BA English and Creative Writing

Studying English Literature and Creative Writing in combination allows you to develop your skills as a writer, whilst setting your own work and aspirations in the context of the wider literary world.

Our BA programme introduces you to a broad range of types and periods of literature with a huge range of different areas to pursue, from medieval literature to twenty-first century digital literary culture. These include unparalleled resources for the study of Shakespeare.

You will be given a foundation in all main genres of creative writing: poetry, prose, drama and media writing. Alongside this you will explore the professional aspects of contemporary writing and editing and will be supported in finding your own ‘voice’. You will be taught by award-winning writers and benefit from regular guest talks by visiting writers. Recent guests have included Jackie Kay, Simon Stephens and Carol Ann Duffy. 

Ally Lee-Boone

Ally Lee-Boone

“I chose English and Creative Writing because I was looking for a course with an element of both traditional and modern learning. English is a very traditional Arts subject but when combined with the innovative Creative Writing modules, it is a course that is ever-changing and exciting. I love that all of my modules complement each other, and that everything I learn in Creative Writing is also relevant in English. The lecturers are experienced and knowledgeable and a joy to learn from.”

This programme has an equal balance between English Literature and Creative Writing throughout the three years.

This balance works extremely well: the study of literature enables you to learn from other authors and supports your development as a writer, just as your practical experimentation deepens your understanding of the ways in which literature works.

On the English side you will study a range of literature from across all periods from medieval to contemporary, with the opportunity to specialise in your chosen area as you progress. In your second year you will have the opportunity to work with colleagues at the world-renowned Shakespeare Institute in nearby Stratford-upon-Avon on our Shakespeare modules.

For Creative Writing you will develop your skills as a writer of poetry, short fiction and drama for stage and screen. Modules in ‘Contemporary Creative Writing’ and ‘Editing’ will give you alternative perspectives upon the writing process, allowing you to investigate writing at a professional level and develop your critical and analytical skills. In your final year you will complete a Creative Writing Project, a substantial independent piece of work for which you will receive expert supervision, with a completely free choice of genre. 

Why study this course

  • Guest lectures - you will be able to enjoy regular guest lectures and readings from visiting writers. Recent guests have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens, theatre director Greg Doran and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy
  • Research excellence - over 85% of our academic research in English was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the 2014 national Research Excellence Framework exercise. Research and teaching areas cover both the traditional literary canon and cutting edge areas of literary study such as postcolonial literature and twenty-first century digital literary culture.   
  • Your lecturers and tutors for Creative Writing will be practising writersElsa Braekkan Payne, an expert in the short story who also has particular interests in editing; Luke Kennard, a poet and novelist whose criticism appears in Poetry London and the Times Literary Supplement; Richard House, fiction and screenwriter, recently long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; Dan Vyleta, author of four award-winning novels, the most recent being The Crooked Maid, published by Bloomsbury in 2014; and the best-selling novelist Ruth Gilligan.
  • Extra-curricular activity - The University’s very active Creative Writing Society, Writers' Bloc, produces a regular Journal and is very involved with the performance poetry scene, as well as hosting socials, open-mic nights and writing workshops. In your second year you will have the opportunity to partake in our very popular residential study trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, which includes lectures, creative workshops, theatre trips and other cultural activities, offers academic and creative inspiration and the opportunity to socialise with staff and fellow students.
  • Shakespeare Institute and RSC collaboration - we have a unique provision for the study of Shakespeare: the Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, is a world-leading centre for international Shakespeare scholarship. You will also benefit from our exciting five-year collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) which will see the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre, The Other Place. You will be able to access creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, as well as the expertise of RSC artists and practitioners; you will also have the opportunity to attend RSC productions and events.

Open day talk


The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

First year

Your first year is made up of core modules which will give you a thorough grounding in different types of literature and different ways of approaching literary analysis in core literature modules: ‘Poetry’; ‘Prose’; ‘Plays and Performance’; and ‘Language for Literature’.

Your Creative Writing modules will give you a foundation in writing across different genres on the double-weighted ‘Creative Writing Foundation’ module, as well as an introduction to the professional aspects of contemporary writing in ‘Contemporary Creative Writing’.

Detailed descriptions of English and Creative Writing first year modules

Second year

In the second year you will choose ‘Histories of Literature’ modules to deepen your knowledge and understanding of different literary periods, choosing one from the Medieval or Early Modern periods (A or B) and one from the Romantic/Victorian or the Modern/Contemporary periods (C or D).

Histories of Literature will include modules such as:

A: Chaucer and his Legacies; Popular Fiction before the Novel; Songs and Sonnets

B: Epic Ambitions; Stories of the Novel; Writing the Restoration

C: Romantics and Romanticisms; Victorian Literature; The Fin-de-Siècle

D: Making it New; Literature after 1945; Twenty-First Century Literature

You will also either take our specialist Shakespeare modules ‘Elizabethan Shakespeare’ and ‘Jacobean Shakespeare’ or choose one ‘Themes in Literature’ option module from a selection such as:

  • The Gothic
  • Tragedy
  • From Plato to Postmodernism
  • Shakespeare’s Sisters
  • Writing Fiction
  • Russian Theatre
  • North American Cinema
  • The Language Poets Use
  • Transatlantic Literary Relations
  • Rude Writing: Satire and its Targets

On the Creative Writing side you will further develop your writing skills in modules on ‘Poetry and Prose Writing’ and ‘Drama and Media Writing’ and will gain an insight into the editorial process on our ‘Editing’ module.

Detailed descriptions of English and Creative Writing second year modules

Final year

In your final year, you will choose three modules from an impressive range of Literature Special Subjects, working closely with specialists in each field on modules such as:

  • Chaucer: Pre-Modern Writing and Post-Modern Reading
  • Contemporary American Fiction
  • Fantasy and Fandom
  • Gossip, Scandal and Celebrity
  • Imagining the Digital
  • John Donne and the Metaphysical Poets
  • Last Year’s Novels
  • Literary Modernism
  • Literature and Politics in the 1930s
  • Literature and the Law
  • Lyrical Ballads
  • Medieval Manuscripts
  • The Modernist Novel
  • New York, New York
  • Paradise Lost: Texts and Contexts
  • Plays, Pageants and the Spectacular
  • Postcolonial Poetry and Poetics
  • Postmodern Historical Fictions
  • Reading and Writing Scotland
  • Remembering World War One
  • Shakespeare’s Afterlives
  • Shakespeare and Music
  • Spenserian Landscapes
  • The Work of T. S. Eliot
  • Victorian Literature and Science
  • Victorian Literature and Travel
  • PoMo Historical Fictions
  • Bringing Out the Bodies: Technology, Transhumans and Skin

By your final year as a Creative Writing student you’ll have found your ‘voice’ and ‘genre’, and so you will be ready to complete a substantial individual Creative Writing Project, chosen and structured according to your own writing interests. You will also choose a Creative Writing Special Subject focusing on a more specialist genre such as ‘Genre Fiction’; ‘Creative Non-Fiction’; or ‘Writing a Short Film’.

Detailed descriptions of English and Creative Writing final year modules

Year abroad

You will have the option to take a year abroad between your second and final year at one of a wide range of carefully selected partner institutions from around the world.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,000
  • Overseas: £13,860

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £1,350
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £6,930

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
A level English Literature or English Language and Literature at grade A.
General Studies:
not accepted

Additional information:

We do not ask applicants for English and Creative Writing to submit portfolios of their work: instead we ask that you give evidence in your application of your interest in and experience of creative writing, as well as your reasons for wishing to pursue the subject at university-level.

Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

International students:

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Joint Honours combinations

We do not currently offer Joint Honours programmes with Creative Writing. You can study English Literature in combination with other disciplines on the Literature pathway of our Joint Honours English programmes:

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.


University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

Studying for an English and Creative Writing BA at the University of Birmingham is an unparalleled opportunity to engage with a diverse cultural, textual and linguistic discipline, at the same time as developing your own writing 'voice' and 'genre'.

You may go on to a career as a novelist, screenwriter, poet or journalist, but of course the skill of writing also qualifies you for a wide range of other careers. Whatever path you choose, you will also find the practical skills that you have acquired on your degree course extremely useful, such as oral presentation, professional documentation, group work and the uses of information technology.

English graduates from the University of Birmingham have a higher than average rate of employability for the subject and we are ranked in the Top Ten universities nationally for graduate employability. 90% of our English graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation, with 80% of those entering employment going straight into a professional or managerial job.

Our graduates have started careers with employers including the BBC, Headline Publishing Group, Mirror Group Newspapers and Oxford University Press, in roles such as account executive, editorial assistant, marketing assistant and sales and events coordinator. About 14% of English graduates pursue postgraduate study to specialise in an academic area or prepare for careers such as law and teaching.

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.


Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.