grouping, and visual hierarchies. Students will also learn to work with templating and style tools to manage the consistency and efficiency of their design work. Prerequisite: ENGL 222 or ENGL 225.

ENGL 333 — Creative Writing Portfolio (3)

Students work with faculty to write new material, revise old material, and assemble a portfolio that best represents their creative writing goals, strengths, and achievements. Creative Writ­ing majors intending to use this course to satisfy the Internship requirement (ENGL 499) must have a demonstrable record of creative writing achievement and need to consult with, and obtain permission from, the Chairperson. Prerequisite: ENGL 225 and either ENGL 320 or ENGL 321.

ENGL 334 — Translation/Adaptation/Parody (3)

This course will introduce students to theories of literary criticism and translation; themes to be discussed include formal vs. dynamic transfer of meaning, translation as criticism, the value of re-translations and “corrective translations,” adaptation, parody, and transla­tions strongly “directed” toward particular groups of receivers. The course will also address cross-cultural and cross-generic interpretation and adaptation. Students will work closely with texts to understand the source text’s rhetorical stance and to reposition that rhetoric for other audiences, purposes, and media. Prerequisite: ENGL 241.

ENGL 335 — Freelance Writing (3)

This course provides an overview of opportunities for freelance writers, ranging from ghost writing to corporate communications to feature articles. Students study a variety of models, identify types of freelance work they want to pursue, learn to position and market themselves, and build a portfolio. Prerequisite: ENGL 222.

ENGL 336 — Essay Writing (3)

Students will study and write essays ranging from personal (ruminative, digressive, self-reflexive, and informal) to journalistic (research- and interview-based, informative, formal but non-academic). A governing assumption of the course will be that the essay genre is loosely defined and fluid, particularly as new technologies and forums (such as the web and blogging) create new opportunities and constraints for writers. Students will study essays from Montaigne to the present, examine outlets for essay writing, and write and revise their own work to develop an individual essay-writing voice. Prerequisite: ENGL 241.

ENGL 440 — Professional Writing Capstone (3)

An advanced, intensive study of a topic that engages rhetorical theory. Students in this class will examine and discuss complexities of negotiating rhetorical situations, competing ideologies, and other elements that factor into modes of human communication. The course provides English majors opportunities to demonstrate both liberal learning skills and a sophisticated command of subject matter and methodology appropriate to an Eng­lish major about to graduate. The seminar project includes an oral presentation to other majors and to the English Department faculty. Prerequisite: ENGL 241.

ENGL 441 — Advanced Technical Writing (3)

Intensive practice in various types of informal and formal reports used in business, technical, and professional contexts. A major research project in the student’s professional interest is delivered orally and submitted in written form. Students work on projects in teams with frequent conferences conducted by the instructor. Prerequisites: ENGL 222 and ENGL 241.

ENGL 351 — Medieval Literature (3)

A study of literature produced in the British Isles and on the Continent from the fifth century A.D. to 1500. Principle genres will include romances, lyrics, ballads, fabliaux, dramas, allegories, and legends. Attention will be given to the social and cultural back­grounds of the period. Course material may be arranged by either genre or by theme.

ENGL 352 — Renaissance Literature (3)

A study of the major writers in England between 1500 and 1660, especially More, Sidney, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson, Donne, Milton. Concentration on the history of ideas (e.g., Christian Humanism, movement from a geocentric to a heliocentric universe) as expressed in the prose, poetry, and drama of the period.

ENGL 353 — Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature (3)

A study of the literature of England during the Restoration and the 18th Century (1660­1800), including authors such as William Congreve, John Dryden, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Aphra Behn, Lady Montague, and Daniel Defoe. Major ideas discussed include empire and nationhood, social class, slavery and abolition, and the use of literature as a political tool.

ENGL 354 — The Romantic Age (3)

Analysis and criticism of the works of well-known Romantic writers (Burns, Blake, Word­sworth, Coleridge, Keats, Byron, the Shelleys,) and several lesser-known writers (Smith, Baillie, Clare). Historical, social, literary and political context is established through the work of several important essayists (Paine, Godwin, Wollstonecraft, Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quincy) and through a brief look at 18 th  century precursors to the Romantic Move­ment (Gray and Young).

ENGL 355 — Victorian Literature (3)

A study of the major poetry and prose of England from the 1830’s to the turn of the century. The course will focus on the era’s preoccupation with various forms of “change” (religious, social, scientific, technological and political, etc.) as reflected in the works of selected writers such as Carlyle, Mill, Dickens, Tennyson, the Brownings, Ruskin, Arnold, Hopkins, the Rossettis, and Gaskell. Attention is also given to the seeds of modernism within the writing and thought of the period.

ENGL 356 — Twentieth Century British Literature & Beyond (3)

This course explores key British writers in the 20th & 21st centuries. Texts will be exam­ined in various literary, social, and political contexts, including modernism, Freudianism, imperialism, world wars, postmodernism, and gender and race politics. Writers to be covered may include Joseph Conrad, G.B. Shaw, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, W.H. Auden, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Graham Greene, George Orwell, William Golding, John Osborne, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Hanif Kureishi, Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jeanette Winterson, Caryl Churchill, Tom Stoppard, and Ian McEwan.

ENGL 361 — Early American Literature (3)

A study of American traditions and forms from native myth and discovery narratives to colonial and enlightenment poetry and prose.

ENGL 362 — American Renaissance (3)

A study of the nineteenth century writers’ quest to make a new American consciousness. Attention will be given to how writers reflect and engage Puritan, colonial, and democratic traditions. Consideration of the relationship between individuality and American identity will also be given. Readings will include major works by Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman, Poe, and Dickinson.

ENGL 363 — American Realists (3)

This course examines literary texts that dramatize, reflect, and engage changing social and economic realities at the turn from the 19th century into the 20th century. Special attention will be devoted to literary “realism” and to matters of narrative, work, region, science, religion, gender, and language. Readings will include texts by Twain, Howells, James, Chopin, Gilman, Crane, Norris, Dreiser, Adams, and Wharton.

ENGL 364 — American Modern Writers (3)

Studies major U.S. figures of the “Modernist” movement—Cather, Frost, Stevens, Williams, Pound, Eliot, Moore, Hemingway, O’Neill, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hughes, Baldwin—for their experiments with narrative technique (disjointed narratives, stream of consciousness, etc.) and their interests in matters of culture, tradition, urban life, and societal collapse and renewal.

ENGL 365 — American Contemporary Writers (3)

Considers how postmodern writers explore the ‘exhaustion’ and ‘replenishment’ of liter­ary form and engage philosophical questions about the limitations of language, access to reality, the death of the author, the instability of meaning, and the American quest for identity. Writers to be examined may include Pynchon, Mailer, Williams, Kennedy, Shepard, Walker, Morrison, Ellison, Barthelme, Gaddis, Beattie, Tyler, and Kingston.

ENGL 370 — Literary Theory (3)

Study in the theories and methods of literary analysis from ancient times to the present, as represented in the work of selected literary theorists and critics. Students will learn about major theoretical movements and orientations, including the New Criticism, structural­ism, deconstruction, Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis, race and postcolonial studies, and cultural studies. Emphasis will be placed on applying particular theoretical orientations to specific literary and cultural texts.

ENGL 371 — Literary Nonfiction (3)

Study and analysis of contemporary nonfiction prose and its historical backgrounds. Concentrating chiefly on the essay, the course may also investigate other examples of the genre, such as biography, literary diary and letter, profile, review, and shorter historical, scientific, business, and technical essays.

ENGL 372 — The Short Story (3)

A study of short fiction, its tradition and development, its techniques and its insights into human character and motivation. Major attention is given to modern British and American stories.

ENGL 373 — The Novel (3)

A study of the development of the British and American novel from the 18th century to the present. Selected novels by major authors.

ENGL 374 — Poetry (3)

A study of the method of explication de texte in its application to poetry. Poems represent­ing a variety of forms and periods are examined in terms of their intellectual, imaginative, emotional, and technical phases to see how these combine to create the experience of the poem as an organic unit.

ENGL 375 — Drama (3)

A study of selected major playwrights in historical and cultural perspectives, the purpose of which is to develop the student’s analytic and critical understanding of themes, forms, developments, and experiments in the dramatic genre. Offerings include American Drama, English Drama, and Comparative Drama.

ENGL 381 — Major Authors (3)

Intended to cover the life and selected works of one or more major writers, such as Chaucer, Eliot, Bronte, James, Dryden, Pound, Austen, Dickinson, and Joyce, this course enables students to appreciate the literary achievement of extraordinary individuals and to recognize the significance of their place in literature. Since the author studied varies each year, this course may be taken more than once.

ENGL 382 — Shakespeare (3)

Focusing on the major dramatic genres of tragedy, comedy, history, and romance, this course introduces students to the works of Shakespeare and, through biographical, cul­tural, and performance perspectives, enables them to discover Shakespeare’s significance within and beyond his age.

ENGL 392 — Special Topics in Literature (3)

This course studies a specific genre, theme, issue, or literary movement. Topics, which may vary each year, include Heroes East and West, Islands in Literature, Anglo-American Literature, and Literature and Mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome. Depending on the topic, this course may satisfy other literature requirements (Major Author, Literary Period, etc.), pending approval from Department chairperson.

ENGL 395 — Comparative/Multicultural Literature (3)

Courses offered under this heading allow students to examine writers outside mainstream British or American canons. Offerings in this category include African American Lit­erature, Comparative Literature, Cultural Diversity in Literature, Jewish Literature and Film, Native American Literature, and Contemporary Ethnic American Women Writers.

ENGL 399 — Methods of Teaching English in the Secondary Schools (3)

This course is designed to acquaint students with contemporary and successful methods of teaching literature, writing, and grammar in the secondary schools. Students will learn how to plan and teach lessons using lecture, plenary discussion, collaboration, and individualized instruction. Students will learn various means of assessing pupil progress. Attention will be given to various state and federal assessment tests and their implications for instruction. The emphasis in this course will be on giving students practice in utilizing sound methods of instruction.

ENGL 491 — Senior Seminar in Literature (3)

An advanced, intensive study of a literary topic, this course provides English majors the opportunity to demonstrate both liberal learning skills and a sophisticated command of subject matter and methodology appropriate to an English major about to graduate. The seminar project includes an oral presentation to other majors and to the faculty of the English Department.

ENGL 496 — Independent Research with Tutorial Supervision (3)

Development of an independent research project with the approval of a department member who directs the progress and evaluates the results. Because of the expectation of high quality for the project, the student will present it orally at a department symposium and will submit a final, revised, written copy to the department. Admission is restricted to senior English majors by invitation only.

ENGL 499 — English Internship (3-6)

In consultation with English faculty and the Office of Career Planning, students can participate in internships, typically worth three to six semester hours of elective credit. In special circumstances, where internship activities and learning outcomes can be identified as equivalent to those of a specific advanced course in English, credit toward the major may be awarded, pending approval from the Department Chairperson. Generally, any student in the Professional Writing major will participate in a 3-credit internship that gives him or her practice and experience with professional or technical writing. Through these internships, students will have opportunities to write reports, proposals, documentation and instruction sets, grant applications, and digital media texts, along with other materials as approved by faculty advisors.

ENGL1000 Introduction to English Literature

  • Description


Learning outcomes, contact hours, course outline, course handbook.

This course introduces key skills in the study of English literature and creative writing. It will examine a variety of texts written in different genres in order to develop an understanding of how writers across literary history have deployed the resources of language to convey their ideas and concerns. The course will focus on developing skills in literary analysis as preparation for further study of literature and/or creative writing. In addition to practice in essay writing, you will be offered the opportunity to experiment with creative writing in response to the material studied.

  • Semester 2 - 2023
  • Semester 2 - 2024
  • Semester 1 - 2024

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Recognise a variety of literary forms and key terms appropriate to understanding of works in those forms.

2. Apply core linguistic concepts and principles important in the analysis of literature in English.

3. Interpret and analyse literary works from different genres and eras at a basic level.

4. Communicate key literary concepts and findings in appropriate written forms.

5. Construct persuasive arguments about literary narratives, informed by existing scholarship, at a basic level.

The course consists of four modules: 1) What is poetry?; 2) How to read a poem: form and imagery; 3) The speaking voice: fiction, poem, essay; 4) How to read fiction: storytelling.

Topics covered may include:

  • Poetics: how to read a poem
  • Figures of speech
  • Poetic form
  • Narrative: how to read fiction and non-fiction
  • Point of view
  • Plot and narrative time
  • Persona and narrative voice
  • Characterisation
  • Tone and register
  • Intertextuality
  • The importance of context (including genre) in interpreting literary texts

As the focus of this course is upon interpretive skills, texts chosen to illustrate these topics may vary between offerings, but will be drawn from a variety of periods and genres.

Please note: Students who have completed ENGL1000 Introduction to Literary Studies should not enrol in ENGL1000 Reading English Literature .

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Short Paper

Journal: Journal

Written Assignment: Poetry exercise

Essay: Final Essay

Semester 2 - 2023 - Online

  • Online 2 hour(s) per week(s) for 12 week(s)

Semester 1 - 2024 - Callaghan

  • Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per week(s) for 12 week(s)

Semester 2 - 2024 - Online

  • ENGL1000 - Semester 2, 2023 (Online) (PDF, 172.8 KB)

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English Language and Literature

  • Admissions Requirements
  • Fees and Funding
  • Studying at Oxford

Course overview

UCAS code: Q300

Entrance requirements: AAA

Course duration: 3 years (BA)

Subject requirements

Required subjects:  English Literature or English Language and Literature

Recommended subjects: Not applicable

Helpful subjects: A language, History

Other course requirements

Admissions tests:  ELAT

Written Work: One piece

Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 67% Successful: 25% Intake: 231 *3-year average 2020-22

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 271055 Email:  [email protected]

Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

About the course

The English Language and Literature course at Oxford is one of the broadest in the country, giving you the chance to study writing in English from its origins in Anglo-Saxon England to the present.

As well as British literature, you can study works written in English from other parts of the world, and some originally written in other languages, allowing you to think about literature in English in multilingual and global contexts across time.

The course allows you a considerable degree of choice, both in developing your personal interests across core papers, and in choosing a topic for your dissertation and for a special option in your final year.

Options have included:

  • Literature and revolution
  • Postcolonial literature
  • Writing lives
  • Film criticism.

Studying literature at Oxford involves the development of sophisticated reading skills and of an ability to place literary texts in their wider intellectual and historical contexts. It also requires you to:

  • consider the critical processes by which you analyse and judge
  • learn about literary form and technique
  • evaluate various approaches to literary criticism and theory
  • study the development of the English language.

The Oxford English Faculty is the largest English department in Britain. Students are taught in tutorials by an active scholar in their field, many of whom also give lectures to all students in the English Faculty. You will therefore have the opportunity to learn from a wide range of specialist teachers.

Library provision for English at Oxford is exceptionally good. All students have access to the Bodleian Library (with its extensive manuscript collection), the English Faculty Library, their own college libraries and a wide range of electronic resources.

In your first year you will be introduced to the conceptual and technical tools used in the study of language and literature, and to a wide range of different critical approaches. At the same time, you will be doing tutorial work on early medieval literature, Victorian literature and literature from 1910 to the present.

In your second and third years you will extend your study of English literary history in four more period papers ranging from late medieval literature to Romanticism. These papers are assessed by three-hour written examinations at the end of your third year. You will also produce:

  • a portfolio of three essays on Shakespeare, on topics of your choice
  • an extended essay (or occasionally an examination) relating to a special options paper, chosen from a list of around 25 courses
  • and an 8,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice.

Submitted work will constitute almost half of the final assessment for most students.

Alternatively, in the second and third years, you can choose to follow our specialist course in Medieval Literature and Language, with papers covering literature in English from 650-1550 along with the history of the English language up to 1800, with a further paper either on Shakespeare or on manuscript and print culture. Students on this course also take a special options paper and submit a dissertation on a topic of their choice.

Astrophoria Foundation Year

If you’re interested in studying English but your personal or educational circumstances have meant you are unlikely to achieve the grades typically required for Oxford courses, then choosing to apply for English with a Foundation Year might be the course for you.

Visit our Foundation Year course pages for more details. 

Unistats information

Discover Uni  provides applicants with Unistats statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford.

Please select 'see course data' on the following course option to view the full Unistats data for English Language and Literature.

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small. 

A typical week

Although details of practice vary from college to college, most students will have one or two tutorials (usually two students and a tutor) and one or two classes (in groups of around 8 to 10) each week. A tutorial usually involves discussion of an essay, which you will have produced based on your own reading and research that week. You will normally be expected to produce between eight and twelve pieces of written work each term. Most students will also attend several lectures each week.

Tutorials are usually 2-3 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. In college, there would usually be 6-12 students and in the department there would usually be no more than 15 students. There might be specific circumstances in which some classes contain around 20 students. 

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctoral level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our  Academic Year  page.

Course structure

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes .

Academic Requirements

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.

Read further information on  how we use contextual data .

Subject requirements 

If a practical component forms part of any of your science A‐levels used to meet your offer, we expect you to pass it.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements .

Please note that creative writing qualifications, regardless of awarding body, are not accepted and will not help you meet the academic requirements for this course.

If your personal or educational circumstances have meant you are unlikely to achieve the grades listed above for undergraduate study, but you still have a strong interest in the subject, then applying for English with a Foundation Year might be right for you.

Visit the  Foundation Year course pages for more details of academic requirements and eligibility.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown on our  Applying to Oxford  pages.

The following information gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions test

All candidates must take the  English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)  as part of their application.

Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered.

We strongly recommend making arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. 

For everything you need to know, including guidance on registration and preparation, can be found on the  ELAT  page. 

Written work

Visit  our written work page  general guidance and to download the cover sheet.

What are tutors looking for?

Successful candidates will give evidence of wide, engaged, and thoughtful reading.

The ELAT and written work help us to gauge your analytical skills and your writing.

Interviews allow us to explore your enthusiasm for literature, your response to new ideas and information and your capacity for independent thought. We are not looking for any particular reading, or particular answers: we are interested in your ideas and in how you engage with literature.

Shortlisted candidates may also be asked to discuss an unseen piece of prose or verse given to you before or in the interview. Tutors appreciate that you may be nervous, and will try to put you at ease.

Visit the English website for more detail on the selection criteria for this course.

Our students go on to succeed in a very wide range of careers: the analytical and communication skills that develop during this course equip them for many different paths.

Popular careers and fields include:

  • advertising
  • librarianship
  • public relations
  • further research
  • management consultancy

The Telling Our Stories Better project ran throughout 2021, bringing together alumni and current students of the English Faculty to talk about their time at Oxford and their career paths. Led by Dr Sophie Ratcliffe and Dr Ushashi Dasgupta , and managed by Dr Dominique Gracia , Stories aims to challenge misconceptions about who studies English and the career paths they take.

We don't want anyone who has the academic ability to get a place to study here to be held back by their financial circumstances. To meet that aim, Oxford offers one of the most generous financial support packages available for UK students and this may be supplemented by support from your college.

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

For more information please refer to our  course fees page . Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our  guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our  world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2024 are estimated to be between £1,345 and £1,955 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our  living costs webpage .

  • Financial support

**If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for English Language and Literature

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

Contextual information

Unistats course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about a particular undergraduate course at Oxford. For a more holistic insight into what studying your chosen course here is likely to be like, we would encourage you to view the information below as well as to explore our website more widely.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your tutorials will be doing the same course as you. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
  • Dining hall
  • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
  • Student accommodation
  • Tutors’ teaching rooms
  • Chapel and/or music rooms
  • Green spaces
  • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first-year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

Read more about Oxford colleges and how you choose


  • Visit the faculty's website

Oxford Open Days

Dates for our 2024 undergraduate Open Days will be announced early next year.

Register to find out more about our upcoming open days.

English Faculty State School's Open Day  - 13 May 2023


  • Which Oxford colleges offer my course?
  • Your academic year
  • Foundation Year

Related courses

  • English and Modern Languages
  • Foundation Year (Humanities)
  • History and English
  • Classics and English

Feel inspired?

Why not have a look at the University's collection of literary resources on our  Great Writers Inspire site .

You may also like to listen to radio programs such as BBC Radio 4's In Our Time , or one of the University's podcast series .

Alternatively magazines like The New Yorker , or journals like London Review of Books and The Paris Review , contain lots of fascinating long-read articles and essays. 

Follow us on social media

Follow us on social media to get the most up-to-date application information throughout the year, and to hear from our students.

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Studying English literature degree guide

A degree in English literature is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a study of literature in the form of novels, prose, plays and poetry. Studying the written word on an English literature course will teach you how it relates to things like history, language, culture and society.

Eleanor Foulds

If you love reading novels and are interested in how they fit into the context of society, then a degree in English literature may be the perfect course for you to study at uni. Not only will you read prose but you’ll analyse and discuss the works to find deeper meaning, themes and social context. Keep reading our guide on English literature to see if you’d be suited to studying it at uni.

Find English literature degrees . 

What do you need to get on an English literature degree?

Average entry requirements for English literature are:

  • UCAS points: 152 – 128
  • A-levels: A*AA – ABB
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA – BBBB
  • BTEC Nationals: DDD 
  • International Baccalaureate: 39 – 34 

Please be aware that these are average entry requirements and may change depending on the course and institution you select. Always confirm this for the particular university/course you're interested in.

Most English literature courses will also ask for an A-level (or equivalent) in English literature or English language.

Find out how to apply to uni through UCAS .

Learn how to write a winning personal statement .

What English literature degrees can you study?

Degrees in English literature include:

  • BA English Literature
  • BA English Literature and History
  • BA English Literature and Creative Writing

English literature can often be studied with another subject like history.

Learn about the different types of undergraduate courses . 

What topics does an English literature degree cover?   

Common modules for English literature include:

  • Literature, drama and origin
  • Foundations of language 
  • Modern drama
  • Craft of writing
  • Writing and the environment
  • Language in society
  • Writing poetry
  • Literature in the world
  • The romantics 
  • American genres
  • Gothic literature
  • Contemporary British fiction 

“Students can expect to gain some sense of the larger literary field either through survey or period courses, to be introduced to new kinds of critical thinking, and to cover some new authors. Typical modules include Introduction to the Novel, Shakespeare and the Renaissance, Reading and Identity, Beowulf, Romantic Poetry, Postcolonial Texts and Theory.” – Martin Coyle, professor at Cardiff University

What do you learn studying an English literature degree?   

Studying an English literature degree will help you gain industry-specific skills like:

  • Evaluating texts
  • Contextualising literature
  • Knowledge of literary works
  • Knowledge of writing styles
  • Knowledge of literature genres

More general, transferable skills you’ll pick up include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Writing 
  • Attention-to-detail
  • Working in groups
  • Creative thinking
  • Presentation 

“Students learn both functional skills – literary argument, close reading of texts, communication of ideas – that readily lend themselves to employment, and also professional skills of self-management and research. They’ll also pick up valuable people skills of team working, and the ability to articulate original views and values.”  – Martin Coyle, professor at Cardiff University

What professional accreditations can you get with an English literature degree?

Some English literature courses will be accredited by organisations like the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

What can you do with an English literature degree?

English literature graduates can look for work in lots of industries. Some jobs that graduates can look into are:

  • Teacher or lecturer
  • Social media manager
  • Advertising executive
  • Records manager

Check out our careers guides here.

Where to study English literature?

Check the latest rankings of unis offering English courses by the Complete University Guide . 

How long is an English literature degree?

An English literature degree usually takes three years to study. However, some unis may give the option of a year abroad, which will increase the course to four years.

How will you be assessed?  

English literature courses usually involve assessment through:

  • Presentations
  • Dissertation

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Your options for further study include:

  • MA English Literature and/or Language
  • MA Creative Writing
  • MA American Literature
  • MA Children’s Literature
  • MLitt Comparative Literature
  • MA English: Literature, Culture and Theory

What alternatives are there to an English literature degree?

Not sure if an English literature degree is right for you? Check out these related subjects:

Theatre and Dramatic Arts  

English Language  

Courses you might like

Coventry University

English Literature BA (Hons)

Anglia Ruskin University

English Literature [with Placement year] BA (Hons)


English Literature and Russian BA (Hons)

Liverpool Hope University

Creative Industries Business Management and English Literature BA (Hons)

University of Plymouth

English with Foundation BA (Hons)

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Student reading a book

  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.

One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.

You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.

For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.

BA (Honours) English Literature

English literature is a broad, accessible and important subject. If you are interested in reading between the lines, and being challenged by new ideas and ways of seeing, then this course is for you. You'll study an exciting range of texts from many different periods and settings, including novels, drama and poetry, and discover an exciting variety of approaches for reading and interpreting them. You'll take a fresh look at familiar texts and this will help you encounter new texts and ideas with confidence. You'll also develop your skills of analysis and communication.

6 Weeks Left


Join over 17,000 students who’ve registered for courses starting in February.

  • Learn how to analyse a wide range of texts including novels, drama and poetry
  • Discover the historical and cultural contexts that have shaped English literature 
  • Explore the work of famous authors alongside lesser known but equally fascinating writers 
  • Have the option of studying creative writing or English language alongside English literature 
  • Develop advanced skills in analysis, evaluation, communication and critical thinking that are highly valued in the workplace

Find out more about Entry requirements

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with a broad introduction to the arts and humanities followed by looking at contemporary cultures and relationships between cultures throughout history.
  • Next, in Stage 2 , you’ll study two compulsory literature modules exploring different approaches to reading texts and developing your skills of literary analysis.
  • Finally, in Stage 3 , you’ll complete your degree with an advanced literature module and your choice from modules in literature, creative writing and English language. 

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

Stage 1 (120 credits).

In Stage 1 you'll encounter a variety of different times and places and engage with some fascinating people, art works, ideas and stories. This broad foundation in cultural analysis will help you develop the skills and the confident, open approach you need to tackle more specialist literature modules at Stages 2 and 3.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

In Stage 2 you’ll focus on developing your skills in reading and literary analysis as you're introduced to an exciting range of texts from a diversity of periods and from Shakespeare to science fiction. You’ll study novels, drama, poems and short stories, and discover new ways of reading literature.

Stage 3 (120 credits)

At Stage 3 you can focus on two different periods in English literature: from Shakespeare to Jane Austen and from Dickens to the present day. Studying both of these will provide you with an advanced knowledge of a very wide chronological span of English literature. Alternatively you can study one of the period-based modules and another that focuses on either creative writing or English language and creativity. 

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us . This description was last updated on 8 September 2023 .


  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • online tutorials
  • finding external/third party material online such as in ebooks, electronic journals and databases 
  • working in a group with other students
  • continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions
  • using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance 
  • engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.

It’s not just university study that can be considered – you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our BA (Honours) English Literature.

The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications .


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations  website. 

Compare this course

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all , so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.

Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year .
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week .

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.

Arts and languages Access module

What you will study.

View full details of Arts and languages Access module

Fees and funding in England

80% of our students pay nothing upfront by financing their studies with a student loan.

Tuition fee

Years of  study.

Part-time study gives you the flexibility to balance other commitments with study.

You’ll study for around 16–18 hours a week.

Full-time study enables you to complete your course over a shorter time.

Because OU study is flexible, you don’t have to stick to just part-time or full-time study. You can choose to study more or less each year to suit you.

3 years 6 years

Current fee per year in England

£6,924* £3,462*

How we worked out the cost

A degree is worth 360 credits. The fee per year is based on studying 60 credits per year for 6 years. A degree is worth 360 credits. The fee per year is based on studying 120 credits per year for 3 years.

Total fee for qualification at current prices

You’ll fund your modules as you study them – you won’t have to pay for your whole qualification up front

That’s 1/4 less than the cost of an equivalent qualification offered at most other universities in England.

*The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2024. Fees normally increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules .

What are my funding options?

There are several ways to fund your study, often without paying anything upfront.

Student loan

The most common way for our students to fund their study.

  • A student loan is used by 80% of our students.
  • Open to everyone – it’s not means-tested and there’s no age limit.
  • You don’t pay anything upfront. Student Finance England pay your fees directly to the OU for you.
  • You won’t pay back a penny until you earn over £25,000.
  • The amount you repay is tied to how much you earn. For example, if you earn £27,000 you’ll pay just £15.00 per month.

Other options

Open university student budget account (ousba).

Repay in monthly instalments while you study.

Credit/debit card or bank transfer

Pay before each module starts. You can also combine card or bank transfer payments with other payment methods.

More than 1 in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer.

Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs)

If you’re a serving member of the British Armed Forces (or you’ve recently left), you may be eligible to use ELCs to cover up to 100% of your course fees.

Which funding options could I be eligible for?

To find out what funding options are available you need to tell us:

  • how many credits you want to study
  • if you already hold a degree
  • if your household is in receipt of benefits
  • about your household income
  • if you are employed
  • if you are a member of the British forces overseas

How many credits are you planning to study per year?

Do you already hold a degree, was your previous degree in the same subject you wish to study now, was it achieved in the last 5 years, are you employed, are you a member of british forces posted overseas.

British Forces

  • If you have a BFPO address, you are only eligible for UK course fees if you are a currently serving member of the British armed forces, and you're temporarily and unavoidably working abroad. Other students using BFPO addresses should contact us on +44 (0)300 303 5303 for UK fee eligibility to be assessed.

*The fee information provided above is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2024. Fees normally increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules .

Other costs to think about

Your course fees cover your tuition, assessment and study materials, but there are still a few additional costs that can come with studying. If your income is less than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you could get help with some of these costs after you start studying.

  • You’ll need a computer and the internet to access our learning resources and to participate in online tutorials.

Additional support

You may be eligible for:

  • help with study-related costs like set books and internet access
  • a free introductory Access module to build your confidence and skills
  • funding to study an OU qualification for free from our Carers’ Scholarships Fund if you are, or have recently been, an unpaid carer
  • a Carers’ Bursary towards study-related costs if you provide unpaid care to a friend or family member
  • a Care Experienced Bursary of £250 towards study-related costs if you’ve previously been, or are currently, in care
  • a Care Experienced Scholarship to study an OU qualification for free if you're care experienced and aged 25 and under
  • a Sanctuary Scholarship to study an OU qualification for free if you’ve been displaced from your homeland for political, economic, ethnic, environmental, or human rights pressures
  • a Bursary for Black Students of £500 to help with study costs
  • funding from our Scholarship for Black Students to study an OU qualification for free if you identify as being from a Black background

If you have a disability

  • The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a government grant to cover study support costs if you have a disability. It’s not means-tested, and there’s no age limit. Visit our Supporting students with disabilities page to find out more.
  • If your disability is a result of being injured in, or due to, military service, you could be eligible for our Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Fund .

Need more information?

Talk through your funding options with one of our advisors, save money with the open university.

Compare the cost of studying at the OU with other campus-based universities in England.

*Based on maximum chargeable fees for 23/24 academic year.

**The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2024. Fees normally increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules .

How will I study this course?

With our unique approach to distance learning, you can study from home, work or on the move.

You’ll have some assessment deadlines to meet, but otherwise, you’ll be free to study at the times that suit you, fitting your learning around work, family, and social life.

For each of your modules, you’ll use either just online resources or a mix of online and printed materials.

Each module you study will have a module website with

  • a week-by-week study planner, giving you a step-by-step guide through your studies
  • course materials such as reading, videos, recordings, and self-assessed activities
  • module forums for discussions and collaborative activities with other students
  • details of each assignment and their due dates
  • a tutorial booking system, online tutorial rooms, and your tutor’s contact details
  • online versions of some printed module materials and resources.

If you have additional needs, we can also provide most module materials in alternative formats. Find out more about materials on our accessibility webpage .

See how our module websites work.

Tutor support

Student, Ffion, describes why she chose the OU and how she is using her degree to progress herself further in a career she loves.

You’ll have a tutor for each module, who will introduce themselves before the module begins.

Throughout the module, they will:

  • mark your assignments and give feedback to help you improve
  • guide you to learning resources
  • support you, whether with general study skills or help with a specific topic.

Tutorials usually take place online, and they’re always optional.

Online tutorials are live presentations with module tutors in dedicated online tutorial rooms and are sometimes recorded.

Our assessments are all designed to reinforce your learning and help you show your understanding of the topics. The mix of assessment methods will vary between modules.

Computer-Marked Assignments

  • Usually, a series of online, multiple-choice questions.

Tutor-Marked Assignments

  • You’ll have a number of these throughout each module, each with a submission deadline.
  • They can be made up of essays, questions, experiments or something else to test your understanding of what you have learned.
  • Your tutor will mark and return them to you with detailed feedback.

End-of-Module Assessments

  • The final, marked piece of work on most modules.
  • Modules with an end-of-module assessment won’t usually have an exam.
  • Some modules end with an exam. You’ll be given time to revise and prepare.
  • You’ll be given your exam date at least 5 months in advance.
  • Most exams take place remotely, and you will complete them at home or at an alternative location.
  • If a module requires you to take a face-to-face exam, this will be made clear in the module description, and you will be required to take your exam in person at one of our exam centres.
Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments, and having my scores reflecting that, made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded. Patrick ‘Ricky’ Skene, BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching

Other support and resources

Throughout your studies, you’ll have access to our subject-specific Student Support Teams.

They’ll help you with any general questions about your study and updates to your OU account.

To help with your studies, you’ll also have access to:

  • our online library, with high-quality online resources to support your study
  • other university libraries in the UK and Ireland
  • the online Help Centre, which has general information about OU study and support, along with study skills advice
  • free Microsoft Office 365 software
  • IT and computing support from our Computing Helpdesk.

Find out more about student support and being a part of the OU community.

Having a course that was really varied and studying in a style that worked for Nick, was key to him launching his own business and becoming an entrepreneur.

Skills for career development

Employers greatly value the high-level skills gained by studying an English literature degree. Broadly summarised these are skills of creative and critical thinking, analysis, and communication. You’ll also sharpen your IT and writing skills, and develop an ability to assimilate and evaluate relevant information when constructing an argument. These are key skills that are crucial to many different kinds of complex organisations, and are greatly sought after in the world beyond study – whether you’re already working, volunteering, or changing career.

Career relevance

Studying arts and humanities can give entry to a vast range of occupations, leading in many different directions. The breadth of study and the range of material analysed, combined with an adaptable set of transferable skills, are relevant to a wide variety of careers including:

  • public administration, local government, the civil service, art institutions, and social services
  • advertising, journalism, publishing, creative industries and public relations
  • business, banking and retail
  • human resources
  • charities and campaigning.

Other careers

Many graduate-level jobs, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector, are open to graduates of any discipline. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are  available for you to see now , including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about  how OU study enhances your career .

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:

  • advertising account manager
  • public relations manager
  • information archivist
  • civil servant
  • charity campaigner
  • retail manager
  • human resources manager
  • further education lecturer
  • arts administration
  • advice worker
  • local government and NHS manager
  • tourist officer
  • marketing officer
  • business manager.

Register for this course

  • Feb 2024 - Registration closes 11/01/2024

Request your Arts and Humanities prospectus

Our prospectuses help you choose your course, understand what it's like to be an OU student and register for study.

Request prospectus

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what is english literature course

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BA English Literature

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  • Updated on  
  • Mar 6, 2023

BA English Literature

Legendary writers like Shakespeare , Leo Tolstoy, Emily Bronte, and many others have inspired students to traverse in the field of Literature for ages. Apart from imparting knowledge on literary history, these English Literature courses provide you with a platform to delve deep into different cultures, assess difficult questions in life, improve your writing, and help you develop career skills that can be beneficial for your growth. If you are excited to know the intriguing stories about Literature, like how Kafka wrote a book in a single night, or what motivated Fernando Pessoa to attribute his writings to fictional characters with different heteronyms, then a BA in English Literature is the right degree for you! In this blog, we will discuss the scope, universities, and the importance of pursuing a BA in English Literature.

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About BA English Literature

BA English Literature is a rigorous and intensive degree that encapsulates a variety of literary genres. The 3-year degree provides a platform to study Poetry, Drama, Novel, Prose, and History . The course gives you a broader perspective of the subject with an emphasis on each category that enables you to analyze Literature coming from different countries. The critical analysis, summarizing the work of a writer and interpreting the geniuses of poets, forms the core structure of the degree. The program educates you about the shifts in the writing pattern with time and how writers established a separate writing genre through popular movements like Realism, Post Colonialism, and Existentialism. 

Also Read: History of English Literature

Is BA English Literature a Good Course?

BA English Literature imparts basic knowledge of the English language and literature of different eras and ages. The academic course will train you to understand the key aspects of the subject, will develop an independent and creative thinking process, and will also enhance your communication skills . The teaching methods can be different, but the study curriculum of a wide range of universities remains the same. A study of English Literature allows students to explore the different eras of English composition and prominent writers in those times.

Difference Between BA English and BA English Literature

BA English is often confused with BA English literature degree program, however, there are some points that make them different. As the name suggests, BA in English Literature sheds light on the history, origin, and how the language has developed overages. Along with this, it also focuses on poems, plays, dramas, etc. On the contrary, BA English builds a strong understanding of how the English language functions so that you can use it effectively for business or technical communications. This includes basic grammar, phonetics, critical reasoning, and other facets of the language.

Also Read: BA English

BA English Literature Syllabus and Subjects

The course curriculum and syllabus of BA English Literature vary as per the institution as well as the country you are pursuing the degree from. Every country imperatively includes its history of English Literature along with covering the global literature in detail. Generally, there is a balanced combination of core and elective modules offered every semester with focus laid on central literary texts while giving you the choice to select those literary works that you are interested to study. Famous literary works of John Milton, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, amongst others form an integral part of the BA English syllabus. Take a look at the key subjects covered during BA in English Literature syllabus:

  • Victorian Literature
  • American Literature
  • Readings in Gender and Sexuality
  • History of English Literature
  • African-American Literature
  • Women’s Writings
  • Creative Writing
  • English Poetry
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • European Literature
  • Canadian Literature
  • Renaissance Texts
  • Research & Criticism
  • Literature, Language and Media

Popular Universities Abroad

A large number of universities worldwide offer exciting courses in English Literature. Below-listed are some of the prominent ones providing BA in English Literature:

Top Universities and Colleges in India

Here are the top universities and colleges offering BA English Literature in India:

  • University of Delhi
  • Banaras Hindu University
  • St Stephens College, Delhi University
  • St Xavier’s College, Mumbai
  • Presidency University, Kolkata
  • Loyola College, Chennai
  • Jadhavpur University
  • Jamia Millia Islamia
  • Miranda House, Delhi University
  • Savitribai Phule Pune University
  • Aligarh Muslim University

Eligibility Criteria

Generally offered as a 3-4 year undergraduate degree, there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met by you to qualify for this bachelor’s program. Here are the major prerequisites you must keep in mind while applying for BA English Literature:

  • You must have completed 10+2 education from a recognized board with the minimum percentage specified by the academic institution.
  • Many universities and colleges also take your marks obtained in English into consideration.
  • If you want to study in the USA/Canada, then submitting SAT exam scores will also be a necessity.
  • You will also have to submit a lucrative SOP and LORs while applying for the program.

Note : The aforementioned eligibility requirements are only for indicative purposes. Candidates are advised to go through the official website of the university to know the specified eligibility criteria for their chosen course.

BA English Literature Books

Here are the major BA English Literature books:

  • The Iliad by Homer
  • Poetics by Aristotle
  • The Republic by Plato
  • Swami and Friends by R.K. Narayan
  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • The Wife of Bath’s Prologue by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Predestination and Free Will’ by John Calvin
  • Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • The Rover by Aphra Behn
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Also Read: Best Novels for Students

BA English Literature Jobs

A degree in literature can open up an array of job roles for you and can fetch you a position in the majority of sectors. Though you can choose to pursue a degree in MA English , followed by a PhD in English but you can also find employment opportunities across academic institutes, media houses, advertising agencies, etc. Some of the popular BA English Literature job profiles and employment areas have been given a rundown below:

Employment Areas

  • Publishing Houses
  • Advertising & Digital Marketing
  • Film Production Houses
  • Print & Broadcast Media
  • Language/Translation Departments

Job Opportunities and Salary

  • Teacher: With a love for academics and the required skill set for the teaching position, graduates with a BA in English Literature can build an exciting career in the education sector. If you plan to pursue a master’s degree in English, you can look forward to becoming professors in colleges and universities. The average salary of an English teacher in India is 3.3 Lakh.
  • Writer: If you have an innate ability to express yourself creatively in words, then you can kickstart your career as a writer after completing your bachelor’s degree in English literature. Various organizations take your bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite to apply for the role of a content writer , copywriter, blogger, reporter, etc. The average salary of a writer is 3.0 Lakh.
  • Journalist: To become a journalist you don’t need a degree as such, but with a degree in English Literature, your English learning and writing skills are furnished that is essential to growing in the field. The average salary of an English journalist is 3.0 Lakh.
  • Editor : After completing BA English Literature, you can also explore various editor jobs in top publishing houses, digital content, newspapers or magazines where you will be working on a wide range of written content, proofreading and editing it to make it comprehensive and grammatically accurate. The average salary of an English editor is 4.0 Lakh.

BA English and BA English Literature are more or less the same. Both contain readings, prose and poetry. However, BA English  Literature covers the subject more intensely. ( molnupiravir )  

BA English Literature is a diverse course which is a combination of some core and elective subjects. The curriculum might differ from university to university and the number of subjects varies as per the course duration.

For those who enjoy reading, writing and exploring cultures deeply, English Literature is the best course for them. It brings you closer to a range of subjects, feelings and emotions experienced over centuries across the world. 

The number of subjects taught in English Literature is likely to vary from university to university. But some of these subjects are really essential for any Literature student, some of them are – History of English Literature Shakespeare, Linguistics, Romantic Age, New Literature, Modern Era, American Literature, etc.

Related Read

Whether you’re captivated by poetry, obsessed with the subtext in the novels, or take a keen linguistic interest in rap music of famous singers, a degree in BA English Literature is the ideal career choice for you. You can reach out to our counsellors at Leverage Edu , who can guide in finding the right university to start a career in English. Call us immediately at 1800 57 2000 for a free 30-minute counselling session.

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Sonal is a creative, enthusiastic writer and editor who has worked extensively for the Study Abroad domain. She splits her time between shooting fun insta reels and learning new tools for content marketing. If she is missing from her desk, you can find her with a group of people cracking silly jokes or petting neighbourhood dogs.

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I need to know about the job opportunities after completing graduation in English and how I can apply for editor nd writer post . Please give me some endorsement.

Hi, Riya! Hope you checked the article thoroughly with all the details. For more information, give us a call at 1800 57 2000!

I have decided to study BA English Literature 2022. I would like an online study course. Please send me information.

Hi, Heather! If you have decided to study BA English Literature 2022 from abroad universities, we at Leverage Edu can assist you in a perfect way! Call us on 1800572000 and get all the required information. Here we are referring you some more blogs to read: English Literature Courses MA English Syllabus 2021 High Paying Jobs after English Honours

Hey! Kartik here I wanna know which exams I have to give while pursuing B.A. in English literature and what are some of the best universities for English literature in India.

Can we do this course private.

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