In this programme, you will study half of your modules (60 credits) in English Language and half in English Literature (60 credits).
English Language: In two linked modules, Language Works, you will be introduced to a range of topics in English Language study, including the phonology (sound system) of English, its morphology (word formation) and grammar; children’s language development; discourse analysis, both spoken and written; and social issues, such as attitudes towards language and its role in education. You will also learn how to carry out research on English language topics.
English Literature: The first-year literature modules introduce students to a range of kinds and periods of literature and a lively variety of critical and theoretical approaches.
Literary Aesthetics after 1800 (20 credits) introduces some key notions of form, style and genre in literary texts written after 1800. You will study three major focal texts (or groups of shorter texts) of different genres, and will develop skills in the close analysis of passages and in essay writing.
Literary Aesthetics before 1800 (20 credits) introduces key notions of form, style and genre in texts written before 1800. You will study three major focal texts (or groups of shorter texts) of different genres, for example, Malory, Morte D’Arthur; revenge tragedies of the 16th and 17th centuries; and selected verse satire of the 18th century.
The Critical Practice module (10+10 credits) focuses on the key knowledge and skills central to English Studies. You will be introduced to strategies for engaging with primary and secondary sources for literary study, methodologies in literary criticism, and the extensive resources Birmingham provides for English students. This module is closely related to Literary Aesthetics after 1800 and Literary Aesthetics before 1800.
English Language: In this year you can choose to take either two linked modules, which, following on from first-year work, provide a thorough grounding in technical aspects of the language, concentrating on English phonology and morphology, and then English grammar; or you can choose two modules from a range including History of the English Language; Talk and Text, which provides in-depth analyses of different kinds of spoken interaction; and Language Acquisition, Variation and Change, which studies how these processes happen and what enables them. In addition, you will take the module Research Skills in English Language, which is designed to develop your group and individual research skills by guiding you in such tasks as carrying out a literature review, collecting and analysing data, and presenting your results orally, as well as reporting on your research in writing.
English Literature: In this year, you take modules that address topics in three major periods of English literature, and which are informed by theoretical as well as textual and historical approaches. You will study:
One Option module in Medieval/Early Modern literature (20 credits) chosen from a list of options.
One Option module in Modern literature (20 credits) chosen from a list of options. Examples might include Writing and the World in the Nineteenth Century or Victorian and Decadent Literature: The Modern, the Aesthetic, and the Gothic or Making it New: Modernism and Literary Innovation in the Early Twentieth Century or Literature in Britain Since 1945.
One Transhistorical Literature Option (10 + 10 credits). Examples may include Satire or Colonial and Postcolonial Literature or Hacking the Book.
English Language: You will now be able to choose from a wide range of optional modules on such topics as The Politics of English; Discourse and Society; English Language Teaching; Linguistic Theory; Narrative Analysis, Ordinary Creativity, and Words. Your degree builds to a final-year dissertation, a research project which you will carry out independently but under supervision: you will select your own topic for research, collect data, assimilate relevant literature and construct a substantial report on the project, showing judgement and persuasiveness.
English Literature: In the final year you choose two from a number of special option modules, taught by experts in those specialisms, and also undertake a dissertation in which you demonstrate sophisticated understanding of the issues in literature that you have been studying over the last two years. You will study:
Literature Dissertation (10 + 10 credits). You will write a 5,000 word dissertation on a subject of your choice.
One choice from Literature Options (all 20 credits; see below)
Either Shakespeare (10+10 credits) This course, running through the whole of your final year, allows you the opportunity to think widely across all Shakespeare’s texts in their historical, cultural and theatrical contexts; it is taught in a collaboration between English staff and colleagues from the University’s Shakespeare Institute, and students are encouraged to draw on the resources of the Shakespeare Institute Library.
Or a further Literature Option (20 credits)
Literature Options available to final-year students have recently included: Ben Jonson; Chaucer: Pre-modern Writing and Post-modern Reading; Contemporary Irish Writing; English Reformed; Fantasy and Fandom; Gossip, Scandal, and Celebrity; Hardy and Wilde; Law and Literature; Literary Modernism; Literature and Politics in the 1930s; Literature, Sexuality, and the Body; Lyrical Ballads; Medieval Manuscripts; Paradise Lost: Text and Context; Shakespeare’s Afterlives; Viragos, Coquettes and Prudes; Voicing Women; Victoria’s Secrets: Literature and Secrecy in the Nineteenth Century; The Works of T. S. Eliot; Utopia and its Discontents.
As a Joint Honours English Language and English Literature student, you will be writing two dissertations in your final year, one on a linguistic topic, and one on a literary topic. However, subject to special permission, you can instead choose to write a single double-length dissertation, or ‘Research Project’ (40 credits), on an approved topic in either English Language or English Literature (or in their combined study).
Why study this course
Consistently rated highly in the UK teaching and research rankings, the Department of English at Birmingham is widely respected and attracts a high calibre of undergraduate talent. Part of the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, the department offers exciting opportunities, first-class facilities and a commitment to excellence in teaching. The Department is one of very few in the UK that offer large concentrations of expertise in both English Language and English Literature.
The English Language side of the programme is rooted in the University of Birmingham’s long tradition of English Language teaching and research. English Language has been a core element of the Birmingham English BA since 1965 and students have been following Joint Honours combinations in English Language since 1998.
Our distinguished language specialists today are part of a long line of Birmingham linguists who have changed the discipline – John Sinclair, Malcolm Coulthard, David Brazil and Michael Hoey, to name but a few. We are known for our leading work in corpus linguistics and have a dedicated centre for corpus research. The Collins Cobuild English language textbooks, which are internationally recognised as high quality English language training materials, were designed here. We also currently contribute internationally to research in corpus linguistics, discourse studies and English language teaching.
The English Literature side of the programme draws on the expertise of a team of academics whose research expertise ranges from Old English and medieval literature to contemporary literature and theory. Furthermore, our affiliation with the Shakespeare Institute, which oversees the year-long, third-year Shakespeare module, means that our students have access to unparalleled resources for the study of Shakespeare and his times. The Institute, based in nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, is an internationally renowned research institution established in 1951 to push the boundaries of knowledge about Shakespeare studies and Renaissance drama.
Our students have the privilege of learning from academics at the forefront of research, and benefit from enviable research resources, including the substantial manuscript, print, and electronic holdings of the University library, as well as the collections in the Library of Birmingham, with its world-ranking Shakespeare collection.
Students at Birmingham also benefit from frequent lectures and readings from published authors and industry professionals, including the Birmingham Visiting Writers’ Programme which is hosted by the English Department. This has featured readings and lectures from the poet and writer Jackie Kay, novelist David Lodge, TV and film screenwriter Stewart Harcourt and the acclaimed author Catherine O’Flynn, whose novel What Was Lost won the 2007 Costa First Novel Award.
English Literature open day talk
Professor Wendy Scase delivers an undergraduate open day talk on studying English Literature at the University of Birmingham.
01:49 - English at Birmingham for me?
09:57 - English courses
12:07 - How is English at Birmingham different?
17:02 - What else is special about Birmingham?
24:37 - Employability
Joint honours open day talk
Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the university
06:14 - Joint Honours available at Birmingham
07:54 - Why choose Joint Honours?
11:52 - Workload and course structure
Fees and funding
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAB
Required subjects and grades: Grade A English Language and Grade A English Literature, or Grade A English Language and Literature; exceptionally applicants without an English Language qualification but with a grade A at A level in a foreign language will be considered.
General Studies: not accepted
Additional information: Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements
We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
How to apply
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